Remote Microlearning: A Retail and Customer Service Use Case
Before the effects of the Coronavirus rocked the retail and customer service industry, training your sales and customer service teams was already becoming increasingly difficult. Now that employers have to deal with pandemic complications for staffing and turnover in addition to safety regulations, training new and old employees who are working on the store floor has become next to impossible. In addition, the inability to meet in large groups to train teams as well as not being able to take employees off the floor have only increased the difficulty of ensuring smooth retail and customer service operations.
A strong solution to this challenge is a training platform that allows employees to learn quickly, remotely, and retain even more knowledge than with pre-pandemic training. Microlearning is the perfect tool for this situation. Essentially, remote microlearning allows employees to view short snippets of material from their devices. When you use microlearning to train your employees in retail and customer service, microlearning allows employees to learn new material anywhere, enhance retention rates, and develop a “consistent training” where all employees learn how to handle certain situations the same way.
For retail, microlearning provides the ability to rapidly grow your sales. Employees can easily refresh their sales tactics, quickly learn the background behind products, and effectively learn lines and tactics for specific situations. For customer service, microlearning allows all employees to quickly learn how to handle all new situations the correct way and creates consistent training across all members of a team.
In this article, we will take a closer look at how you can implement microlearning for retail and customer service training, the companies that have already used microlearning, and the overall benefits of microlearning such as reduced onboarding time, a proactive “learning culture,” and the vast amounts of time managers can save.
Remote Microlearning for Retail
With these unprecedented times in the retail world, microlearning is a great way to train and update employees with new policies and procedures while keeping them safe. Microlearning also allows for quick and agile training strategies that can minimize the impact of pandemic restrictions and allow your store to stay open. To implement microlearning, many companies elect to use a microlearning platform, like ConveYour, to help present their new learning material. Companies take content that they would normally present in an orientation or meeting and shorten it so that it is a quick, engaging lesson that leads learners to the desired learning objective. Hiring a training specialist, like Concannon Business Consulting, can help you transform your existing curriculum and create new material that is optimized for microlearning.
We recommend that you add different media and learning comprehension tools (polls, multiple-choice questions, order challenges, etc.) to the material to enhance retention rates. Finally, you would transfer these items to your microlearning platform and employees would be able to access this material at any given time. An added benefit is that when employees complete a lesson or get a question correctly, you can award points or prizes to that employee. This process is called “gamification” which helps foster a proactive “learning culture” and enhances retention and interaction. What microlearning does for your employees is it enables them to learn the material quickly, from anywhere, and retain more information while keeping each employee safe and updated. Let’s look at some examples of companies that used microlearning to help better train employees.
Pandora: A retail microlearning case study
Pandora, one of the world’s largest jewelry retailers, utilized microlearning to train their sales team more effectively. In refreshing sales tactics, the background of different products, and what lines and tactics to use during specific situations with customers, they used a microlearning platform to keep front-line employees up to speed. This helped drive training completion rates to well over 80% which in turn helped drive sales. Also, Sales managers were able to save time as employees were able to learn and refresh their sales tactics on their commute to work instead of having to attend training sessions throughout the day. This helped make learning more agile and efficient which boosted morale, employee efficiency, and sales.
At Home: A retail microlearning case study
With over 3000 employees and 100 stores, At Home, a retail chain specializing in home décor, needed to make a change in their learning structure to enhance retention rates and grow sales. Before this change, Sales Associates would just have to sign a form saying they received the learning material. To streamline their sales training, At Home used microlearning to train new employees in safety, operations, onboarding, and customer service. By using microlearning, At Home was able to cut onboarding time by 90%, reduce safety-related accidents by 36%, and complete training in 4 weeks compared to 6 months. In addition, since sales associates training was not limited to just a one-time event, training became an ongoing process that has decreased turnover and created a positive learning culture.
Microlearning for Customer Service
With COVID-19, consumers and clients have more questions than ever about your product or service. Moreover, these questions are often new questions that your customer service team has not been exposed to or prepared for. In order to limit blunders and missed opportunities associated with these questions, customer service teams need to be briefed, prepared, and ready for the barrage of new questions and concerns specific to COVID-19. The best way to accomplish this and set your customer service team for success is to employ the use of microlearning.
To implement remote microlearning, we recommend that your company hire a training specialist knowledgeable in instructional design in a microlearning environment, who can convert the training material you currently have onto a microlearning platform. The new material will be “bite-sized” to allow learners to quickly accomplish learning objectives. With microlearning, you will be able to provide your customer service team with flexible questions that create a “two-way” dialog with your learner. In addition, you will be able to upload hypothetical situations and different scenarios where your learner can upload a video of their response and learn the correct way to handle the situation as needed. Finally, employees can re-order response dialog options to the correct sequential order when interacting with a hypothetical customer which will enhance retention. These are some of the many features that microlearning allows you to utilize in order to better strengthen your customer service team.
But perhaps the most notable and best feature of microlearning is that it allows your team to compile a list of all potential and past customer service questions and create answers that can be accessed quickly and anywhere. This creates an interactive sharing of best practices and drives “consistent training” for all employees which is a must during these ever-changing times. Next, let’s look at an example of a company and situation that used the microlearning features above to strengthen its customer service team.
InterContinental Hotels Group: A customer service remote microlearning case study
InterContinental Hotels Group had so many incoming customer service requests that utilizing traditional training methods became impractical and too slow. Instead of attempting to patch up existing methods, InterContinental switched to microlearning as a way to adapt to new customer service requests and create a new culture for their customer service team. By using microlearning, onboarding time was reduced from five weeks to two weeks and a newly developed “learning culture” took shape at InterContinental. Additionally, customer service team members were able to access a plethora of real and hypothetical situations which strengthened their customer service skills.
Customer service during COVID-19
With constantly changing customer demands and product or service offerings, your company must be nimble to adjust to the market. With these changes to your business demands in combination with the new government and state changes, requests and feedback for your customer service team are coming in at an unprecedented rate. This is evident by the fact that 48% of customers have experienced longer wait times for customer service and calls that have been deemed “difficult” have doubled for many companies. As a result, your customer service team needs to be briefed and prepared for these new questions. However, briefing your customer service team has been challenging due to the safety and security regulations put in place due to COVID-19.
To deal with these increased demands, companies need to consider transitioning into new and different learning platforms, software, services, and products. The use of microlearning can not only provide your customer service team with answers to these new questions and situations but ingrain a set of procedures on how to handle certain situations and develop a culture where people are eager to learn and help others. This will ultimately allow you to quickly communicate changes, garner two-way feedback, and measure the results of your customer service team. In the future, this will help streamline your ability to address market shifts and changes as they happen.
Bringing It Together
In the above sections, we explored how microlearning has proven its ability to deliver tangible business benefits for both retail and customer service organizations. Companies that integrate microlearning into their onboarding and learning platforms have seen measurable results almost immediately. In addition, there are other results such as “consistent training” and a “learning culture” that have enabled companies to generate more sales and strengthen customer service departments.
To see these same beneficial changes at your company, you first need to find a remote microlearning platform. Second, you should find a microlearning training specialist who can analyze your current materials, transform your content into microlearning content that is multimedia in nature, and can be learned in 1-5 minute chunks. Finally, consider adding gamification to your lessons such that employees earn points and prizes when they finish a lesson or get a question right. With this in mind, you will be well on your way to attaining all the benefits we’ve highlighted.