Evidence shows that consumers believe overall customer service is actually getting worse. Arizona State University found that customer complaints climbed from 45 to 50 percent over a two-year period. And, according to a study by NewVoiceMedia, poor customer service costs businesses in the United States approximately $41 billion every year. More clients are having negative customer experiences, and those experiences are translating into a substantial dollar-loss for businesses across the nation.

With today’s competitive marketplace, irritated customers are discovering that they can simply take their business elsewhere. In fact, 65 percent of customers have completely cut ties with a brand over a single bad experience. And internet-based businesses aren’t immune to this new-found customer awareness, either — roughly 60 percent of web users who encounter a problem (customer experience or otherwise) on a company’s website immediately leave the site and/ or visit a competitor’s site. So, whether your company is B2B focused, businessto-customer oriented, web-based or brick-and-mortar, there’s no doubt that customer neglect can significantly reduce your profits.

THE DECLINE OF THE CUSTOMER-CENTERED MENTALITY

What’s the cause of this decline in customer service? The answer depends on a variety of factors. For one thing, the modern customer is more aware of what good customer service is. Companies that are being consistently recognized as having superior customer service are taking advantage of the positive publicity a customer-focused business plan creates. They use transparency and social media communication to ensure potential customers around the world know exactly what kind of positive experiences they could be having. This puts a great deal of pressure on businesses to provide equally awe-inspiring customer service. Once clients realize top-quality service is a possibility, they begin to expect it from every business they encounter.

The almost infinite reach of the internet has made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to amass customers from all over the world. As this international customer base grows, business leaders are forced to reallocate more of their finite resources toward customer service. This becomes an even more difficult task to accomplish as their client bases grow. Add to that the issues of providing customer service across multiple languages and cultural norms, and the cost and complication increases even more.

DIGITAL DIFFICULTIES

Virtually every issue associated with the decline of customer service results from the advancement of the digital age. Simply put, as reach and abilities have increased, the one-on-one focus of pre-internet business has declined. This is unfortunate, because approximately 70 percent of buying decisions are made based upon how a customer feels that he or she is being treated.

The digital age doesn’t have to mark the end of the era of customer satisfaction. By recognizing and re-committing to some essential customer service skills that businesses around the world have been disregarding, you can ensure your customers remain happy.

Here are four customer service skills that many businesses need to re-learn:

1 Patience

If there’s one thing that has come to define the digital age, it’s speed. High-speed internet, instant video streaming, Wikipedia-style informational databases, online shopping with next-day delivery — all seem to promise customers everything with instant gratification. Businesses believe that by rushing potential customers through the sales process, they’ll have more time to devote to acquiring new leads. However, there’s something to be said for taking a more leisurely approach. When companies and clients are able to move slowly through the sales funnel, the extra time allows for better mutual understanding. Of course, many customers may still insist on a quick resolution. It’s the responsibility of the business to ensure the customer fully understands what he or she is committing to. When necessary, explain to hurried customers that in order to provide the best customer service, there are important steps that can’t be rushed. Most customers would rather invest the time to ensure competent service, than be quickly rushed into something they may end up regretting.

2 Knowledge

Few things are more frustrating for a customer than having to deal with unknowledgeable company representatives. A nightmare situation many consumers have experienced happens when a customer is transferred from department to department, having to reexplain their situation again and again to representatives who either don’t have the proper authority to address the problem or the understanding to make things right. The majority of employees who work directly with customers are often situated at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. It’s become even more prevalent as many businesses are now choosing to outsource customer customer service departments in answer to their growing customer bases. But while it may make sense financially to spend less on customer-service specialists, it makes absolutely no sense at all when you consider the customer service implications.

Your customers are your company’s most important resource, and without them your business ceases to exist. So, spend necessary time, effort, and money to ensure that those within your organization who work directly with your customers have the training and authority necessary to give them a positive experience. Think of these added expenses as investments: 55 percent of customers would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience, so go ahead and charge a little bit more to make up for the added training.

3 Understanding

When you have the opportunity to meet your customers directly and communicate with them face-to-face, it’s generally less difficult to understand them. But as more and more customer interactions are taking place on the virtual stage, the ability to accurately ‘read’ customers is diminishing. This is because there are many more layers to conversation than can be conveyed through words. Body language, voice inflection, and a thousand other details that are vital to communication are garbled when businesses and customers attempt to communicate through text, telephone, or video conferencing. These limitations can be circumvented, however when it comes to accurately conveying intentions, feelings, and ideas, there is no substitute for honesty. If customers and representatives can communicate openly, they’ll be more likely to reach a favorable outcome.

