Unlocking Data to Understand Learners as Customers

By Teresa Rose, Digital Learning Expert, E.ON Global Learning Centre of Competence


I love it when I get those moments. Do you know the ones I mean? You’re at an event or meeting, and someone says something that creates a spark. It raises awareness in that moment, and you remember where you were. You sense a feeling of energy coursing through your body, which creates momentum and propels you forward to take action.


I had that feeling listening to Laura Overton of Towards Maturity speaking about her passion for the profession to embrace change. It was when Laura launched her campaign ‘Make it Happen’, early in 2016. There and then, I decided, in Laura’s words, to turn “aspiration into action” and signed up to ‘Engaging Your Customers’.


My passion to adopt this approach also stemmed from the changes E.ON has made in how we work with our customers. As an organisation, we focus on understanding our customers’ experiences using customer-immersion sessions. We then use design thinking to develop solutions that are based on real data and insights, not just because someone thinks it’s a good idea. That got me thinking: “Why can’t we do this with our learners? We provide resources for 45,000 employees and largely design or purchase solutions without data to understand if they’re really what our learners want or need. This requires effort to market content and engage learners. How could this be different if we, too, put our customers at the heart of what we do?”


And that’s what we’ve done. We ran Learner Insights across the E.ON group, using a combination of focus groups and a survey. The fact that our people understand the insights principle helped our communication and engagement with the survey.


Eight focus groups were delivered in summer 2016 in our German and UK head offices. In December 2016, we launched the Learner Insights survey in five languages. We used a campaign approach making effective use of our new social intranet, which had been launched earlier that year, employing ongoing communications and the tag #learnerinsights


The survey was open for six weeks. In this time, over 4,000 colleagues began the survey, and over 2,500 completed all of the questions. The results have unlocked a lot of data that we are making sense of.


In particular, we can see how we are achieving against our L&D strategic goals. Amongst many topics the data elucidates are


  • what motivates our learners to learn
  • the barriers they face
  • which digital platforms they use to learn inside and outside of work
  • what helps them to have a great learning experience
  • how social they are
  • how willing they are to share what they learn
  • how much time they perceive they are spending learning
  • how self-directed they are
  • the role of line managers in learning
  • their expectation for the future of learning at E.ON


This has helped us get under the skin of our learning culture and establish how much of a learning organisation we are. We’re breaking the data down further and applying the Design Thinking approach, developing learner personas for different job families and compiling reports for our regions.  It’s fascinating to see the variances in regions and roles.


With these further insights, we can deliver a more personalised approach when designing for a particular audience, for example the channels we choose and the style of content. We can use data to be far more confident in our stakeholder meetings, particularly in the areas of performance consulting and engaging line managers in learning. Furthermore, we’ve shared the insights with our key suppliers, so we can have purposeful partnerships and make wise investments.


This data has become even more important and equipped our regions, as we embark on a transformation in Learning & Development to a decentralised model.


Teresa Rose and Annett Irmer from E.ON’s Learning Team will be speaking about this work at OEB, alongside Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning and Development Content, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)


Teresa Rose: https://oeb.global/programme/speakers/teresa-rose


Annett Irmer:  https://oeb.global/programme/speakers/annett-irmer


Andy Lancaster:  https://oeb.global/programme/speakers/andy-lancaster

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