How to Get the Most Out of Training Videos

Training videos are increasing in popularity.

Platforms like LinkedIn Learning have become vital sources of content for learning job-related skills. There's good reason for this:

That last one is a bit of a surprise to most customer service leaders I talk to. And there's a giant caveat—you have to change the way you use video. 

Here are the techniques you can apply to get the most out of training videos.

Employee watching a training video on a computer.

Step One: Set Clear Learning Objectives

Let's say you want your employees to do a better job serving customers who call in to share a complaint. 

I have a LinkedIn Learning course called Working with Upset Customers, but just asking employees to take the course creates a problem. "Take this course," sends a signal that the only clear goal is to complete the training.

That's not your goal. 

You send employees to training because you want them to learn something they can apply on the job that will help them improve performance. So before you assign a video, it's essential to set clear learning objectives.

Back to the upset customers example. You might create an objective for this training by thinking about what specifically you want employees to do differently in situations where they serve an upset customer. 

For instance, you might decide to you want to focus on de-escalation skills to avoid complaints. You could set this as the learning objective: 

Customer service reps will demonstrate the ability to de-escalate an angry caller so the customer is feeling neutral or happy at the end of the interaction.

You’d be able to determine whether the training was complete by monitoring a phone call for each participant where the customer started out angry and determining whether the rep was able to successfully de-escalate the situation.

You can get more help with learning objectives from this guide.


Step Two: Assign Short Segments

The old way of consuming a training video is to push play, sit back, watch the entire thing from start to finish, and hope for the best.

Customer service leaders cite this as the number one challenge with training videos. Employees push back because spending an hour watching an instructional video is no kind of fun. And it doesn't produce results.

The better way to do it is to watch a short segment at a time. My courses on LinkedIn Learning are split into short modules that are each three to five minutes long. Here's how it works:

  1. Watch one 3-5 minute video.

  2. Ask participants to complete the application exercise from the video.

  3. Give feedback and discuss progress.

We can apply this right now to de-escalation training. The first skill is recognizing our own natural instinct to argue with an upset customer or try to get away from them. 

Start by watching this short video.

Next, spend a day serving customers and recognize when you experience the same fight or flight instinct the barista in the training video experienced. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Flushed face

  • Increased heart rate

  • Shortness of breath

  • Muscle tension

  • Sweating

  • Tunnel vision

Finally, reflect on what you learned from recognizing the fight or flight instinct. Were you able to accept the challenge of helping an angry customer feel better?

This technique of watching just one short segment at a time is called microlearning. You can learn more from this guide.

Step Three: Blend Video with Other Mediums

Most training, including video and face-to-face, works best when you blend it with other training mediums. These include team meetings, one-on-one coaching conversations, self-paced activities, and on-the-job application.

We can use the de-escalation training as an example. Here's one way you might approach it that combines multiple training mediums:

  1. Team Meeting: Discuss specific situations where customers get angry.

  2. Video: Assign this video on recognizing the fight or flight instinct.

  3. On-the-Job: Ask employees to note when they experience the instinct.

  4. One-on-One: Give each employee individual feedback.

  5. Team Meeting: Discuss successes and challenges at the next team meeting.

There's a good chance you're already holding team and one-on-one meetings with your employees, so this approach involves very little additional work. And it also happens to be a highly effective way to build new skills.

Conclusion

To get the most out of training, we need to shift from a content consumption mindset to a performance improvement mindset.

You can do that right now. This post contains a practical example where you can improve your ability to recognize the flight or fight instinct and make a better decision when you're confronted by an angry customer.


New Training Video: Leading a Customer-Centric Culture

Advertising disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

In August 2013, I traveled to Carpinteria, California for a screen test at the online training video company, Lynda.com.

The test went well and I have gone on to shoot twenty training videos with Lynda, and later, LinkedIn Learning after Lynda was acquired by LinkedIn.

As part of my screen test, I filmed a short, unscripted course called Leading a Customer-Centric Culture. The idea was to capture me talking direct to camera, as if I was having a conversation with a colleague. Little did I realize at the time that the course would become the basis for the bestselling The Service Culture Handbook.

