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Ambient Computing and its application in L&D

You have probably heard the term IOT – internet of things. Ambient computing is taking IOT to the next level. It is the latest and the most phenomenal development in technology.

Keeping an individual at the centre it marries many technologies to create an ambience or environment that is human centric. Think of what you would be able to create if you could effectively marry artificial intelligence with cognitive processing.

Cognitive processing is about thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving. Higher-level brain functions entailing language, imagination, perception, and planning.

Different types of cognitive processes are:

  • Learning: that involves acquiring a new skill, synthesizing information, and integrating it with existing knowledge.
  • Memory: is about absorbing and retaining information.
  • Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses and the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted.
  • Thought: the act or process of thinking
  • Attention is the ability to actively process specific information in the environment while tuning out other details.

Ambient computing is delivering tools that are of day to day use and seamlessly integrate into the environment such that are almost invisible. For example, in a work environment, ambient computing would use sensors, who can send updated information on your skills, captures on the job like oral and written communication. Your manager would get key insights on the coaching she needs to provide you before your next meeting. LMS would get automatically updated to create real time learning paths for you. All the applications and devices in that scenario are fully integrated, creating a seamless flow of communication and information.

Characteristics of Ambient Computing

  • Data: Since the power of ambient computing lies in the fact that is contextual, data centres are at the heart of this model. Without data you cannot get contextual.
  • Embedded: The technology is seamlessly integrated with the environment almost making it invisible.
  • Simple: The Ambient Computing systems need to be simple to use and should drive engagement.
  • Collaboration: Ambient computing tools need to be collaborative and plug and play to be able to integrate other tools and platforms.

Ambient Computing and L&D

As we move towards the hybrid work models and smart office environments ambient computing will play a crucial role in helping us navigate our world. From how we communicate to how we innovate it will help us by always staying a step ahead of us and proactively helping us take better decisions.

In Learning and Development, it will give us a tremendous amount of personalized data at an individual level that will then roll up to creating customized learning paths and specific coaching interventions. The contextual and cognitive processing will help make several soft skills more tangible by capturing on job performance in real scenarios. Over time the data will reveal mind-boggling insights on the organization culture and impact of business outcomes.

Let us look at an example of a tool called kWurd deployed to coach employees on written communication skills.

Deployed across a team of 250 customer service assistants it assessed emails real time.

This is what the data showed:

  • 45% of all the outgoing emails had no empathy
  • The communication style was 55% Assertive, 35% Passive & 10% Aggressive
  • The Email Sentiment was 30% Joyful, 25% sad 20% Fearful 25% calm
  • Segmented by Customer type it showed that Passive and Aggressive emails were mostly being sent to the age group of 18-30 years

Since the above data is available at an individual level as well the system automatically directs the appropriate learning content to the agent. At a team level the above insights helped a) the organization understand the quality of communication b) improve the communication before it is sent c) strategize the learning and development needs for the whole group, base on data.

As L&D professionals it is important to start deploying tools that help assess and coach your employees on the job and give real-time feedback. That is the first step towards setting up an ambient computing environment in your workplace. To know more about such tools, go to uSpeeknow.com and kWurd.com

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How to Increase ROI on Training Spend?

According to a 2017 University of Michigan study, soft skills training boosts productivity and employee retention by 12%, and yields a 256% return on investment.

So, the question is that what can companies do to upgrade the communication skills of their employees? The global spend by fortune 500 companies on communication skills training in 2019 was $3.5 BN USD. Now let’s use the Edgar Dale’s Cone of experience model to calculate the ROI on that spend.

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According to Dale’s research, the least effective method of learning is from information presented through verbal symbols, i.e., listening to spoken words. The most effective methods at the bottom, involves direct, purposeful learning experiences, such as hands-on or on the job experience. The cone charts the average retention rate for various methods of teaching. The further you progress down the cone, the greater the learning and the more information is likely to be retained. “action-learning” techniques result in up to 90% retention.

Most of the communications skills course offerings that we researched lies in the category of watch Videos to watch a demonstration. The average retention in that category is ~30%.

There is a minimum leakage of 70% on your training spend. Now imagine a scenario if you could provide a hand’s on, on the job continual training experience and come right to the bottom of the cone where the retention rates are as high as 90%.

That has a significant impact on return on your training spend (ROI). Today using AI, you can create training solutions which are personalized and on the job. A case in example are 2 products that we at myJen have created. USpeek which is to improve oral communication skills and kWurd to improve, your written communication skills.

