Training Manager Frustrations: The Customer Service Solution

Training Manager Frustrations: The Customer Service Solution

Training Manager Frustrations: The Customer Service Solution

A post written by Debbie Weltmer

Everyone wants to receive good customer service and every company would like to think they offer acceptable to great customer service. Yet we all have horror stories of disappointing service we’ve experienced. Online rants and YouTube videos of abysmal service are shared with ghoulish delight and a company’s reputation can take a nose dive as a result of one bad service encounter being uploaded to the web, tweeted, or shared via alternative social media posts or reposts. It’s every service manager’s worst nightmare. 

And yet good customer service should never be a company’s goal.

A goal is something that is imposed by leadership but a truly awesome customer experience is the natural result of a corporate-wide culture of excellence. If a company values excellence in every area, excellent customer service will be the natural result. And if excellence is unknown within a company, all the goals, memos, campaigns and ads extolling a company’s commitment to providing wonderful customer service will fall on deaf ears. There will be no long-term improvement in customer service because you can’t change employees’ attitudes through a memo or ad campaign.

Customer service excellence isn’t related to the type of business you are in or even who your typical employee is. The Wall Street Journal’s 2015 Customer Service Hall of Fame boasts such diverse industries as supermarkets, tech companies, package delivery services and even a fast food chain. Chick-fil-a, with its largely under-21 workforce, ranked just above Apple, with its highly educated tech workforce, so obviously, age and education are unrelated to superior customer service. Then what do Chick-fil-a and Apple have in common? What do they have in common with Marriot, UPS and Trader Joe’s, who also appeared in the WSJ Customer Service Hall of Fame? Each of these companies shares one prominent trait: a commitment to excellence that permeates the entire company.

Awesome customer service flows from the culture of each of these companies. It flows from the top down. It does not begin at the customer service manager’s level. It is not forced down to the customer service team as a memo or mandate. Culture trumps a “new initiative” every time; the act of peer pressure, whether for good or evil, reinforces a company’s values. We reflect in our attitudes and actions the values our leadership projects. A company’s culture is made visible by every decision leadership makes, and that culture is reflected in the small decisions, made day in and day out, by each employee, at every customer touch point.

Companies like Chick-fil-a, Marriot, and Apple, which consistently provide an amazing customer experience, are able to continue this tradition of excellence through the people they hire. Great people want to work at excellent companies with incredible reputations and strong cultural values. We all want to be associated with awesomeness! We all would like to brag that our employer is known for excellence. Or innovation. Or sustainability. Or some other highly desirable value. A commitment to excellence generates a creative, positive work environment where turnover is low and employees are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing pursuit of excellence. When employees are happy to come to work, have confidence in their company and excitement for their product or service, when they have respect for their company’s leadership and vision, then excellent customer service will be a natural byproduct. No one will have to tell a customer service rep to be nice, they will act nicely simply because they are great people. These members of the workforce are also happy people who are excited about their product. Excitement is infectious, due to this reason employees will become evangelists for your product, dedicated to sharing their excitement for your product or service, and zealous to protect your reputation. They become an unstoppable force for the expansion and protection of your reputation.

So determine to be excellent. Be excellent in the little things. Be excellent in the big things. Be excellent in everything. Commit to producing an excellent product or providing an excellent service. Hire only those people who share your vision of excellence. Be excellent and you will attract an excellent workforce. You will be able to choose from the cream of the crop because you will be flooded with resumes and applications from people who want to be associated with the best.

Make excellence your goal, not good customer service. A culture of excellence is where truly amazing customer service comes from.

 

References

Sauter, M. B., Frohlich, T. C., & Stebbins, S. (2015). Customer Service Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/07/23/customer-service-hall-of-fame-2/4/

 

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

What Business Application Training Accomplishes

In corporate training programs, often the focus is strictly on compliance. It seems that not everyone is hip to the idea that there is indeed a utilization that can improve their personnel’s’ capabilities in competitively selected industries. Well, I am here to tell you that there indeed is. In modern times we expect a lot from our training and development programs, and it safe to assume that progression in our industry is strictly relational to a number of additional learning aspects we can obtain from our Learning Programs themselves. By instilling basic business skills courses within your program employees can quickly obtain the business skills they do not know they require to succeed in their roles.

I often think back to a sales seminar I was sent to, many moons ago. In that program, I learned many manners in which I could properly present myself in front of the customer, how to effectively summarize the purpose of my existence within a corporate entity, and most importantly a phone etiquette trick that has stayed with me until this very day. That etiquette trick is the simplest thing that one can do on the phone, but it goes a long way in aiding communication partner’s retention and appreciation of your call. As you have read this far, you are probably dying to know “what was the trick?” Well, I am more than happy to relay it here: when you call and you reach someone’s voicemail and are in the process of leaving a callback number. Speak deliberately (slow and assertively) and repeat yourself (the repetition is key, just in case they were unable to decipher your first rendition of the number). One of the most annoying things about communication in this digital age is that people ramble out their work numbers so rapidly, often you have to listen to the message five to ten times just to decipher the call. Things like this may seem like it is common sense, but you would be very surprised at the interactions your personnel has on behalf of the company. This blog will now focus on the list of generic business application training that will not only expand the learning and development program of your organization but will also enhance the competencies of your workforce.