It's funny how things come full-circle.

My latest LinkedIn Learning training video is a new version of Leading a Customer-Centric Culture. This one is based on my book.

Video camera with a green screen background

Course Overview

The training video is a step-by-step guide that shows you how to get employees obsessed with customer service.

It's based extensive research into leading companies and my own work helping clients build service cultures. The course is broken down into short segments to allow you to focus on one step at a time.

There are three key steps in the process:

  1. Create a customer service vision

  2. Engage employees with the vision

  3. Align the organization around the vision

Here's a short video overview:

Resources

You can access the course on LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com if you have an account on either platform. You can also get a 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial that will give you access to the entire library of training videos.

The video is a great companion to The Service Culture Handbook:

There's also a service culture toolkit you can download here.


New Training Video: How to Get Great Customer Service

The lightbulb moment happened in a convenience store.

I had gone in to buy a Coke on a hot summer day. As I approached the counter, I noticed everything about the cashier's body language suggested he didn't want to be there. His shoulders were slumped forward, he looked disheveled, and had a bored expression on his face. 

The cashier was ignoring customers as he heated a burrito in the store's microwave.

You've probably experienced this same scene yourself. What the cashier was doing versus what he ought to have been doing was easy to see. But that won't change the basic fact that the cashier wasn't acting like Mr. Customer Service.

My lightbulb went off when I realized he probably felt exactly like I did—tired, hot, and a little unhappy to be there. 

We've all been in that position. Sometimes, a little jolt is all we need to get back on track. That's why I was buying that cold, refreshing Coke. I decided to give the cashier a jolt as well.

I put on a big smile and greeted the cashier in my friendliest voice, "How's it going?!"

Customer giving a thumbs up and a five star rating on a survey.

Service Tips for Customers

The cashier's demeanor instantly changed.

He looked as if a weight had literally been lifted off his shoulders. He approached the cash register, broke into a smile, and greeted me in return. The rest of that very short transaction was pleasant.

The experience helped me realize that customer service works best when both the customer and the employee are on the same wavelength. Sure employees are supposed to be friendly and helpful, but they're also human. 

And humans sometimes have bad days.

It occurred to me that we could get better customer service if we used some of the same skills we want customer service professional to use. So I created a series of exercises to test this out.

  • Make the first move (what I did in the convenience store)
  • Introduce yourself to share your name with people who serve you
  • Empathize with the people who serve you

I started to try out these techniques and they worked! Employees were friendlier, I started getting "extras" more often, and problems become easier to solve. These techniques don't work 100% of the time, but I noticed I received good service more often.

 

The New Training Video

Many years later, I now have the chance to share some of my favorite techniques in my new LinkedIn Learning training video. The course reveals essential skills you can use to get great customer service.

The content is broken down into three main categories:

  • Build relationships
  • Earn extraordinary service
  • Solve problems

Best of all, you can build your own customer service skills while completing these exercises. Here's a short preview:

Additional Resources

You'll need a LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com account to access the full video. If you don't already have one, treat yourself to a complimentary 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial.

The new course marks the release of my 19th training video. You can access all of those courses on LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com or learn more about how you can leverage the power of training videos here.


How to Get the Most Out of Training Videos

The battery on my solar-powered keyboard died a few weeks ago.

Naturally, I searched YouTube for a video on how to replace it. A short video helped me learn how to remove the old battery, determine what special type of battery I needed to order, and install it.

Voila! My keyboard works again.

There's a good chance you've done something similar. If so, you've discovered the secrets to getting the most out of a training video.

Training videos work best when they are short and focused on something immediately useful. Yet most people take a different approach when using training videos to learn something for work.

They succumb to the popcorn method and just watch the entire video straight through. Here are some tips to help you learn faster and learn more from training videos.

videowatcher.jpg

Tip #1: Make it Immediately Useful

Most people watch a training video because it sounds interesting.

The problem is our brains tend to lose information that's not immediately applicable. So if you watch a training video that might be relevant someday, you'll probably have to watch it again when that day comes because you forgot the original lesson.

A better approach is to only watch videos that are immediately useful.

