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Are you Actually Training or Educating? Become a Master in 6 Easy Steps

I once read that training is only for animals, not for humans, and that I should be doing adult educating not giving training courses! However, whichever word you prefer to use, I hope that like me you enjoy both teaching and learning. One of my personal mantras is that:

“A day without learning is a day without living”

and I strive to find something new to appreciate every day.

 

Several of my major clients have recently asked me for help in improving their br and building efforts. Whilst this is certainly a good objective, I do wonder sometimes how many courses and workshops really make a difference to the way things are done. I am not dismissing workshops at all, in fact I regularly give training courses but I do underst and that it can be a challenge to share knowledge when facing a roomful of adults, peers, or even worse, bosses.

Adult learning is very different from teaching younger people in that by nature we are not as open to change, preferring to stay with our habits, even when we are shown that a new way of thinking or doing might be better. As if that isn’t bad enough, we also generally don’t like group-learning experiences led by a professional.

Since I know many of you get involved in adult training within your own organisations, I thought it would be useful for me to share some of my own learnings, to help you do it with even more success.

To quote one of my favourite masters, Confucius:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I underst and”

Keeping this in mind and applying it to adult learning here are my 6 tips:

Unhappy, disappointed man

#1. Underst and the motivations of your audience

Adults usually have high, some may say unrealistice, expectations or courses, so it is important to clearly articulate and clarify objectives within the first hour. Collect and review them from all participants before you get into the content. Do this again at the end of the course to get agreement from everyone on whether or not they have been met. If people believe that they have been heard, they are much more likely to at least be open to considering the new ideas and processes you will share during the course.

Participants will also have many different reasons for attending a workshop or training session and you need to accept that perhaps very few will have actually chosen to be there. They might therefore resent their (m andatory) participation, have little if any interest in the topic you will be covering, and possible no respect for your own experience and knowledge, nor for the ideas you have to share. Whilst it is unlikely that you will make them all change their minds over the short duration of the course, it is critical that you become aware of these sentiments, as they will remain undercurrents whether you like it or not.

 

#2. Keep sessions very focused

The above mentioned (lack of) motivation will also mean that adult learners tend to be less interested in st andard courses, because they feel they are different from (superior to?) most of the other participants. They are more likely to prefer courses around one precise concept or idea, and which will focus specifically on the application of the tools and processes designed to respond to a relevant problem or opportunity.

It is therefore usually better to run a number of shorter one-topic sessions, than a week-long course covering several different ideas around a subject, if at all possible. These shorter session will most probably improve the likelihood of participants actually actioning their learnings afterwards. In addition, they will reduce, if not completely eliminate, the need for frequent interruptions or absences due to the dem ands of the every-day work environment. (C3Centricity runs 1-Day Catalyst training sessions; check them out HERE)

 

#3. Build new learning on top of known processes and tools

Process wheelParticipants will bring a large amount of their own experiences into the classroom, which can be a tremendous asset if you can tap into it. They will learn much better if you can engage them in dialogue. It will anyway be difficult to stop most of them from sharing their ideas and opinions, so it is better to control rather than trying to prevent them from doing so.

People are not naturally open to learning new tools, processes and ways of thinking, so you are likely to meet with more success if you base your new ideas on what is already known. Build and exp and on current processes, showing how the additions and changes will be more beneficial. Learning is a means to an end for adults, not an end in itself, as it is for most kids. Increasing or maintaining participants’ sense of self-esteem is a strong secondary motivator; adults can take errors very personally, so they tend to take fewer risks and push to defend known solutions rather than to try new approaches.

 

#4. Vary speed

Adults have a similarly short attention span to children, but not for the same reasons. Again whether due to a lack of willingness to consider different ways of working, or a (misplaced?) feeling of superiority, adults will want things to progress fast and will lose interest if the program is not presented at their own personally preferred rhythm.

For this reason you should vary the speed of sessions, covering some topics deeply and others more quickly and superficially. Don’t worry about missing in thoroughness though, as you can always go back to resume and deepen the topic later in the day or in a follow-up session should someone request it.

 

#5. Include breakout sessions

Group session

Another solution to this increased likelihood for boredom is to provide more frequent breakout sessions. Whereas in normal workshops a coffee / tea break is provided in addition to lunch, you should include more reasons to have people get up and move around.
Use group breakout exercises, physical tasks, sortings, puzzles, Q&As and even exercise or races to get the juices flowing in mind and body and revitalise their enthusiasm.