Problem Solving

General problem-solving skills, as well as company specific troubleshooting standards, can go a long way in preparing the workforce for elements of the job they do not anticipate. When issues arise, it is best to prepare your students with a manner to evaluate the issue and determine a course of action, in order to best respond to the issue.  By doing so, employees are outfitted with the tools needed to accomplish these challenges with the least possible hindrance to daily work life. General problem-solving techniques can also prevent intervention from senior members of your workforce, allowing focus to remain on more taxing efforts within your organization’s workflow.

Writing

With the importance of email correspondence in modern business, writing and grammar skills are more important and meaningful than ever. Nothing turns potential consumers off quicker than an initial correspondence that makes them feel as if they are speaking to someone unable to process their business language. By including written and grammatical skills in your learning plans, you can further the reach of your organization’s unique brand, ensure a universal business voice, and further, extend the capabilities of your staff.

Communication Strategies

How does your company want you to communicate with established users, consumers, and stakeholders? Is there a specific channel? Tone? The point of view? Emotion? Or brand identity that your personnel is required to comply with? This is a very important aspect of the learning mix to approach. The existence of your learning platform can determine the communication efforts of your employee base. By providing a general outline of what the first encounter with an outside agency should be, as well as additional communications throughout the newly established relationship. A learning in the category can also go a long way in informing users as to where additional resources in the categories may be located (resources such as organization branded forms, emails, presentations, and letterhead).  

Presentation Skills

In continuing with communication strategies, public speaking is quite the task for individuals. Not everyone can go up in front of a group of people and talk about the functionalities and benefits of certain aspects of their business. This is your opportunity to instill the unique brand qualifications of your organization. Disseminate what a public speaking engagement could and should look like, as well as notify system users of established approval process the may need to adhere to.  

Time Management

Perhaps the most difficult component of a new job is figuring out how to appropriately manage one’s time. A concise learning on time management techniques can go a long way in making an employee feel as if they do not have to reinvent the wheel, as well as aid in the amount of time you or additional individuals within your organization will have to spend to get them up to speed. With individuals within organizations taking on so many responsibilities nowadays, Time management skills are crucial in rounding out the offerings of a learning system.

Conclusion

These skills and countless others can be the foundation of your learning program going forward. Allowing you to augment your platform to be more than just a compliance tool. Creating an immediate impact on your organization’s personnel. By introducing alternative business skills, and skills like the ones listed above, you are taking the first step in cultivating the abilities of your employees and getting the most out of your learning platform. Be sure to tune into this blog channel as we further explore the learning industry and advancement trends a few times a week. Also, do not forget to subscribe to this blog in the top right-hand corner (bottom of this page if you are viewing via a mobile connection), for the latest posts directly into your email inbox.

 

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

The Disruptive Approach to the Learning Industry

Not too long ago, all the rage in our industry was shifting focus to the disruptive business model. Whenever there is a long-standing construct, it seems that someone comes out of nowhere and flips the model on its head. We see it all the time in this modern internet age. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Google (via a variety of enterprises) continue to break down the walls and establish new and innovative processes for consumers to integrate into their daily lives. From an outside perspective, it would appear that the Learning Market is ripe for such an opportunity. However, I would like to make the case that our industry is not as ripe as one would imagine.

The Learning marketplace, in particular, has been very adaptive throughout its entire existence. It seems that Training personnel are always focused on new and innovative teachings, and designers are obsessed with developing an open platform that can accommodate all these visionary changes that we as learning professionals would wish to implement. As a result, the largest changes that we are currently experiencing in this market are alarmingly innovative, however, they all work within the framework that is in place. The grand scheme of training from a disruptor’s perspective perhaps is not completely re-inventing the framework of the wheel, but instead, the successful disruptor may have to come in with a perspective far more internal to the learning process itself.

Think of the industry and how it currently stands, and the new features that are being introduced within the context of your training environment. New features such as mobile learning, gamification, and microlearning, all serve a need that was not immediately identified within the context of a training environment. That need being, how to motivate your workforce to action upon the training, as well as making said training accessible at any time, in any place. Microlearning in particular caters towards reinforcing ideas, motivating students due to the brevity of the content, as well as creating an environment where the user feels like they have accomplished something within that same very short time span. The innovators in this environment have created these amazing new functionalities, however, they have chosen to do so in a method that works with the already established infrastructure that organizations enjoy, and instead of further shifting focus onto newer and even greener pastures, a focus is being applied on perfecting these new features as they stand today. Gamification, while incredible and entirely visionary for the field of learning is not built out as much as designers and training administrators would like. The role of the disruptor in the learning space is currently to perfect these new processes and turn them into something that is entirely the vision of the learning client and helps positively shape experiences within the paradigm of learning.

What is next for the learning industry?

There is definitely more to come in the learning industry; the current focus is to make the end to end process feel more accessible. Instead of something that has been almost entirely compliance driven, more and more efforts are being placed on rounding out the entire offering. Providing situations where the complete picture of a role is thought out from the first interaction to some of the most difficult interactions an employee may face.

