The importance of contextualization for training and support

The importance of contextualization for training and support

Written by Natalia Kawana

We grew up hearing this: “context is very important”. Or “everything depends on the context”.

Or even: “you can’t understand isolated sentences, but you need to analyse the context”. Our language teachers used to say this when we learned how to interpret texts. Many of us have been encouraged to take things into perspective when analysing facts and situations, especially at university. And we can see this in everyday situations as well.

Let’s have a banal example.

When we go travelling, we need to beware of the things we say and do, as we can be offensive without meaning to. For instance, the OK sign is common in many European countries and North America, but it is rude in my country, Brazil. It’s the same as telling someone to **** off.

Well, of course we want to avoid inconveniences and embarrassment, so it goes without saying that many of us pay attention to these nuances. When contexts are obviously different, we tend to reflect more about this. So when coming from a Western country to an Arab country, for instance, we’ll be more likely to notice these differences and to be more careful than say, if we travel from Spain to Italy. The same kind of sensitivity, however, is not so easy to apply in other situations. Here we will focus on how challenging this can be when we talk about software training and support at the workplace.

That’s because even though we’re in a digital era, learning and training are still full of “dogmas”. In many kinds of training, or even simply studying, we learn things in the classroom to apply them somewhere else. This is especially true at our workplace. I bet at least 7 out of 10 of you have had some kind of training in the format of a presentation, classroom style, when starting your jobs. But while it’s true that you can learn many things with presentations, they are not the best when it comes to learning job processes, especially not if we’re talking about processes to be carried out on software. Let’s understand why.

Traditional training and learning

Digital resources – i.e. software – have become a must at our workplace. We’re surrounded by them to perform every kind of task required in our positions: from filling in the presence sheet, to requesting leaves and vacation days. From submitting expense reports and approvals to adding contacts on a CRM system. From setting up a marketing campaign to creating a new video. Often, the tasks performed on digital resources are of great responsibility and deal with the company’s assets – for example, placing large orders and managing stock and logistics. Learning how to use these software well is not only desirable, but has become a true must, in a world where mistakes and errors are not only time-consuming, but can bring significant expenses to a company and, in extreme cases, even harm its reputation.

Given the growing importance of digital resources in our working lives, one would naturally think that software onboarding and training should be high on a company’s priority list. But what we still see is that employees learn complex processes by attending a presentation, only to go on the software itself and remember next to nothing. We also have those processes which they need to carry out rarely, say, once a month. How do we expect people to remember what they’ve learned on their first workday and apply it correctly those few times they need to?

Well, we can surely address this by consulting some manuals to recall the processes when we need to. But this is not a genius idea either. Think of moving your neck from a screen, with the PDF manual, to the other, where you actually have the software. And then translating instructions to actual elements on the screen. You’ll be lucky if you have screenshots to “help”. Then you go through all the hassle just to find out that “oh no, the manual is outdated!”

Traditional support methods

When talking about digitalization and adopting more software to perform jobs, companies also need to consider that users will need support. Employees, customers… Anyone who now needs to use these resources is bound to need support sooner or later, be it to get through anomalous bugs or to simply find their way on confusing interfaces. 

Support can be provided, again, by sending written instructions by email or on a chat, or by explaining what to do on the phone. The same old story applies here too: written or oral instructions need to be translated into actions.

The big problem

A basic element is missing with these two traditional training and support methods: contextualization. And it can be considered under two points of view. The main one is the contextualization of the resources. Apart from the obvious inefficiencies brought by boring trainings and long manual texts, traditional training and support methods teach users something which quickly becomes abstract, because they refer to another environment, which is not the blackboard or the paper where the information is contained. They refer to a digital resource, and therefore require a great level of abstraction by our learners to be applied. An effort which requires time, good will, energy… and which can turn out to be really frustrating. 

The second viewpoint to consider is the contextualization of the instructions themselves. Let’s say that in some cases, companies are able to digitalise manuals and the training itself, offering, for example training with digital resources: videos, interactive games and quizzes. This solves the problem of turning your neck around to read paper instructions and then go back to your computer (if you don’t have two screens at least :)). However, even here the contextualization problem remains. The resource is the same: a digital environment, but telling people to click on a button or to pick an option from a drop-down menu remains abstract if these elements are not present there. 

As context is very important for the way we learn, we should provide it as much as possible. Even in a digital environment.

Ok, I get it. But how can we offer as much contextualization as possible when learning how to use a software?

By offering training and support on the platform itself, we eliminate all the abstractions implied in traditional training methods. In-app is the new trend. This is what we propose at Newired.

With Newired, we not only offer all the software training and support you need on a digital environment, we also take you exactly where you need to go to, in an organic fashion, step by step. Newired Journeys follow the users all throughout a process, making sure they do the right thing and even making them reconsider and correct their action when they make mistakes. Newired provides all the contextualization which is necessary for users to truly learn and become confident when carrying out tasks on software, eliminating paper, boring classroom sessions and abstraction, unpleasant phone calls and emails full of screenshots. 

By adopting Newired, you allow users to try what they are learning real-time, completely in context. And this will help your support team as well: they can simply send users a link to a Journey, making sure that they will do the right thing without having to decipher screenshots, written instructions or calls. Because digital transformation doesn’t mean simply adopting new digital resources, but caring about your end users and offering them as much context as possible, both when learning and solving problems.

We are here to help you go digital in an efficient way.

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