I took an earth sciences class my first year of university.
I didn’t really want to, but it was one of those annoying “context credits” you had to take in order to graduate.
It ended up being one of the highest marks I ever got in university.
Yet to this day... I know nothing about earth science. To be honest, I don’t even remember what we covered. Rocks? Volcanoes? Who knows.
I aced the course. But learned absolutely nothing. Why? Because all I did was memorize the practice tests right before an exam.
I’m sure you’ve done this at some point too -- memorized information for an important test or meeting then promptly forgotten it afterwards.
The problem is we use this technique to teach product knowledge to employees. And there’s a difference between memorization and learning.
This requires a deeper understanding of the problems products solve and the benefits they offer to customers.
The Challenge for Banks: Making Product Training Interesting & Relevant
Part of challenge for banks is banking products aren’t the most interesting subject. Frontline staff often aren’t invested in learning about them because digital products don’t have a direct impact on their day-to-day jobs.
To get staff to participate in training and learn about your digital products, you need to make training fun and relevant -- fun so they’ll spend enough time playing to actually learn the information, and relevant so they’ll apply that information after training ends.
The best way to do that is with game-based learning.
Why Game-Based Learning (GBL)?
GBL works better than traditional pdf or instructor led training because it makes training active.
While traditional training is passive and employees can easily check out, GBL forces them to engage and then pulls them in, getting them to care about progressing (and thus the content).
Game-based learning also uses tactics like narrative to put product information into context. This helps ensure employees buy into the value of the training and apply the information once training is over.
Another bonus? GBL is inherently bite-sized, making it easier to add courses as technology or priorities change.
3 Pro Tips for Game-Based Product Training
The important thing to remember when using GBL is that game tactics should enhance an existing motivation -- not create it.
You can’t add points and badges and expect your employees to suddenly care about your products. It doesn’t work like that.
You need to drive engagement by appealing to your employees’ intrinsic motivations: the need to improve, the desire for approval from peers.
With that in mind, here are three pro tips to help you build a great GBL product knowledge course.
TIP #1: Match The Game Style To Your Content
The importance of this can’t be overstated.
There are a ton of different ways you can present your information.
But instead of picking games randomly, or based on what you think is fun, you need to let your content dictate the style of game.
Depending on the complexity of your products and the type of information you need to teach, certain game elements and game structures will be more effective.
A good GBL vendor will have a suite of different games that use multiple game tactics. They’ll be able to recommend the best games for your content -- balancing learning styles with the type of material you need to teach.
TIP #2: Make Playing Addictive
For employees to learn -- and retain -- information, they need to engage with it repeatedly. The more questions employees answer, the more likely they are to remember the content.
A good GBL course will use game modules that have a high replay value. They’ll often challenge employees to retake courses to improve their scores and master the content.
There are a ton of game tactics that can encourage employees to retake courses -- more than I can get into here. The important thing to remember is that different tactics motivate employees in different ways. You’ll want to consult with your GBL vendor on the best tactics for your employees and content.
TIP #3: Use Narrative to Put Product Knowledge into Context
Narrative is one of the strongest game tactics because it appeals to our curiosity; we want to know how the story ends.
When you use an overarching narrative to tie your GBL modules together, this natural curiosity helps keep employees engaged. They’ll keep progressing through the training to find out what happens.
Narrative can also help increase buy-in and show your staff why they should care about what you’re teaching them. This is especially important at banks, where retail staff may not have a vested interest in learning about digital products.
The Bottom Line
To make product knowledge training effective you have to focus on learning not just memorization. Employees need to understand products well enough to confidently talk about them to customers.
To build that kind of confidence, employees need care about the training content and engage with it repeatedly until the information is second nature.
The best way to drive repeat engagement is by making your training fun. Choose game modules based on your course content, and use an overarching narrative to put product information into context for employees.
After employees have learned the basics you should teach them to apply that knowledge. Use other game modules like role-play scenarios to build your staff’s confidence, and train them to spot opportunities to recommend digital products to customers.