4 Approachability

Customers don’t simply want the best products for the best prices; they want the best people working with them. Personality has always been an important aspect of the customer-business dichotomy. But with the necessary automation of sales processes, it’s becoming more difficult for customers to connect with businesses. As a result, businesses become faceless, uncaring entities in the eyes of the consumer. The remedy: A simple name tag. A name tag shows your customers that you welcome their questions, concerns and anything else. Of course, when operating over a digital medium, a physical name tag becomes somewhat ineffective. You can make up for that via social media pages that are well-maintained and give your customers a place to connect with your organization. The benefits ene of this kind of connection have been well documented: 77 percent of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO is active in social media, and 46 percent percent of web users visit a company’s social media pages before committing to a purchase. Also, organizations that deliver customer support through social media achieve gains of seven percent, , in comparison to the nearly three percent gains seen by those organizations that do not.

The digital age has opened up an entirely new universe in which businesses are able to generate new leads and establish customer relationships. Unfortunately, it has also played a part in driving a wedge between consumers and organizations. However, by identifying the aspects of customer service that are routinely being neglected and training employees to focus their attention on repairing these breaches, your organization can take advantage of the increased speed and reach of the 21st century digital landscape.

Don’t let customer neglect separate your business from the people on whom it depends. Recommit to customer retention and satisfaction through building customer service skills, and you’ll find that as you make their happiness your priority, your customers will respond accordingly.

— Stuart Leung is manager, Salesforce and authors authors monthly monthly blogs on trends in sales enablement enablement and CRM.

Published in Insights

Stop! Internet Service Providers are told they can no longer share consumers’ personal information, such as browsing history and location services. This landmark ruling is a first win for data privacy advocates and comes on the heels of an explosion in use of behavioral data to market products and services. 

The 3-2 party line vote by the FCC’s five commissioners, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, was a major blow to some of Washington’s most politically powerful companies, including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, which had hoped to use their privileged access to user data to build lucrative businesses by targeting advertising across multiple devices. It also was a rare win for privacy advocates,

Learn More: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-proposed-rules-protect-broadband-consumer-privacy

Published in Latest News

 

The Virtual Reality War has begun. Alphabet’s launch of Pixel Smartphone and new VR headset has joined the battle with Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung. With the heavy adoption of the technology comes the realization that VR IS in the future for enterprise learning.

VR is currently estimated to be a $1 billion industry according to Deloitte Global, but will explode to $35 Billion by 2025 according to BI Intelligence.  Video games and entertainment are the largest VR market segments accounting for$18.9 billion of the $35 billion market in 2025. Enterprise VR applications will generate 54% of VR market with Healthcare and Engineering leading the enterprise market.

 

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Published in Latest News

--Recognizes Contributions to Federal Distance Learning

Elearning! Media Group, publishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, announced today the Federal Government Distance Learning Association selected Elearning! Media Group for the Pillar Award for contributions to the Federal Government Distance Learning Industry.  The 2016 FGDLA Awards honor excellence in federal government distance learning to 16 organizations and professionals.

We are honored to earn the Pillar Award from FGDLA and congratulation the Association for delivering important industry practices and information to more than 350 federal agencies,” says Catherine Upton, Group Publisher, Elearning! Media Group.The organizations selected for the FGDLA Awards are an inspiring group and it is with deep respect that we accept this award.”

FGDLA is has named the following Federal Government employees and organizations as 2016 FGDLA Award recipients for demonstrating excellence in distance learning:

Individual Awards:

Hall of Fame: In recognition of an individual who has made significant contributions in promoting and developing distance learning in the Federal Government. 

Honoree: Dr. Kenneth P. Pisel, Joint Forces Staff College, National Defense University


Pioneer: In recognition of an individual demonstrating initiative and leadership in the development and implementation of distance learning in the Federal Government.

Five Honorees: Dale Carpenter, Distance Learning Group, National Park Service

Andrea Simonelli, Information Technology Department, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

Naval Air Systems Command

Dr. Damon Regan, Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

JoAnne Green, iCollege, National Defense University

Paul Thurkettle, NATO E-Learning, Allied Command Transformation

Organizational Awards:

Five-Star: In recognition of an organization demonstrating excellence in providing enterprise-wide distance learning solutions for the Federal Government.

Three Honorees: Acquisition Career Management Group Acquisition Policy and Oversight Federal Aviation Administration Digital Learning Network, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Information Technology Department, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Naval Air Systems Command


Innovation: In recognition of an organization demonstrating leadership in the development of emerging distance learning technologies providing enterprise-wide solutions for the Federal Government.

