Written by:

Holly Macdonald


October 1, 2009

I recently read a post on the Human Capitalist about the role that Twitter played in a customer service scenario, and I immediately thought “hey that is a great idea for performance support for employees and an application of Twitter that makes sense”.  I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but someone could use an instant message (IM) tool, a status update or other method that may already be in place in your organization to put out a call for help into the ether and have an “e-coach” monitor things and respond as necessary.  This would obviously not work well in some circumstances, but what about these times:

  • An employee is trying to fill out a complex form
  • A manager is confused about how to administer a reimbursement request
  • An employee is reviewing new product information and needs clarification on one of the features
  • An employee completes training and afterwards is unsure of the steps to set up their machinery
  • An employee is entering information into the “customer relationship management (CRM)” or “learning management system (LMS)” and is not sure of the right way to do things
  • An employee is reviewing a customer file and is unsure of company policy on the situation

These are a few scenarios where I could see this working for organizations.  I worked with an organization where employees often needed help and called the help desk, but the help desk did not provide user-help, just technical support.  The training department would act as ad hoc performance support on a case-by-case basis (usually if someone knew their direct line or could find them on the employee directory), but we often debated how to deal with these situations.  We considered taking shifts and creating an email address for employees to just send a message for help, but it never really got off the ground.  However, I still think the concept is important. 

When employees need help doing their job, organizations often have a patchwork of “solutions” – ask your co-worker/cube neighbour, track down your supervisor or manager, take a course, review a job aid.  Or worst of all, employees just fumble through, don’t bother completing the task or go ahead and do it anyway and end up with a big mess.  The focus for most organizations, though, is the “formal” learning – the course or class that is designed to “train” employees.  I think it is a wasted opportunity and would love to see an organization put a % of their budget towards performance support and track the impact.  Start with 10% or 20% and see what happens.

Did they…

  • improve the time to mastery for employees? 
  • reduce errors?
  • improve customer response times/customer service scores?
  • increase sales?

All of these have financial measures to help make the case that training and supporting employees on the right things is a smart thing to do.