Switching sides or switching focus

Switching sides or switching focus

The Customer Service Development department (CSD) versus the Learning and Development department (L&D)

Abstract

The concept of human resources focused and HR integrated learning and development department has long been on agendas of customer service driven enterprises. “Learning and development, deeply ingrained in the social, ethical and politically correctness of the larger function of Human Resources and as such lead by its staff centred idea of the perfect human educated colleague.” 

But what about the guest who is paying the bill? Do they worry about the career ambitions of individual employees or reversely rather the product they paid for? Arguably you would say they care about the employee as much as you do, but in fact, this behaviour is often referred to as cognitive dissonance, when the guest would say they care about the individual employee, but in the same moment happily spend their vacation in a hotel were the very same person who just served them their breakfast earns 1/10 of what the actual breakfast costs. Often, cognitive dissonance is deeply engrained in the behaviour, minds and systems within large corporations that at some point need to make a trade-off between focusing on profit, customer service or social correctness.

…shadow departments are build up in quality assurance, customer service development, product culture and skills based learning…but is that needed? 

So what is it, that can unite these efforts for the sake of a common goal? Switching sides!

 

Switching Sides

Employee centred approaches heavily rely on the ethos of developing groups of individuals for the sake of developing a certain skill or behaviour which benefits the individual in doing their work better or progress faster. The central question is based on the belief that each employee has individual training needs, ambitions and different learning behaviours.

Customer focused approaches focus on the product and customer. The employee as such is an important tool to deliver up to the expectation, nonetheless is part of a larger system involving perceptive triggers, technologically or highly structured journeys and anticipative behaviour delivered by humans. 

The staff members personal ambitions are part of their personally organised and financed journeys, whilst the company solitary acts as a facilitator to earn the funds and enable a training ground to practice their knowledge in the form of directed voyages in communities of practice, may it be for the sake of delivering a product based on technical skills or a service based on leadership and anticipation. The mutual contract between the employee and the company is based on enabling the 100% delivery of a defined product or service compensated by a fair income. 

Customer focused approaches focus on the product and customer. The employee as such is an important tool to deliver up to the expectation, nonetheless is part of a larger system involving perceptive triggers, technologically or highly structured journeys and anticipative behaviour delivered to humans.
— S.Gill
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...switching what?

Switching sides is based on the belief of a Customer Service Development department (CSD) versus a Learning and Development department (L&D). Three strategic stages connect and enable the CSD namely; Waigaya, a base for creative customer service development; Poka Joke, a practice for quality assurance and fail saving;  and The Community of Practice, a development zone for active knowledge sharing. Each stage encourages individual outperformance but ensures that product underperformance, wastage or a lack of innovation is easily caught. Individual performance might still be a dialogue within the self-managed team but is irrelevant for the larger organisation as long as the team, function or department delivers the product, which in turn eliminates the need for the company to involve itself in individual performance measurements. (Underperformance will be instead managed by the team who will simply not accept colleagues that don’t contribute to the team's overall goal and achievements.)

 

Waigaya*, Product Definition

The two central questions asked will also lead back to “What training do we need to deliver the product?” and “How does this training support the delivery of our product?”

Within the sake of this paper, Waigaya refers to an unstructured conversation or discussion that permits the free shaping of thoughts and ideas around creating a guest perception, product definition and structural boundaries.

Although a rigid product framework might be in place based on a marketing promise, waigaya would focus on the delivery of this product not changing the actual final product or service. As such customer journeys might be enhanced by technology implementations,  cognitive triggers based on a certain customer group, ethical background, false expectation or simply by mirroring or enhancing practices seen and learned from competitors or partners.

When switching sides, the development of guest journeys is suddenly deeply engrained in the learning and development as behavioural training needs, technological training needs and employee benchmarking becomes immediately apparent in the creation of the process. The two central questions asked will also lead back to “What training do we need to deliver the product?” and “How does this training support the delivery of our product?”. Ambitions for ego-driven training journeys or programs are quickly eliminated.

 

Poka Joke**, Quality Assurance

In the wider concept of this paper, fail saving is a practice adopted for the sake of identifying and providing the minimum level of mandatory training, governed by the quality assurance provided through guest feedback and structured reviews. 

