Digital technologies are changing how online learning presents itself to our learner colleagues. Scriptwriter Pirjo Leek looks at the data in our recent Role of Digital: Customer Service report and asks how has digital affected the methods and models customer service companies use to structure learning and development in the organisation?
In the age of the digital, learning in any customer-focused company needs to face both ways and look at both the present and the future. The learner has to be equipped for performing better in the short run and become motivated to innovate and change behaviour in the long run. Learning and development teams are trying to find a balance between the two to justify the investment in learning. It is no longer about just providing a skill but building an entire mind set around key behaviours so the learner is motivated to acquire and apply skills without the disruption of a formal learning intervention. You do not just tell them how - but show them the way to find a solution.
As the processes of learning are complex and dependent on the company's unique needs, customer service organisations adjust the learning models they employ to fit their particular needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Despite that, there are some ideas which seem to be widely accepted and used. The 70:20:10 model, which suggests that 70% of learning takes place when you are working, your colleagues teach you 20% and only 10% is gained from formal learning, is still used, but less often referred to today. However, the main idea of this model that you learn most effectively through experience is still relevant and widely accepted by the L&D community. The 70:20:10 terminology does not mean much to people outside the learning and development teams however, so companies are still structuring their learning around the premise without mentioning the framework. The concept has become so widespread that it is no longer an approach that requires further restructuring of how-things-are-done –- it's just a simple fact informing everything we do.
"Self-directed learning is the model."
The move towards self-service and user-generated learning has changed the way organisations lay out career progression and learning pathways. Instead of focusing on one set track to management, organisations are creating new job families and encouraging their staff to acquire new business and technical skills. This means that a wider range of learning is available for staff and they are given more autonomy over their careers. Career progression is no longer a strenuous climb up a single mountain, but rather an exciting exploration of endless opportunities on a level playing field.
L&D is playing an ever more important role in this new environment, in making our learning spaces more horizontal and frictionless.
In order to navigate the vast landscape of opportunities, organisations have started to formalise their learning journeys to ensure colleagues find the right resource at the right time. Organisations are tailoring the learning around the needs and aspirations of the individual learner and setting up different frameworks where they can connect with other people and opportunities.
Customer service companies are saying that they are going into more detail about the context and the experience when designing products to support their staff. Under what conditions, inside the workflow, will these learning resources be used?
Thinking of how colleagues navigate through and 'pull' learning to them helps to guarantee that everyone's needs are met and learners keep coming back and getting better at what they do. It is not about what companies want to teach but what the staff wants to learn, and trusting colleagues to understand the difference.
Based on our research, customer service organisations seem to follow a model which balances present and future learning needs, emphasises informal learning and offers a wide variety of customised pathways. The learner is the king. All this feeds into the wider trends in learning – you choose what learning is most useful and follow a route which has been carved out with your needs in mind.