Monday, April 20, 2015

Wowing your customers with finely tuned customer service...

Providing the best products or a great service idea is nothing without great customer service. Customer service is at the center to every business’ success, and great customer service is often the deciding factor of whether to pay a little less at business A and receive mediocre to bad customer service and whether to spend a little more at business B and receive outstanding customer service. In a world where customer service has turned into an often lackluster experience, there is something so very appealing about an optimistic, warm voice on the other end of a phone, computer or face to face meeting.

Your employees are your company’s first impression. They are very often the deciding factor whether new business becomes returning business that refers other new business to your business. In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, your best edge over the competition is obsessive customer service training.  

We all know that practice makes perfect and there is no better way for your employees to receive the ongoing, consistent training they need to drive customers to your door than by providing on-line customer service training.  Online customer service training is available when and where you need it for your employees. The benefits of providing on-line customer service training is huge; here are just a few:

Improved Customer Service Skills  
Customer service training programs focus on improving communication, listening, problem-solving and organizational skills. Training employees on the same standards sets the bar for consistent and remarkable service, creating camaraderie, motivation and engagement between staff leading to improved customer service.

Increased Customer Satisfaction
Through effective customer service training, employees are able to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently, decreasing prolonged resolution which greatly increases customer satisfaction. The confidence gained by employees through customer service training leads to the consumer feeling appreciated and respected. This is the basis for customer loyalty, and new referrals.

Higher Profits
Investing in online customer service for your staff pays back big dividends in other areas such as customer loyalty, new customers, lower employee turnover and increased sales.  Customer service training also has a great impact on employee motivation and morale, which leads to increased productivity. Training, increased customers numbers, higher productivity and morale, those are the keys to higher profit.

What are you waiting for? Improved customer service, increased customer satisfaction and higher profits are just a click away. 

- contributed by Felita Estes

Monday, April 6, 2015

Train your staff.... for their good and yours!

There is nothing like walking into a business or receiving a service from a company whose employees are friendly, effective, efficient, knowledgeable, and encourage referrals. As a customer, you leave the business satisfied and ready to tell everyone about the great service you experienced. You then flash to your business and wonder if your employees could deliver that same level of product knowledge, and service in the same manner.  For restaurant and franchise businesses to thrive having a great product or service is only half the battle.  Without great employees to deliver and represent your business, the best business can find itself treading water. After all, great employees still require direction, motivation and incentives to propel them to give the business they work for 100+ percent.  How do you make fair to good employees great? Training. 

For most restaurant and franchise businesses, trying to get everyone trained at the same time is like herding cats. Attempting to schedule everyone in the same place at the same time or even in shifts is difficult for most part-time employees and many full-time employees because of other jobs, school, and family obligations. But the benefit of providing training for employees far outweighs any downside, and on-line training is the tool that can make it happen.

Training not only provides employees the necessary tools to perform their jobs but it also provides something even more valuable to a business; confident employees. When employees are given the tools necessary to be great at their job, it increases their confidence which increases their need to perform above and beyond and increases their desire to make each customer happy and satisfied. That confidence, increased self-worth and desire to succeed translates to a more successful business.

Study after study has proven that training is important in improving an employee’s capabilities, overall productivity and efficiency. But it doesn’t stop there; training can also improve other areas of the business. Imagine a workforce that is consistently trained with substantial, relevant material. A workforce like that will produce increased revenue, productivity and create an atmosphere of strong working relationships, all of which will more than cover the costs associated with the training. Wouldn’t it be amazing to walk in the doors a business and witness a crew of friendly, effective, efficient, knowledgeable employees servicing increased numbers of happy customers and realize it’s your business? 

- contributed by Felita Estes

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sneak preview….

One thing about software development - you can always think of ‘one more thing’ to make it better. It is a constant struggle between time, money, competing priorities, scope creep and just getting something out there that the customer can test.  As someone more eloquent might say, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.  Not that I’m excusing Windows 1.0 or the Ford Pinto.  Some things just can’t be justified.

Which brings us to today’s topic. The LearningZen course viewer. It works. It delivers courses to our learners daily, by the thousands. It is not particularly sexy but is easy to navigate. It isn’t a Pinto, but maybe an Explorer? Thus, I am pleased to announce (leak) that we are moving into Tesla territory (please ask me about the Tesla, I am obsessed!).  Yes, we are updating the course viewer.

