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Sebastian Schmidt, Senior Consultant 

The new normal calls for new learning: Inspiration for modern learning at service organizations

The new normal calls for new learning: Inspiration for modern learning at service organizations

Digitalization and the New Normal have changed consumers' expectations of Customer Service. In order to train customer advisors optimally, old structures of training and education in Customer Services organizations need to be questioned and New Learning should be established.

Digitization and social change have an impact on the conditions for trainings at the workplace. Training processes, content, and infrastructures can rarely keep up with these developments, ultimately wasting employee potential, compromising customer satisfaction, and generating costs.

Changing Learning Methods – a Modern Issue

People had been questioning traditional learning methods even before the trend of digital homeschooling and remote work. Digitization will fundamentally transform training processes in the field of customer service.

The following questions arise when thinking about modern learning:

  • What can we do to better prepare employees for a changing workplace?
  • How can we empower them to overcome unforeseeable challenges?
  • How do we provide employees with the expertise they need to exploit the potential of new technologies?
  • And with all these demands, what do learners need in order to develop the skills essential for treating each other and their customers with respect?
  • And finally, how do we reconcile cost pressure and performance demands with the unique learning requirements of different employees?

To answer these questions, we need to say goodbye to the centuries-old learning methods associated with the so-called Nuremberg Funnel principle.

This type of knowledge transfer is still widespread at service organizations, as demonstrated by the customary form of initial training. Based on the concept of “learning and storing,” theoretical knowledge is presented in training rooms over a period of several weeks. The learners’ capacity to absorb information reaches its limits. The ability to regurgitate knowledge is viewed as a consistent selection criterion for suitable employees, resulting in high drop-out rates during training courses or knowledge transfer at the workplace.

Customer satisfaction ultimately suffers, as stressed employees feel like a cog in the machine and are ill equipped to provide competent service and high performance in customer contact.

Despite the customer and employee focus, this less contemporary form of employee onboarding is often a blind spot for managers. It generates follow-up costs and additional work for employees, which then catches up with the company in its daily operations at the latest – on the phone and in the back office

Nine Ideas for Modernizing Learning at Service Organizations

Trend studies reveal that the topic of “new learning” is increasingly on the agenda. For example, the mmb Institute trend monitor „Learning Delphi Studie 2020/21“ identifies optimism among providers of e-learning services as well as increased demand for microlearning, social learning, and how-to videos.

While modern technology and learning methods have contributed, new learning formats owe their success primarily to a change in perspective regarding the role of learners and the responsibilities of trainers.

We invite you to put the following nine ideas to the test:

1. With their diversity, learners offer largely untapped potential for customer service and telemarketing.

People in service units come from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds. Lumping them together will only result in failure to cultivate the skills so desperately needed in customer contact.

2. The focus should be on the learners. Trainers can ensure learning success with attentive support rather than multiple-choice questions.

Various methods of knowledge transfer and feedback can make a training course successful, particularly if these methods are customized and practical. The result is a workforce with application expertise.

3. Measuring learning success with feedback forms is uninformative. The true test of identifiable learning success is increased performance.

The participant questionnaire at the end of a training course is only evidence of successful knowledge transfer. We recommend defining learning goals based on performance indicators and determining the quality of a training course on the basis of how these indicators develop.

4. Learning success increases significantly if the learners’ individual goals are compared with company goals.

The learning environment should take into account an individual person’s prior knowledge, abilities, requirements, and the physical and intellectual resources available. If the company has a clear learning concept and a solid organizational framework, employee development can improve performance.

5. The learning process needs to move away from content silos. Cultivating and interweaving specialized and general knowledge can create problem-solving expertise.

Specialized skills must be cultivated and combined with the level of general knowledge necessary to enable work with experts in other fields (T-shaped profiles). Aside from factual knowledge, solution expertise in customer contact increasingly calls for an understanding of the bigger picture.

6. It’s the appropriate learning environment, employees, and trainers that make learning possible.

The trend is moving toward informal learning, which is also confirmed by the mmb Institute 2021/2022 delphi survey. Self-organized learning in informal settings with peer interaction (social workplace learning) leads to the sharing of current, practical knowledge. Trainers can support this learning process as coaches.

7. E-learning is not a panacea for all learning issues. The learning format must conform with the learning goal.

Learning videos and web-based training courses are a requirement these days. The idea is to sensibly integrate these formats into a learning process that teaches facts, enables comprehension, offers exercise options, and ensures practical experience.

8. Opportunities for learning how to learn should be on all staff development agendas.

Companies should be able to rely on highly specialized experts, in particular, to maintain and expand their knowledge. This form of self-learning expertise has become an important skill in the fast-paced work environment and is worth cultivating.

9. Managers are responsible for creating and maintaining the conditions for ongoing learning opportunities.

Now more than ever, the management is responsible for motivating team members, rather than just authorizing training courses. This not only requires budgets and time, but also a new way of thinking about KPIs for the purpose of measuring management success.

New Learning as a Key to Success in Customer Service

HR departments view manager and expert training and development as a necessity. But because the professional and communication requirements associated with customer contact are changing just about every day, service units also need to focus on the topic of learning. Many employees enjoy learning, a positive disposition that should be exploited with modern formats and a suitable cost-effort ratio. The responsibilities of a manager are to provide incentives, create attractive offers, and enable suitable feedback during the learning process.

The learning environment should be transformed on the basis of experience in change projects: start small, implement changes on a manageable scale, evaluate at short intervals, adapt the approach, and generate and share positive publicity. Begin by assessing the quality of the initial training and then scale it according to the comprehensive training concept.

Learning plays a key role in ensuring individual and business growth. We need to enable new learning methods to accommodate the disruptive changes inherent in the new normal.

Get in touch with us!

If you’re interested in restructuring your training processes with a focus on results, get in touch with the new learning experts at Junokai, our customer experience consulting firm.

Sebastian Schmidt
Senior Consultant at junokai
Email: sebastian.schmidt@junokai.de

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