 

 

#6. Contests and competitions

Adults are very competitive, especially when workshops are being run internally where people know each other, even if only by reputation. Being able to beat the boss or lead a team, make the learning even more enjoyable. The contests could be as simple as the exercises mentioned above, or a full blown case study to be completed during the workshop. And don’t forget the prizes; however small, people love surprises and adults in particular appreciate them, as they become a rare occasion as we grow older.

Following these six tips for improving your own training sessions should help you achieve even greater success and perhaps more importantly lead to increased enjoyment for both you and the participants.

Have I forgotten something? What other ideas do you have for making adult learning more enjoyable? I would love to hear about your own tricks and tips for improving the learning experience for us all.

Do you have a question or challenge about adult training? Check out our offers at:  https://www.c3centricity.com/training or contact us here for a chat about your needs.

Images used here were sourced from Microsoft.com

This post was adapted from one that was first published Febraury 23rd  2012 on C³Centricity Dimensions.

Social Customer Service: How to be Responsible, Resourceful & Ready in Real-time

A recent Infographic got me thinking about what has and hasn’t changed in customer service thanks to social media. In fact I should have said what has still not changed and MUST change in the very near future.

If you feel that you haven’t made all the necessary changes to meet the challenges of the new social customers and their dem ands, then read on for four actions you should be taking to improve your customer service.

#1. Responsibility

Marketing, Sales and Customer Service all have contact with customers and therefore also responsibility for them. Today these departments must work more closely together to provide a seamless connection with the customer. They need to build on each other’s efforts to satisfy the customer, so that each customer perceives that there is one company working to delight him and that he is really important to them.

Action: Employees from all customer-facing departments need to meet regularly, at least monthly, to exchange and share their latest experiences and learnings. What are customers talking about, complaining about or dreaming of? What new opportunities are there to get ahead of competition in better satisfying these current or latent needs? Organise regular exchanges or “lunch & learn” sessions and if you work in the USA recognise your most active employees by signing them up in the “Most Engaged Employee Contest”.

#2. Resources

Most organisations underst and the importance of their customer, and we all know they are more than ever in control thanks to social media. However, few companies are investing in developing their customer centricity and keeping their customer database current. Business needs to start walking the talk so their customers notice and feel a difference in how they are being treated, listened to and satisfied.

Action: Did you know it costs about 8 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one? Review how you collect and store your customer information. Have you verified their details in the last year? Most companies have upwards of 28% of their database which is out-of-date; when did you last check your own level? Is data stored by br and or business unit? Integrate the information, so the connection with your customer is seamless, more intimate, knowledgeable and fulfilling for you both.

#3. Ready

Social Media connections are growing exponentially but is your organisation staying ahead of the curve?. Recent figures from the latest Burson Marsteller Global Social Media Check-up 2012 suggest there are more than 10 million references to major global companies on social media every month and more than half of these are are on Twitter. Companies need to be following these discussions in addition to responding to customers in the usual way through call centers, email or postal mail.

Action: Review and revise your care center resources and training. Ensure you have a sufficiently growing number of trained staff to be available when the customer most needs to contact you. Provide the customer service agents with the knowledge, information and authority to respond to customers on social media as well as over traditional contact means. Remember that nothing disappears on the web, so written responses need to be accurate, precise and appropriate. If not you may fall into a PR disaster similar to the one Nestlé found itself in on its Facebook page in early 2010.

#4. Real-time

Did you know that customers expect a more rapid response to queries than they are used to getting? This is driving them to non-traditional methods of interacting with customer service agents such as chat and social media. According to the latest State of the Industry report from Acxiom and Digiday 74% of companies cannot respond to customers in real-time. How have you changed your care centres to respond to this dem and?

Action: Review your current customer service practices to ensure you are responding to your customers’ dem ands in real-time or at least offering a short-term solution. Have you made your agents available 24/7 or found a way to propose an alternative solution to customers who might contact outside normal working hours but when they are most likely to need help with your product or service? Customers expect answers within one to four hours these days.

These are the four essential steps that most organisations have still not taken to respond to the new social customer and their increased dem ands. What are you waiting for?

If you have taken other steps to optimise your organisations customer centricity to respond to the dem ands of the social customer then please share them here.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

5 Steps to Customer Care Excellence

A few months ago, I took a very early flight with BA out of Geneva International Airport and as on many previous occasions, BA staff demonstrated their excellent customer centricity, which prompted this post.

On that particular morning, it was Lionel who was working in the Club lounge who impressed me, for allowing me to enter and have a quick coffee, even though he had already called the flight and everyone else was on their way out.