Three Honorees: Distance Learning Group National Park Service (NPS), Advanced Distribute Learning Initiative Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), NATO E-Learning Allied Command Transformation

 

Eagle: In recognition of an individual that has served the Federal Government distance learning community by providing exceptional leadership, vision, and advocacy.

Honoree: College of Distance Education and Training Marine Corps University

 

Pillar: In recognition for outstanding service or significant contribution to the Association by an organization not affiliated with the Federal Government

Honoree: Elearning! Media Group, Publishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! Magazines

 

This is FGDLA 20th year for proudly recognizing individuals and organizations who have made major contributions to enhancing distance learning within the Federal Government,” says Alex Autry, President, Federal Government Distance Learning Association. Not only have these recipients’ improved the knowledge and skill levels of our number one resources- people-  but have ensured our Nation is second to none.”

 

FGDLA Award Luncheon

The 20th Annual FGDLA Awards Luncheon will be hosted on December 8th at 11:50 AM in Room 151A at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. The Award Luncheon is a ticketed invitation only event conducted during FGDLA’s Government Learning Technology Symposium (GLTS).  GLTS is a free two-day conference for government personnel. Uniquely focused on the needs of Federal Government distance learning professionals, GLTS provides a venue for professionals to make connections, discuss the latest developments, and identify new regulations and trends that affect our industry. If you are involved in learning, talent development, mission execution, HR services, project management, team training and leadership, you should attend GLTS.

The GLTS is held at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, Dec. 7-8, 2016. For the complete GLTS program, visit  http://glts.fgdlaevents.us/ 
Published in Latest News

 

Award Program Recognizes Top 100 Global Learning Organizations

Elearning! Media Group, publishers of Elearning! Magazine and Government Elearning! Magazine announced the 2017 Learning! 100 Award Call for Applications is now open. The annual award program honors public and private sector organizations for innovation, collaboration and learning culture that drives performance. Applications can be submitted at: http://b2bmediaco.com/learn100/2017/award/form_100.php

The Learning! 100 award winners are an elite team of high performers. From small to large enterprises, this award honors those that push the limits of learning and development, to over achieve by exceeding performance expectations,” says Catherine Upton¸ Group Publisher, Elearning! Media Group. “Learning is at the core of their success. And, every one continues to inspire us with their innovation, passion and performance.”

Previous Learning! 100 honorees include Amazon Web Services, AT&T, American Heart Association, Salesforce, NASCAR, Defense Acquisition University, and Scripps Health to name a few. 

Are You a Learning! 100?

In its 7th year, the Learning! 100 Award call for nominations is now open. Elearning! Media Group, host of the Learning! 100 Award invites all organizations, small and large, private or public sector to apply. The process is easy via an online ballot. There is no entry fee for public sector submissions. Corporate enterprises invest only $250 to apply, which includes an award and tickets to the awards event, if selected as a Learning! 100 winner.

Learning! 100 applications are evaluated on three sets of criteria: (1) Learning Culture Index developed by The Darden School, (2) Collaborative Strategies’ Collaboration TCEP Index and (3) Overall Organizational Performance. The Learning! 100 awards committee reviews all applications which are scored and ranked.  The 2017 Learning! 100 applications must be submitted by February 1st, 2017 for consideration at: http://b2bmediaco.com/learn100/2017/award/form_100.php

Important Dates

Learning! 100 Call for Applications    October 2016- Feb 1st, 2017

Learning! 100 Winner Notifications   March 1st, 2017

Learning! 100 Awards Issue Deadline July 1st, 2017

Learning! 100 Awards Reception       August 2017

Learning! 100 Winner Articles,          Aug 2017-June 2018

    Web Seminars & Sessions

Previous Winners

The Learning! 100 winners have much to share with the learning community including:

I’m truly honored that ASAE University was recognized for its online programs,” said ASAE Vice President of Online Learning Tammy Blosil. “We always strive to create courses that will advance members’ knowledge as well as provide tools and resources they can share and utilize in their organizations.”

"Our customers' success is everything to us. Seeing Amazon Web Services, Ingersoll Rand and Publicis.Sapient get recognized for their dedication, hard work and accomplishment - and knowing that our solutions are contributing to their success - is an immensely rewarding experience," says Walter Rogers, CEO of CCI and BCI.

“Being ranked in the top 20 is an honor for our organization, and demonstrates that although we are a rather small, privately held organization, we can play with the likes of Salesforce, Facebook, Amazon, and Cisco,” stated Anne Yarmark, EVP of HR & Administration.

