Organisations across the world were faced with overhauling and adapting their training programmes in response to strict pandemic lockdowns that became an accepted part of life in 2020-21. And few industries were so severely affected as the automotive industry, with dealerships temporarily closed and hundreds of workers hastily put on furlough. It certainly prompted some head-scratching among the customer and training team at Renault UK, whose training activities for staff across more than 150 dealers had so far relied heavily on in-person workshops and courses at a central location.
Fortunately for senior customer experience and transformation manager David Mullins, Renault’s long-standing relationship with Digits helped it not only successfully shift the bulk of its training from in-person to digital activities, but also ramp up the speed and efficacy of its L&D programme.
In fact, the shift to predominantly digital learning has been accompanied by a change in Renault’s approach to learning: a new commitment to so-called ‘closed loop’ learning. “It’s very process-driven, and quite a new approach to be taking,” says Mullins, whose role sits at the intersection between commercial and training activities, to ensure that all L&D activity contributes to successful, long-term behavioural change that has a positive impact on customer satisfaction. “Often, you design some training content to address a pain point or knowledge gap – which you identified through a training needs analysis – send people away to do the training, and then you ask them for their feedback about the quality of the trainer or the lunch you provided. But how do you monitor the impact of the training on customer satisfaction, or dealer success?
“We take it a step further and ask our learners to complete some self-study, evaluate their own knowledge, participate in some coaching and mentoring, and then assess their progress formally. We need to know: what can they do after the training that they couldn’t do before? How does their manager think their performance has changed? What has been the impact on customer feedback and satisfaction results?”
Thanks to Digits LMS, Renault has successfully introduced this closed loop approach to learning and also restructured its training activities to be more in tune with how people want to learn. “A course that would have been a few days out of the business at a training centre can now be done digitally, through Digits LMS, without leaving the dealership, and you complete a couple of hours a week for a few months. You learn just as much by the end of it, with less disruption,” says Mullins. “Not only that, you can get more from the training, too, because the learner has a wider choice of modules and can connect with a wider cohort of people.”
Take, for example, Renault’s accreditation programmes. Mullins explains: “Years ago, we would hire a big conference room and invite a lot of people to come and complete tasks, the results of which we’d use to accredit them. Now we do this all online: we have an accreditation journey built into Digits LMS, which allows them to complete a number of tasks digitally. Then we have a separate system which we use to assess their hands-on skills through a mobile phone or iPad, within the dealership, and we watch them do a product presentation or demonstration. And then we ask them to complete assessment quizzes which, if they pass, they get their certificate and pin badge, and are admitted into our diamond accreditation school of excellence.”
“Digital learning through Digits LMS gives leaners a wider choice of content, and there’s less business disruption”
As well as their journey being more convenient for learners – and enabling them to be assessed in a familiar environment, where they might perform better – critically, the time taken to complete the accreditation process has decreased significantly. “We’ve gone from the average journey taking, in some cases, up to two years, to people now having the opportunity to be accredited within six months.” This helps individuals feel a greater sense of belonging to the Renault brand, more quickly, Mullins adds.
Renault’s long-standing relationship with the Digits team, and use of Digits LMS – it was a customer from the early 2010s until 2022 – is thanks to a combination of the learning management system’s simplicity, constantly evolving functionality, and the working relationships built between the two companies.
“The visual look of [Digits LMS] has to be one of its biggest plus points: you’re logging on to a system that looks like it knows what it’s doing, and is really user-friendly,” says Mullins. “It’s clean and modern-looking, and you don’t need to be taught how to use it, which is important. The platform has also evolved over time, which is brilliant, and it can do everything you need an LMS to do: we can create learner journeys, host assets, host virtual classroom training, link Adobe Connect into it, and add other connections via API. We can report on key metrics from dashboards within Digits LMS – on the number of people we’ve trained, or we need to train, for example – and design eye-catching learning journeys that people engage with. Basically, Digits LMS will do everything you need it to, and you can flex up or down that functionality as you need it to.”
“Digits LMS does everything you need an LMS to do, plus it’s really user friendly”
The Digits team has been instrumental in helping Renault achieve its training goals. “Digits is one of our longest-standing suppliers,” says Mullins. “We can give them a brief, and we trust them to deliver it.” The Digits team has also helped Renault map out complex learning journeys and appropriate interventions based on learners’ experiences and outcomes of previous activities. “What Digits has done for us very well, over the years, is: we will verbalise what we want, and try to show them what we’re trying to achieve. We talk to them about our goals, and then they get out their whiteboards and map out how we can achieve this. They are the experts, and we trust them to do their job.”
He adds: “Digits is also open and willing to work with our other training suppliers – agencies that create and produce our learning content, for example – which isn’t the case with every supplier. It makes our lives easier and delivers the best result for us as a client. We’ve also been able to have candid conversations with Digits about what is and isn’t possible within Digits LMS, and work with them to plan out how the system will evolve.”
As Renault prepares to move from Digits LMS to a centrally procured, globally used training system, Mullins reflects on the achievements of the UK training team over the years. “I still get that sense of pride when we add up how many training days we completed in a year, or how many people drove one of our new models. It makes me proud to see that number, and that year-by-year history of our training programmes. Sometimes you can lose sight of those achievements, so it’s important to celebrate those successes.”