If a disruptor were to shift focus onto the industry at hand, some of the things that may be the most beneficial are as follows:

How do we capitalize on existing knowledge?

This is arguably the most immediate environment for an entrepreneurial mind. One of the largest problems with learning content in our industry is ensuring its effectiveness, as well as appropriately catering it to the needs of individual organizations. Especially, when considering the current climate in the pricing of custom learnings, and attempting to get something perfect based on our perceived requirements. We are not all instructional designers, and even when we are, there is a chance that on our own, we are unable to truly capture the requirements of the learners within our organization. In this stage of development outside eyes of like peers to point out areas in which we may have missed opportunities for greater learning are crucial.  For the outsider (and in this case the disruptor), it is imperative that employees, industry peers, and competitors alike are all considered, as they are a completely underutilized wealth of knowledge. An opportunist can capture the appropriate requirements of these given categories, and determine what they are doing to ready themselves for the future. Though there are organizations that already do this, the focus is not always on specific role capabilities or instituting a passive chain for knowledge transfer. This could be an exciting offering if approached properly, and could entirely revolutionize the manners in which we approach learning in each and every one of our organizations.

How do we further the reach of our learnings?

Practice makes perfect. Just like in school, often people cram for their big test and leave all the answers on the examination itself. We often remember very little, almost as if the knowledge was captured via the keyboard or writing utensil of which the examination occurred and removed from us entirely. Though learning innovators have approached this with some not so traditional methods, such as microlearning and gamification, there are definitively additional opportunities in this space. Imagine a comprehensive approach to facilitating once a day training within a short time window. That can be traceable and effective, giving appropriate tricks and tips on how to be more effective within certain roles within an organization. Or even better, completely editable content that is easy to configure without the help of any vendor whatsoever. This is the exciting future state of content in general.

How can we ensure our learning and development program is properly fixated on organizational bottom line?

At the end of the day, the mission of the organization should be the reason we seek to better ourselves. A disruptor realizes there is an untapped wealth to be found in the delivery of the right training to the appropriate staff, at the right moment. Just in time training may be the future of training itself, having the most impactful content could be the differentiator your organization has desperately craved since it first opened its doors. Imagine a picklist within your LMS that gives you access to any content available within a providers’ system. This could be done and a virtual a la cart variety package could be an amazing way to close role gaps within your organization.

Conclusion

The future is incredibly bright, and always very fun to ponder. With so many opportunities on the horizon and so many choices already in the learning mix, it is hard to argue the undoubted benefits of a learning and development department. Be sure to join me and Gyrus Systems as we further investigate the Learning industry and all that it entails here at the Gyrus Systems Blog. Also, do not forget to subscribe to this blog, with up to the minute content on new postings delivered straight to your email inbox!

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

How to Persuade your Boss to Invest in an LMS

Your learning program has been managing itself for years, or at least that’s what your boss thinks. But you know the dark secret that is lurking barely below the surface. You spend a ridiculous amount of time organizing and determining methods of learning dispersal among personnel within your organization. You are so swamped with the follow-up work that your other responsibilities are more and more stressful. So, with your business growing and your sanity going further and further by the wayside, how do you convince your boss that there is a better way? We are here to help. Like in most buyer scenarios, the best way to relay the importance of the investment is in a fiscally responsible manner. With a clear roadmap on effectively moving your organization to the finish line.

A Learning Management System Means…

More Time

Let’s face it. Learning programs are resource intensive. In order to properly organize a blended learning environment without a learning management system, a great deal of time needs to be dedicated. The great thing about an LMS is that the bulk of the work is done up front. All the employees are loaded into the system, and new ones can be auto-imported via a connection with your HRIS. This means that once you have gotten past the implementation your program will basically run itself, giving you time for implementing new courses, analyzing the effectiveness of the programs you have in place, and thinking up methods to improve organizational learning as a whole. The cost of the learning management system aside, an LMS is basically like hiring a full-time planner for your learning program. The organization of an LMS also frees up time for your instructors, allowing them to deliver learnings on a more impactful scale and the tools to verify session availability in reference to other teachings within the organization. Further alleviating redundancy and scheduling conflicts.  

A Verifiable Educated Workforce

Sure, your staff is undergoing your training, and it seems to be working. But, wouldn’t you like to be able to show your boss directly how effective it is? These reports are just a click away! See who has taken what course, how well those individuals have done within those courses and areas in which your employees will need to improve to positively benefit the business.  No more excuses. Everything is laid out in front of you learners. Your personnel will be able to call upon their learnings whenever they need, as well as relaunch past training to obtain a stronger understanding of portrayed concepts. Employees can also observe gaps they need to overcome in order to obtain the greatest benefit from their personal training and development.  

A Structured Delivery Method

All of your learnings via one portal. Imagine scheduling instructor-led training from the same location that you provide your employees a running stream of e-Learnings. How are you ensuring that your employees are taking the courses now? How are you reminding them to finish coursework that is outstanding? Are you even sure that everyone is taking all your learning offerings? With an LMS, you can automate your reminder system, you can look at untaken curriculum all from one screen and quickly identify holes in the curriculum. A learning management system is a tool you need to overcome issues you are currently experiencing within your learning program.

