Online employee training: 8 essential tips every customer experience professional ought to know

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Face-to-face employee training came to an abrupt standstill when the Coronavirus crisis started. Fast forward seven months and in a socially distanced world most doors to the training room are still locked. Some CX leadership teams haven’t been in the same place with colleagues for months. Some employees are working from home for the foreseeable future. Some are coming into their workplace on set days or at staggered times and shifts.

If training these disparate teams is still on hold, management and frontline staff are probably still interpreting what your pre-Covid brand of customer experience looks like the best they can. In a recent post we explored how the seismic and irreversible shift in customer behaviour in the past few months means that every business should now be hitting the CX reset button. Without new training, cross-training or re-skilling, your employees could be way out of step on customer experience that has been rewritten by the pandemic, and what comes next.

These are tough times. Employees will be seeking reassurance and answers on the major changes they are experiencing, their role going forward and what’s expected of them to deliver what you promise to customers. Training has never been more important.

And brands like Permanent TSB have been quick to pivot to blended solutions, enabled by digital delivery. The bank’s face-to-face training and development programme, which had been designed around new and emerging customer expectations by cp2, was interrupted by the outbreak in March. To ensure the bank could continue with its immediate training needs, and plan for the future, we quickly redesigned the programme as a blended learning solution whereby high quality online delivery was supported by in-branch activities, and briefing and coaching sessions delivered via video conference.

8 essential tips for delivering your online employee training

Businesses have had little time to prepare for the new realities of integrating online training as part of a blended learning approach. So we thought it would be helpful to share 8 essential tips from our expert trainers and digital team to help inform your employee training design, and the transfer plan you put in place to ensure sustainability beyond the current crisis.

#1 Great online employee training begins with high quality learning design

Design your digital training from the customer back and link to company purpose and strategy. This will help you create a context for the employee training and link the content to the very specific behaviour, skills and values required to deliver your customer experience in the new normal.

#2 Know your team

Think about how your CX aligns with major changes in employee experience and expectations. Start with a conversation. In the past few months, there has been a major shift in communication between managment teams and employees. Aon discovered that 87% of senior leaders said that they were communicatng more during lockdown. Employees will expect to continue to be part of these more open conversations. While online tests and e-learning assessments will be useful in helping you understand their skills and aptitude, there’s no substitute for talking things through to understand how your team feels, what they experience, need and want.

#3 Be clear about employee benefit

Build a development framework for online participants. Employees will want to know how the training benefits them. The benefit may be progression, reward, personal satisfaction and growth or simply the ability to perform better by ‘being the best they can be’. Avoid vague learning objectives and outcomes that make it difficult for employees to gauge how useful the training will be for them.

#4 Create short, focused e-learning modules

Create e-learning modules that provide solutions to day-to-day challenges. Long training sessions are ineffective in the classroom. They are even more ineffective online where distractions are just a click away. You also don’t want online training to turn into a quick tick box exercise. To boost engagement and motivation, group course material in 30-40 minute modules and use short bursts of multi-media content to encourage self-paced learning. Making the content snackable and using elapsed time limits will encourage participants to stay focused, finish the segment and take away learning objectives.

#5 Embrace experiential learning

Model digital content on real-world experiences so that employees work directly with the types of customer interactions and challenges they daily face. This creates an opportunity for them to practice, get feedback, reflect and then practice again. When participants feel like something is relevant to them they value it more.

#6 Make the experience interactive, fun and memorable

If the training is interactive, fun and memorable, the experience carries an important message about the similar impact of behaviour on customer experience. This will also help to consolidate, and trigger, appropriate behavioural responses when employees are doing their job.

#7 Management teams should lead by example

Ensure leaders and managers go through the online training their teams experience. It is only by becoming ‘fluent’ that they able to role-model, coach, recognise and reward the right behaviours.

#8 Sustain the learning

Devise a strategy for learning, which includes creating an online training support and resources hub to give team members, wherever and however they work, instant access to training materials and helpful information before, during, and after modules to sustain learning and improvements.

  • Follow-up sessions – scheduling regular follow-up sessions on Zoom or Microsoft Teams and setting up online discussion forums will help employees feel more connected to the team and shared purpose.
  • Quizzes and games – post-training quizzes and games can be fun. For example, Permanent TSB has a game called ‘spin the wheel’ which is regularly used as a fun way to remind colleagues which services are available in which customer channel.
  • Knowledge hub – create a knowledge hub for employees to share best practice from their workplace with colleagues at different locations or those working from home.
  • Online mentors – encourage managers and team leaders to become online mentors.

A final thought. If you do turn to the expertise of an external trainer or coach, make sure the training capability is transferable to be self-sufficient.

What else?

Link training objectives to business results. You’ll want to be able to demonstrate how changed behaviours are changing critical business outcomes over time, customer satisfaction, NPS or customer leads generated. The measures should have been part of the learning design and you want to demonstrate the positive outcomes that are being generated.

Customer expectations on experience are set by the best experience on offer, regardless of the sector you work in. Insight from an external trainer that works across multiple sectors could be invaluable here to give your training design an edge.

Editor’s note: This post includes content from our mini guide – Best practice in the customer experience training room. You can download the full guide here.

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