The knowledge and the training journeys resulting in those are classified in: 

A.) technical skills required to deliver a stage within the product chain  B.) statutory requirements to be able to work in the environment  C.) interpersonal skills to work within a certain level of the structure  D.) product or service related skills that deliver on the marketing promise.

ABCD are each individualized by position, not the person, and are focused on the minimum requirement. Within each stage, the user can do an online test to fast track but when failing the test is required to perform the complete prescribed content via face to face lecture, self-study or technology-enhanced learning, again performing the online test at the end.

The learning technique can be chosen by the learner from a selection of physical face to face learning, self-study or collaborative study, which results in the fact the training material must be provided multidimensional in these formats.

The learning technique can be chosen by the learner from a selection of physical face to face learning, self-study or collaborative study, which results in the fact the training material must be provided multidimensional in these formats.

Although the online test, serves as a poka joke, regular guest feedback and structured reviews in the form of mystery reviews can force the team (not the individual) to repeat an entire section within the training journey (don’t forget that the skilled individual can fast track, only completing the test, whilst the unskilled will automatically be forced to perform the full program).

 

The Community of Practice***, leading and self-managing progress

The individual is never forced to learn but can access knowledge through forums, webinars, self-study and day to day mentoring. The progress is monitored and does identify individuals who are willing to outperform. The learning does not necessarily need to take place within the premises of the company, but might also take place in the form of a self funded study, that is centrally captured by the company as personal progress (extended enterprise scenario)..

Microlearning or flash modules are available for learners to choose from, at times less for the purpose of a known learning need, but instead for answering a question that might arise (function sheet).

 

Gamification as a driver within the community

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Gamification suddenly moves from “game” to “skills level measurement”. The need for structured performance reviews has been made obsolete.  Because education never sleeps.

Widely denounced but practically less enforced. There are various motivational Driggers available for individuals to start learning. Some might be motivated by the need for money, some by personal interest, others by the urge for recognition or competitiveness. Gamification fosters the later two. The urge for competition and recognition. In the sphere of customer service, gamification is a token driven approach. The learner achieves a certain amount of learning, online or offline and receives points (token) for this learning. These points will elevate the learner into the leaderboard and puts them into direct comparison with their colleagues. However, considering poka joke and the community of practice, several more levels are captured. Positive feedback from a guest is automatically added to each group of employees from that outlet as extra points. Personally funded education is added as extra points to the individual pool of points and special project completions that thrive the product will add points to the project team. It is not said that the winning team must receive recognition beyond the fact that they are on the top of the leader's board. Nevertheless the opportunity for monetary rewards is given.

Gamification suddenly moves from “game” to “skills level measurement”. The need for structured performance reviews has been made obsolete.  Because education never sleeps.

 

Conclusion

Switching sides means switching focus. In the centre of the action is the guest and not the employee. The centre of attention is 100% brand compliance with the company acting as an enabler and the employee as a paid consumer. 

The learning and development department transfers into a a customer service development department leading the product**** knowledge development, customer service development, quality assurance and skills-based learning.

Three stages are connected, namely Waigaya, a base for creative customer service development, Poka Joke, a practice to quality assurance and fail-safe and The Community of Practice, a development zone for active knowledge sharing. Each stage allows for the outperformance of individuals but ensures that underperformance, wastage or a lack of innovation is easily caught.

 

Appendices

*Poka-yoke (Joke) is a Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing" or "inadvertent error prevention". The key word in the second translation, often omitted, is "inadvertent". The concept was formalised, and the term adopted, by Shigeo Shingo as part of the Toyota Production System. It was originally described as baka-yoke, but as this means "fool-proofing" (or "idiot-proofing") the name was changed to the milder poka-yoke.

**Waigaya refers to an unstructured conversation, discussion or action

***A community of practice is a group of people who share a craft or a profession. The concept was first proposed by cognitive anthropologist Jean Lave and educational theorist Etienne Wenger in their 1991 book Situated Learning. Wenger then significantly expanded on the concept in his 1998 book Communities of Practice.

****, please note that product development is not part of the core function, but developing perceptive triggers in customer journeys is. 

Lominger 67 Competencies

Lominger 67 Competencies