Microlearning: the new approach to contact centre training that drives business outcomes
If you gave each of your contact centre team members and managers a $200 training voucher to purchase customer service training that was relevant to them, would they spend their money on a program from your Learning Management System? Would they spend their money on one of the courses currently on your learning schedule? Or would they spend it elsewhere?
As we explore our digital lifestyle and the way we currently interact with technology, this voucher might well be spent on other learning programs for the following reasons:
- The modern learner demands a learning solution that mirrors the way in which they conduct their usual research. It needs to be available immediately via mobile technology – we touch our phones up to 7 times per hour.
- And it needs to be micro-bite. Micro-bite implies that the learning happens in a time frame that is under 6 minutes, usually in 2–3 minute segments.
- We have been schooled by television where commercial breaks happen in approximately 6 minute intervals. Each message is about 30 seconds long. Learning that spans 40 minutes or more, as most traditional style elearning does, is neither efficient nor effective. It results in learning ‘wastage’. The remaining 34 minutes are not readily absorbed and are not embedded in to long term memory to drive performance improvement.
- These same learners, including millennials who will make up more than 50% of the workforce within the next decade, are using a range of social media platforms where content is delivered in short, sharp bursts. Very few are watching a Youtube video that is longer than a couple of minutes, and even a TED Talk feels way too long at 18 minutes.
- In face-to-face training sessions that might last 60–180 minutes or more, the likelihood of retaining more than 20% of that information decreases dramatically within 24 hours. There is substantial research that demonstrates that beating the ‘forgetting curve’ is a major challenge for learning and development professionals who need to demonstrate that the sessions they plan and deliver are remembered and then applied in to real working contexts.
Micro-bite learning has generated some resistance from traditional providers and legacy system vendors. If the learner / user experience is not at the centre of the planning, the administration needs of the Learning or HR team outweigh the type of learning that employees are coming to expect. The real question to ask is whether the business wants training that resonates with their users – and delivers results for the business.
Busting the myths about microlearning
The following objections to micro-bite learning are usually raised:
Instructional designers and learning managers ask how they can be expected to condense 6 hours of learning into 6 minutes. To them, micro-bite implies a lower quality product that has no substance.
This myth is easily de-bunked. Learning is formed in to a series of micro-bite modules or action packs. Like the pearls in a string, each pearl constitutes one micro-bite piece that is strung together with others to form the full necklace. The learner moves through the modules in the way that suits them best and learning is consumed gradually – which is far better in terms of retention.
Most current elearning modules are developed as SCORM (a set of technical standards for e-learning software products) packages so that they can be transferred across the full range of digital platforms. However what has transpired in this process is that users spend endless hours clicking ‘next, next’ as they progress through a series of Powerpoint slides on steroids, all in a SCORM format. The objection raised is that to unpick these and re-design them into micro-bite packs requires time and resources.
The great news is that app-based, mobile platforms are now created specifically with micro-bite learning in mind – and they are easy to use with far fewer hours required in development than the months needed to develop the old style modules. They are designed for learners who live in a mobile, digital world where they access information when they need it.
This means that they are also incredibly useful for ongoing performance support. System updates, product launches, refresher training are examples of where micro-bite learning works very well.
A checklist for microlearning success
Here is your initial checklist for micro-bite learning success:
- Start with your on-boarding process so that the team member immediately feels that their learning is important to you. Remember that 40% of millennials leave organisations because they are not getting the professional development that they would like to have. It costs 100-200% of an annual salary to replace an employee if you factor in all the add-on expenses!
- Include micro-bite easily in to any work schedule because each module / action pack is short and to the point. This does not have an impact on the efficiency of the call centre by taking teams away from their work stations for long amounts of time. Micro-bite is your secret weapon in driving improved engagement as it happens daily.
- Ensure that your micro-bite learning design addresses these gaps:
- The knowledge gap – ensure that the team has the background theory and knowledge.
- The skills gap – ensure that everyone has the skills to fulfil their roles effectively.
- The motivation gap – create the right learning environment so that people are self-motivated to achieve high levels of performance.
- The gap in the context / environment – generic courses need to be contextualised for successful results.
- The communication gap – do learners know what the ultimate learning goals are and have you communicated what behaviour changes are required.
- Create a trial to pilot Micro-bite learning. The mobile learning platforms eat old legacy systems for breakfast. They have the capability to provide incredible insights on the back-end in to the level of usage of individual learning assets so that you can determine what is working and what needs to be adapted and improved so that it hits the mark.
Micro-bite learning allows you to be creative in the design and delivery of training for your contact or call centre. It’s time to enable your team to reach their full potential at work and at the same time see real business results from your learning strategy!