17 April 2014 by Ian Gurling, FIA Awarding Organisation Manager

In a self service world it is hard to remember that good customer service sometimes means human intervention. Whether out shopping and you are only left with the self checkout to pay, or have no recourse but the internet in which to make an enquiry about a product or service you may feel frustrated at the lack of a human being to provide assistance.

Piture of a pear
For me recently, as I sat at my desk, typing an email and eating a pear, I took a call from a potential customer asking for details of a training course. It would have been easy to say all details are available on the website but instead I stuck with the enquiry and conversation ensued.
This event came back to mind as I sat at the back of a training room auditing one of our trainers. The interaction, not only between learner and trainer but also between fellow learners in the room demonstrates to me the importance of human interaction in developing understanding.
Which brings me to my point, it is on a fairly regular basis that I take enquiries regarding e-learning, which in a digital age has a valid place for a modern learning environment. But what e-learning gains in flexibility for the learner and saved costs for the employer it loses in personal contact.
Where interpretation can influence understanding there should be a route to human support and for an e-learning platform human support can be costly both in time and monetary terms. That is not to say that there is no place for e-learning, there most definitely is, but what must not be done is that the learner suffers for want of convenience.
Returning to my enquirer while sat at my desk, I was able to answer her questions and as a result she placed a booking for training which she may not have done if turned away to research for herself, I was even able to answer questions outside of the initial enquiry that came up as a result of our conversation and while she left satisfied that her enquiry had been handled effectively my pear, now open to the air where I had started to eat, had by now turned brown.