Training is more than we often think it is.
It’s a way to teach standards, procedures, processes. It’s also a way to lead by example to show what sort of experience you want your customers to have. It is in fact "setting the stage" for how you expect your people to perform in order to deliver that experience.
When we are training our teams, we are training them about SO much more than the specific area to which they’re assigned. Our learning experiences provide a roadmap of the experience our organization is promising to deliver for our customers, whether we plan it that way or not.
Of course, the training experience we provide for the learners in our organizations should be easy to access, full of valuable and relevant content, and provide the tools and knowledge needed to the learner to fully execute their job. But the EXPERIENCE of training should reflect the experience we want our customers to have.
Customer-focused training starts with onboarding.
The way we onboard and train employees should reflect the experience we want to deliver every step of the way to our customers. This means:
- Understanding our learners and their real lives, just like we need to understand our customers
- Knowing the learner journey from his or her perspective, not just how we designed it!
- Designing a journey for learners that is easy to follow and personalized for them. If we start with thinking only about the role or the task to train to, we miss out on creating meaningful ways to connect our employees with the overall experience.
- Asking for feedback from learners before, during and after interactions with training. Then we have to use that feedback to improve the experience for everyone, just like customer feedback.
- Connecting every piece of training content back to the overall customer experience we’re trying to deliver. If we ask employees to be professional, but polite, but our brand is sassy and sarcastic, that ends up as a disconnect for the customer.
- Knowing the promise we made to customers as a starting point for each piece of the journey for them. This means connecting the dots between how something that isn’t customer facing, like accounts receivable, is still impacting the customer experience.
- Asking for specific actions that reflect the promise we made to customers, as a result of training.
In hospitality training, for example, it’s common to ask teams to use certain positive expressions over others. For example, instead of responding to “Thank You” from a guest with “No Problem,” we may ask employees to respond with favorable expressions like “It’s my pleasure.” Why do we do this? It’s to live up to the promise of serving guests in the best possible way we can.
How does your learner journey reflect your customer experience?
If you haven’t thought about it, here are a few ways to consider aligning those experiences in your organization.
- Know your brand promise.
What are you promising your customers? If you are telling customers you will be easy to work with, ask if your learner journey is easy to work with, too.
- Gather feedback along your learner journey from your learners.
Ask questions about the customer experience itself, and how the training connects back to that for them. Instead of just quizzing the basics, ask reflective questions about how what they just learned will help them deliver a better experience for customers in the future.
- Share customer experience successes with your employees often.
Make sure you circle back with the teams who trained to make those successes happen. Absolutely tell the whole company when customer complaints are down. Then, make it a point to recognize the team who solved the root cause of those complaints.
It’s easy to focus on one segment, one training module, one product rollout at a time. Taking a step back to see the big picture will help you align your overall learning strategy with your overall customer experience, and everyone will feel the benefits.