SumTotal Blog

Meg Temple (5 Posts)

Meg Temple

Meg Temple is SumTotal’s Sr. Manager of Marketing Content. She is passionate about customer experience, collaboration, team leadership, and building great products. When she’s not writing, researching, measuring and thinking about content, she's in her studio painting or binge-watching HBO.

Don’t you want my money?

That’s the thought that runs through my head when I am:

  • fumbling through a poorly designed website trying to find information,
  • spending too much time on the phone with an uniformed service or support rep,
  • attempting to use a new product that is overly complex, or
  • dealing with nonsensical policies that make doing business difficult or impossible.

Customer experience is influenced at every touch point. The examples I mentioned above are focused on information and training: information that I need as a customer or information that a company employee needs to do the best job possible. That includes writers of the nonsensical policies that can drive customers away.

By 2020 customer experience will be the key product differentiator, far more important than quality or price.¹ In less than six years, customers will choose the product or service from the company that provides the best overall experience. In fact, it has already started and will continue to grow over time — we’re not going to wake up on January 1, 2020 to a whole new world (that was January 1, 2000.)

SumTotal - Extended Enterprise

Information roadblock
There is no better time than right now to start improving the experience your company delivers.

So, where do you start?

There is a well-known connection between customer experience and employee learning programs. They have the ability to increase knowledge, subject mastery, satisfaction and engagement. But, often learning programs are limited to the internal employees who want to improve their impact on customer experience. Your extended enterprise — your network of customers and partners — are often neglected, yet they are just as important to the overall experience.

The first step to improve your overall customer experience is removing the roadblocks that keep your customers and partners from the information and training they need. Make it easy to find information on your website, and grant them access to relevant learning material and training programs

Extending the enterprise
One of the best tools to expand your learning programs to your entire business ecosystem is leveraging your learning management system (LMS). Most people think of their LMS as just an employee system, but extending learning to your external network will deliver the same value to them that it does your employees. They need information to understand your products, to build expertise, and to get answers when they need them.  It’s more than providing a central hub of information. Customers and partners need targeted, easy to find, relevant information, available at any time, and updated frequently.

You can learn more about the benefits of extending learning to your external partners. We’ve developed a new ebook “A Roadmap to Superior Customer Experience through Learning” to help you get started.


¹Customers 2020: The Future of B-to-B Customer Experience Report. Walker Research

7 Building Blocks for a Successful Compliance Program

Let’s face it – managing and maintaining compliance can be daunting. With employment lawsuits increasing by more than 400% over the last 14 years, it’s clear that maintaining compliance and avoiding legal ramifications is a rapidly growing business challenge.

Organizations are scrambling to stay up-to-date with ever-changing laws and regulations. If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone.blocks

Sixty eight percent¹ of organizations admit they were caught off guard by an operational surprise.

To avoid unwanted surprises, here are 7 building blocks of a successful compliance program:

  1. Create a culture of compliance.  Above all else, creating an organizational culture of compliance is paramount.  A corporate commitment to high ethical standards must start from the top. If upper-level management is already focused on creating a culture of compliance, fantastic – but make sure that communication is fluid and goals are aligned. If upper-level management isn’t focused on compliance, initiate the conversation. Get consensus on compliance priorities and goals and encourage a call to action to align all management levels and departments. Meeting always-changing global regulations requires change, and management must proactively and strategically embrace change. Collaboration and communication is the first step to establishing an effective compliance program that lives and breathes throughout all lines of the business.
  2. Learning as the foundation for compliance behavior. If employees are not aware of existing policies and regulations, how are they expected to be aware of new or updated policies and regulations?  How can they serve customers in good faith? When it comes to compliance, ignorance isn’t bliss. Achieving compliance requires you to identify who does and does not know, and who needs training on specific material. Training programs are the core of any good compliance solution. Having a corporate platform such as a learning management system (LMS) will not only simplify and facilitate training management; it will make HR processes and reporting more efficient with comprehensive reports of training completions and exception documentation. Online training options improve efficiency by making it easy for employees to gain new knowledge while spending less time away from work.
  3. Align corporate and individual goals. There is no use setting goals if they are not aligned across the organization, and compliance goals are no exception. Goals must be disseminated from executive leadership down to each individual. Let’s use this hypothetical situation. An organization’s corporate goal is to increase “compliance adherence” across all departments. Middle management’s responsibility is to interpret and set a department goal to achieve compliance within 6 weeks of notification. Each department goal is then broken down and managed at the individual level. Ex: Sales reps will attend 10 hours per month on required compliance training. The most effective and efficient way to manage this is by integrating your talent management system with your learning management system. This gives you the ability to automate goal management, as well as other performance initiatives, and automatically assign goal based required training and track completions. Integration and automation removes manually processes that eats up so much HR time and ensures that multi-levels of management and employees receive the training needed to satisfy the goal.
  4. Modern content strategy. As the saying goes, content is king. Relevant, important and engaging content has a big impact. Rather than bore your workforce with traditional, outdated training classes, engage them with a variety of materials, from video tutorials to interactive games to social collaboration. Be sure access is as easy and content is in the right form. Will users be able to complete training or read required information on mobile devices? Will the LMS run on the browsers and operating systems your people use? Make sure the content itself supports those various delivery methods – otherwise you’re going to run into trouble.
  5. Just in time learning. Innovative organizations are committed to delivering training content in context when and where the user needs it. Let’s use a financial firm for this example. A manager is informed by the chief compliance officer (CCO) that there has been an amendment to an existing regulation that must be acted upon immediately. After a joint review, the manager understands how to effectively change current corporate policies and procedures in order to become compliant. The CCO contacts the appropriate person to update corporate policy and issue procedure documentation, while the manager simultaneously holds a “lunch and learn” meeting  to update direct reports on the recent change.  This ad-hoc meeting can then be managed in the LMS, individual completions tracked, and proof of compliance is available if needed for an audit.
  6. Easy to Use Interface. A positive user experience goes a long way. It may seem simple and overlooked, but a difficult interface results in low completion rates.  Why? Because if it is too cumbersome to log in or navigate, then employees give up until the next free moment. And how often do free moments present themselves during business hours? Rarely, right? Therefore, easy to access and easy to use interfaces will increase timely participation and the results you want: high training completion rates and employees empowered to be compliant.
  7. Complete visibility. Transparency is critical to maintaining compliance. Visibility into ongoing activities, training assignments and re-certifications helps organizations be proactive, rather than reactive, to potential audits. Part of a successful compliance program is assessing how well your training is working. For HR leaders, robust reports will measure the impact of compliance training, what is working and what isn’t, and provide the information needed to take immediate action to adjust strategy and tactics as needed. Results are measured against key performance indicators (KPI) to evaluate the success of the investment in compliance programs.

A lot of understanding, planning and communication go into establishing a successful compliance program.  I hope these 7 suggestions are helpful starting or expanding your own compliance program.  With the right commitment, communication and tools in place you can build a culture of compliance and the confidence that your organization will be ready if the auditors come knocking.

If you’re serious about compliance and looking for more information, download our eBook, HR Audit Essentials: 8 Tips to Being Audit-Ready.

Do you have any other suggestions to add? Feel free to leave a comment below.


¹Source: Beasley, Branson, and Hancock


3 Ways Mobile is Integrating into the Workforce

For many of us, mobile technology has become the center of our world. In fact in 2013, mobile became the first technology to outnumber humans.

Mobile is omnipresent, influencing both our personal and professional lives by giving us immediate and constant access to family, friends and peers through email, social networks and thousands of applications. (more…)

3 Reasons HR Needs a Compliance Solution

Organizations take risk management seriously, but budgets are tight. The competing demands for limited resources mean some things make into the budget and others don’t – maybe next year. Compliance solutions often fall into the “maybe next year” bucket because things have been working OK so far, right?

Not to scare you – ok, maybe a little – but consider these interesting nuggets:

  • 400% – Amount that employment related lawsuits have increased in the last 14 years.
  • $500,000 – The average compensatory award for federal employment cases is quickly approaching this amount.
  • $9M – The average cost of non-compliance for an organization – per year (more…)

What would you do if 20% of your employees quit?

If the latest 2014 Career Builder survey is any indication, one in five of your employees is planning to do just that. While you might be glad to see a few of those employees leave, the departure of others could negatively impact your company’s ability to execute.

Why are they quitting? Job satisfaction. Almost 40% indicate they are not happy in their current jobs.  One in 6 employees cite salary and not feeling valued as the top reasons for dissatisfaction. (more…)