November 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Best Buy employees study up on products in new online Learning Lounge

The Learning Lounge online portal, which lets employees choose educational content and share ideas, led to more than 42,000 completed courses related to subjects like product knowledge and customer service policies in the first month, the retailer says.

 

Best Buy Co. Inc.’s new Learning Lounge online portal, which lets employees choose educational content and share ideas, led to more than 42,000 completed courses related to subjects like product knowledge and customer service policies in the first month of operation, the retailer says.

The Learning Lounge portal, launched in late September with web technology and educational tools from Creative Channel Services LLC, provides online course materials from Best Buy and its suppliers to learn about product details and how to help customers. The portal also offers incentives for employees to choose from a variety of online audio, video and document resources. Employees are encouraged to upload their own learning-related content and share ideas with other employees through online message boards, blogs and social networks.

A key to the Learning Lounge’s success so far was the early involvement of employees in planning the portal, Best Buy says.

“We built it with employee insight and feedback, so it was incredibly easy to get employee participation,” a Best Buy spokeswoman says. During the first 28 days that the Learning Lounge was active starting Sept. 30, it logged 26,724 unique users and 42,459 course completions. “That volume was 12 times more than we initially expected,” the spokeswoman says.

“What’s cool is that it integrates web learning with social technology,” the spokeswoman adds. “It lets our associates learn from corporate/vendor resources, and learn best practices from each other. Early feedback from employees is amazing, both on functionality and what they have learned.”

The Learning Lounge portal, which is funded by the retailer’s suppliers, was designed as a version of Creative Channel Services’ CyberScholar.com e-learning site. The portal was set up to let employees take online tests to get certified as having completed assigned learning experiences and to let managers monitor employee participation, says Creative Channel director of marketing Mark Boeder. Creative Channel can also provide reports that show data such as the correlation between the amount of training provided to employees and increases in sales, he adds.

“Eleven years ago, Creative Channel Services brought its unique blend of online product knowledge and incentives to the retail environment with CyberScholar.com, and now we expect collaborative ‘social e-learning’ like that found in Learning Lounge to once again revolutionize how learning is approached at retail," says Andy Restivo, president and CEO of Creative Channel Services.

Best Buy is No. 12 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

 

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