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frontline upskilling

Chat to interact: Chat as an effective tool for frontline employee learning

Frontline teams are an important part of any business. They not only represent the company to its clients and customers, but they are also responsible for building a lasting relationship with them. Despite their importance, organizations tend to overlook them when it comes to training. With chatbots and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools making their way into communication, it is more important — and easier — than ever to provide effective training to frontline workers.

The frontline workforce is often distributed and fraught with high attrition, so instructor-led training (ILT) is not always cost-effective. Webinars and virtual instructor-led training (VILT) can be successful, but there is one effective tool that is frequently neglected: chat.

Below are some interesting ways to use chat options in your frontline training programs.

Daily Tips

Daily pop-up messages can bring up a significant point or remind employees of their goals. Is a goal answering phone calls within three rings or attending to customers within two minutes? First thing in the morning, you can send a message through chat to all frontline workers: “You can enhance our company’s image in two minutes!”

Chatbot to the Rescue

A chatbot can help answer important questions: “Hey bot, how can I respond to someone asking for the price list of our products?” “Hey bot, someone is talking to me in French! What should I do?”

If there is no answer to a question, or if the bot doesn’t recognize a question, it can give the team member a phone number to call for a speedy resolution. Chatbots take on-the-job training to a new level: just-in-time training.

Daily Dose of Motivation

Frontline team members often face the brunt of reactions from customers and the public. To keep them motivated, send a daily message through chat — maybe a story of how someone demonstrated great customer service or an inspiring three-minute video. Depending on your chat application, you may even be able to track how many employees have watched the video (or, at least, clicked the link).

Group Chat

Create a chat group for frontline staff to share stories and help each other on the job. Appoint a moderator to avoid spam or office gossip. Recognize the person who answered the most questions correctly each month with an award, such as “Training Champion of the Month,” accompanied by a gift certificate or other monetary reward.

During Online Courses

Many modern learning management systems (LMS) include chat features. Try embedding chat into a course, and keep a record of all the discussions that take place. This approach can serve two purposes:

  • Peer discussions: Once learners log into the course, you can create cohorts for peer discussions.
  • Discussion forum: The chat can function like a discussion forum, enabling all conversations related to the training to exist in one place for current efficiency and future reference.

Expert Chats

Bring in experts, both internal and external, who can support the frontline team by chatting within a designated time frame. They can provide examples as well as additional information not covered during a formal training program.

Building Connections

Chat is generally considered a personal communication tool. Because we tend to feel intimately connected when an exchange takes place via chat, using chat in training encourages frontline team members to believe that the organization cares for them and wants to connect with them individually.

As e-learning pioneer Jay Cross once said, “Conversation is the most powerful learning technology ever invented.”

(This article was originally published in Training Industry)

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