When Kim Iorns was looking for a way to build confidence and empathy in new call center agents at her company during the pandemic, she didn’t turn first to traditional distance-training methods such as e-learning or educational videos. Iorns, director of learning and development for tax services company H&R Block, instead deployed virtual reality (VR) training to place those new hires in highly realistic job simulations that allowed them to practice the soft skills critical to supporting clients during the anxiety-ridden tax preparation process.
Iorns had discovered that while most new agents acquired relevant tax knowledge quickly, many lacked the human touch critical to calming nerves and building repeat business among H&R Block customers. “As we listened to calls, we knew most of our agents were performing tasks the right way, but we didn’t always feel that human element in interactions,” Iorns says. “It’s important to show empathy to clients when they’re struggling with tax issues, often on tight deadlines. The stakes are high where people’s money is involved.”