Prioritizing L&D in Customer-Centric Startups

May 9, 2023

We’re often confronted with a question. When improving business outcomes, to what extent does training frontline teams matter? The truth is, it matters more than ever. When it comes to high touch businesses, such as healthcare, hospitality, or education, the interactions between the frontline staff and the customers can make or break a business. This makes it crucial for businesses to invest in their employees' learning and development to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles.

Regardless of its size, learning plays a vital role in achieving sustained organizational growth and development. The CEO and founder at Red Health, a startup that provides emergency healthcare services, Prabhdeep Singh, spoke at length to us recently about the importance of implementing learning for frontline teams to ensure delivery of quality services to clients.

Traditional learning initiatives, such as formal training, workshops, seminars, and conferences, have been essential for a long time. However, in startups, such learning mechanisms may not always be feasible due to limited resources and time constraints. That's why informal initiatives, such as on-the-job training mentoring, become more prevalent.

Moreover in a startup, emphasizing on survival over other non-core competency aspects become every company's priority. As startups are always scuffling to survive the dynamic business environment, it becomes challenging to provide learning and development to employees. Resources are often stretched to the limit, and sometimes the employees must wear more than one hat, and development programs may not be a priority. Additionally, there's no surety that the efforts invested in learning and development will bear any fruits, and the outcome may affect startups that strive to keep afloat in the initial stages.

Therefore, in startups, it is even more critical to develop teams as it enables executives and employees to make informed decisions and tradeoffs.

Prabhdeep believes that L&D is a must-have, not a good-to-have. “The performance of my frontline staff is dependent on how much accountability and training sits one layer above and one layer behind them. This means that even the supervisors and city managers need to be trained. In a world where we are talking about survival, running out of money, how much does training matter will always be a question. This is a balancing act. L&D is a must-have for high touch, high impact businesses. Every level of the company must be trained, and conflict between shorter term priorities and L&D goals must be balanced. Only then can a high touch business fulfill its promise to their customers and stay ahead of competitors,” he said.

Nonetheless, one of the toughest challenges is to train frontline employees without impacting business. Taking employees off the floor can lead to a loss of business, decrease client satisfaction, and hamper the organization's growth. The sales team, known to be a critical team, has even more significant targets to meet, and taking them off the floor is not an option for any company. On the other hand, customer service teams, crisis management teams, and dispatch teams play a critical role too and cannot be taken off their tasks for training.

Balancing the availability of teams and providing them with the right training at the right time is a significant challenge. Technology helps solve this problem significantly.

The potential of technology in L&D

As technology continues to evolve, it is not surprising that AI has made its way into classrooms and workplaces. With the growing accessibility and varied use of AI tools, it is reshaping the way we approach learning and development. Today, we have more AI-powered learning solutions that make it feasible to impart knowledge in interactive formats. There is no doubt about AI’s potential in personalizing learning experiences that suit individual needs and improving employees’ productivity. However, the question remains – where are we as a society when it comes to AI-enhanced learning?

Prabdeep says that at Red Health they’re embracing AI in all aspects of their work. “Our top priority is equipping our staff with all the AI tools and techniques available to help them deliver high-quality output and strive for improved productivity. To us, AI integration is a two-fold process. First, we want everyone to understand AI and explore its potential by utilizing it aggressively. We believe AI should be used as a personal tutor, secretary, and even a manager if it means that people become more efficient in their work. Second, we intend to integrate AI into our workflows to enhance productivity. This means encouraging our employees to think creatively about how to utilize LLMs, AI models, and different AI tools to drive industry growth and build products that can be defined as AI for our clients.”

This shift has allowed companies to take a different approach to learning, where the focus is on continuously measuring progress and reinforcing learning through bite-sized modules and in a gamified manner. AI in learning and development is changing the way we learn and work. The need to adopt innovative ways to train employees without wasting time and money is now more than ever.

A gamified, on-the-job training approach, is an option that companies are looking to adopt now. Fundamento works with companies to deliver just that to improve adoption and knowledge retention.

Measuring impact of learning

In addition to long-term output measurements, short-term input measurements are equally important in training and development. They refer to measuring the immediate impact of the training program, such as the satisfaction level of the employees, the effectiveness of the trainers, and the relevance of the content. By doing so, we can make real-time adjustments to improve the training program on an ongoing basis.

The benefits of short-term input measurements in training and development are numerous. It allows organizations to identify any gaps or weaknesses in the training program, and take corrective action immediately. Short-term input measurements also help to keep the employees motivated and engaged in the training program, by providing immediate feedback and recognition. By focusing on short-term input measurements, we can ensure that the training program is engaging, effective, and relevant to the needs of the employees and the organization.

However, the importance of constant learning and development cannot be overstated for employees at all levels including the CEO. Learning and development activities enable businesses to meet the expectations of customers and improve their performance. As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly important for both CEOs and employees to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with the evolving needs and trends of the industry.

It is crucial to create a learning atmosphere in an organization and encourage employees to actively participate in L&D activities. This requires a brutally honest approach to self-assessment, identifying one's incompetencies, and rising above them. Surrounding oneself with people who can impart knowledge is essential. Prabhdeep says that this is where CEOs can lead by example, encouraging employees to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and development.

Encouraging a culture of continuous learning also gives employees the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge, making them more effective in their roles and ultimately benefiting the business. When senior leaders lead by example and prioritize their own learning, it sets the tone for the rest of the organization to follow suit.

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