The role of Corporate Learning isn’t just to ‘do’ learning once and then go away. Our goal isn’t achieved until we facilitate an environment that develops people to become continuous, self sustaining learners.
As Fuse looks to launch a whole suite of technologies related to knowledge and learning in the flow of work this year, I feel as though it’s worthwhile looking back at our journey with continuous learning; not just how we came to understand it, but how we’ve come to embrace it more and more throughout the years, and how our customers are reaping its rewards.
It really hit me 10 years ago, when a friend asked me to consult for a major telecommunications company to take a fresh look at the inner workings of a large group of customer care agents across various regions. They were looking to find the answer to why despite training staff, they were still getting tasks such as order entry incorrect 50% of the time, costing them millions on one product line alone.
The journey was a revelation for me. I interviewed 100 people across the company: agents, managers, leaders. I asked them all the simple question: when you don’t know how to do your job, where do you get that information from?
The answer was consistent: they didn’t get it by going back to the e-learning courses hosted in their LMS, or the Sharepoint sites where all the process documents were beautifully crafted by an army of process experts but where almost no-one went to search as the path was too hard. Ninety five per cent of the time, they simply asked the person at the desk nearest to them and took on board their advice for right or wrong, propagating bad on bad, despite the perfectly created courses and content hidden deep within the company’s outdated technology.
Ten years later, this is still the same technique most people use to learn company knowledge, although more of it is done via WhatsApp, or Slack. Regardless of how they are doing it, it’s still at the heart of how people like to learn, which is in the flow of work, or to harness knowledge at the point of need. The thing that has been missed is closing the trust gap: For example, if Google is the trusted go-to tool for our personal lives, how do we have the same level of trust with our corporate learning tools?
Ten years ago, within that telco, we implemented a system that delivered all process and procedural knowledge at the point of need. Agents got the tools to understand what they were doing, and how to get the information they needed at a particular moment. The end result was that we ended up improving right first time efficiencies to unparalleled levels, saving over £10 million in one product line alone.
What do Hilti, Vodafone and Avon all Have in Common?
Despite our impressive results 10 years ago, the technology was still clunky to truly deliver at scale and speed in a way that’s possible today. This was partly because we were still working within the confines of e-learning courses, and partly because the technology was less evolved than it is today.
Today, technology is so flexible that it means that companies don’t need to be the most progressive in order to demonstrably impact performance positively with learning. Beyond this, learning mediums have evolved significantly and companies now have much more effective alternatives to course based learning. Pair these two magic ingredients together, and you’ve got a winning combination to support continuous learning at the point of need.
I’m going to give you three examples of how well this is working for Fuse customers.
The multinational developer and manufacturer of products for construction and building maintenance has more than 3,000 employees globally. The company felt hindered by its course based approach to learning. Case in point, its engineering modules took more than ten hours per course, and employee onboarding was a four week, in-person commitment. In 2017, Hilti partnered with Fuse to revolutionise its learning experiences for all employees.
Due to its direct sales model, Hilti generates more than 200,000 interactions with customers with customers daily, which is the basis for the development of its new products and services. It’s also the basis for Hilti’s ‘team brain,’ which the company wanted to modernise and standardise so that it could empower how employees were receiving learning in order to increase performance.
In implementing Fuse, Hilti has changed from static courses, to, ‘learning in the flow of work.’ As the company says, what used to take 60-90% of the year to deliver in learning is now delivered as informal learning and knowledge at the point of need. The sales onboarding time and costs are the proof of the pudding: what used to be a 15 months sales onboarding process payback period has become a three month payback process with Fuse.
In 2015, Vodafone introduced the Fuse ‘mobile first’ learning platform for many of its UK employees, and global call centre agents. All key classroom training was redesigned to be blended, reducing the number of classroom training days by developing a structured bite sized learning plan optimised for delivery to colleagues’ mobile devices. Because all learning was bite sized, advisors began snacking on bites within opportune moments during downtime, and before the classroom sessions.
Interestingly, soon 50% of all access happened outside of work hours, with peaks during travel to and from work - 90% of which was on people's own devices. To say learning got continuous very quickly would be the understatement of the century.
Vodafone also did some serious testing to prove its results. The company put one group through its traditional call centre training approach, and for the other group, all knowledge was put into Fuse, backed by a continuous learning approach. The results were in the NPS’, which were 70% higher by moving away from a course centric approach to a self serve on demand model.
How do you set yourself up to train and engage more than 5 million beauty entrepreneurs spanning 53 markets during a pandemic? Get an inside tour of Avon’s Fuse platform, and you’ll see just how.
Originally, Avon had too many platforms and the lack of continuous learning was one of a few problems.
Avon’s Digital Experience Manager, Andy Stamps, who led the learning transformation in partnership with Fuse, explained:
“We had too many learning management systems and they weren’t engaging our beauty entrepreneurs in any meaningful way. We knew we needed a different, more appealing model - one that would create positive and habitual learning behaviours.”
The Avon team wanted a collaborative platform that would enable not only learning in the flow of work, but also ‘learning in the flow of life.’ This describes beauty entrepreneurs’ need for engaging learning experiences that, crucially, also fit into their busy lives and promote a sense of belonging. Fuse catered for a wide variety of learning content from formal training courses to accessible ‘bite size’ content - but most importantly, ‘in-the-moment’ peer-to-peer learning. The result? Look at the data, and listen to Andy:
"We analysed different metrics such as completion rates, consumption of content and levels of interaction, but the data very clearly showed that it was the frequency with which our beauty entrepreneurs were coming back to the platform that made the biggest difference rather than the volume of content and how long they spent learning each time they logged in - this is where we saw the really dramatic uplifts in business performance. It was definitely a jaw-on-the-floor moment.”
It became clear that beauty entrepreneurs had the habit of coming back to the platform to refresh their understanding, to search for answers to a problem, to drop in to see what bite-sized new knowledge they could snack and learn from - or simply to stay updated and be part of the community conversation. These habits of learning measured by the frequency they choose to return to the platform each month is the biggest indicator of both commercial success and longevity of employment.
By the way, the jaw dropper stat in a nutshell? An incremental increase in monthly visits to the platform - the difference between low frequency (1 to 2 visits per month) and medium frequency (3 to 4 visits per month) - showed dramatic uplifts of +320% in aggregate sales over a 6 month period.
While it’s a great stat, I should also point out that the measurement is more important in this instance. Avon didn’t say ‘I need to train and deliver training completion certificates to a million people.’ The company did the analysis and realised quickly that it wasn’t simply getting people through courses that had the biggest impact - it was the habit of continuous learning measured by the frequency of visits, that proves the commercial benefit and the power of continuous learning.
Is your organisation struggling with course based learning that doesn’t embed knowledge at the point of need? Download our ebook Solve the Learning Engagement Problem, to find out why L&D need to stop only focusing on courses and create resources and experiences that drive measurable value and performance.