How customers interact with brands is constantly changing.
Technology plays a big role in establishing a 360-degree experience that encompasses physical storefronts, traditional media like print and TV, and online channels.
This dynamic environment means that businesses must also relentlessly reassess the way they engage with their customers.
One effective method to achieve this is to implement regular employee training programs that aim to improve customer experience.
Excellent employee training programs are not only limited to new hire orientations.
They must be planned and designed to add value to the skill sets of the employees in order to keep up with increasing customer expectations.
At the same time, these training programs contribute to individual employee growth.
In fact, research has shown that employees who receive formalized training generate 218 percent more income than their untrained peers.
But what are the factors that contribute to making these employee training programs successful?
Here are some insights that should be considered.
1. Identify training program goals
Just like any other project, creating an employee training program must undergo careful planning.
Before gathering employees and overloading them with a barrage of information, it is first important to identify the goals of the training program.
What do you want to achieve by the end of the training?
What do you want your employees to learn? How will your business benefit?
By knowing these things at the very start of the process, it will be easier for you to outline a suitable program that will address all your objectives.
Doing this can also help you determine whether you have the in-house resources to conduct the training session or whether you actually need to hire a third-party consultant or specialist to train your employees.
While designing the training program, use these clear set of objectives to assess whether each part of the training is working towards achieving these goals.
2. Focus on customer experience
Employee training programs must equip employees with the right mindset, attitude, and skills in order to improve the customer experience.
In designing a training program, trainers should always ask themselves how the topics will contribute to bringing a positive experience for their consumer base.
Now, more than ever, customers are more empowered to engage with brands using multiple online channels.
These engagements significantly affect a brand’s image and how other customers perceive the company.
This is the reason why training for customer experience optimization is becoming very important.
Training employees to optimize customer experience can result in excellent e-commerce reviews that reflect what the company stands for.
When employees are not trained well in performing their tasks and in responding to customers, this can lead to frustrations and negative feedback.
3. Use of varied learning methods
There are many different ways to conduct an employee training program.
Depending on the topic or nature of your business, you can use these methods to make your training sessions engaging.
Some popular employee training methods include:
Improved Classroom Style
The traditional style of instruction has the trainees gathered in a room with an instructor at the front.
While classroom training seems old-fashioned, the use of multimedia tools such as videos, visuals, audio, and music can amplify this method.
Another technique is to use a different area to conduct the session.
Instead of using a meeting room or an indoor room, consider taking trainees in an outdoor park, a café, or anywhere outside the office for a more relaxed mode of instruction.
By conducting the session in a different environment, it can potentially give trainees a fresh mindset so they can be more receptive to new information.
For many large companies, it can be challenging to organize a common schedule for all of the employees to attend a training program.
This is also a typical issue for small businesses who cannot afford to have all of their employees taken off their everyday tasks.
In these situations, online training can be implemented.
Lectures can also be pre-recorded so that trainees can opt to come back and review the course at their available time. Thus not requiring all of the trainees to free up their schedules at the same time.
Online training can also be applied if the instructor is not available on-site and this can save on travel costs.
This is an effective way to impart practical knowledge especially if the training includes the use of technical equipment.
Showing trainees how the process is done can be more effective than just reading a manual.
This type of training is also very important if there are any safety concerns
If the training is about customer interaction, engaging in role-playing sessions can address different aspects not only regarding verbal skills but also on body language or non-verbal cues.
Role-playing is also an effective way to evaluate if the employees actually understand the process.
While the role-playing is on-going, it also gives the instructor an opportunity to point out whether the trainees are making mistakes and correct these on the spot.
If it is just a short training program that will last a few hours, you can utilize at least two of these training styles.
However, if the training spans several days then it is a great idea to combine these training methods.
You can also change up the style every day depending on the training topic and think of creative ways to disseminate learning.
This can help in keeping the trainees interested during the program and prevent the training from being predictable.
4. Must offer a comprehensive content
A lot of people nowadays have a very short attention span.
With the multitude of tasks, entertainment, and activities available everywhere, it can be difficult to just sit still in a training session.
This is the reason why many trainers try to cut out information to keep the sessions shorter.
They often fear that their training programs will be boring.
However, this practice does not really help employees because when valuable information is skipped, it creates gaps in the learning process.
An effective way to ensure that the program is still comprehensive but not boring is to provide written resources before or after a training session.
While handouts are usually given at the end of the session, some trainers find it more effective to provide training materials prior to the session so the trainees can familiarise themselves on the topic.
For example, when training an employee to use office equipment like a printer, most trainers might just point on the basic buttons to press.
However, because a lot of machines are now so advanced, not knowing what the other parts are for or what the various printing terminologies mean can actually lead to misuse and equipment failure.
Handing out written materials to support practical training can be useful to make the training complete.
5. Adaptive and intuitive
A training program should be adaptive to the needs of the employees as well as the customers.
As already pointed out at the beginning of this article, brands now exist in a very dynamic environment so it’s important to be able to adapt accordingly.
What might have worked for the last 30 years may not always be the best option when dealing with the modern, highly demanding customer.
While it is good to use tested and proven methods, applying new techniques can add value and advantage to the company.
At the same time, an excellent training program must be intuitive and teach employees to anticipate risks that threaten customer experience.
Most times, employees may think that their non-customer facing actions do not affect the brand but there are instances when this happens.
One example of this risk is a data breach.
When customers get their personal data compromised, their perception of the brand immediately goes down.
What employees do not realize is that mundane things such as clicking on malicious emails in their inbox are the leading reasons for a data breach.
According to statistics, 92.4 percent of malware is delivered to laptops via email.
Providing employees with this type of information can, therefore, be helpful in preventing these mishaps from happening.
6. The efficiency and impact of employee training has to be measurable
It is very important that at the end of your employee training program, there will be a method to measure whether the program is effective or if it needs to be improved.
This process can be achieved using different means of testing.
You can conduct an examination at the end of the training to check whether the trainees were able to absorb the information.
If you conducted the training in order to increase business productivity, you can measure results before the training and at least one month after the training to see the difference.
If the training is connected to client or customer experience, you can also ask for feedback a few weeks after the training to see whether it was successful in improving your service.
You can use the metrics that you’ve gathered to adjust and improve your future training sessions.
7. Train for success
Implementing employee training programs requires a commitment not only to improve employees but also to enhance the complete brand and customer experience.
Following these techniques can help companies create effective training strategies that can set them up for success.
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Nathan Sharpe is the entrepreneur behind the business blog Biznas. He knows that you must wear many different hats for your business to be a success. He helps others achieve this success by sharing everything he knows on his blog, as well as any new lessons he learns along the way!