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uSpeek is an AI coach that assesses your mock video on 25 parameters in a matter of minutes and give you details feedback on your strengths and development opportunities. It has insightful analytics built which allows you to monitor, your progress over time and see your rate of improvement.

It is customised for a specific speaking event you might be preparing for. An elevator speech, presentation, interview, or a public speech you can select any one of the categories and get customized feedback. It has in built, learning lessons which comprise videos, exercises, games, and quizzes.

Uspeekreport
uSpeek Report

For your organization it gives you insights which help you baseline the oral communication skill levels of your employees at a location, account, team, and project level. You can track and monitor usage and see the rate of learning of different segments of your employee population.

Kwurd

kWurd is a business writing coach. It is an advanced proof-reading tool which works on all editors on google chrome. Writing a Facebook or a LinkedIn post or filling a form a commenting on a you tube video link. Write anything on your chrome browser and kWurd will give you the standard spelling and grammar errors as well as help you get rid of redundant words, call out passive voice, improve your readability by suggesting better word choices and more.

It is an email writing coach with Gmail and Outlook plug ins. On clicking the analyse button it gives you an overall score for your emails and rates it on 7 parameters. Clarity, Writing Style, Communication Style, Empathy, Sentiment & Emotion, Spelling & Grammar and gives overall Word Statistics including pet and filler words.

Kwurd Report
kwurd Report

It gives areas of improvement along with areas of strengths. kWurd Learning Lessons on youTube comprise 25+ videos each one taking up one concept and discussing it in detail.

Kwurd is an excellent tool for Customer Service teams who want to measure the quality of email responses. Was your email assertive and empathetic? Its advanced dashboards can give you the average and individual scores of the email communication of your organization by key client, product, service, team, geography, location.

When you have tools like this you are giving your employees a great opportunity to learn on the job and providing them personalized coaching tips. This will enable them to pick up the concept extremely fast, improve their skills the result of which you will see translate to business outcomes like more satisfied and engaged customers.

Invest in AI based training solutions today and increase our training ROI exponentially. You can reach us at info@myjen.ai and check out our websites www.myjen.ai, www.uspeeknow.com and www.kwurd.com

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What is the Communication Style of your Emails?

 “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – A quote by Maya Angelou.

Have you ever thought about how your reader feels when he or she reads your email?

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Your email will demonstrate your communication style and fall into one of four patterns.

A Passive writer. Does not directly come out and say what the writer means. Writer uses a lot of pleases, try, maybe, and too many thank you. The emotion is unsure, tentative and fearful.

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An Aggressive writer. Makes statements as facts, overuse of I, threatens, belittles the person, uses sarcasm, etc. Comes across as angry, disgusted and negative.

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An Assertive writer. Is more direct and to the point. Writer states his/her opinion. Cares about the recipient’s thoughts. Ask questions to clarify facts. Is collaborative and looks for a win-win. Emotion is confident, analytical and positive.

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A Passive Aggressive writer. Starts with sugar coating, positive points, lots of appreciation or pleases. Then, comes to strong statements or threats if the work is not done what will be the consequence. Emotion conveyed is confusion and frustration.

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Let’s see how Passive, Aggressive and Assertive people communicate:

ItemPassiveAssertiveAggressive
Word Choice

· Tactful

· Cautious

· Reserved

· Diplomatic

· Enthusiastic

· Persuasive

· Charming

• Decisive

• Goal-oriented

• Inquisitive

• Sometimes blunt

Sentences beginning with I statementsLess use of I statementsFrequent use of I statementsOveruse of “I” statements and “You” statements.
Repeated words and fillersMany repeated words and fillers (um, ah, you know, etc.)No fillers are used.Very crisp and to the point. No fillers are used.
Duration of talk.LongAppropriate lengthVery short length. Too short.
Data is used.Less and sounds tentative with maybe, approximately, we will try, etc.Several important data points are used which add strength to message.Data points focused on bottom line.
Sentence lengthLongModerateShort
Words often used

·  Think about it

·  Take your time. Think it over.

·  Help you out; help me out

· Logical, step-by-step

·  Trust me

·  Guarantee

·  Promise

· Here are the facts

·  Proven

·  The data shows

·  No risk

·  I need…

· Asks questions to understand your need

· Paraphrase

· Explores both needs

·  Picture this.

· Win

· Results

· Lead the field

· Be the best

· Challenge

· Bottom line

· Benefits

· Fast, Now

· Immediate

· Today

·  New & unique

Ask yourself, is my email communication style Assertive?