Better Compliance Practice

An LMS provides the resources for appropriate audit trails. We all know that non-compliance with industry regulations costs serious money. So why not ensure your output is in accordance with the demands of the strict regulations that are imposed on your learning and development program? When it comes time to produce documentation on the number of compliance certifications various departments have undergone, you should not have to scramble for the information. Safeguard your learning program with an adaptable LMS today.  

Growth of Savings

Increased productivity from your HR personnel and general users within the system. As well as better quality control of the learnings you are providing. No more troublesome fines and penalties stemming from the inability to report safety learnings in a timely and verifiable manner. Reduce the lost time in redundant training sessions and validate the effectiveness of the programs your learning program undergoes. You may find that learnings which you have spent a good deal of money creating are less beneficial than an in-house offering that has been going around the office place for years.  

You shouldn’t have to do this all on your own, call your Gyrus Systems representative today. We’ll gladly make the business case for why your organization should opt into an LMS today. Save time, be more productive and reap the benefits of a greater learning environment. We can help you evaluate shortcomings in your current training environment, and clearly outline the savings you will enjoy from effectively implementing a Learning Management System. Be sure to join us as we further investigate the LMS marketplace and make suggestions from time to time for making your professional life easier.

Why Instructor-Led Training Still Matters?

Instructor Led trainingWith each passing day, there is an increasing emphasis on the use of eLearning for corporate learning and training. Citing reasons such as cost effectiveness, flexibility and content variety, eLearning advocates often claim that eLearning is actually the most effective learning method and soon instructor-led training (ILT) will be a thing of the past. While eLearning does come with its own advantages and unique attributes, it cannot replicate all the benefits of instructor-led training. In the training world, instructor-led-training is often referred to as the gold standard and we think the gold standard will continue to show its impact along with eLearning.

Let’s learn the uniqueness of instructor-led training and why it can’t be replaced entirely by eLearning:

Adaptability:

A good instructor can adapt the training content to the specific needs of the participants during a training session. For example, if the participant’s training requirements revolve around one major area of the entire training program, a good instructor will easily take that clue and deliver the content and craft his/her stories or examples accordingly. The instructor can also adapt to the learners’ level and pace of understanding and can accommodate all types of learners. In eLearning, there is a very little scope of adaptability to address such issues.

Familiarity with Instructor-led training:

There is a certain level of familiarity and comfort being in a classroom environment with an instructor available to guide and mentor. Participants can ask questions or discuss their queries in real-time, which is generally missing in eLearning.  In an eLearning environment, participants, mostly work in isolation and don’t have the comfort of instructors if they are confused or overwhelmed.

Individual Attention and Focus:

ILT allows individual attention from the instructor, which is not possible in asynchronous eLearning.  It is very easy to divide the participants into different groups and address their specific problems or even pay attention to a single participant in an instructor-led training. An experienced instructor keeps an eye on body language and engagement signs and reaches out to participants to address their problems.

Group Learning:

Group interactions enhance learning, with participants learning from one another as well as from the instructor. With an ILT, a lot of interactions take place informally, that is during the class, at breaks or even after the class. These informal discussions are helpful to understand a topic from different viewpoints and experiences. It also breaks down the silos where participants across departments and functions can learn together and apply their knowledge collaboratively.

Human Touch:

ILT brings face-to-face interaction and real-time discussion, where participants can validate their understanding right away. Participants also receive real-time feedback, which reinforces their learning. An experienced instructor keeps the audience engaged, motivated and focused throughout the training program.

One can’t simply overlook the tremendous value and advantages of instructor-led training just because eLearning came into practice.

The 6 Hottest Training Technologies That You Can’t Overlook

Training TechnologiesEditor's Note: This blog was originally published in eLearning Industry in May 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.

Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives and training & development is no exception. It is redefining workforce learning methods and tools, allowing organizations to nurture their talent in the most effective way. Advanced software, technology tools, and innovative methods are being used to enhance training program’s quality, participation and engagement as well as to enable corporate training to be a more personalized experience. Struggling with gaps in talent and skills, organizations are starting to invest more heavily in technologies to predict their training requirements, understand their learners and to create exciting ways to deliver training and learning to their employees.

Let us look at some of the top technology trends taking place in the training and Development Industry:

Mobile Learning: According to e- Marketer, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 207.2 million, with the number of smartphone users worldwide forecast to exceed 2 billion users by the end of 2016. This widespread adoption of mobile phones as well as other mobile devices such as tablets, e-reader, etc. is encouraging organizations to leverage mobile learning technologies for their workforce training. Mobile Learning enables smaller sized courses to learners without restricting them to a fixed time and place, leading to higher absorption and retention rate of knowledge. Mobile learning will soon be the most conventional medium to reach the new workforce, which is more tech-savvy and digitally connected.  It’s estimated that the mobile learning industry will grow to over $37 billion by 2020.