Taylor needed to create a screen capture video for a work project using a software program called Camtasia. She'd never used Camtasia before, so searched the Lynda.com library for Camtasia courses and found one that fit.

The course walked her step-by-step through her project and she was able to complete it successfully.

 

Tip #2: Leverage Micro-Learning

Most people watch a training video all the way through. This can take a lot of time, with many videos ranging from twenty minutes to over an hour!

A better approach is to focus on one skill at a time. Learn that skill, apply the skill at work to reinforce the learning, and then move on to the next topic.

Most of the courses on Lynda are divided into two to five minute segments to make this easy. For instance, imagine you wanted to improve your customer service survey. You might watch this short video on establishing a survey goal.

The best practice would be to create your survey goal before watching the next segment. This makes it much easier to remember the lesson.

 

Tip #3: Apply What You Learn

Most people will watch a video without any specific intention to apply the lessons. They just hope a good idea or two will stick.

It seems strange to consume training without having a plan to apply that training, yet that's what people do.

A better approach is to immediately apply what you learn in a video. Taylor learned the basics of Camtasia because she actually used the software to create a project. I changed the battery on my keyboard so I didn't have to buy a new keyboard.

Many training videos have exercises or worksheets that accompany them. I try to include an activity of some kind at the end of every video segment in my courses. 

You'll rapidly improve your learning if you use these exercises to apply each lesson.

 

Tip #4: Skip to Relevant Topics

Most people watch a training video all the way through, even when it covers topics that are not relevant. Frankly, this can be pretty boring.

A better approach is to skip over content that isn't relevant and go straight to the good stuff.

There are literally hours of training video on Camtasia in the Lynda.com library. Taylor would still be watching those videos if she didn't select the most relevant segments that were applicable to her specific project!

All my training videos have titles and descriptions for each segment in the course so you can skip to the topics that are most relevant to you. This also gives you the ability to revisit key topics if you need a refresher.

 

Tip #5: Make it Relevant

Many people get hung up on the scenes shown in training videos. They'll say, "That video shows a restaurant scene, but I don't work in a restaurant so it's not relevant to me."

A better approach is to find a way to make that generic scene relevant to you. Don't get hung up on whether a particular scene is a precise match with your work environment. Focus instead on the skills and techniques being shared and then imagine how you can apply those in your own environment.

Doing this, you'll quickly find that customer service skills are essentially the same across most situations. You just need to adapt those skills to your specific needs.

 

Take Action!

I like to include a short movie at the start of my training courses that explain exactly how to get the most out of the video. Here's an example from my Serving Internal Customers course:

My suggestion is to do your homework before watching your next training video. Try to apply these tips and notice how they change the way you learn!


New Training Video: Serving Internal Customers

Finally, there's a training course geared specifically towards internal customer service.

Nearly 50 percent of my client requests throughout my career have been for internal customer service. This is a special type of customer service that involves serving internal stakeholders.

The new training video from LinkedIn Learning is called Serving Internal Customers. Here's an overview, a preview, and information on how you can access it for free.

On the set of  Serving Internal Customers.  Photo credit: Jeff Toister

On the set of Serving Internal Customers. Photo credit: Jeff Toister

Overview

An internal customer is an internal stakeholder you serve. This includes coworkers, contractors, and even vendors. Here are just a few jobs that are heavily-focused on internal customer service:

  • Human Resources

  • Finance and Accounting

  • IT

  • Facilities and Maintenance

  • Security

Many large organizations with multiple locations even have internal contact centers established to support the needs of employees and managers in the field.

Serving Internal Customers focuses on the special skills required to be successful in these roles. Topics include:

  • Distinguishing between internal and external customer service

  • Creating positive workplace relationships

  • Working with difficult coworkers

  • Practicing active listening to uncover your customers' needs

  • Managing internal customer expectations

  • Anticipating problems

  • Defusing angry colleagues

  • Adjusting your workplace attitude

 

Preview

The training video has a few special features to increase learning impact:

  • Realistic scenes

  • Short segments

  • Hands-on activities

You can see all of these special features in this short segment on active listening techniques.