Elearning! Media Group (EMG) announced their annual Learning! 100 awards, ranking the top 100 learning and development programs in the private and public sectors,” reported Tom Cunningham, Vice President, Global Sales On-boarding, Skillsoft. “Along with the dozens of Skillsoft customers that made the list, we are very excited to be named the #17 corporate enterprise honoree for the success of our Sales Onboarding Program!”

 

Learning is at the very core of ISTE’s mission to empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community,” said ISTE CEO Brian Lewis, who accepted the award on the organization’s behalf. “On behalf of ISTE’s board of directors, staff and the more than 100,000 education stakeholders we serve worldwide, it’s an honor to accept this recognition of the culture of learning that is ISTE.” 

To learn more about the Learning! 100 Award and prior honorees, visit: http://www.2elearning.com/awards/learning-100-awards

 

Published in Latest News

When I originally wrote the Freemium blog that was posted on our site, the thought crossed my mind about what the LinkedIn acquisition by Microsoft could mean for our industry. It was the sheer volume of data — on each of us — that could be mined, which makes you ponder the possibilities. 

Deep down, I’ve always believed that the strategy behind LinkedIn’s original purchase of Lynda.com was that together, they could have achieved a what may be considered an unfair advantage as a training provider. After all, They would know so much about each of our careers and experience. It was all there — possible education gaps, career direction, current career level, etc. But it didn’t happen. And now, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, exclaimed at the Sun Valley CEO Summit that AI and machine learning will affect more than just the manufacturing sector, it will affect those in professional spheres.

Microsoft makes its own move, bringing with them a deep knowledge of machine learning, AI, Big Data, and data mining, and all of a sudden, here sits a partner that can take advantage of that enormous asset. The potential to take each of our profiles, analyze them, and then recommend what training we might want to take, what networks we could take advantage of, and even more is all sitting there. 

And it all started with the Freemium model which created tremendous value because of what we all willingly contributed to it for free. It’s like Wikipedia’s value. And what’s in it for us to have shared all of this information? As long as all of us can use the crowd-sourced data for free, find interesting groups to belong to, discover like-minded individuals, and possibly get our credentials in front of someone who might think we were a good match for a position opening, it has great value to each of us. 

It’s when people want to dive deeper, like in the case of recruiters and sales reps looking for prospects, that this model can easily be monetized. People will pay for extending their search and email solicitations, or even to view data in certain ways. Imagine the value of running a sales conference in a metropolitan area and then being able to see all of the sales people in that area. Or maybe it’s a specific training event for instructional designers.

The next step along my marketing and sales journey is to advertise to the target audience. The marketing capability is a huge potential that not even LinkedIn has taken advantage of fully. To me, it would have been of great value to see an “Events In Your Area” newsletter that gets customized for each of us.

So will this mining and interpreting of data happen? I suspect not right away. But here’s what lingers in my mind. Microsoft owns Dynamics — a competitor to Salesforce.com. Imagine what could be extracted from LinkedIn about prospects. Microsoft also owns Yammer — a competitor to Facebook and other social networks, but a network that competes at a more professional level. And then there’s our world where Microsoft is trying to play a stronger and stronger role. It includes Microsoft Classroom for the K-12 arena, and then LMS365 Cloud, Learning Management for Office 365 for the rest of the market. 

However, in all of these cases, Microsoft isn’t the market leader.  Does that point to systemic weaknesses in their organizational fabric and management? Is there not sufficient autonomy to let people execute? Are their moves over-scrutinized by regulators?

We’ll probably never know from the outside looking in, but I’m also thinking that they won’t be as nimble when it comes to achieving this outcome. That’s especially true because they have to first assimilate all of these new cultures into their own.  But consider the potential. It’s all there, waiting for Microsoft to execute the plan.

— Joe DiDonato is Elearning! Magazine’s Editor-at-Large. He has served as CLO for Oracle and Countrywide, as well as CEO of many learning technology firms.

Published in Deals

Recharge your training by thinking like a marketer.

If a sales team keeps a company propelling forward by hitting numbers and marketing spurs ripples by creatively capturing mindshare, what are trainers? Trainers help keep business afloat from the bottom up, imparting the data and strategies high-performing personnel need to successfully do their jobs.

That’s all well and good — after all, no company, whether enterprise organization or SMB, wants a stagnant workforce. Wasn’t it Einstein who said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying?” I stopped studying quotes years ago, so I digress.

