By Joe DiDonato
At our recent virtual event, John Moxley from Cricket University laid out a framework for creating a mobile learning experience for
remote sales personnel. Like all of you that attended the event, I was really impressed with the elegance and simplicity of the user interface and experience.
To keep that experience from being lost, I thought I’d do a short case study on Cricket Communications for you, seeing that mobile is topping the investment strategies for a very wide swath of our readership. And if you missed this event — and like what you’re about to hear — we’ve asked John to do an entire workshop at our ELCE 2013 event in Anaheim, Calif., on August 28th.
So what is Cricket Communications? For those of you who don’t know, Cricket is a nationwide wireless provider, with a wide range of services and unlimited rate plans for voice, text, Web and broadband. It also doesn’t have any contracts, and its subscriber base is around 600,000. Its sales are through company stores, dealers and national partners like Best Buy and Walmart. And of course, it’s competing with the “big boys” in this arena, so it has to be much more agile and smarter about training employees and partners. Enter its mobile learning strategy.
One of the recurring problems that Cricket faces is getting to sales people when all of the PCs on the sales floor are occupied. Other problems around accessing training are that point-of-sale terminals are not appropriate for training, and pulling sales reps off the selling floor is both inefficient and a scheduling challenge. On top of all those issues, Moxley felt that Cricket wasn’t really leveraging its core technology.
At that point, Moxley decided to create a mobile learning strategy. The core elements that he needed to teach included product knowledge, selling skills, customer service, point-of-sale systems, job responsibilities, and a range of professional skills like listening, giving feedback, teamwork, collaboration and consulting.
So with that, Moxley took the first steps. He did three proofs of concepts, decided between a mobile-friendly Web page and an “app” approach, and then experimented with QR codes for in-class assessments and sign-ups via smartphones. He and his team decided that they needed a mobile platform that stressed a single point of contact for the mobile user, a delivery platform that was separate from the content being delivered, and an app (provided by Cellcast) to synchronize with the cloud for local storage, as well as provide compatibility with the Android, IOS, Blackberry and other platforms they supported. The team also was looking to take advantage of HTML5, which gave them flexible media formats, and of course they wanted the ability to interface with Cricket U’s “Learncenter” for user, course and completion management. Some of the future capabilities they sought were in the area of gamification.
Now came the real launch, and Moxley and his team put out posters and signs telling floor sales personnel how to sign up for Cricket U’s courses. All the users needed to do were to use their smartphones to scan the QR code, and they were connected to the opt-in, self-service registration page.
Once registered, they could look at their content and assignments; see pending announcements; search the Cricket U catalog of courses; join discussions; and view other resources that they might be able to use.
Store employees had information in their pockets; they were automatically synched to view the materials off-line; they had short (two- to five-minute) nuggets of information that they could access throughout the day; and they could easily take tests on their smartphones. A complete mobile classroom became available, and taking Cricket’s courses was easy and intuitive.
How long did it take? Their pilot went from March to the end of April. They did an evaluation during May and June of 2012, and they did a complete company-wide rollout in August.
An Enormous Impact
The results were extremely well-received by sales personnel throughout Cricket Communications’ family of employees, partners, and re-sellers. Cricket used these small nuggets to lead people through the learning process gradually, over an extended time period, which ended up having an enormous impact overall. They used spacing and repetition for retention, reminders to form habits, and then used active tasks to build proficiency over time, while still maintaining continuity. They used a continual sequence that presented content, gave them time to reflect and then apply the new knowledge. Then they once again presented content, gave out reminders, and then let them apply the knowledge. And finally, they presented the content again, assessed their performance, and then let them re-apply the knowledge.
That sequence moved the sales experience along the curve from knowledge acquisition, to positive attitude development, increased skills, and finally to the creation of good habits. And surprisingly, all of this was supported by relatively inexpensive SMS messaging.
Moxley and his small team say they learned many lessons. First and foremost, he recommends listening very closely to what the users want and their limitations on attending learning venues.
After that, he stresses the importance of integrating the mobile learning into an LMS/HRMS for course and completion management tasks.
He also recommends looking for good test development tools, and to remember to keep events and lessons short and simple. And finally, he recommends the use of triggers via SMS messaging (see box for some thought-provoking statistics), and reminders to make the learning experience “sticky.”