Managed learning services are ideal solutions for when L&D want to focus on strategic governance of learning, improve learning efficiency and lower the overall costs of learning for their employees.
But what’s the most important thing to consider when choosing a managed learning services partner or indeed any outsourced service partner?
We think it just simply has to be the people.
Your people, their people and most importantly their approach to delivering great customer service to create the best of working relationships to help and develop your people.
How will they engage with you or your staff; at all levels, their response times, how accessible they will be? Their values, their style of interactions, ability to meet your needs, support you in your strategy and most essentially be on the same page to help you deliver that strategy.
So let’s start with some practical considerations when thinking about the level of customer service you want to receive from your managed learning services partner:
Experience of key personnel
How experienced are their personnel? How much experience does the account manager have within L&D? How about the customer support team? Do they have an understanding of the principles of modern learning? Do they understand your industry, or be willing to invest time with you to understand it?
- How responsive is the managed learning services partner? Measure this from initial engagement, test how flexible they are to your ways of working, how they respond and are they meeting the service level agreements?
- How do they manage with non-standard requests? Do they stick to the contract terms or are they willing to go beyond that when necessary?
- Some managed learning service contracts include personnel working full time at a client’s site, however, it’s more common for the support to be remote. Where this support is based is crucial.
- What understanding of the marketplace do they have? Will you have an opportunity to meet the support, team?
Retention of staff
- In order to build relationships, trust and truly partner both the client and the managed learning service provider have to have consistent staff numbers. So ask the provider about their staff turnover and retention. Remember, it’s a two-way street though and sharing information with your provider about internal changes in staff is important.
Strategic v transactional value
- What value will you gain from the partner? Will they be purely reactive and operate only a transactional level, or will their approach to managed learning services focus on helping with your strategy, improving your L&D offering and providing you with useful information, resources and partner updates?
So this neatly leads us to…why should fabulous customer services be the primary focus for your managed learning service partner on a strategic level?
They are working with you to build reputation internally
- They are part of your team, they are there to help you build the reputation for your L&D brand in your business and the way they interact with your business strengthens everything that you are trying to do, the reputation of your L&D team is at stake. The managed learning service partner that you choose to work with will be representing L&D. Ensuring that the organisation buys into your approach is vital for long-term success. Therefore, any partner you work with must enhance your reputation, mirror your values and act in your best interests.
To develop business buy-in to increase efficiencies
Working with the whole business for consistency and efficiency
Managed learning services work best when the partner is working with the whole business, in a mandated approach, which is supported by L&D and accepted by the business. This only comes about because of building great relationships within the business and delivering exceptional customer service.
If the business is receiving the support that L&D are promising and adds value, then they will continue to use the services. If they aren’t then they will proactively find ways to bypass using the managed learning service as a route for learning.
Lowering the cost of learning
Working with a managed learning service who places the utmost importance on customer service will have the additional benefit of reducing the overall spend on learning.
Procurement consolidation and training cost passed through from the managed learning service partner results in savings on the direct costs of training and learning.
Receiving the best quality recommendations for your learning
Greater buy from your employees, through having good relationships with your managed learning services partner, will ensure that any recommendations are well received.
The better the relationship between the employee and the managed learning services partner, the more detailed the requirement for the learning can be understood, sourced and delivered.
Your partner can also make your employees aware of any more effective learning resources such as e-learning, videos, podcasts, communities of practices that you have created within your organisation. This happens when the provider’s customer service team truly understand your company’s learning culture.
To give L&D the comfort and confidence to work more closely with the business
To increase engagement
A common complaint by L&D is the lack of or late involvement in organisation projects and a view that L&D is simply “training”. Changing this approach takes time. Working with a managed learning service partner can assist with the immediate benefit of freeing up of resources, allowing your team to have more time to engage and educate your business. However, this can only happen if you are confident that the relationship between your staff and managed learning services partner is appropriate, strong, happy and the level of customer service is a quality you would expect to receive from an internal resource; in line with your corporate values and expectations.
Managed learning services that are delivered with great customer service will also help to build trust in the ability of L&D to meet the learning needs of individuals across the organisation. The business will then be more likely to welcome you with open arms and acceptance when it comes to employee engagement with L&D going forward.
To help reinforce self-directed learning
Embracing this and the 70/20/10 model for learning is vital, yet it comes with challenges and even the most proactive employee will need L&D support at some stage. Therefore, having a managed learning service partner that focuses on your people and delivers great customer service will give you the confidence to develop and promote self-directed learning, knowing that there is support for employees whenever they require it.
To help you deliver exceptional L&D strategy
Providing great customer service so that employees are using the managed learning service because they want to, rather than because they have to, must be a key driver. Capturing all activity from the management of enquiries, bookings and events is crucial for intelligent analysis of learning data. This information can then influence and steer the L&D strategy forward.
To conclude, having the confidence in your managed learning services partner to have great customer interactions with your employees is crucial to L&D.Poor customer service reflects badly on the L&D department at a time when positive business engagement and employee experience is needed to drive change.
Outstanding customer service from your managed learning service should be seen as the gateway to allow you focus your resources on aligning business objectives with your L&D strategy – helping you to promote corporate strategy, measure L&D effectively, identify and overcome current and future challenges, improve ROI and benchmarks, and improve your employee value propositions.