Sarcasm aside, the fact of the matter is that while training is necessary, it can also be sluggish and a big budget suck if it’s not approached appropriately. What can help? Train like a marketer — specifically, a forward-thinking, design-savvy, customer-empowering, data-analyzing, digital marketer. Here’s why.

THE MARKETING GRASS — IS IT REALLY GREENER?

Trainers often look at the marketing team in envy, with their big budgets, fancy graphics, and lavish events. Marketers in this digital age are sort of like hipsters — you don’t really understand everything they do, but you know it’s probably trendy and cool. This, understandably, can be a little off-putting to trainers stuck in a downward spiral of endless budget cuts, PowerPoints and 18 options of Word Art.

Although marketers may appear to have more options than trainers when it comes to design (and the truth is that anyone can design, by the way), the real point of contention here is that many trainers don’t seem to need marketers. In fact, they have the tendency to exhibit a bit of indifference when it comes to the tactics marketers use — after all, isn’t most training mandatory? The marketing frills, then, don’t do trainers any good. People will show up anyway — donuts or no donuts, Word Art or cinematography. Not true.

The corporate landscape is changing. Now, trainers have to approach customers and partners — not always the other way around — to not only help them improve product knowledge, but even boost product usage or revenue. In addition, some trainers today are being asked to improve attendance rates. That’s where marketing skills come into play. Let’s break down some of the major lessons trainers can take from their marketing brothers and sisters down the hall.

MARKETING TIPS FOR TRAINERS

Here are a few lessons trainers can take from the marketer’s playbook:

>> Leverage, leverage, leverage. Marketers leverage spokespeople all the time, so why can’t trainers? Executive sponsors are recognizable, relatable, and authoritative. You’re probably not going to get an executive sponsor to deliver the training, but he or she could at minimum ask people to participate via email, intranet, instant message or Slack. Even better — have the spokesperson film a short video invitation to hype up the training. It shouldn’t be difficult to get the sponsor on board with this idea. It won’t take much time and, as a stakeholder in the success of the business, it should be a nobrainer.

>> Make email automation your friend. This might not be suitable for all training programs, but it certainly is for the ones that have to reach an outside audience like partners or customers. Trainers can send emails via an email marketing automation platform for speed, but there’s another bonus — analytics. Track those efforts to better understand which approach is working and which, if any, you need to reevaluate.

>> Get social. Social is a powerful tool, and its benefits aren’t isolated to one department. Like marketers, trainers should consider leveraging (see, there it is again) social media organic and even social advertisements. Facebook has excellent options because it is user-friendly, affordable, and allows for hyper-targeting.

>> Empower and inform, don’t dictate and preach. Both marketers and trainers seek to tell their respective audience something — that’s a given. The difference often lies in the approach. Successful marketers tend to view campaigns from a very human, audience-driven perspective. As a result, winning campaigns aren’t dry regurgitations of features and benefits — they’re engaging, memorable snippets of a bigger picture of a brand. Trainings can be, too.

>> Go small or go home. Yeah, you read that right. Marketers don’t tell their consumer base everything about a product in one piece of content. Rather, they focus on digestible chunks presented in a memorable way. Rinse, repeat. Trainers can take a hint here. In order to get the big picture, sometimes baby steps are required. Breaking trainings down into segments can be an effective way to reach a larger percentage of the audience more effectively.

>> Make it pretty. As marketers know, design and delivery are uber-important, and trainers can get in on the action, too. So, maybe all trainers don’t have access to the hottest design software—but I bet many of them have a smartphone or a device that can record video. Start there. Incorporating video into trainings is an easy and fun way to break up the monotony of text blocks and slide transitions.

THE CASE FOR COLLABORATION

When I worked at Cisco once upon a time, I worked with Faith Legendre, a wonderful learning and development expert at Cisco. She was always trying to get the marketing experts and training expects together when it came time to design, implement, and promote new training initiatives. She is the one that taught me that marketers and trainers can learn so much from each other.

Legendre said, “Just like an effective well designed commercial that a brilliant marketer would do (hint, hint partner with marketers) break up your training into digestible nibblets, take the complex and break it down, make it super simple, sequential and fun. Then embed it right where the learner needs it on that page of the system, application, or even a Word doc.”

I agreed with her then and I agree with her now — the case for collaboration here is a strong one. Trainers and marketers have a lot to learn from each other. Trainers, for instance, take so much time and effort to create content that can easily be consumed. They’re also great at making sure that knowledge is transferred. Marketers are great at identifying a message that will reach an audience in a memorable way — seems like a match made in heaven, if you ask me.

