I’ve made no secret of my belief that customer experience (CX) is central to digital transformation. But I’m sure we’ve all experienced situations—maybe in the last week or two—where a company’s customer service felt more like an afterthought than a gung-ho mission. While some businesses have quickly embraced the new technologies designed to improve customer satisfaction and efficiency, others are still falling short. Why? I’d venture to say training—on the part of both executives and employees alike—plays a big part of it. 

Training? Isn’t that just a boring annual requirement managed by HR? Well, it used to be. But in today’s marketplace, training is as central to success as any other element of one’s business plan. There is simply too much changing, growing, and evolving to leave learning up to chance.

Some companies, such as global dialysis provider DaVita, actually built their business models with culture and training at the core. One of my friends worked on DaVita’s “Wisdom Team,” helping to keep their 30,000+ teammates informed and inspired every day. But most companies haven’t yet realized how important training and culture are to success. Which leads us to where we are today. A recent survey from TEKsystemsshowed less than half of IT leaders could map tech programs to actual business outcomes. Companies are jumping on the tech train before they have a true tech training strategy, and employees are left to struggle in a whirlwind of technology they don’t understand. The following are a few things tech leaders can do to improve productivity—and CX—via training

Think of Your Employees as Customers

Just as you want to make sure your customers understand your product, website, and apps, work with employees to make sure they understand the technology they are using—and why. Involve them in the discussion to make sure that technology actually solves the challenges they face every day. In my piece Digital Transformation and the Everyday Employee Experience, I said digital transformation is both top-down and bottom-up. Leaderships need to take the reins in terms of communicating a clear strategy and direction—but employees must also be involved in offering feedback and lending their voice in the process.

Consider Gamification

One of the easiest ways to create a well of disengaged employees is to review their performance once a year, instead of when they need the feedback—in real time. In today’s business landscape, tech changes constantly. And with it, so do goals and strategies. Gamification takes the concept of training—and having to learn one more thing—to a new level. By adding gaming elements, competition, and real-time feedback into an employee’s everyday experience, it can make even the most menial tasks fun—or at least not painstakingly boring.

Research shows some 70 percent of companies are already incorporating some form of gamification into their daily work. They’re also reaping the benefits. SAP Streamwork enjoyed a 58 percent increase in brainstorming ideas after incorporating gamification. Were all the ideas good? That’s not the point. The most important part: ensuring that the goals being measured actually tie to desired business outcomes! Things like average time per call closure, average CX rating per call, or quickest correct response to a customer inquiry can push employees to learn software well and, in so doing, make customers happier overall.

Learn What You Can

Employees aren’t the only ones who need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Executives need to know what’s possible in the new tech environment, and make a true business case before implementing it in their companies. But it doesn’t end there. Less than 25 percent of IT leaders said their programs have executive sponsors. Without someone forging the way—and the “why”—employees will be left struggling to manage tech they don’t see a real purpose for.

There is no silver bullet in today’s digital economy. Is a lack of training the only reason your company isn’t enjoying positive CX? Probably not. But undoubtedly, a team of confident, happy employees who are well-versed in the software they’re using in the trenches every day will be better able to serve your customers when faced with a CX challenge. If there is anything we’ve learned in this digital transformation, it’s that technology has brought every facet of the enterprise together. It’s no longer possible for training to operate as a separate function of a company. It needs to be front and center—helping to inspire, engage, and keep employees grounded, even in the midst of great change.

Photo Credit: newpennmarketing Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on Converge. 

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