Engaging Employees to Learn as Part of Your Customer Experience Strategy

The best customer experiences are outcomes of the best employee experiences. Employees can only deliver on great experiences by feeling confident and knowledgeable about the processes, systems and outcomes used to deliver on those experiences. So the best employee experiences demand accessible, relevant and personalized learning.

Learners today are demanding better education in less time, with minimal effort and with curated learning paths. How can leaders use learning to improve customer experience? I have a few ideas.

1. Treat learners as leaders.

Have you ever heard that common advice about acting and dressing for the role you WANT to have, not for the one you have? The same thing applies to learners in your organization. According to the 2018 LinkedIn Learning report, leadership was the most important skill for employees to learn from L&D programs. Leadership is critical to not just the future of your organization, but also to your employee’s career path.

Help employees see themselves as leaders, even if their title doesn’t reflect that today. Treat courses on topics like customer service or your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system as not “how-to” basics, but as cornerstones for delivering a great experience for customers. Learners might not get excited about “how to enter customer information.” But connecting that process with achieving a superior experience for customers and employees is a great way to help them see themselves as leaders.

2. Reinforce what’s important to customers. Then repeat. And reinforce. Then repeat.

According to Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve, we forget up to HALF of what we just learned within one hour(!) without revisiting the material! (We can forget up to 70% within a day!)

If your employee remembers only half of what they learned, what are the most important points to reinforce with repeated messaging and education? I’d argue it’s what is most critical to your customers.

To share a slightly embarrassing example, I was once trained as a worker in a book store and was left on my own at the registers shortly after being trained on the return process. There was SO much emphasis on the cash register system that my manager neglected to tell me how to LOAD the gift card after a return. The customer certainly didn’t care about our system. The customer didn’t care that I had remembered the correct sequence to enter in the system to keep our inventory up-to-date. The customer only cared about how to get his money returned. And that’s what the manager had forgotten to teach me! (Or maybe I had forgotten to learn??) Either way, it was a disaster that ended with a swift rescue from a coworker.

I share that example because returns might not happen every day. Using reinforcement of learning that process, and emphasizing what’s important to the customer, might have saved me some embarrassment!

3. Learners AND customers want to be part of your story – not just told your story.

Learners want to feel like a story will help them relate to their own success. “If I do what Joe did, I’ll be successful, too.” And customers want to feel like your story as a brand or organization includes them, too!

Think of how Tom’s Shoes, which gives away a pair of shoes for every pair sold, told the brand story by telling the story of people who need shoes. Employees feel so connected to that outcome and mission that they understand their training on processes and procedures are not just about operations. They are about fulfilling that mission.

Customers, in turn, understand their important role in that story. They feel a part of it when they purchase a pair of shoes for themselves and know their action is doing something bigger.

Are you engaging your employees with learning and development on behalf of a great customer experience?