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  • NETMEDIA International

The new deal in CRM training

Long-term learning and distance working, the creation of learning communities, innovations via virtual reality and voice recognition... Customer services have taken advantage of the crisis to renew their approach to initial and ongoing training.

Almost a year ago, several leading outsourcing companies, whose employees had recently switched to teleworking, explained to the community how to deal with the most pressing training continuity issues. The teleworking situation has become so permanent that the Sitel group is developing several MAXhubs, centres dedicated exclusively to the training and animation of employees, notably in Athens and Romainville, in the Paris region.

A new organisation that gives pride of place to digital: "50% of training methods are now digital, whereas digital only represented a third of learning before the pandemic", says Valéry Ngyuen, general manager EMEA at Learning Tribes, a specialised company belonging to the Sitel group.

In order to adapt, and at a time when their training budgets are sometimes falling, client services are splitting up and diversifying modules and encouraging the creation of learning communities: "A course that does not respect these principles triples the risk of dropping out or of not using the teaching material," says Valéry Nguyen, for whom the switch to distance working is a "point of no return".

1. Testing virtual reality and language detection

The most striking educational innovations in customer relationship management relate to virtual reality, via a headset or, more simply, on the desktop. We have started experimenting with virtual reality through pilots for our integration seminars in the Hauts-de-France region," says Joséphine Damelincourt, director of talent management and WHU for the France region (Webhelp Group). We are also working on this experiential dimension for specific business sectors, such as the travel industry. Similarly, PicWicToys, the result of the merger between PiwWic and Toys'R'Us, is planning to set up a sales training system using virtual reality headsets, in partnership with the start-up WiXar. The participants are dropped into a virtual department in the shop and have to deal with customers' requests. Their responses and gestures are analysed and allow the scenario to be validated in real time.

In a more detailed way, some players offer voice recognition technologies that allow them to perceive the learner's answers and automatically adapt the scenario to them. The robot simulates a customer's questions, an interesting technique for dealing with complex or stressful situations for the advisor. The start-up Pitchboy offers this type of development. In parallel, some players, such as Learning Tribes, are developing podcasts. "The ability to harness a single channel of attention sometimes seems more appropriate than a traditional digital pathway for the acquisition of soft skills", says Valéry Nguyen (Learning Tribes). According to the manager, these channels have two pitfalls: the points seen via virtual reality need to be taken up by a manager in order to move from skill to knowledge, and voice recognition has difficulty analysing the nuances of language (unidentified language tics, unrecognised accents).

2. Dare to learning community management

A new trend is the creation of learning communities within contact centers and customer services, via dedicated platforms, a technique known as "learning community management". According to the learning pyramid made popular by the American psychologist Kurt Lewin at the beginning of the 20th century, who specialised in the study of behaviour, a learner retains only 5% of a lecture, compared with 50% in a discussion group and 90% if he or she immediately teaches what he or she has learned to others.

To efficiently manage a learning community via a digital platform, Learning Tribes recommends appointing a webmaster-like employee who is capable of organising the exchanges and carrying out regular thematic reviews. This involves setting up individual or team challenges and making additional educational content available. Among the good practices identified, it is important to set up a clear and not too restrictive content moderation charter so as not to discourage discussions. In addition, the learning community manager must identify several key roles among the participants: the influencer or content expert, who is a specialist in a topic and is able to promote it among his or her peers, the advocate (manager who encourages his or her team to participate), the mentor (who is not often called upon, but who represents the vision of the management) and the technician, who is responsible for explaining how the tools work

3. Taking on more fragmented formats

As many advisers are placed on a permanent basis at home, training entities have had to switch to short, more interactive formats. Blended learning [half face-to-face, half mid-distance] is still possible in this new configuration," says Joséphine Damelincourt. We work with 'pre-work': contextualisation elements including videos and readings, made available to learners before the training course.

The virtual classes, on the other hand, bring together six to eight advisers. It is no longer a question of giving a course but of going back together on the elements seen during the "pre-work" phase. "We need to develop a "pick and choose" training catalogue, according to needs," explains Joséphine Damelincourt. Indeed, according to Learning Tribes' measurements, a training module should not exceed five minutes, including an introduction of one to two minutes. We observe a shortening of the attention span of teleworking employees," says Valéry Nguyen. It is important to further promote immersion and gamification of the training course."

4. Ensuring the continuity of training despite a decreasing budget

Indicators related to the effectiveness of training sessions and tools are being monitored more strictly, in a context of budget cuts linked to the crisis in many sectors. It is important not to take advisers away from production unnecessarily. The production KPIs (duration, number of contents viewed) are accompanied by more qualitative indicators (reactions to a module, sharing, ideas put forward), indicating an increase in the skills of the adviser.

In addition, it is possible to transform managers into trainers from time to time in order to ensure pedagogical continuity. Learning Tribes has opened a "customer success manager" unit to support them. "Training employees is on average five times more expensive than directing training to managers," explains Valéry Nguyen.

Self-training is also an area of work: the Edflex platform offers a content curation engine that brings together articles, videos and podcasts that can be accessed in the form of a playlist. Finally, some players, such as Webhelp, propose to pool training programmes across several countries, another way of achieving economies of scale. "However, each module must be anchored locally", via personas that take into account regional specificities, concludes Joséphine Damelincourt. According to the expert, it is better to reserve this type of approach for managerial training, carried out in small groups.

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