Video-Based Training: Video streaming has been around for quite some time, however, the new millennium has seen a sudden upsurge in the online streaming space, with YouTube becoming the second popular search engine after Google. Newer technologies, tools,  increased network bandwidth, and widespread access to the internet is enabling organizations to create an affordable and advanced video- based training programs, which can be used not just in online courses but in traditional and blended settings as well. It is growing to be an effective medium for creating bite-sized and engaging learning modules. With the cost of video conferencing being reduced dramatically in recent years, organizations are also embracing this method to reduce their training costs and challenges. Tools such as Google Hangout and Skype are increasingly being used as cost effective video conferencing training tools.

Virtual Environment and Avatars: Virtual learning environments bring the social interaction part of traditional classroom training into the e-learning world. Organizations are using virtual training coach also called avatar, who engages with the learners like a real human being. These are human looking avatars in the form of a cartoon, a 3D character instructing and engaging with learners during the training process.  Companies are exploring online virtual platforms such as second life, Minecraft, Unity, etc. for delivering training and are creating similar virtual environments to bring the human touch into their e-learning environment. Companies like IBM, Cisco are already using virtual platforms for meetings, interviews, and employee training. Virtual environment and use of virtual avatars in training is an exciting medium to target the young workforce, where they can create their own avatar, build their own challenges and collaborate with other learners. 

HTML 5 and Responsive Design: Mobile learning is allowing learners to take training courses at any time, from any place and hence it is important for organizations to look into aspects such as user experience, content delivery from mobile point of view. HTML5 is the latest version of HTML, which is accessible on all platforms, devices, and browsers. HTML5 is adaptable and faster, providing the ability to design interactive and engaging learning experiences, without leaving the mobile users behind. Offline storage and data management can take place, even when the user is not connected to the Internet. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are also incorporating responsive designs to provide the most suitable content experience based on the screen size and resolution of learner’s device. A responsive LMS modifies the content placement according to the device capabilities, features, and provides a seamless and uniform user experience. 

Automation and Adaptive Learning: Content providers and LMS providers are using a vast number of automated solutions to create new courses and learning materials, reducing the cost and development time required in the conventional process.  Authoring tools and platforms allow you to find themes, templates and other resources that are needed for eLearning. You can also automatically detect learners’ preferences, requirements and customize their eLearning experience accordingly. These tools can also provide algorithmic solutions to evaluate user’s knowledge and skills individually in an automated process.

Big Data: As more and more learning activities take place digitally, we have more and more data gathered, which can give us hidden insights into our learning process, learner’s behavior, etc. By using external big data analytics tools or the ones, which are built into a variety of LMS, organizations are getting to know about their learners’ usage patterns, behavior, training courses effectiveness. This is enabling them to create a customized and personalized training courses based on facts and insights. LMS’ analytics features also help in managing, tracking and reporting training activities in a scheduled way and doesn’t require human intervention for most parts.

Elearning vs Classroom Training – Let’s Understand Their Pros and Cons

Elearning vs Classroom TrainingElearning is the new and inexpensive alternative to classroom training, which is becoming more popular and preferred method among organizations.

However, the debate on the effectiveness of eLearning compared to classroom training is often a subject of interest among learning and training professionals. Some prefer the real-time interaction with an instructor while others like the flexibility brought by eLearning. Both eLearning and classroom training methods share common attributes, however, eLearning is proving to be a more cost-effective and flexible method for organizations.

Let’s understand the pros and cons of both eLearning and classroom training:

Learning Context:

One of the main differences between eLearning and classroom training is that classroom training allows learners to actively interact, engage with instructors and other fellow learners. The instructor can move the learners around, group them in different ways in order to provide the most effective learning experience. In an eLearning environment, learners mostly work in isolation and are required to be self- driven. Virtual classroom training, video training, and other similar elements are being used to bring the human element in the world of eLearning, however, it still may not bring the feel and the benefits of being with a live instructor in the same room.

Cost Difference:

Another major difference is the cost effectiveness of eLearning and classroom training. It is estimated that organizations save about 50% to 70% on training when they introduce eLearning over instructor-led training due to reduced travel costs and non-requirement of logistics. Classroom training requires the presence of an instructor each and every time the course is supposed to be delivered, whereas once eLearning is developed, it can be used multiple times without any additional cost.

Availability and Flexibility:

Elearning can be accessible to the employees 24/7. Employees across the globe can take an eLearning course at their own pace, preferred time and even place. On the other side, classroom training is only available at a fixed time and day. One instructor can manage only one location and a limited number of employees at one point of time.

Reporting and Monitoring:

This is one aspect where eLearning easily surpasses the benefits of classroom training. The tracking of learners’ progress in a classroom training setting is usually done manually and often gives inaccurate results. On the other hand, eLearning courses are mostly delivered on the Learning Management Systems (LMS), which allows tracking and monitoring of learners’ progress, usage, and other parameters automatically in an efficient manner.

Content and Delivery Consistency:

Each instructor comes with his/her own style of training and content delivery and hence consistency can be a concern with classroom content. With eLearning, the course content and delivery is exactly the same each time. With eLearning, you can ensure standardized process and consistency in the delivery of content, which is difficult to attain in classroom training even if the same instructor delivers the training at different locations and with different groups.

Online Learning Trends That You Can’t Ignore

 

Online Learning Trends

Rapid advances in technology and modern workforce needs are transforming the way, workforce learning & training is delivered and training courses are created. Today’s tech-savvy, social and mobile learners are no longer interested in traditional classroom training and demand learning techniques that blends best with their current working style and outlook.

