• January 13, 2020
  • By Jim Bowley, vice president of product, Qstream

How Microlearning Makes Your Sales and Service Teams Customer-Ready

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Microlearning is one of the most exciting concepts in customer service training and sales enablement today. It’s scientifically proven to increase knowledge retention and is praised for its ability to pinpoint employees’ strengths and weaknesses so that knowledge gaps can be quickly addressed.

This innovative learning approach is an efficient way to get employees up to speed and perform at their best when selling to and servicing customers. Having the analytics to know if front-line teams are customer-ready is attracting the attention of business and learning leaders who know they need to transform learning programs if they are to sustain knowledge and keep organizational readiness evergreen.

High-performing front-line teams involve multiple departments: sales and marketing, customer and technical support, product marketing and management, and more. At each touchpoint, teams are responsible for delivering customer delight by consistently providing quality products and services while reflecting the company’s brand personality, messaging, and culture. There can be no weak links.

But achieving this tight cross-department integration is easier conceived than accomplished. While each team needs a foundational knowledge of the product, CRM systems, processes, and messaging to deliver a consistent customer experience, each team will have a different level of knowledge and unique skills they need to master in their specific job role.

Managers who oversee one or several front-line teams can benefit from working with their functional counterparts and L&D partners to use a microlearning strategy to standardize the delivery of the common knowledge everyone needs to sustain at an organization-wide level. Supplementing that with reinforcement of departmental or role-specific knowledge and skills is a must if the right behaviors are to be developed to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

But even as microlearning is increasingly being embraced to improve proficiency and performance, its definition and value is still vastly misunderstood.

The value in microlearning for your front-line teams is to get them customer-ready by delivering learning in a way that sticks and can be recalled in the right way at the right time with the customer. But some definitions of microlearning miss the point and define the term “microlearning” liberally and without capturing the core value proposition of this learning approach, especially when it comes to the key role knowledge reinforcement plays. That has caused a lot of confusion for learning professionals on what the definition of best-practice microlearning is and has created some misnomers.

To make this learning method work at your organization, it’s valuable to confront and overcome these five common myths of microlearning.

Myth No. 1: Microlearning Is Just Shrunken Content

Due to the nature of the name, people hear “micro” and immediately think small. There’s an innate assumption that microlearning is chaptered, chunked, or shrunken content, which is derived from the premise that by making learning content smaller, people will digest the information more easily, readily, and in a timelier manner. This is a flawed assumption. Critical business knowledge isn’t going to work better if it’s smaller. Rather, it will work best if transformed in the process of creating best-practice microlearning.

This transformation involves not shrinking the content, but writing it as a challenge, one that will engage learners and hold their attention. Content delivered in this manner helps employees become more proficient with the systems, processes, and messaging related to delivering superior customer experience. Being able to adapt the microlearning message to suit each unique job role surrounding CRM will enable the delivery of relevant, scenario-based challenges and ensure the retention of important learning content.

Myth No. 2: Microlearning Is Passive Versus Pushed

People are busy and have short attention spans, which is magnified in today’s digitally accelerated world. This makes traditional training methods (videos, SCORM courses, PowerPoints) nearly impossible to enforce, especially since it is assumed people will voluntarily interact with this training content. With so much noise and excess information existing in the “digital junk drawer”—years of well-intended training content that has accumulated on the internet—the traditional training approach simply won’t cut it. To get the attention of a busy employee and reiterate the importance of the training content, pushing training is required. Microlearning pushes business messages into the flow of work to ensure critical CRM-related training information doesn’t get lost in the noise. This will make sure the learner is engaged and held accountable, ultimately leading to improved performance readiness in customer-facing teams.

Myth No. 3: Microlearning Is Mainly for Millennials

There’s a myth that microlearning is best suited for Millennials due to the notion that, somehow, their attention spans are shorter than other generations. But in today’s digital world, short attention spans are not generational. Every employee working in the modern workforce, regardless of age, faces the same daily distractions. The omnipresence of technology—once thought to be a Millennial attribute—affects everyone and heightens these distractions. But it also means the demand for faster, more relevant information. Just like microlearning, CRM training should not be departmentally siloed. It is a cross-organizational effort that should mirror the customer journey from initial touchpoint to renewal, ensuring that—along the way—every department is clear on company messaging and product knowledge. This is why microlearning is multigenerational.

Myth No. 4: Microlearning Impact Is Hard to Quantify

It’s a myth that microlearning is hard to quantify. In fact, it’s arguably the best way to measure training impact on business outcomes. Traditional eLearning is too focused on measuring activity-based metrics like course completion. But best-practice microlearning is more granular and focuses on metrics that measure knowledge retention and performance readiness. With heatmaps, leaderboards, and in-the-moment feedback, microlearning can pinpoint everyone’s skill set and improve knowledge around the customer relationship journey.

Myth No. 5: Microlearning Is Already in the LMS

Like CRM software, a learning management system (LMS) is simply a database that tracks whether someone has taken a specific action. But employees aren’t always actively engaging with their LMS. Busy people are unlikely to seek training material of their own volition. Microlearning goes beyond the LMS by pushing training challenges into the flow of work, ensuring interaction with critical business knowledge; enhancing knowledge retention; and improving company-wide performance in the customer journey.

Customer relationship management is so much more than just software. With so many moving parts along the customer journey, it’s vital that each customer-facing team is well-versed in company messaging and product knowledge to ensure customers are satisfied and coming back for more. Now that these common microlearning myths are busted, what are you waiting for to incorporate it into your front-line training programs?

Jim Bowley is vice president of product for Qstream. Bowley guides the Qstream product direction to ensure customers benefit from ongoing innovation as their L&D needs evolve. In the two decades prior at PeopleFluent, he held senior product management, product strategy, and sales roles and led innovation strategy for its suite of talent management and learning solutions. A recognized thought leader in the human capital management software industry, Bowley has been a regular contributor to leading publications such as Talent Management Magazine, Chief Learning Officer, Human Resource Executive and HR Magazine.

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