Training Your Customer Support Team with Remote Learning Strategies
Struggles of modern learners
If you were asked to paint an acrylic of a beach sunset in 60 minutes, could you do it? Most people couldn’t do this task without prior knowledge or access to a how-to video. It’s hard to perform a task well the first time without experience and proper guidance. This is why cohesive training programs and successful employee onboarding programs are so incredibly important for the growth and success of businesses.
The principles of adult learning aren’t so different from the concepts that teachers use to keep youngsters engaged in the classroom. When it comes to adult learning and training new employees, it’s natural that the motivation behind our inspiration to learn will change somewhat as we age.
Apply the foundations of adult learning to your organization
Malcolm Knowles, a leader in the field of adult learning and education, advocated five strategies for helping students acquire new learning. All of these elements can be applied to any employee training program. According to Knowles, adults want:
1. To understand why it’s important to know or do something.
2. The freedom to choose their own way to learn.
3. To learn through experiences.
4. To learn when the time is right.
5. To be part of a positive and encouraging process.
If you’re designing a company training program to help employees complete the steps in a task or process, consider these five key elements of the adult learning experience. Think about ways that you can demonstrate the purpose, reasoning, and importance behind each new training item. Try to get creative and provide different ways of explaining the same concept to cater to varied learning styles.
Help employees learn faster and easier
When you train employees to use a new or updated program or a website application, it might work best to break down every new concept or task into manageable chunks. Breaking down training sessions and concepts into manageable pieces makes it easier for employees to process and retain the information.
Another option to automate the process of developing a training guide is to perform the task(s) yourself and use a software solution such as a learning management system (LMS) to record the steps as you go. You can also use an LMS to create customized, pre-built training programs that employees can work through at their own pace. This has been very beneficial for new chat agent hires right here at SnapEngage!
Building knowledge on a remote team
The challenge of providing effective training to a customer support team becomes even greater when the members aren’t working in the same building – or even the same country. Our team has extensive experience in this more challenging aspect of training, with offices located eight hours apart in both Boulder, CO, USA and Berlin, Germany.
Employees need to be able to perform their jobs even when they can’t regularly attend a face-to-face training session. Even if you can organize on-site training, staff will have ongoing learning needs, and getting everyone together won’t always be feasible.
So, you can try sending a training guide over email and then provide online or offline chat support as they try to use it. The SnapEngage team chat functionality is perfect for internal training and communication. You can even walk step by step with new staff through the training manual and answer any questions they may have. However, keep in mind that many tech-savvy employees today often prefer to work through online tutorials, manuals, or training guides independently at first.
Ensure training success for remote employees
When your employees are learning in ways that help them to be more productive, everybody wins! However, you also want to be aware of the fact that working with a co-located customer support team has challenges. For example, you could give all team members a series of ‘angry-customer’ scenarios to work through in a virtual learning management system and have a debriefing meeting to collect their ideas.
This kind of session enables both new and veteran employees to share what they have learned or reflected upon with other team members. They can even bring up different, specific scenarios from work that were similar to the training scenarios. It’s important for the team leader to carefully assess, coach, and expand upon the learning connections that other team members derive from training materials.
Virtual barriers to communication and collaboration for remote teams
Whenever you work with a virtual team, there are barriers to effective collaboration of all members, especially in a learning context. For example, during the group’s communication using technology, there can be many accidental misunderstandings. Dhawan and Chamorro-Premuzic explained this well on HBR.org:
“Remote communication can distort the normal pace of our conversations. The delay between our messages can often postpone or hide emotional reactions to our comments.”
When you follow up with members of the customer support team about a training guide or a customer service debriefing, look for ways to ensure that they have truly processed and understood the new information. Using a video chat or a telephone conversation will provide you with even more in-depth information about their level of understanding.