Training Options for Your Customer Service Team

In 2012, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that were more than 2.3 million customer service representatives across the United States. Most customer service representatives make less than $35,000 per year, but this in part reflects that fact that 1 and 5 customer service representatives work on a part-time basis. Customer service representatives work in retail, call centers and other front line service capacities. Their primary role is to process orders, respond to customer complaints, and communicate information about their company’s services and/or products. While the vast majority of customer services positions require little formal education beyond a high school diploma or associate’s degree, customer service representatives have much to gain from additional training offered on the job. As the first and often only people who have direct contact with a company’s customers, employing a team of well trained and committed customer service representatives is essential. It also means that investing in training for customer service representatives can yield a high return on investment over time. Continue reading

Responding to the Training Needs of EMTs

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) have one of the most high-risk occupations in the United States. For only a fraction of the pay earned by other first responders, such as fire fighters, or emergency room doctors and even nurses, EMTs deliver vital medical services and often do so under highly perilous conditions. While their low compensation reflects the fact that the initial educational requirements needed to become an EMT are less demanding than the requirements to work in most other front line medical careers, EMTs must possess a high level of knowledge on a range of emergency medicine topics and must constantly retrain to stay on top of new procedures and most notably, the myriad of compliance issues that impact their work. Continue reading

Learning Management Systems for Change Management

There is nothing that drives business more than a great, even revolutionary, idea. Failing to prepare one’s employees and clients for big changes, however, can be catastrophic, no matter how great one’s idea may appear on the surface. For this reason, managing change is essential and training is a key part of change management. A flexible learning management system can help organizations prepare and train for change in an integrated manner and help them track the impact of change as it unfolds. Continue reading

Training for Shift Workers

By definition, a shift worker is any worker who follows a work schedule that deviates from the typical 9 to 5 business schedule. Traditionally, nurses, doctors, pilots, flight attendants, security guards, fire fighters and truck drivers were among the most common shift work positions. Today, shift work is becoming increasingly common across sectors, including in many so-called white collar professions. Indeed, an estimated 8.6 million US workers engage in some form of shift worker. The reason for the increase is simple. As US businesses strive to keep up in a global market, being available 24-hours a day, not simply during one’s local business hours, is becoming increasingly important. While many businesses opt to hire overseas workers (e.g., many US banks employ customer service agents in India to field late night and early morning calls), other companies opt to employ shift workers in the US. While being on all the time may be good for business, the negative impacts of shift work are well documented. But what are the implications for training and can adopting a learning management system help?
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Learning Management Systems for Any Attention Span

Earlier in 2015, Microsoft Canada’s consumer research division released a new study on attention spans. Based on a survey of 2000 adult respondents, the company’s researchers discovered that over the past 15 years, our attention spans have been plummeting at a rather alarming rate. Indeed, among the study’s most alarming observations is the fact that since 2000, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which even puts us behind goldfish (goldfish have an average attention spam of 9 seconds). The same study reports that Internet users rarely spend more than 10 seconds on a single page. The study’s results not only have implications for consumer research and marketing but also for education and training and more specifically, for the development and adoption of learning management systems. Continue reading

Never too Small to Adopt a Learning Management System

While learning management systems (LMSs) have been widely adopted by larger companies, to date, many very small companies, including family-owned businesses that focus on delivering a single product or service to people in a limited market and/or geographic area, remain reluctant to explore the benefits of LMSs. Ask our experts about the benefits of adopting an LMS. If asked why they think their businesses have little or nothing to gain from adopting a LMS, their reasons typically fall into three broad categories.

  • Size: Many very small companies (by definition, a small company is any company with fewer than 500 employees, so very small companies are generally assumed to be comprised of those with fewer than 50 employees ) simply assume that they are too small to warrant adopting a LMS.
  • Cost: Many small companies assume LMSs are not within the budget of a small company.
  • Limited training needs: Many small companies believe that their training needs are limited, since they deliver a single streamlined product or service to a restricted market.

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Can and Should we Train Employees to Smile?

From time to time, a lone woman stands outside the steps of the New York Public Library’s main branch asking passing pedestrians a single question, “I’m looking for something – can you help me?” Anyone who stops receives the same reply, “I’m looking for the nearest smile!” While the lone woman outside the library appears to be generating smiles for purely personal and esoteric reasons, generating smiles is also serious business, but what are the actual benefits of smiling and what is the cost, if any, of faking a smile at work?

To Smile or Not to Smile?

Even before Arlie Hochschild published her seminal book, The Managed Heart, in 1983, which popularized the concept of “emotional labor”, there was already a widespread understanding in business that smiling has an impact. Smiling Continue reading

UX: Lessons from Higher Education

In the late 1990s, colleges and universities across the United States, started to purchase subscriptions to learning management systems, such as Blackboard. At the time, the idea that an instructor might be able to post course outlines, assignments and articles online in a “virtual classroom” and even facilitate online dialogues was transformative. What few colleges and universities anticipated at the time was the extent to which user experience or UX would change over the coming decade and how quickly these early learning management systems would become dated.

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Setting the Stage for Change

Anyone who has raised children knows that routine is an essential part of any household. Indeed, as much as children love surprises, whether or not they realize it, they also love routines. When routines are broken, the consequences can range from minor protest to total dysfunction. For this reason, parents frequently spend a great deal of time keeping established patterns in place (e.g., set mealtimes and bedtimes). When change is necessary, good parents also take precautions (e.g., explain why the change is happening). Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that most adults, whether or not they realize it, also enjoy routines—even if and when the routines in question were established by someone else and are not necessarily in their best interest. Routines, after all, are safe and predictable. When they are broken up, children and adults alike are confronted with feelings of uncertainty and more often than not, they are confronted with new challenges that they may or may not be prepared to face. Continue reading

The Evolution of Games and Training

As discussed in several recent posts, gaming continues to impact education and training on a myriad of levels. Indeed, gaming is not only seen as a way to introduce learners to key concepts and hone technical skills but also as a way to keep our brains in top shape, making us better able to grasp and apply new concepts in context. The growing applicability of gaming in the training field has much to do with the evolution of digital games over the past decade and our growing understanding of the role imitation and simulation play in education and training.
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