How Adults Learn: 5 Tips To Engage your Customer Service Reps

For most people, the word ‘learning’ evokes memories of the classroom. We recall sitting behind a desk for hours at a time, receiving an endless amount of information from the teacher, and jotting down unorganized notes. Then, after reading tediously long textbook chapters, writing papers (double-spaced, Times New Roman), and completing multiple projects, our knowledge was put to the ultimate test through a dreaded final exam. For many of us, this style of learning causes information to go in one ear and out the other.

Unfortunately, the same, inefficient “top-down” approach is often replicated in the workplace, especially with retail customer service training. However, reps need engaging training that prepares them for a variety of unique customer inquiries. Instead of overloading reps with hours of ineffective classroom-style, lecture-based training, try using the following adult-centric approaches.

Solicit learner input

It’s extremely important for customer service reps to play an active role in their learning experience. The more reps co-direct they’re learning, the more engaged they’re likely to be. From pre-training surveys to one-on-one meetings, give reps the opportunity to provide feedback on training topics, materials, and activities.  Additionally, leaders and trainers will benefit by knowing exactly what their reps want and need to know—instead of providing unnecessary training.

Unlike children, customer service reps possess real-world experience. Because reps interact with customers on a daily basis, they are rich with insights and ideas to maximize training efforts. Tap into these experiences and ask them what information or skills would be helpful to them. This will increase employee buy-in and make them feel like a valued member of the team rather than just another a student in the classroom.

Emphasize benefits

Motivation is key with adult learners: They are inherently driven to put time and energy into learning something they believe is beneficial to them. So be sure to offer a reason—the why—behind every learning topic, training class, or development exercise. When reps understand why training is helpful to their role, they’ll be more inclined to engage with training.

Adults tend to be more goal-oriented than younger learners. To capitalize on this, clearly communicate learning objectives in every training occurrence., By outlining clear objectives and takeaways for reps ahead of time so they know what to expect, training will be more meaningful and engaging. It’s also helpful to connect the dots between these objectives and how they relate to your team’s goals and business needs. When reps see the business reasons for acquiring the new knowledge or skill, they’ll be more inclined to buy-in to learning.

Guarantee relevance

Similarly, adults need to see the relevancy of what they are learning. While it’s important to explain why they need to gain new knowledge or skills, it’s crucial that they know the information will be applied in the immediate future. If reps fail to clearly understand its usefulness and relevance, they may not give the topic the focus and intentionality it deserves.

Since relevance is key to adult learning, be sure to provide training content that is truly valuable to your customer service team. Clear use cases and scenarios emphasize how training will help them solve problems or answer questions. For example, if reps are continuously fielding customer inquiries about a new service, provide lessons that challenge and empower reps to be experts on that service. Forward-thinking leaders and trainers also look for opportunities to recommend critical information and relevant training that reps may find helpful when they perform a certain task or look for an answer to a specific problem.

Create a space for practice

Adults learn best through a blend of training and hands-on activities. In order to maximize training efforts, pair learning with practice opportunities that solidify new knowledge and skills. Practice creates repeatable habits that reinforce skills and ensure reps fully understand training. It also cultivates and hones skills over time, which is valuable for every customer-facing employee.

According to The Association for Talent Development, people remember 90% of what they do. By giving customer service reps a chance to practice new skills and knowledge they are more likely to retain information and apply it to their roles. A great practice environment includes a blend of quizzes, role play scenarios, and group activities. These exercises allow reps to quickly see what they do correctly or incorrectly while receiving additional feedback and coaching to improve their skills. In addition, practice helps customer service reps feel prepared and confident—which drives employee performance.

Promote continuous learning

In comparison to young learners, adults are more self-aware and take responsibility for their decisions. Empower reps to learn when and where it’s best for them as opposed to scheduled, classroom-style training. While the classroom format may be helpful in some cases, on the whole, reps should have on-demand access to training.

Enable reps to learn, whether on-the-go or at their desks, with bite-sized training lessons. These small, focused online learning opportunities allow reps to quickly complete lessons in between tasks.  If training is easy to absorb, retain, and revisit—when reps need it the most—they will be more likely to deliver superior customer service that will positively impact the team and business.

Create engaging customer service training with Lessonly

World-class customer service teams use Lessonly to provide their reps with helpful and relevant training so they can do better work. With features like Video Response, reps practice their skills and receive feedback from their managers. Take a tour today and see how Lessonly drives powerfully simple team training.

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