Let us look at top online learning trends that organization must incorporate in their learning programs.

Mobile learning

Mobile Learning enables you to present smaller sized, interactive online learning to your employees without restricting them to a particular time or a place. Employees with busy schedules or the ones who are always on-move have the luxury to access training resources at any time, from any place. Smaller sized content also enables them to absorb and retain the training courses in a better way. According to a survey by eMarketer, 59.3 percent of the U.S. population used a smartphone in 2015 and a total of 1.42 billion smartphones were sold worldwide. Almost two-thirds of Americans are predicted to own a smartphone by 2017, more than a threefold increase since 2010.  It is also estimated that the mobile learning industry alone will grow to over $37 billion by 2020.

Creative and Digestible Learning Modules

Extensive training courses and lengthy durations don’t comply with learners’ short attention span as well as their availability and often disconnects them from the entire learning process. Creative content is required to enable new and refreshed learning experience to employees. A report by the Rapid Learning institute emphasized that the majority of learners prefer short- e-learning courses, something that their organization is still trying to focus. Usage of videos, podcasts, micro-blogs, diagrams, images, questions, and quizzes not only helps in increasing the participation and completion rate of training courses but also engages the learners in a better way.  For example, people are more attentive to an image over a large block of text as it is easier to understand and digest the information presented in a visual manner.  Organizations can also introduce real life examples or real life scenarios for problem solving, encouraging employees’ to think and reflect their learning right away.

Data Analytics

Analytics tools help an organization to know about their learners and how they are digesting the information. One can evaluate training effectiveness, learner’s preferences, and usage patterns through analysis and visualizing software, Tin Can and other analytics tools. Such insights help organizations to create their training courses in a personalized and targeted way. One can evaluate the reasons behind a highly effective training course and vice versa and use such findings to create future training strategies and content. Data analytics also enable organizations to provide customized training programs to a group or a set of employees, who might be showing similar learning behavior or patterns.

Gamification

Who does not like to play games? Entertainment Software Association states that 155 million Americans regularly play video games and the average game player is 35 years old. This is why gamification in e-Learning is fast emerging as an effective technique to engage learners. Through gamification, you can include games or activities that allow learners to compete with other learners, overcome hurdles, and earn points, badges or rewards for their efforts. It increases their engagement during a learning program and also brings a sense of accomplishment or reward, encouraging employees to do better.  Companies who are already using gamification based learning programs have reported high levels of success.  In a research study by PEW Research, 53% of respondents stated – by 2020 gamification will be widely adopted by most industries, the communications scene, and most of all education.

While online learning will continue to evolve and change, organizations looking for long -term success must focus on these trends. There will be a constant focus on new and innovative ways to connect with learners through social, informal and creative methods transforming the way learning is delivered and perceived.

Debunking Misconceptions about Video Learning

There are more than bilv learning picturelion users (almost one-third of all people on the Internet) on YouTube, who spend extensive hours watching YouTube videos for entertainment as well as for education on a daily basis. Videos have become fully integrated into our lives and studies show that the average viewer retains 95% of a message when they watch it, as opposed to a mere 10% retention rate when they are reading it. This is why organizations are trying to integrate video learning in to their training and development practices. Video provides a unique and exciting medium to reach and engage with learning audiences that no other medium can provide. However, organizations often struggle to evaluate this new medium properly and a lot of them have refrained themselves from using video learning because of the misconceptions around it.

Through this blog, we will try to clarify some of the most common misconceptions around video learning:

Video is Expensive: The cost of producing a video has gone down drastically over the recent years. There are plenty of low-cost tools, software available that organizations can use themselves for video creation without involving an external agency or experts. Short-video editing tools like Vine, iMovie are very easy to use and they are either free or have a very affordable pricing model. One can even find video making application on mobile devices for creating a short and engaging video. Organizations have already been using videos for onboarding, product training and with the availability of new tools and techniques, they can also use it in their formal training programs without worrying about the cost.

Too Much Bandwidth Consumption: Bandwidth consumption is another major concern for organizations when it comes to video learning. However, in reality average broadband connection speed at most organizations is much higher than that required to stream a typical high resolution video. In fact, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are using technology to ensure the video content delivery and performance is mapped with real-time available bandwidth. You can also compress the videos, so that users can easily download them, even with a slow Internet connection. As an organization, you can easily assess your internet and bandwidth requirements for video learning and in most cases you will already have an appropriate infrastructure, which is overlooked easily.

Engagement with Learners’ is limited: While video learning can be slightly passive, learners’ engagement is highly dependent on the duration of the video course and the way in which the content has been presented. It is advisable to make short and compelling videos, where learners are not expected to learn too much at a single time. Videos create an exciting and fun learning experience for learners and a good video will be more engaging for learners than a typical instructor-led session. You can add humor, background music, real life examples or even display learners’ present situation and challenges through a character and similar creative elements are a sure way to make an engaging video. Even if you are using a YouTube or any other external video, you can always add your own twist with the help of video editing software and make it more relevant and appealing for your target audience.