If your trainers regularly had the help of marketers, how do you think knowledge retention and session attendance would improve in your company? Isn’t it at least worth a try? Can you relate to any of the suggestions above and find one or two that would be a cinch to implement? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

– Eric Vidal, Editor & Chief Content Officer, The Marketing Scope. @EricVMarketing

Published in Insights

 

Einstein was introduced at Dreamforce this week. Einstein reveals the customer’s DNA within the salesforce platform. By knitting together the digital fingerprints of each consumer, Einstein provides actionable analytics in a smart app. This AI solution offers predictive analytics, machine and deep learning and understands natural language all born from $1 billion of recent acquisitions.  Marc Benioff’s goal is to take a complex solution like AI and make it easy to use within Salesforce.

Einstein is AI built into the core of the Salesforce Platform where it powers the CRM. IT delivers advanced AI capabilities to sales, service and marketing- and enables anyone to use clicks or code to build AI powered apps that get smarter with every interaction. Now, everyone in every role and industry can use AI to be their best. Einstein literally captures data, feeds it to the engine to learn, guide and recommend based upon trackable customer needs and wants.

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Salesforce users can leverage Einstein to serve customers better by Anticipating sales opportunities with Sales Cloud Einstein; Proactively resolve cases with Service Cloud Einstein; Creating predictive journeys with Marketing Cloud Einstein; and, Embed intelligence in every app with APP Cloud Einstein.

“Hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of people will benefit from the best machine learning to make smarter decisions and function more effectively,” shares Shubha Nabar, Lead Data Scientist, Salesforce.

Schneider Electric, a company that supports a majority of commercial buildings across the globe, uses Einstein for Field Service. Einstein receives information on the status of electrical panels within buildings, identifies power interruptions and sends info to the field for immediate response with the status available immediately to the technician. In this example, the technician was equipped with Virtual Reality headset to view the dashboards and repair methodology while evaluating the power panel.

Why do we need Einstein?

“B2B and B2C customers are automatically generating information just by having a smartphone and interacting with the sensors it carries,” replies Shawn Belling, Vice President, CloudCraze. “This creates huge amounts of data that any commerce or AI engine can write integrations and algorithms to connect o and consume. The challenge is making sense of all of this data, and using it to generate value. Einstein could make this easier for everyone.”

 “AI [Einstein] can analyze CRM data to equip businesses with the tools to personalize messages to multiple decisions markers in real time. This add overall value to customers by enhancing efficiency, and driving revenue through better business processes and available insights,” continues Belling.

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What does the future hold for AI?

Scott Horn, CMO at (24)7, an AI-powered customer engagement solution provider suggests, “Einstein is a sign of the true potential of AI- as a supplement to the human intuition. By turning cold calling into warm-calling, this is an opportunity for AU to prove itself as a truly productive counterpart to the human mind. And, the applications for this technology go well beyond sales. AI is bringing automation to customer service, which will bring major benefits to consumers. For the first time, businesses can now understand and act on consumer intent, meaning that consumers will no longer have to repeat information or be bombarded with irrelevant information. This technology will be commonplace in the next five years.”

How do you get Einstein?

First, you need to use Salesforce, and activate Lightning, Thunderbolt and then Einstein. You literally build upon this AI cloud leveraging the Salesforce Cloud. To discover your path to AI, visit trailblazers.salesforce.com.

 

Published in Latest News

Providence Health & Services recently launched a community of practice — a group of individuals who collaborate to fulfill both individual and group goals — and this group needed an online platform to reach members across several states about instructional design. I learned about Path2X during a workshop several months ago. Path2X incorporates numerous helpful features. I was excited about implementing the enhanced tools and I understood how these tools matched the organic ways in which people learn such as finding, sharing, and discussing articles or asking for help with a particular skill from an experienced peer. The failure was not due to Path2X, it was due to factors that should have been considered when launching any social learning initiative, regardless of the platform used.

LESSON #1: START SMALL AND FOCUS ON USERS’ NEEDS

I made the mistake of explaining how each tool in Path2X worked immediately, rather than focusing on the purpose of the group — instructional design. Many group members became lost in the amount of information about the tools and were quickly turned off to using them.

The lesson I learned was to first focus on the users’ needs. I should have identified their high-priority needs, then I should have identified and used the tools that supported those needs. I later found that they primarily wanted to download templates, learn how to use specific skills, and discuss best practices with particular authoring workflows. These needs all stem from a desire to increase their production capacity on their current and upcoming projects. They did not want to learn about the latest trends nor how to track their progress.