Resources

You can view the entire course on Lynda.com. LinkedIn Premium subscribers can watch the video on that platform.

A 30-day trial if you aren't already a Lynda member. This will give you access to the entire learning library. You'll be able to view all 17 of my courses plus training videos from other customer service experts such as Brad Cleveland and Leslie O'Flahavan.

The library also contains many other topics in addition to customer service. You can learn about leadership, marketing, programming, and many more. All of the courses are taught by experts in the field and professionally filmed and produced.


New Video: How to Design and Deliver Training Programs

The most common question I hear from new trainers is "Where do I get started?"

Breaking into the field of corporate training, adult learning, or workplace performance can be daunting. There's so much information out there it can leave your head spinning.

Managers and supervisors who occasionally train their employees face an even tougher task. They naturally want to be solid, competent trainers but don't have the bandwidth to spend years becoming an expert.

My latest LinkedIn Learning training video aims to solve that problem.

Part of the course was filmed in front of a live class. Photo credit: Samantha Coveleski-Mazur

Part of the course was filmed in front of a live class. Photo credit: Samantha Coveleski-Mazur

Overview

There are a few elements to this course I really like.

It provides all the information you need to design and deliver effective training classes. The entire course clocks in at 1 hour, 29 minutes, but the best part is you can easily skim and scan to watch the segments that are most relevant to you.

Part of the video was filmed in front of a live workshop. This class was a mix of seasoned training professionals and people completely new to workplace learning. The live class gives you a chance to see how other people reacted to the exercises and activities.

There are even a few bonus topics thrown in:

  • Creating an individual development plan
  • Managing breaks effectively
  • Delivering training via webinar

 

Preview

This short preview video provides an overview of the course.

Resources

LinkedIn Premium subscribers can access the course on LinkedIn Learning. You can find the course on Lynda.com if you have a subscription on that platform.

Don't have access to either? You can get a 30 day trial to the entire Lynda library here.

Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps generously allowed me to reference their five step training model in the course. I first discovered this in their class handbook, Telling Ain't Training. I highly recommend this guide for any new or aspiring trainer.

More experienced trainers may also want to dive deeper with these courses:


How To Dramatically Cut Training Costs With Video

Customer service training is a challenge for many companies.

First, there's the cost. It's not just the consultant's fee, it's the labor cost associated with sending employees to training.

There's also a logistical hassle. Most companies can't completely shut down their customer service operation. So they divide employees into groups and stagger shifts or add in some overtime to provide coverage while employees are in training.

Sustainability is probably the biggest issue. If you're going to invest time and money into employee training, you want employees to actually use the skills they learn. A one-time training class probably won't do much to move the needle.

There is a better way: video. It's cheaper, easier to manage logistically, and far more sustainable. Here's why:

Cost Comparison: Classroom vs. Video

You may be a little leery about video's effectiveness. We'll get to that in a moment, but let's first tackle the cost.

The cost savings will get your executives' attention. 

Here's an actual cost-comparison I recently ran for a prospective client. The initial request was for my fundamental Delivering Next Level Service workshop. 

The client wanted live, classroom training for a team of 30 employees. The employees need to be split into two groups for the classroom training so operational coverage could be maintained. The training itself consisted of two half-day sessions.

That same class is available via on-demand video with a run-time of just under two hours.

That's a $18,060 cost savings for sending employees to the same class on video! 

 

The Operational Advantage

Scheduling live training is disruptive.

The client who requested training for 30 employees needed to keep the operation running, so only half the employees could attend at one time. The other half were needed to keep serving customers.

Even then it was tricky. One absent employee or a minor service issue could trigger a chain reaction of other problems that would pose a real challenge to a team running at 50 percent staff. 

Supervisors might need to get pulled out of training, which would be a disaster because its the supervisors who must reinforce the training after the class has ended.

Video is much less of a hassle. 

My Customer Service Fundamentals course on Lynda.com (a.k.a. LinkedIn Learning) is the same content as my live Delivering Next Level Service workshop. The video version is streamed on-demand, so each individual employee could take the class at a time that works for them. 

