Most modern businesses realise that learning and development is a vital priority that can benefit their organisation in numerous ways, but it's nevertheless easy for them to get into the habit of thinking of it as a purely internal function.
Providing staff with tailored training courses that allow them to develop their skills and ensure compliance is seen as important, but it can nevertheless be easy to forget that this investment can have just as big an impact on how an organisation is perceived by its customers, as well as current or prospective staff.
As such, it's vital for bosses to consider how their learning and development strategy ultimately affects customer experiences, and to feed those insights back into the way they plan and design training courses. In doing so, they'll be able to make sure they yield the kind of bottom-line benefits they're looking for.
Customer satisfaction has always been a vital consideration for any business, but in this hyper-connected age of social media, it's arguably never been more important than it is today.
Thanks to advances in technology, a bad review or complaint posted online can end up being seen across the world, decreasing the value of your brand and putting off potential clients; conversely, a positive testimony can really make your company stand out in a crowded marketplace where potential alternatives are only a click away. As such, the quality of service provided to customers has taken on paramount importance, especially in one-to-one interactions.
Fortunately, this is where a strong commitment to learning and development will really pay off. A well-trained staff member will possess the knowledge and skills to handle customer queries as efficiently as possible; more importantly, workers who have benefited from a hands-on approach to training are also much more likely to be engaged and enthusiastic, making it even more likely that the customer will come away from the interaction with a positive impression of the organisation and its culture.
In this way, a strong approach to learning and development can lead to improved customer feedback - but it's also worth remembering that customer testimonies can also be used to enhance your approach to training.
Rather than simply using customer praise as a piece of feelgood validation, it's essential to deconstruct what aspects of your service have produced the positive reaction, and ensure that these elements are highlighted in future training sessions. Similarly, even negative feedback can become a net positive over time if efforts are made to learn lessons from the criticism and share them with the learning and development team, who can make sure that training materials are designed to address any areas of weakness.
This last point ties in with the broader importance of strategic thinking when it comes to develop corporate training. Simply throwing money at learning and development won't necessarily yield results without a clear plan for how this will be accomplished.
That means getting the buy-in of everyone in the organisation, from upper management through to ground-level staff, and ensuring that thought is being given to how your approach to staff training aligns with the broader goals and ethos of the company as a whole.
From there, your strategy should move on to creating tailored learning materials that are accessible in the format that workers would find most useful - something that's much easier to achieve thanks to the cross-platform multimedia capabilities of modern e-learning solutions, which can be accessed at any time from any device.
Finally, steps should be taken to evaluate the progress and performance of your training initiatives against measurable business metrics, as this will allow you to get a clear idea of the kind of return on investment your efforts are yielding. In this way, you'll be maximising your chances of delivering the kind of customer service improvements you're seeking.
Summary: Investment in learning and development can deliver a direct impact in terms of customer satisfaction - but it's vital to get the strategy right if you want to experience the benefits.