The rule in such circumstances is not to admit any passengers once the flight has been called. It was refreshing to be treated as an individual and not as one of the mass of passengers taking the flight that morning. By allowing me to have a quick coffee before dashing to the gate certainly made my morning and my speed in gulping down the much-needed brew, as I had promised, enabled him to empty the lounge as he was required to do without too much delay.

What has this got to do with your own customer centricity you might ask? Well quite a lot in my opinion. As more people move from rural to urban areas, we are all challenged with living in a crowded environment, with little chance of being treated as an individual. This has created an increased value perception of space and service; people desire and actively search for recognition and a little extra personalised service. In the case of Lionel, he apparently saw me as a low risk and that he could trust me to have the quick coffee I so desperately needed at that time of the morning. I felt so special, he made my day and all because of a cup of coffee!

How do you train your own Customer Service Advisors?

Are all your company’s interactions with your customers scripted? Do your metrics of call centre efficiency include time per call, which is targeted down, or calls per advisor, constantly targeted up? If so, then there is little likelihood that you are making your customers feel very special or valued.

A few months ago I shared some information about a CEO who had decided to throw away the scripts that his call centre personnel were using and to trust his advisors to satisfy the callers in the best way possible – for the client! I am sure you can see how satisfaction went way up, for both the advisors and the customers.

If throwing away your call centre scripts is too far for you to go, at least for now, but you know that you could do with improving your care centre operations to make them even more customer centric, I have a few ideas for you:

#1. INVITE: How are you currently inviting your customers to connect with you? Are you putting a (free) telephone number, email or web address on your pack or in your advertising? Is the invitation clearly legible and does it offer your customers a choice of channels that they can use to connect with you? You should encourage as many connections as possible with your customers, so openly invite them wherever they will have a chance of noticing.

Some of you will certainly see this as a risk; more contacts will equal more complaints, no? Well yes – but hopefully at the same proportion as currently – and wouldn’t you rather know if your product or service has any perceived issues so that you can resolve them as quickly as possible? You will also get more chances to be praised on your offering, which means you will get information on what is particularly appreciated by your customers.

#2. LISTEN: Advisors should listen attentively to what the customer has to share: it always amazes me how often they try to interrupt the customer as quickly as possible in their explanation of the reason for their call. Perhaps this has to do with the call / time targets you have set, which I mentioned earlier. Why not replace these metrics by satisfaction targets? Let the customer talk until the reason for calling is fully explained and she feels that the advisor has really listened. Only then should your personnel start to respond with suggestions of possible solutions and actions.

#3. RESPOND: If your care centre is working with scripted responses and you feel too scared to throw them away immediately, at least give your advisors the freedom to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to satisfy and even surprise the caller. Your customers have taken the time and effort to reach out to you, so don’t disappoint them. Delight them with your response. Don’t just offer them a replacement product or coupons; everyone else does that. What more can you do for your customer, so that they feel special and valued? If they do, then they will certainly be prompted to share their positive experience with friends, family and even the world at large if they are active on social media. One satisfied customer can do a lot for your image, several and your reputation grows significantly.

#4. KEEP LISTENING: Don’t assume that the first thing your customer talks or writes about is the real reason for the call or connection. Sometimes there are other things that would be useful for you to know but you never get the chance to hear them because your advisors are ending the contact too quickly.

Perhaps your customer believes you wouldn’t be interested so never calls you about ideas that they have had or suggestions they would like to make. Why not ask if there is anything else your customer wants to share or talk to you about. More information is better information and more underst anding.

#5. ASK: Only when your customer is fully satisfied with your responses and has no other things they want to share, can you broach the subject of whether or not they would be willing to answer a few questions for you. If they do agree, then keep it short; if they refuse, respect their decision.

And, please don’t go through your full segmentation questionnaire if they do accept t answer a few questions; keep it short, a maximum of about five questions that will help you know her better. You can always complete a further five when she contacts you again – which they will do if they have been treated with interest, respect and openness.

These are my five steps to customer care excellence. Do you have any others you would add? I am sure everyone would be interested in hearing your additions and so would I. 

Why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own customer care centers? No obligation, just opportunity!

Find out more about connecting with your own customers on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on December 22nd 2011

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com

Become a Master Trainer in 6 Easy Steps

I read recently that training is only for animals, not for humans, and that I should be educating not giving training courses!

Whichever word you prefer to use I hope that like me you enjoy teaching and learning; I have always believed that a day without learning is a day without living, and I strive to find something new to appreciate every day.