The total run-time on the video is just under two hours and it's cut into short segments that are 3-5 minutes each. It's designed that way so employees can watch a couple of videos, apply the skills on the job, and then watch a few more segments.

Which leads us to sustainability.

 

How Can Video Be As Effective as Classroom Training?

It's not. Video is more effective.

Traditional classroom training typically faces two problems that hurt learning. The first is work piles up while participants are in training.

Imagine you spend a half-day in training while your colleagues try to serve customers at half-staff. They're going to be relieved when the training is over because they were barely able to keep up without you.

Which means you're going to be really, really busy digging through all that work that piled up while you were in class.

The problem with being really busy is we instinctively work a little faster, take a few short-cuts, and rely on our old habits to get us through. That means that at the very moment we should be practicing new skills we learned in training, we're actually reinforcing our old skills.

It gets worse.

Training is useless unless you apply it on the job. That's tough to make happen with just a one-off training class. Employees need consistent reinforcement to adopt new skills, but how will that realistically happen once the training has ended?

Video, on the other hand, is built for reinforcement.

First, it's not intended to be watched straight through. That's a mistake called popcorn learning, where you sit down and watch the whole thing at once. 

The video should be watched in short segments, which means employees can learn a couple of new skills and then go try them out on the job before learning the next skill. All of my training videos have downloadable worksheets and hands-on exercises for participants to complete, just like they would in a live class.

Here's an example of a simple training plan that uses that approach.

Another advantage of video is participants can re-watch it as often as they like. That's an option that's not available with a live class.

 

Resources to Help You

I have 15 training videos on Lynda.com. There are even more from other authors, giving you a huge library to choose from.

You'll need a subscription to one of two services to access the library. Lynda.com subscriptions are slightly less than LinkedIn Premium, starting at $29.99 per month per person, with discounts available for teams of five or more.

A 30-day trial to is available for Lynda.com. Many professionals have a LinkedIn Premium account, which means you already have access.

You can stack the deck even more in your favor by hiring me to help set up your program. If you're interested, drop me a line and let's talk.

Even with my consulting fees, my prospective client stands to save over $10,000 by using video instead of doing live classroom training. Spending less money to get better results is usually a good move.


How to Train 35,000 People Before Lunch

Training large numbers of employees is a big challenge.

Organizations have several factors working against them. There's geography, where employees are spread out over multiple locations. You need to keep people running the operation while employees are getting trained. And, the sheer number of participants involved can be daunting.

Some people thought e-learning could solve this problem. There's just one issue - it's boring. A lot of e-learning is nothing more than an amateurish voice over PowerPoint.

The future is in video. Short, engaging, and beautifully produced video. 

More than 35,000 customer service professionals have now taken my Customer Service Fundamentals video-based course on lynda.com. It's rapidly approaching 1,000,000 individual views. That many people have got to be on to something.

One promising feature is employees can complete the training much faster than a traditional class. The entire program takes less than two hours, far less than the eight hours the live version requires. There's no set-up, scheduling, or logistics to handle either. It's ready to go right now - your employees could easily start the training in the morning and finish before lunch.

Here's why this and other courses like it are the wave of the future.

The Power of Video

Video offers a number of distinct advantages over other forms of training.

It's engaging. People enjoy watching video. According to eMarketer, adults in the U.S. spend 5.5 hours per day watching video.

You want training to be engaging enough so employees enjoy the process. Here are just a few comments from people who have watched the Customer Service Fundamentals training video:

"This course has really been an eye opening in all aspects of customer service.. I enjoyed every bit of it."

"He did a great job keeping the material interesting."

"The author's positive attitude is contagious."

And, it's always good when a participant feels the training made a difference:

"I am about to start my first working day as a customer service representative and thanks to this course I feel myself more confident and equipped with essential knowledge on making my customers feel satisfied."

It's easy to access. Employees can watch the videos from their computer, their tablet, or even their smart phone. 

Lynda.com now offers a download feature where you can watch the videos offline. I'll often load a few courses on my iPad when I know I'm going to be spending a lot of time in an airplane. There's no reason for the learning to stop at 35,000 feet!

