Phil Foster gives us some good advice for the measurement of training ROI.
Many UK businesses were forced to significantly curb their spending during the financial crisis, and although the UK economy is recovering well, the bleak period between 2008 and 2013 has had a lasting impact on the way we run our companies.
While you cannot blame firms for streamlining their operations and cutting unnecessary expenditure, it is clear that some organisations have slashed their budgets in an illogical, haphazard way that could do them a great deal of harm further down the line. One area in which you cannot afford to be too stingy is employee training, especially if you work in a customer/client-facing industry.
Why training is, and always has been, vital
I was intrigued to see the results of Red Ant’s latest UK Shopper Satisfaction report, which gave some insight into which customer service mistakes are the most frustrating for consumers. One figure that stood out in particular was that more than one in three (37%) consumers were most annoyed by an employee’s lack of product knowledge.
Some retailers have addressed this problem by arming their shop floor workers with tablets, allowing them to access product details with just a few swipes of their finger. However, many would see this as cheating, after all, by reading from an iPad the store assistant is not offering any information or advice that the customer cannot access themselves.
This is where thorough training pays dividends. Granted, some companies may wince at the cost of putting all of their customer-facing staff through extensive product and brand awareness training, but this initial expense will be more than worthwhile if the firm can enhance its customer service reputation. There are more and more studies and indexes being published on a regular basis that rank retailers based on their customer service credentials, so there’s no hiding place for those that consistently underperform.
Teaching staff to be polite and helpful in front of customers, whether in person, over the phone or via a web chatroom, should form just one small element of your training programme.
As I’ve already alluded to, companies are under increasing pressure to slash unnecessary outgoings, and to do so, they really need to have their staff on board. Basic sessions that explain the importance of not printing emails when it is not needed, turning off lights when they are not in use and hiring economical vehicles for business trips should help you to become more eco-friendly, saving you money on energy bills in the process. Rather than wasted, these funds can be allocated elsewhere and be invested in areas, such as training, which will have long term benefits.
It’s always important for businesses to measure the ROI of any training programmes that they run. To do so, it goes without saying that they must measure peaks and troughs in productivity over time, which is why corporate data has become such an invaluable asset. If you’ve spent £50,000 on an IT training programme that you believe will instantly increase staff productivity by 20%, you have to ensure that this upturn is being achieved on a consistent basis. If not, that money could have been better spent elsewhere. One would usually expect a direct correlation between the amount of training being given and overall productivity, but it doesn’t always pan out like this. That’s why experienced data analysts have become more influential within businesses, and this is a trend that I can see growing in the coming years.
Make sure your training is bespoke
One final note; it’s always a good idea to develop bespoke training procedures for your employees wherever possible. If you introduce a generic, out-of-the-box programme that a multitude of businesses use, the chances of your employees feeling engaged and motivated are slim.
By tailoring it to suit their particular roles, they will react more favourably and the message that you’re trying to deliver will resonate with them far more. It may take more time, effort and money to adopt this approach, but it will yield better results in the long run. Just make sure you keep measuring ROI.
Phil Foster is the CEO of Love Energy Savings, a domestic and business energy price comparison specialist based in the North West of England. The company prides itself on its bespoke training programmes and its innovative approach to upskilling staff