I would have initially focused solely on file sharing, lessons and tutorials and group discussions since they matched the user needs. Hold off on introducing other tools until there is an interest or an organic way to introduce them.

LESSON #2: COMMUNICATE THE BENEFITS IN A WAY THAT USERS WILL UNDERSTAND

When I first started this initiative, I had spent some time configuring the site so it would best support the group’s learning needs. I made examples of how the mentoring would work, aggregating more than 5,000 relevant blog articles, tutorials, templates and discussion threads. In a very real sense, I was completely focused on how the features worked rather than identifying what the benefits were and how they supported the goals of the group. For example, the group said they wanted to have templates to help them author their projects faster to meet their deadlines. The benefit of being able to access and use templates is reduced production time which results in less stress and greater ability to meet due dates. If I could redo the Path2X launch, I would have explained a basic tool by explaining its benefit then shown how it can be used to decrease production time.

LESSON #3: BE CLEAR ABOUT EXPECTATIONS

During the set-up of the online forum, I often thought about the vibrant social learning that could occur including the exchange of timely questions and thought-provoking answers, feedback on projects and developing valuable relationships.

The lesson I learned was how important it is to clarify expectations. I did not explore with key stakeholders and explain to the users what was expected of them, me, and of the whole project. Before implementing social learning, be clear about how often users should participate in online discussions, and the frequency that facilitators will post templates and other resources.

Looking back, instead of thinking about what could occur, I need to be thinking about clarifying what should occur. Avoid this by having discussions early with key stakeholders about expectations of the users, host, and project.

A FINAL WORD TO THE WISE

The Path2X launch was an implementation failure, not a technical one. It doesn’t matter how good whatever social learning platform you use — you’ll be three steps ahead of the game if you learn from my mistakes.

— Johnny Hamilton is Online Instructional Designer at Providence Health & Services. He is a 2016 Learning! Champion for extraordinary contributions to the learning industry.

Published in Ideas

The Silo Organizational Structure: An office where no one communicates, everyone hordes their knowledge and best practices, and where no one works together to enhance the client experience. While some organizations are structured purposefully as silos to enhance competition rather than collaboration, in many organizations, a silo culture can develop unintentionally and gradually, until it becomes an environment where individual teams think and act unilaterally, working against one another, inhibiting a company’s ability to achieve its goals. This lack of collaboration in the silo structure impedes productivity, erodes employee satisfaction, and ultimately causes clients to question whether a company champions a united front.

Eliminating a culture of silos is not an easy undertaking. However, with the right tools, support from the top down, and a strong strategy, silos can be dismantled and a culture of collaboration and learning can take hold. When you break down silos, you enable individual teams to function independently, while working together as one cohesive team.

OVERCOMING SILOS As a global provider of supply-chain services with a footprint of more than 400 stocking locations operating in 90 countries, we at Choice Logistics are expected to meet clients’ time-sensitive service level agreements. It’s essential that we collaborate internally and with vendors and clients to ensure alignment of goals and expectations. We must manage and move parts all over the world and must communicate and collaborate effectively to achieve the required results. We’re relentless in our efforts to help clients achieve success, since they rely on us to act as a partner, part of their team, when servicing their client base. Working cohesively is essential to our success; collaboration is key.

Indeed, two of our core values are collaboration and educating one another. We believe our success is dependent upon the collective knowledge and growth of our employees. We strive to build an environment where employees can reach their highest potential, and work with them to identify and support individual and collective growth. Last year, we recognized that not all departments were working from a common set of goals, nor were they fully informed about the business, clients, and operations. Silos were beginning to take hold and, without a unified focus, our organization was unable to provide the best client experience. While functional departments are necessary to centralize team efforts, we needed a strategy and the right technology to help break down these silos and improve collaboration and learning across the organization.

THE STRATEGY

In 2015, we made a concerted effort to eliminate silos, using a people, process, and technology approach. There were many goals with this program, but the overarching one was to break down silos by restructuring the organization to improve client focus and employee engagement; by evaluating current processes to eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies; and by utilizing Salesforce to support these efforts and to improve visibility and collaboration across the organization.

Strategy 1: People

Organizational Restructuring: We reorganized our teams as a more clientcentric model. Although we continued to be function-focused, by making crossfunctional information more readily available, teams became better equipped to share and collaborate on the best solution for the client. With Salesforce, teams also have more centralized information at their fingertips. The end result has been a better client experience. Constant and Consistent Communication: To support employees during this change, and as an extension to the company’s open door policy, executives hosted dedicated open office hours. These forums provided a safe, individualized environment for employees to share their concerns and provide the executive team the opportunity to remove any obstacles that may be impeding employees’ abilities to perform. We also hosted a variety of focus groups, organized by function, to open up the lines of communication and help employees understand the change, and feel part of the process.