It's inexpensive. Here's a cost comparison between live training and using video. Video can cut your costs in three ways:

  • Delivery is less expensive per person.
  • Development is less expensive (if you buy pre-packaged courses).
  • You spend 50 - 75 percent less on employee wages since video-based training goes faster than a live course.

Lynda.com has also introduced an impressive array of features to improve how companies can manage video-based training.

  • Quizzes to test participants' knowledge.
  • Certificates of completion (they can be added to your LinkedIn profile!).
  • Management features like customer playlists and LMS integration.

 

Don't Forget the Special Sauce

There's one danger of using video. It's a problem called Popcorn Learning where participants just consume the training and then do nothing. (This problem exists for classroom-based and e-learning programs too.) 

You can avoid this problem by adding this secret sauce to the mix:

You can access a wide range of customer service training courses on lynda.com or explore many of their other topics such as content marketing or becoming a manager.

You'll need a lynda.com subscription to view full courses, but you can check everything out with a ten day trial.


How Popcorn Can Ruin a Good Training Video

A human resources manager recently contacted me to discuss some options for customer service training.

Her budget was limited and the small team of people she wanted to train worked in different locations. It would be logistically difficult and potentially cost prohibitive to get everyone together for an in-person class.

Naturally, I suggested video.

The HR manager told me that her organization had tried e-learning and video-based training in the past, but it wasn't well received. Participants thought it was boring.

I immediately recognized the popcorn problem. This issue causes learners to get bored with training and ultimately limits the new skills they implement on the job.

Here's an overview of the popcorn problem and what you can do to fix it.

The Popcorn Problem

Many people enjoy going to the movies.

Popcorn is a quintessential part of this experience. You get a bucket of popcorn to share with a friend, grab a favorite drink, and sit down to enjoy the movie. It's a relaxing form of entertainment. 

People often sit down and watch a training video the same way they'd watch a movie. This is not how people should try to learn valuable workplace skills, but they do.

It doesn't work out well.

The most obvious issue is it's boring. Even the most exciting training videos aren't great entertainment. You certainly wouldn't watch them just for fun.

(Side note: Here's where some readers will say, "But, I saw that video with John Cleese or the FISH! video and it was fun!" Ok, if you doubt me, then try inviting some friends over to watch a training video. Or, ask that special someone if they'd like to training video and chill this weekend. Good luck with that.)

The less obvious issue is employees learn very little by watching a video straight through. They implement even less back at work. The challenge is caused by something called The Forgetting Curve

People quickly forget what they learn in training unless they actively process it and apply it. This is necessary to move information from short to long-term memory, but this rarely happens when employees passively watch a training video.

That's not to say that training videos don't work. Blaming training videos for a lack of learning would be like blaming a hammer when you hit your finger and not the nail. There's nothing inherently wrong with the tool, but you'll get less-than-desirable results if you don't use the tool correctly.

The good news is there's an alternative approach to using training videos that's much more effective.

 

Bite Sized Learning

You can overcome the popcorn learning problem by breaking the training into bite-sized chunks with short assignments in between.

Here's an example using the Working With Upset Customers training video on Lynda.com.

The course is organized into short video segments that are each two to five minutes long. They're further organized into sections like "Introduction" and "Serving Angry Customers." This design makes it easy to dissect the course into small learning bites.

So, you might have your team watch the video this way:

  1. Watch the three Introduction videos
  2. Complete a Learning Plan and discuss with supervisor (there's a downloadable worksheet)
  3. Watch "Understanding Our Natural Instincts" video
  4. Go back to work and identify situations where you experience the Fight or Flight response
  5. Watch the next video, and so on.

The key is watching a short segment of the course, applying those skills on the job, and then returning to the course to continue learning.

Let's look at some of the advantages of using this approach:

  • Participants apply their new skills as part of the training.
  • Applying lessons helps make off-the-shelf training more relevant.
  • It's not boring!

That last one is key. The entire Working With Upset Customers course is 55 minutes long. There are no explosions, car chases, or sappy love scenes to spice things up. It's simply too long a video to enjoyably watch all in one sitting.

But, watching a five minute segment is a breeze. That's roughly equivalent to just three cat videos.