Global professional services firm PwC has been an early adopter of extended reality technology for a myriad of use cases, most notably collaboration and training. Interactive virtual worlds like Arthur offer businesses compelling new opportunities for unique storytelling and value articulation with clients, compared to traditional video calls. To fully leverage these opportunities, it’s important to recognise the need to upskill junior professionals on client interactions in the metaverse - allowing them to practise body language, effective communication and physical expressions in virtual environments.
As part of these efforts, PwC UK used Arthur to upskill more than 1,700 of their recently promoted junior staff on how to engage with clients in immersive virtual environments. To confidently use the headset controls and navigate the user interfaces, participants attended an initial VR onboarding session upon arrival at the residential. In this session, participants met each other for the first time and explored interactive content and materials related to the leadership training programme.
Later in the programme, attendees harnessed what they had learnt and collaborated with their teams to tackle ESG priorities with a client. Ahead of their scheduled client meeting, participants entered a bespoke metaverse environment in Arthur, where they had time to work together as a team to digest materials and various content forms. To practise their networking skills, attendees were then welcomed by “Alex”, the executive assistant to the important client that they would meet later on in the training. Alex was played by a professional actor who had been trained to confidently present themselves and communicate within VR, adding to the realism and immersiveness of the experience. Participants had the opportunity to practice effective questioning with Alex, uncovering new knowledge and inspiring deeper thought which would be beneficial later in the training.
Importantly, the interaction prepared junior staff to effectively navigate virtual worlds and client conversations within them, forming the first step towards learning business etiquette in the metaverse. Arthur’s photorealistic avatars, spatial audio features and body tracking allowed participants to gesticulate and drive emotional engagement with the client. They learned not to be distracted by the many 3D assets and materials in the room, but to leverage them for a more natural conversation - for instance, by grabbing a chair to sit next to Alex, offering her a cup of virtual coffee and ideating with her using virtual post-its and pinboards in the room.
“This virtual environment is so powerful because it helps our participants become active learners, immersing them in an engaging and effective way to learn key communication skills. We're thrilled to be able to offer an early glimpse of metaverse technology to our Senior Associates, helping to develop their ability to build human connections in a fully digital world.”
- Simon Marsden, PwC UK Head of Learning Design.
“Loved the technology and its ability to bring new experiences and insights for a new world.”
- Training participant
PwC’s recent Metaverse Consumer Survey found that 82% of 1,000 surveyed company leaders believe the metaverse will become business as usual within the next 3 years. As virtual world platforms increase in popularity, and as we continue to operate in hybrid working environments, it is only natural that we seek to use technology as a way to better connect and communicate with our clients and each other. Using immersive 3D environments and VR as part of a wider leadership upskilling programme has allowed upcoming PwC UK leaders to experience the future of work first-hand, becoming comfortable with the technology and maximising the potential that virtual worlds have to offer.
The article was prepared by Yanna Zhu, Metaverse Strategy Specialist at PwC.