Debunking Misconceptions about Mobile Learning

Mobile LearningMore than half of the world’s population now has a mobile subscription. The Mobile Economy report by GSMA intelligence indicates that an additional one billion subscribers are predicted by 2020, taking the global penetration rate to approximately 60%. . Mobile training not only offers learning on-the-go, but also allows learners to gain an instant access to information whenever and wherever they need it. However, there is often a misunderstanding on mobile learning capabilities and its usage for corporate learning and training.

Let us look at some of the common misconceptions about mobile learning or m-learning through this blog:

Mobile Learning Means Learning via Mobile Phones

While it is true, that a mobile phone can be used for mobile learning, it is not the only device that can be utilized. One can use a variety of handheld devices such as netbooks, tablet computers, wearable devices, e-readers (kindle for example), etc. as mobile learning tools. Mobile learning targets all such devices equally and learners can use any of these various mobile devices for learning.

Mobile Learning Is Used to Provide E-Learning on Mobile Devices

While a mobile device is used to provide online learning, it doesn’t imply that you will be doing the same kind of e-Learning that you would do using your laptop or desktop. Mobile learning differs from e-learning in terms of the size of courses that can (or should) be provided on mobile devices as well as the context in which mobile learning is accessed. The smaller screen (in most cases) and touch based interaction demands a change in the size of the course and the way it is being presented.  If your current content is not mobile friendly, you cannot replicate it for mobile learning purpose.

Mobile Learning Signifies Learning on the Move

While, it implies learning on-the-go, it is not a prerequisite for mobile learning. Learners can engage in mobile learning even when they are not travelling. The “mobile” in mobile learning also focusses on the devices being used along with the learner’s mobility. Learners have the flexibility and ease of learning through a mobile device and it does not matter whether they are at home, office, etc. or travelling.

Mobile Learning Is Not Serious Learning

People presume that smaller screens will not facilitate serious learning and mobile learning attracts distraction. This is not true as mobile learning captures micro-learning approach, which makes it easier for learners to initiate, complete, and absorb learning courses at a time and place convenient to them. And, if we talk about the distractions, it can be there in a classroom training setting as well. It is difficult to exactly find out how and what distracts each individual learners.

Mobile Learning is Not Secure

This is partially true as it is easier to lose a mobile device especially when learners are travelling and this can heavily compromise a company’s intellectual data. However, advanced security solutions coupled with latest mobile technologies allows you to deliver a secured and safe content. Companies can encrypt the content on any device as well as the browser in order to ensure a secure, safe connection. Security settings such as password protection, remote wipe/erasing of data, encryption are minimizing the security risk associated with mobile learning.

 

 

 

Six Tips to Help You Select the Right Learning Management System

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in KM World in April 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.

In the digital world, one can turn to a blog, Wikipedia, social media platforms, online knowledge forums, videos, etc. and get informed on just anything. The information available is abundant. You might think if there is a concrete need of a Learning Management System (LMS) versus letting the employees find and learn on their own. 

The second way sounds simple but unless you have just started your business or have a very small workforce, it is not going to be an effective method in the long run. Right from analyzing the skills required, sourcing the right learning material, checking its authenticity, easy access, to measurement and tracking, etc. will be a problem if you just let your employees learn on their own. Using a LMS is the only way through which, you can provide a systematic and centralized learning process for your employees. And, the first and most critical aspect of selecting a LMS is evaluating your own requirements and objectives.

Evaluate Your Need and Requirement: It is important to evaluate points such as total number of users expected, operations structure, learning and training objectives, current IT infrastructure and its limitations, system management, etc. Get as clear and specific as you can. For example, some of your workforce might be working at the client’s office and can’t access anything outside of the client system. How will the LMS work for them? You also must assess the present learning methodology or LMS from all perspectives in order to select the most effective LMS. Think whether the LMS will be used more for classroom training or e-learning and accordingly decide the kind of LMS that you require.

Assess LMS’ Features and Usability: There are multiple Learning Management Systems in the market, each providing a unique set of features and usability. While it is great to have a large number of features, it is more important to understand its usability for end-users. Don’t get fooled by a product demo where they claim to have maximum features. Some of it might not be useful to you at all but will make the system more complex and provide an unfriendly interface. The LMS should have a streamlined interface and work flow for the administrators as well for it to run successfully. Multiple features also tend to increase the maintenance costs. Your selection should be on the basis of key features and usability that you require rather than the features that they provide.

Focus on Scalability and Value: Think from a larger perspective when trying to find an ROI on your LMS. Imagine choosing a vendor for a particular department only to find the requirement to extend it to another department few months later but, only if the present LMS could have allowed you to add more users.  With the changing work environment and compliance requirement, your LMS should scale to meet the needs of larger and varied workforce as well as evolving training requirements.

Understand the LMS’s Support and Security: Your LMS will contain a lot of sensitive data and it is very important to have a robust and secured LMS. Analyze the security settings and keep your IT team in sync to help you identify the right security structure for your organizations’ need. For example, the LMS should provide settings in a way that one set of training or reading material can only be accessed by one level of employees in the legal department and not by anyone else. Also, evaluate the support that the LMS vendor is willing to provide. Will it come as a part of package or only in the deployment phase? Can your end-users contact them directly? 

