On a recent CELabs Podcast, hosted by Adam Avramescu, Daniel Quick, Senior Director of Product Experience at Thought Industries, shared his unique views on how delightful moments within the learning experience increase the engagement with and retention of customer training, and leaves learners wanting more.
Daniel shared how he is really focused on how to make the customer learning experience more entertaining, more engaging, more enjoyable. “The research is clear. When learning is more engaging, it increases learners’ attention, their motivation, and therefore, recall.”
Daniel suggests that instructional designers try injecting more delight into their learning experiences. “A delightful experience is one that simply exceeds your expectations. And that’s really what I’m looking for when I design a learning experience. How can I make this experience exceed the learner’s expectations? How can I create a moment of surprise? How do I drive a higher level of engagement?”
Creating a delightful customer learning experience
Daniel explains that while it is necessary to have a strong basis in learning science, it makes good sense to create learning experiences that are engaging and make learners thirsty for more. That way, your instructional design is not only effective at achieving learning outcomes, but also deepens customer learning by enticing them to learn more.
Besides, delight and learning effectiveness are closely related. After all, learning can’t be effective if it’s seen as painful. Everyone is better off when customers are enjoying the experience while they’re learning your product.
He stressed the importance of recognizing that the learners, the customers, have a range of emotions, and well, are human. Like the rest of us, they are busy or distracted and have a lot going on in their lives. It’s really important for the training to grab their attention and make it very clear that what they’re about to learn is highly relevant and fun, and that it is worthwhile to engage.
Delightful learning is bite-sized learning
According to Daniel, engaging learning should be bite-sized and easily digestible. The learner should be able to complete a lesson or activity in just a few minutes, and there should be frequent points where they can pause or keep going.
“If you’re dealing with customer education of complex software or a complex product, the learning journey is likely going to take longer. To make it digestible, structure that journey in layers. You get through the very top layer, and once someone has mastered that layer, then you introduce the next layer and you get deeper and deeper into that complexity.
No one is proposing to boil down a really complex lesson into a two-minute video, but weaving together smaller bite-sized digestible pieces of that learning into a greater learning experience will encourage engagement and retention.”
Daniel also recommends that instructional designers try to surprise their learners. If there isn’t a moment of surprise or delight, then things can start to feel very flat. A surprise can give them a reason and a refreshing way to become engaged. For example, surprise learners with a super valuable resource for them to download. Or, get learners actively involved through a game or activity.
Building a team of instructional designers who care about delight
He suggests building a learning team composed of people who are passionate about instructional design and who are super learner-centric, as well. Instructional designers who are empathic to the learning experience, and who can balance learning theory with the practical experience.
As Daniel says, “You’re looking for that magical balance between someone who’s a learning geek and someone who really gets how to delight customers.”
Your tool box for creating delightful experiences
You’ve got to have a “delight tool box”, as Daniel calls it. Something that you can just reach into when you’re designing a learning experience, and pull out a delight technique. Those tools might look different depending on your company or the topic you’re trying to teach, but here are two ideas that everyone can use.
- One tool is to under-promise and over-deliver. While this may sound cliche, it’s an effective way to exceed expectations. Let’s say you finish a course and receive a course completion email, and you find it includes a link to a super-helpful downloadable resource (as mentioned earlier). Learners didn’t know it would be part of the experience. That moment of surprise might be the very thing to entice someone to register for another course.
- Another tool is to activate the senses. You might add a little music, or a pop of color. For example, in a recent training webinar delivered by Daniel’s previous team at Asana, participants were invited to break out into smaller rooms. When they came back, they heard music playing as they waited for others to return. The participants loved it. Activating the senses immerses the learner into the experience.
“This is a moment of delight. You’ve crafted this moment that has surprised and engaged your learners, and that has enriched the customer learning experience. This moment of delight increases engagement with and retention of the training, and entices them to consume more of your content.”