Cotton Traders – elearning with personality!

Cotton Traders – elearning with personality!

Elearning needs to be enjoyable, interesting, flexible and a means to consolidate knowledge. These were the goals of clothing retail giant, Cotton Traders, when they set out to introduce elearning into their Contact Centre.

Cotton Traders opened in 1987, a business started by two stars of rugby union, Fran Cotton and Steve Smith. They began by selling sportswear and have now expanded their clothing retail empire with over one hundred shops in Britain and an online outlet.

Customers expect advisors to have excellent knowledge of products and processes. Keeping that knowledge up to date, without detracting from the sales process, is crucial too. Knowledge is an organic commodity. Learning it, as any student will tell you, can be done in two ways: the boring way and the enjoyable way. And, as any teacher will tell you, knowledge is best remembered when the learning process is enjoyable.

Karen Massey, Training Manager for Cotton Traders understood this premise, it’s why she selected Nimble after trialling four other elearning platforms. She told us, ‘I selected Nimble because it gave us the tools for setting up courses quickly and simply. I found that the LMS had everything we needed – I didn’t feel we needed much of the information given by other providers. And of course Nimble offers fantastic value for money.’

In the past, the dissemination of information relied on the internal memo. But Karen is quick to point out this took up a lot of management time, checking who’d received it but such old-fashioned methods didn’t allow for information changing all the time either. However, the need for enjoyment and interest remained uppermost in Karen’s mind.

‘I think it is beneficial for advisors to have some say in when they complete a course, to do it at their own speed and choose which courses to complete next,’ says Karen.

However, what’s excited us about Karen’s innovations is how she’s taken things further. She wanted to embed elearning into the culture of Cotton Traders, she wanted ‘to give it personality and help advisors relate to the process quickly.’ And so CILA was born. Cotton Traders Interactive Learning Assistant.

CILA permeates the company’s information dissemination and training processes. When there is a new course available it’s advertised on plasma screens within the contact centre, encouraging advisors to click on the CILA shortcut to complete the course. The scheme may be new, but it has been received with enthusiasm by everyone, which is down to Karen’s goal of wanting employees to ‘own’ the process by having a say in it.

This is important. Advisors log on to CILA to complete courses during their ‘downtime’ when they’re not talking to customers on the phone. So the system must be flexible for this reason. Flexibility works best when people want to engage, rather than being made to do so. Flexibility is also about short courses, making knowledge ‘bite-size’ so a course can be completed quickly, before any interruptions from the phone.

This exciting innovation can come at a cost. Karen’s eager to emphasize this isn’t the case where Nimble is concerned. Though her first course ‘took ages’, now she creates courses in a fraction of that time. She has her own templates and graphics library to streamline the process.

And when she doesn’t know anything, what does she do? She consults the Nimble oracle, or as we prefer to call her, Dee, our Customer Success Manager. Karen says, ‘I came down and Dee spent ages with me to show me how to get started which was invaluable. I do rely on your backup if I ever get stuck, so my relationship with Nimble is very important.’

The promise Cotton Traders make to their customers is ‘everything we do is designed to exceed your expectations.’ It’s a value shared by Nimble. To achieve it you need well-trained, well-informed teams, just like in rugby.

Such a goal is easier to achieve when the training process has personality!


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