Know Company’s History and Stability: LMS vendor landscape has seen a major consolidation in the past and is still an ongoing trend. In such scenarios, it is very vital to understand vendor’s history, their future outlook and stability factors. Everything right from your SLA’s, to support, product upgrades, pricing is going to be affected if your current vendor gets bought or merged by another company. You also need to analyze their product upgrades structure and how it gets aligned to the changing training needs. Research suggests that lack of products upgrades and inadequate vendor’s support were two major reasons for 66% of users to look for a new vendor in 2015.

Ask for a Trial Version: A trial version would provide you a real feel in to the interface, features and usability. You may also ask for a sandbox installation where you can explore the top LMS vendors that you have selected. Let a small team of end-users and administrators try it out and give you feedback. You can compare the feedback from all set of users for different products and see which one gets the maximum marks and do a better cost analysis too.

While these tips are most important when selecting the right LMS for your organization.  A bit of research and evaluation on vendor’s clientele, services, customer references can be few additional items to keep in mind.

 

Are You Engaging Your Talent in the Right Way?

We are in an era where everyday a new enterprise pops up. To make your organization stand in the storm of cut throat competition, you need to have something that others don’t! An amazing set of employees is one of the most important factors behind an organization’s success.

Let’s talk about keys for a successful organization! The only thing you need is a perfect HR department to bring in the best talent, right?  The answer is a yes and no both. Yes, this is an integral step, but no the entire success does not lie there. Attracting the right employee for your company is an important task, but the real battle is to keep the talented one’s retained while extracting the best from them.

What does talent management exactly mean? In simple words, to manage the ability, competency and power of employees within an organization. This concept acts as a boon to a company! Imagine life as an employee where your designation at your job is not what you aspired to be. In such cases, there can never be a win-win position for both the employee and the company.

This is when, talent management comes to your rescue. The concept not only restricts to recruiting the right candidate at a right time but also exploring the best and increasing retention.

This department in a company is always at work. They work continuously to attract retain, and manage promotions, all while keeping the organization’s needs in mind.To take the organization to the next level and achieve success it is vital to understand the right place for the candidates. After attracting the candidates, it is very important to strategically fit them in the organization.  The importance of the situation can be best understood with the example of buying the most expensive and amazing pair of shoes. If it doesn’t fit properly, it will only cause sores in feet or in other case, will just come out of foot! So, the task of managing talent would be incomplete if you are unable to fit the best talent at the correct place. The next most important step is to evaluate and engage with your employees on their career objectives and provide opportunities to grow within the organization on an ongoing basis. A talent development strategy, which brings together the employee’s career objectives, right skills training, personal development and finally learning and performance management not only motivates and retains the employee but also helps increasing organizational productivity. To focus on employee loyalty and motivation, it is very important to match their personal aspirations with career positions and career progression

A leading research by BlessingWhite tell us that “employees favour personal development over career progression”. They are more likely to stay loyal to a company if given opportunities to develop. Another research (Ortus’ research) shows that the biggest catalyst for employees leaving an organization is career development (75 per cent).

The world is growing digitally and everything is at the tip of your fingers. There are various software, which play an important role in talent management. Some of the components of talent management are recruitment, onboarding, performance management, compensation management, learning management, etc.

These software help in this fast growing field and make the task easy. Just digitally you can learn to manage as well as get recruited. In reality talent management software is a set of HR capabilities. So in short, talent management software is designed to manage talent through the entire lifecycle from hiring through development to reward!!  It helps a lot to maximize the value of an organization.

To fit it all in a bottle, talent management software is designed specifically to help organizations meet highly strategic goals. . Having right talent is important but valuing the right talent is more important. And, only a well-designed talent development statregy can help you achieve that and is a sure shot way to take another leap in the growing competition.

Building a Corporate University

One of the major initiatives for corporations in 2014 is to create a Corporate University. Which means, that if this is a priority for your organization, you’ll want to understand the nine steps needed for building a successful Corporate U.
However, before we jump in, we should first discuss what a Corporate University is. Is it to combine all learning activities under one umbrella? Is it to create a “cool” name for activities that are already taking place? Or is it to be a member of the approximately 3700 Corporate Universities that are estimated to be in existence?

I don’t think so. According to Mark Allen in The Corporate University Handbook, a Corporate University is “an educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its mission by conducting activities that cultivate both individual and organizational learning, knowledge and wisdom.”

Simply put, it’s about developing employees to improve employee and organizational performance to achieve organizational results. If we use this definition as the backbone for creating a Corporate U, we can easily define nine steps for success.

Steps for Creating a Corporate University

1. Support
2. Vision, Strategy, Goals
3. Funding
4. Audience
5. Learning Needs by Audience
6. Supplier Selection
7. Technology
8. Measurement
9. Communication

Many organizations give their Corporate Universities clever names and create University logos. While this is encouraged to promote the University brand, it is not the starting point but rather comes at the end of the process.

However, if you can include these nine steps when you embark on creating a Corporate University, you will find your University to be more successful, and thus is better able to support the organization’s goals and strategy more effectively and efficiently.

*** Detailed steps can be found on our white papers at Gyrus Resources ****

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