I’m not supposed to show you this because it isn’t done yet but this is a preview:

We’re moving the navigation info to the top bar, opening up more screen real estate for the course content. We are updating the look and feel with new buttons and icons and removed unnecessary repetition of navigation options.

It is really fun for us to do something that is such a noticeable change.  A lot of software updates are invisible, either fixing something, or providing a feature that might be used by a particular user but which may go mostly unnoticed.  

Doing something that people will notice and appreciate is very motivating for software developers. We think this new viewer will be pleasing to the eye and fun to use. We might just have a party when it goes to production!

We hope you like it - The new LearningZen viewer will be available in early 2015. Let us know what you think…. of course, it can be turned on or off by your portal administrator, so you can keep using that old ‘Explorer’ if you want to! Now who wants to talk Tesla?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Improving Death Certificate Data Quality through Training

The process of properly entering and filing a death certificate is surprisingly complex. For example, when a person passes away, a physician must ‘certify’ the cause of death in a particular way and describe the circumstances in a medically precise, legally allowable (and statistically useful) manner. 

This type of information has become increasingly essential for understanding population trends and surveillance, including tracking of epidemic outbreaks. Many organizations, including the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rely heavily on this data for the compilation of regional and national statistics.

Gold Systems has built vital record registration systems for several government agencies, including the States of Montana, Arizona, and the District of Columbia. DC and Arizona both use LearningZen to implement a process in which a user of the registration software must first take a training course pertinent to their area of work. 

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For example, DC has several courses on-line and is in the process of adding a new course on how to properly fill out the 'cause of death' on a death certificate. 

The LearningZen API (application programming interface) is used to create a link between the Birth/Death registration system and LearningZen.  This API allows the registration system to determine whether a user has completed the course.  

If not, a notification is presented to the user reminding them to take the course and provides a link to allow them to go directly to the course.  

This approach allows the administrators of the system to more closely monitor who receives the training that they feel is necessary to use the system. Implementation of the linkage between LearningZen and the DC Birth/Death registration system is relatively recent, so it is currently not ‘mandatory’ that a person completes a particular course before they can use the system. These users are often working in a hospital environment and it is important that they are able to complete their work in a timely fashion. 

Using the API, it is possible to track how many times a user ignores the message to ‘complete the course’ and this will be used by the system administrators to take follow up action. They are also considering locking the user out of the registration system automatically after a certain period of time - at least technically speaking this is easily accomplished.  Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen - stay tuned for a report on how it plays out in a future posting!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guiding student pilots through their training with LearningZen

One of my tasks as a flight instructor is to prepare new pilots for their first solo cross country flight. When the big day arrives, the excited student arrives at the airport armed with snacks, water, map and flight plan to be reviewed before they are signed off, ready to depart. As a new instructor, it was a major disappointment to both myself and my students how many times the outcome was ‘sorry, we need to go over your planning again before I can let you do this trip’.

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Besides making sure that they know how to control the airplane and how to navigate to their destination, I have to be sure my student has learned how to properly plan their flight. Running out of fuel is the single biggest cause of private aviation accidents, so this is more than just an academic exercise! In order to receive their pilot’s license, a student must demonstrate the preparation of a ‘navigation log’ for a cross country trip. This included a detailed accounting of distance flown and fuel and time required, dependant on many factors such as aircraft type, winds, altitude and power settings used.

Ideally, the student learns this while attending classroom training or performing guided self-study (ground school). Practically speaking, I found that most of my students did not retain this important skill by the time it was needed, and I often found myself spending hours reviewing the material to help them prepare for the solo cross country. This is costly for the student and definitely not good for anyone’s morale or enthusiasm!

To remedy this situation, I created an on-line course using LearningZen, which went step-by-step through the process of creating a student flight plan. By requesting that my students review the course before attempting to create their own cross-country plan, I found the rate of cancelled trips due to poor planning went down significantly. Students enjoyed being able to go through the material on their own time, and seemed to learn the material more thoroughly than they did by simply reading about it in a book or by sitting in a classroom. Of course they appreciated the cost savings of taking a free on-line course instead of paying me to sit with them to go over an incorrect plan. It was great for me too, as I could be sure that each student had reviewed the material they needed to learn, and it was presented in a consistent and methodical way.  

Best of all, I knew they could safely plan their trip and now I rarely have to frustrate a student by sending them back to the drawing board on their big day!

Over 1400 students have taken this highly rated LearningZen course, which is also eligible for FAA WINGS credit.  Check it out yourself at

Steve Gold CFII