User education isn’t a one-time event. It’s not a matter of presenting new customers or employees with the right onboarding materials or giving them the right information about a new product feature and then sitting back and reaping the rewards. Learning is a continuous process that can’t be accomplished with just one course or training video.
Continuous learning is the philosophy that your users should be improving their skills and knowledge throughout their whole customer or employee journey. This methodology can improve product adoption among customers, and opportunities for continuous learning in the workplace can help employees succeed in their roles.
Continuous learning also helps your users keep up with the fast pace of the business world. Businesses are constantly updating tools and processes or adopting new ones altogether. Continuous learning enables your users to learn about these changes as they happen.
Informed, well-educated customers and employees are set up for success and are much more likely to continue their relationships with your business.
What's Continuous Learning?
Before we dive into the specific benefits of continuous learning, let’s take a moment to define it. What is continuous learning? In the context of professional development, continuous learning is an ongoing process through which a user learns new skills and expands their knowledge. Continuous learning happens on a regular basis or throughout a user’s day-to-day activities, not in a structured, one-time course.
Importance Of Continuous Learning In The Workplace
There are four main groups who have something to gain from continuous learning: customers, employees, gig workers and partners (and your business, of course). The benefits of continuous learning extend to each of these groups in one way or another.
Continuous learning is an extremely flexible learning style that can be used to help your users develop almost any skill or learn about almost any topic. Here are some examples of the most significant continuous learning benefits:
Aid Professional Development and Improve Retention
More than almost anything, employees want opportunities to learn, grow and advance in their careers (this includes gig workers as well). It’s vital to offer employees chances to continually learn at your company, or else they might look elsewhere for a company that will provide them with those opportunities.
Customers want top-quality support that enables them to get the most out of the products or services they pay for. When they’re given continuous opportunities to learn, they never need to search very hard to solve problems, and they can spend more of their time getting value from the product or service. Making learning as easy as possible for customers is one way to reduce churn.
One of the clearest benefits of investing in continuous education for your users is that it helps users become more competent with the tools they use. For employees, this means they can do their jobs more efficiently, leading to greater productivity and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. That’s not all — when employees are equipped to perform their jobs confidently and efficiently, they often report feeling happier and more satisfied with their role in the organization.
Improved competency is also one of the benefits of continuous learning for customers. Continuous learning ensures customers are always up to date regarding the latest product developments or updates to features.
Suppose you provide training up front (in a traditional onboarding course, for example) but don’t provide opportunities for continuous learning. In that case, the customer will quickly be left behind as your services and products evolve. They’ll have to take the initiative to seek out updated information or frequently contact customer support for help. By focusing on continuous learning, you can make it much easier for customers to keep up their product expertise even as features are changed or added.
Continuous learning drives innovation among all types of users. When your customers and employees are continuously learning more about your product, they are more likely to think of innovative ways to use it. On the other hand, when users only have a limited understanding of your product, it restricts what they can do with it and the value they can get from it.
Continuous learning enables users to get more out of your products or services and can also create a source of new ideas for your business. For example, you might discover a new pain point your product or service can address that you didn’t even know existed until a customer told you they were using your product to solve it.
Similarly, employees are more likely to be innovative when they’re continuously learning about the tools they use. Innovative employees can be very valuable to a company because they’re often the ones who come up with the best ideas for improving day-to-day efficiency. These ideas can only come from first-hand experience and deep knowledge of the tools and workflows the employees use. Continuous education is one of the best ways to help them develop that knowledge.
Examples Of Continuous Learning In The Workplace
Continuous learning is a fairly broad term that isn’t limited to just one learning style or type of education strategy. Any kind of learning can be continuous learning — it’s continuous if it’s ongoing throughout the user’s time with the organization. Since continuous learning can take so many different forms, let’s break down some examples of continuous learning in the workplace.
Traditional courses are typical professional training presentations. You might attend one in person or over a video call, but either way, they usually involve a live instructor in a traditional classroom-style environment. You can use traditional courses for ongoing learning by offering them to employees or customers periodically. However, this is not usually the most effective method because traditional courses are expensive, the logistics can be cumbersome and the courses can only be offered a limited number of times.
E-learning courses are a better alternative to traditional courses in a continuous learning strategy. Unlike traditional courses, e-learning courses are cost-effective and users can access them anytime they need to. You can use learning management software like Northpass to manage e-learning courses and optimize them for mobile devices to make them even more accessible to busy learners.
You can also use other kinds of learning content besides formal courses for continuous learning. For example, you can publish blog posts, instructional videos or podcasts to help users learn more about your industry or products. These resources aren’t formal training, but they help users gradually build up their expertise over time. You can publish resources to help every kind of user you serve, like product demos for customers, blog articles about how to earn more for gig workers or policy updates for employees.
Coaching or mentoring is another type of informal continuous learning. At your company, coaching might look like a manager helping an underperforming team member create a strategy for success or an experienced sales rep mentoring a newer sales rep. There are all kinds of occasions for mentor relationships in the workplace. Coaching is a great form of continuous learning because it creates organic opportunities for growth throughout the employee's regular activities. Employees don’t need to wait for formal training courses to be offered before they can improve their skills because they’re working closely with someone who can help them on a regular basis.
Peer discussion also contributes to continuous learning. Information that’s passed between users is typically more likely to be retained than information that was presented in a formal education setting because it’s usually easier to remain engaged in one-on-one conversations. Peer discussion could be face-to-face or online. For instance, you can use some learning management systems to create online discussion forums where employees or customers can interact and share information.