For us here at MCAP, one of Canada’s largest independent mortgage financing companies, the pride we take in our team isn’t simply an empty value statement. What sets us apart is the knowledge in our agents’ heads, and their ability to translate that knowledge to each and every call they make. Without the right knowledge, it’s just like rolling the dice. And we’re not willing to take that gamble. We need our employees to know exactly how to serve our customers to maintain our high standards of success.
MCAP has always had exceptional training programs: New hires go through a five-week comprehensive onboarding course and six weeks of on-the-job training, then receive regular, ongoing coaching from team leaders. We’ve been able to take people with absolutely no previous knowledge around mortgages to a place where they can be successful in their jobs.
But, when we saw an opportunity to take things further, we seized it. There were four areas we specifically wanted to focus on improving:
- Increasing engagement—Our agents come out of training ready to take on the world. We wanted to find a way to maintain that enthusiasm throughout their learning journey at MCAP.
- Increasing knowledge retention—While our coaches do an incredible job of supporting their team, there’s only so much a leader can do to fight the “forgetting curve”—the 90 percent of information that many learners lose within 30 days without reinforcement. We saw some of our agents retaining only 15 to 20 percent of material after receiving two weeks of introductory training. We knew we could do better than that.
- Reducing manual processes and paperwork—Like many organizations, we had a lot of training materials in different places. There were online procedure manuals, learner guides, facilitator guides, PowerPoint decks, the whole nine yards—all of which we needed to update individually on a regular basis. We needed a way to streamline this, not only to make our processes vastly more efficient, but to help save our sanity.
- Making our coaching program measurable—Most knowledge evaluations are painful—and costly—ordeals that don’t give you much real insight into what your workforce actually knows. Nailing down the ROI of training is the ever-elusive holy grail for businesses across the board, but we suspected there might just be a solution out there.
Enter the modern corporate learning solution
The Axonify Employee Knowledge Platform hit every button for us. We first met Axonify CEO Carol Leaman in 2014 at a conference in California, and were pretty excited with her modern learning philosophy and innovative approach to training. There are a lot of learning management systems (LMSs) and eLearning solutions out there, but Axonify offered us a technology platform that we believed would help employees build, sustain, and share knowledge in a way that’s fun and engaging—particularly because its use of gamification is so effective. The platform also uses adaptive learning to automatically build on employee strengths and target weaknesses. Adaptive learning ensures agents follow a personalized learning path and can work continually toward closing individual knowledge gaps to give them the confidence they need to bring their best to the job. Finally, Axonify also offers a way for our coaches to view individual knowledge levels at any time to provide precise support.
All of these parts working in harmony have made for something of a powerhouse answer to our needs. We introduce training through Axonify during the onboarding process to help reinforce our content and establish initial knowledge levels, which gives our coaches a baseline against which to measure the agents’ growth as they progress. Then, the platform pretty well takes it from there. Every day our agents log in to take their daily microlearning training burst, where three to five questions are cleverly integrated into gameplay (Figures 1 through 4).
Figure 1: Colorfill is one of the most popular games among our employees
Figure 2: Questions can take many forms, from multiple choice to match-ups
Figure 3: Learners are also asked for their level of confidence with every answer, a key indication of how likely they are to translate their knowledge to on-the-job behaviors
Figure 4: Each learner’s digital Axonify coach provides explanations for both correct and incorrect answers. Incorrect answers indicate that the learner needs further reinforcement, which the platform will automatically feed into the learner’s future microlearning training bursts.
This game-based play helps learners get into a state of “flow” and better focus while answering questions. The gamified elements of the platform—the leaderboards, point system, and challenges—create in each learner the intrinsic motivation to take training every day. Because we have such a strong performance-based culture here at MCAP, simply seeing their own knowledge growth as they progress through each topic energizes many of our agents. Topics themselves can cover the vast breadth of everything an agent needs to know, including compliance and certification training, and can be prioritized to help reinforce knowledge in preparation for the upcoming tax season, for instance.
Our coaches have been particularly excited about the platform. They have a way to measure the effectiveness of their training, as Axonify’s knowledge maps and detailed learner history give them the ability to drill down into each learner’s metrics at a granular level to identify and target specific areas for support (Figures 5 and 6).
Figure 5: Coaches can view each learner’s individual knowledge map, which details knowledge levels in every topic
Figure 6: Coaches can then drill down into each learner’s history with every question to identify and target specific areas for support
The results have been pretty incredible. Since we began this approach, quality scores for agents are steadily getting better over time. We’ve achieved call-quality rating scores of 86 percent and decreased call escalations by 20 percent, both of which have played a critical role in improving customer satisfaction.
The atmosphere on the floor has completely transformed. There’s a greater sense of confidence among the agents, which is essential to success. (When you have an unconfident salesperson, it’s almost like throwing them to the sharks. They’re not going to make a sale.) Our coaches have noticed a change in tone now when they listen in on calls. They can hear the confidence coming through, and conversations go smoother.
We’ve also put to rest many of our manual processes, including an annual knowledge assessment required as part of being a service-provider organization. This used to be a paper-based test where we had to schedule everyone to take time off the phone, which you can imagine in a contact center is a nightmare. With Axonify, we’re able to integrate those assessments seamlessly with our agents’ daily training, meaning we get immediate responses and also see better results. It’s been a huge time-saver for the administrative team, and a relief for agents who suffer from test anxiety.
Besides this, we’ve moved beyond the “check-box approach” to training, so that our agents are now actually breathing the knowledge they need to know to be successful at their jobs. Our coaches have told us how they finally have something to offer those employees who have been on the job for 15 years, and our training leaders now have a tool that has replaced any guesswork with data-based insight into areas where the workforce needs additional training to further increase their performance.The gamified, adaptive approach to learning built into the Axonify platform has transformed our agent training into a fun, interactive, bite-sized, and quick experience each and every day. It’s a solution that has not only truly enabled us to bring out the best in our learners, but has allowed us to continue to boost our business success at the same time.