 

Several of my major clients recently asked me for help in improving their br and building efforts. Whilst this is certainly a good thing, I do wonder sometimes how many courses and workshops really make a difference to the way things are done. I am not dismissing workshops at all, in fact I regularly give training courses but I do appreciate it can be a challenge when you’re facing a roomful of adults and peers.

Adult learning is very different from teaching younger people in that by nature we are not as open to change, preferring to stay with our habits, even when we have been shown that a new way of thinking or doing might be better. As if that isn’t bad enough, we also generally don’t like group-learning experiences led by a professional.

Since I know many of you get involved in adult training within your own organisations, I thought it would be useful for me to share some of my own learnings, to help you do it with even more success.

To quote one of my favourite masters, Confucius:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I underst and”

Keeping this in mind and applying it to adult learning here are my 6 tips:

 #1. Underst and the motivations for attendance

Adults usually have high expectations, so it is important to clarify and articulate objectives within the first hour. Collect and review them before you get into the content, as well as at the end of the course to get agreement on whether or not they have been met. If people believe they have been heard, they are much more likely to at least be open to considering the new ideas and processes you will share.

Participants will also have many different reasons for attending a workshop or training session and you need to accept that perhaps very few will have actually chosen to be there. They might therefore resent their participation, have little if any interest in the topic, no respect for your experience and knowledge, or the ideas you have to share. Whilst it is unlikely that you will make them all change their minds, it is critical that you become aware of these opinions as they will remain undercurrents during the whole duration of the course.

 

#2. Keep sessions very focused

This (lack of) motivation will also mean that adult learners tend to be less interested in st andard courses, because they feel they are different from most of the other participants. They are more likely to prefer courses around one precise concept or idea, and which will focus specifically on the application of the tools and processes designed to respond to a relevant problem or opportunity. It is therefore usually better to run a number of shorter one-topic sessions, than a week-long course covering several different ideas around a subject if at all possible. This will improve the likelihood of participants actioning their learnings afterwards, as well as reducing, if not completely eliminating, the need for frequent interruptions or absences due to the dem ands of work.

 

#3. Build new learning on top of known processes and tools

Participants will bring a large amount of their own experiences into the classroom, which can be a tremendous asset if you can tap into it. They will learn much better if they engage in dialogue and it will anyway be difficult to stop most of them from sharing their ideas, so best to control rather than stop them from doing so.

People are not naturally open to learning new tools, processes and ways of thinking, so you are likely to meet with more success if you base your new ideas on what is already known. Build and exp and on current processes, showing how the additions and changes will be more beneficial. Learning is a means to an end for adults, not an end in itself as it is for most kids. Increasing or maintaining participants’ sense of self-esteem is a strong secondary motivator; adults can take errors personally, so they tend to take fewer risks and push to defend known solutions rather than to try new approaches.

 

#4. Vary speed

Adults have a similarly short attention span to children, but not for the same reasons. Again whether due to a lack of willingness to consider different ways of working, or a feeling of superiority, adults will want things to progress fast and will lose interest if the program is not presented at their own personally preferred rhythm. For this reason you should vary the speed of sessions, covering some topics deeply and some more quickly. Don’t worry about missing in thoroughness though, as you can always go back to resume and deepen the topic later in the day or in a follow-up session.

 

#5. Include breakout sessions

Another solution to this increased likelihood for boredom is to provide more frequent breakout sessions. Whereas in normal workshops a coffee / tea break is provided in addition to lunch, you should include more reasons to have people get up and move around. Use group breakout exercises, physical tasks, sortings, puzzles, Q&A and even exercise or races to get the juices flowing in mind and body and revitalise their enthusiasm.

 

#6. Contests and competitions

Adults are very competitive especially when workshops are being run internally where people know each other, even if only by reputation. Being able to beat the boss, or lead a team make the learning even more enjoyable. The contests could be as simple as the exercises mentioned above, or a full blown case study to be completed during the workshop. And don’t forget the prizes; however small, people love surprises and adults in particular appreciate them, as they are a rare occasion as we grow older.

Following these six tips for improving your own training sessions should help you achieve even greater success and perhaps more importantly lead to increased enjoyment for both you and the participants.

Do you have a question or challenge about training? I am sure I can help; just contact me here and I’ll respond personally.

Have I forgotten something? What other ideas do you have for making adult learning more enjoyable? I would love to hear about your own tricks and tips for improving the learning experience for us all.

 

For more on knowledge-sharing processes, check out our website:  https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity sources images from Dreamstime.com

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