M-Learning | A Digital Intervention to Transform Your Frontline

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Training Challenges Then

I led large teams during my stints with organisations in Telecom sector. Team of managers and extended channel teams constituting thousands of last mile staff. One of the biggest challenge was delivering effective induction training and enhancing their knowledge and skill levels on an on-going basis. Digital tools were rarely available or used. It was either classroom sessions or manager or “buddy-driven” on-the-job training.

In the last couple of years, we started using WhatsApp to communicate new product launches and process changes to the teams through various chat groups. But this had its own limitations apart from the risks related to open platforms.

Evolution of Learning Management System

E-learning and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) have been present in organisations for decades now, and became popular with advent of computers. It allowed large scale delivery of content to employees distributed across offices and saved money, time and energy.

Evolution of learning management system

With learning management system, employees could participate in online courses at any time. And so learning didn’t have to conflict with other important or time-sensitive job tasks.
Also read – LMS – A Story of Evolution or Extinction

Limitations of Traditional Learning Management System

Yet traditional LMS was never used for in-the-job learning for its obvious limitations:

  1. It was web-based, and hence irrelevant to the field force who came to office only occasionally.
  2. On-premise implementation couldn’t cover the extended off-roll or partner employees.
  3. Engaging content for programs could be developed only through external content creators, which was prohibitively expensive.
Limitations of Traditional Learning Management System

With the world going digital, the way we understand organisations today is quickly changing. Fixed offices are changing to virtual offices. Employees are going desk-less. Office timing concept is changing to ‘always connected’. And people are going mobile for their work needs. The continued ascendancy of mobile, coupled with the rise of Internet of Things marks a new era in the LMS world.

Adopting Mobile Learning – How Important is it for Field Teams?

There is no choice, other than going mobile. Training and re-training on an on-going basis is the need of the hour. Businesses are getting dynamic. Competition is cut-throat. Consumer preferences are changing faster than ever. Companies are pushed to improve their product, policies and processes continuously.
Let’s look at the the growth trends of the keyword mobile learning apps over the last 15 years.

In a highly competitive market where the quality of the product and strength of distribution is more or less the same, the key differentiator is your people, particularly customer-facing teams. A highly knowledgeable and skilled frontline team is a great edge to have over the competition.

How exactly does a M Learning App help?

Let’s now look at how a good Mobile based learning platform can help companies achieve that. This will require a glimpse of employee life cycle in an organization and the interventions required at various stages.

1. Reduce New Recruit Dropouts

reduce employee drop rate by mobile training handytrain

We spoke to one of the largest private insurance companies in India on the challenges they face in recruitment. They said only 65 percent of sales employees join after receiving the offer letter. Engagement can start even before the employee joins. We recommended the approach of creating pre-joining induction programs. This included modules on the organisation, facilities and video testimonials of current employees talking about the work culture and opportunities. Upon successful implementation of these programs, attrition was slated to go down by 34 percent.

2.         Faster On-Boarding of New Employees via M Learning App

People join at different locations. Providing them with formal induction on day one is a big challenge. Most often these employees are either inducted by their managers or seniors (“buddies”). Quality of induction and uniformity of knowledge dissemination is a question. Most often its subjected to competency, vintage and priority of the managers

When I joined one of the largest Telecom companies, my formal induction happened after a month. It happened when the critical mass got added up to justify a formal classroom session. In most cases this happens during a 15 – 90 day window, when someone from head or regional office decides to travel. Or during quarterly sales events.
A good mobile learning tool allows companies to disseminate uniform information to the employees from day one. One can schedule the content for predefined days and allow them to learn at their own pace. One can also run assessments to check if the employees have understood what they have learned. On-boarding is faster and companies achieve productivity targets earlier.

3.          M Learning Platforms for Employee Feedback

International recruitment agency Robert Half surveyed 460 hiring managers. 59 percent said they have had someone resign during probation. It is because the business had a poor on-boarding process. New employee attrition is most common with field sales team recruited at locations away from their HO or large Regional Offices. This is because of the limited opportunities to interact with existing employee groups, and a lack of effective discussion forums and real time feedback platforms.

Today, there are learning and engagement platforms that can effectively solve these challenges. New employees can be provided with adequate information and training required to be productive form the get-go. They can remotely participate in relevant discussion forums, to share feedback via a mobile device on a near real-time basis. I believe the annual Employee Survey will be outdated in a day and age where real time information and feedback is not only possible, but needed.

4. Regular Work Updates & Training

Employee Training via Mobile Learning App

Frontline employees are the face of the company and the first touch point of every customer or prospect. Their experience – positive or negative, will build the initial perception about the organization, and determines possibilities of any future interaction. It is imperative that frontline employees are well versed with up to date information related to product, policies and processes.

An easy to use authoring tool of an LMS enables anyone to create and deploy learning content, run assessments in quick time and award certificates automatically. Companies should send regular industry updates that improve knowledge levels of its employees.

One of the largest small finance banks was transforming itself from a micro finance company to a bank. Their biggest challenge was to improve capabilities of their customer-facing employees. Most of the employees being desk-less, the bank shifted from a traditional web-based LMS to a mobile-based solution.
The L&D team now sends banking related information and updates daily, which is well received by all the employees.

Concluding Notes – Mobile Learning

The increasing proliferation of smartphones is fostering a transformation in Learning and Development. In fact, mobile learning is projected to be a $70 billion (that’s billion, with a “b”) industry by 2020. According to technology research firm Gartner, 70 percent of mobile professionals will conduct work on their personal smart devices by 2018.

A few questions to ponder on:
1. Are your training interventions aligned to the mobile-first workforce?
2. How are you facilitating knowledge and skill improvement of your customer facing staff?