We hosted quarterly town hall meetings to keep employees updated on the state of the company. We used common marketing strategies to gain buy-in, reinforce our message, and keep employees informed. We continue to use this forum as an additional opportunity to reiterate strategies, progress, and future goals.

Strategy 2: Training

Employees, through structured training and organic learning, continue to break down silos by using Chatter, Chatter Groups, and other functional processes within the Salesforce platform. Additionally, we refocused our monthly People, Process, Technology training series to facilitate knowledge sharing around core departmental goals and functions, and how they are aligned in support of the company’s overall goals.

Strategy 3: Process

We chose Salesforce as the tool to support our processes. Though we already had a few licenses for our sales team, we expanded the number of licenses to include all operational and client-facing team members. We began by introducing employees to the account information, so they could gain a deeper knowledge of clients and their business.We then expanded by moving the internal task management system, a custom-built SharePoint tool, into Salesforce to improve user adoption.

The rollout, and continued development of the company’s Salesforce platform, comes with constant communication and training, helping employees understand how to maximize the tool, and constant reinforcement of the importance of collaboration. As employees become more aware of the capabilities within Salesforce and the processes it has already built into the platform, they are providing new ideas to expand its use.

By integrating processes into a unified platform, we were able to reinforce teamwork and support the behavioral change needed to move from a culture of silos to a culture of collaboration and learning. Employees have become more invested in Salesforce, and are embracing this transformation.

Strategy 4: Technology

Choice Logistics began the process of eliminating silos with Salesforce. Though traditionally thought of as a CRM, Choice Logistics envisioned a platform where all departments could operate together on a daily basis, despite their particular focus in the overall process. We continue to customize objects and move operational processes into Salesforce to support our goals. Two examples of growth within the platform are value-added meetings and internal meetings. Value-added meetings are records of meetings with clients or vendors where value is brought to the relationship; issues and opportunities are identified and next steps are planned and actioned. Internal Meetings are where we record functional or cross-functional meetings. Both of these meeting types are distributed to key stakeholders, and are also visible across the organization. This helps to further eliminate silos and pave the way for collaboration. The more employees know about what is happening with our clients, the more they are able to improve the client experience.

RESULTS

The results of our Salesforce implementation are far reaching. Breaking down silos in a service organization not only improves internal operations, communication, and collaboration, it also improves working relationships with clients and vendors, and their overall satisfaction. It has also positively affected employee engagement and employee satisfaction overall. A few key highlights are:

>> Enhanced collaboration

>> A 33-percent improvement to our Net Promoter Score

>> Improved employee satisfaction

>> More timely and complete client deliverables

>> Better access to information

>> Enhanced learning environment

As we continue to build on this collaborative learning culture, more employees are identifying operational processes to integrate into Salesforce. Visibility into what the organization, departments, and individuals are doing is improving collaboration and learning. We’re now in the process of migrating our current learning management system into Salesforce, utilizing Redwing and Appinium, to further centralize our efforts and enhance our ability to provide just-in-time learning to our teams, improve their overall learning experience, and gather real-time data to help make informed decisions and track progress.

“Since we are in the service business, our success is largely dependent upon the strength of our people, and the Salesforce platform has introduced a new world of communication, training, and cross functional collaboration to our workforce,” says Anne Yarmark, EVP Human Resources & Administration, Choice Logistics. “All relevant client data is shared and captured instantly so there is internal visibility on all client initiatives across all functions. Since its inception, Salesforce has given us a customizable tool to enhance the overall client and employee experience because it has helped us to execute at a higher level. The platform has increased our productivity through efficient and effective process management, instantaneous information sharing, and core communication governance. Ultimately, the Salesforce platform has given us innovative and exciting paths to training and for preparing our workforce to be successful.”

Using Salesforce has helped us create a more collaborative approach and boost its already robust learning culture. In this more team-centric environment, employees are sharing not only information, but knowledge and experiences — key components in the company’s core values of collaboration and educating one another. With the right strategy, continued communication, and Salesforce as a tool, employees are now better enabled to function independently within their teams while coming together as a cohesive unit to support corporate goals and provide the best possible client experience.

— Kate Kearney is Director of Organizational Development & Training at Choice Logistics, Inc. Choice Logistics is a six-time Learning! 100 organization.

Published in Top Stories
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