Go to kWurd.com to assess the communication style of your emails

How Email is still very hot and latest trends?

How Email is still very hot and latest trends?

Email is growing at a phenomenal rate!

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From 267 Billion emails in 2017 today worldwide we are sending 303 Billion emails every day. That is a growth rate of a whopping 30% taking 2017 as the base year. And guess what the numbers are still growing by 2023 we will be sending 347 Billion emails per day.

And what does it translate to when it comes to number of email users. 4 Billion! Practically half the world’s population! Sizeable is it not? 4 years from now the number is going to grow to 4.5 Billion that is a 12.5% growth.

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1. What email clients are people using?

Worlds

Apple and Google are the top contenders. In 2018, Gmail accounted for 27 percent of e-mail opens, ranking behind the Apple iPhone e-mail client with 29 percent of e-mail opens. Considering Gmail started in 2004 it is an admirable growth in 14 years. It has approximately 1.5 Billion users. The fact that Apple and Gmail are the most prominent email clients also highlights the dominance of mobile app as a medium for exchanging mails. Mobile e-mail accounted for 50 percent of opens as of December 2018, whereas webmail accounted for 39 percent.

Not surprising given how our whole world is slowly getting assembled in a smart phone.

2. What are the New Gmail Features:

Here are the latest features that Gmail has added:

Respond to emails with Smart Reply suggestions. Using AI (artificial intelligence) Gmail can intuitively guess what you want to write and as you start typing out your sentence it completes it for you. While it does not work for every mail given you might want to type out responses in your own words, however for a short swift response it is a good tool. Can help increase your productivity and decrease your email response time.

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Confidentially send emails & attachments.

While this feature is not available for G Suite customers for now it is a great thing to use when you want to send confidential data and have control on who can and cannot see your email.

By turning on Confidential mode you can protect sensitive messages and documents by:

  1. Setting an expiration date to your email.
  2. Set the condition where you need a password to open the email.
  3. Prevent forwarding, downloading, copying, and pasting.

Snooze emails until later

This feature helps you in managing the time you spend on your emails. You can prioritize your email box and decide what needs your immediate attention vis-a-vis what can wait for later. The snooze functionality allows you to snooze the mail with a reminder set for a later time when it is convenient for you to work on it.

  • Given what we have seen above that Email has a massive reach and integrates so well with our life line – the smart phones, you would not be surprised to know that Email remains ahead of all other platforms as a marketing channel. It had a median ROI of 122%—more than four times higher than other marketing formats like social media, direct mail etc.

Some interesting facts:

 

Like in all growth sectors even in email marketing usage of AI and machine learning is growing in a big way. The key area where AI fits perfectly is being able to make micro segmentation cheaper, less manual, and more precise. As you can segment your customer further into narrower categories. It allows you to increase the level of personalization in your marketing messages. That results in faster and higher conversions.

And our Millennials incidentally are very bullish on emails, 72% of them feel it will exist even 10 years from now!

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3. What are the top trends in email writing

So, what are the latest trends in email writing. We are discussing the top 3 here:

1. Mobile responsiveness
Given over 50% of emails are opened on a mobile globally, you need to make sure your emails are conducive with mobiles. What does that mean? It means you must keep in mind that your mail will be viewed on a small screen.  You do not want your users’ scroll time to be exceedingly high otherwise they might get frustrated and leave the mail half unread. The key highlights of your message and call to action buttons should be clearly visible.

2. More text, fewer images
Keep your emails light. No one likes their bandwidth being used up in opening heavy emails with lots of visual images or data. If required, you can email it in 2 parts. Even email marketers have observed that image-heavy emails are not being opened at the rates they used to be. Instead, lots of imagery can make your message look like spam.

3. Minimalist email design
It is a myth that bright colourful images or highlighted text in emails attracts attention. On the contrary, keep it simple, easy to ready and authentic. Get the message across. Clear, crisp email with minimalistic design sells.

Conclusion

Every email that leaves your mailbox is an important customer touchpoint. Whether an external customer or an internal stakeholder keeping them all delighted helps!

Happy Emailing! Go to kWurd.com for improving your email writing skills.

What are some of the latest email writing hacks you have discovered? Do share with us in the comments below.

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How to express empathy in your emails?

In the absence of in person communication the need for being empathetic over digital channels like email is critical. Being able to write empathetically will help you be more likable and will build strong relationships and bonds both in personal and professional life.

1. Are organizations displaying empathy?

91 percent of CEO’s say their organization is empathetic. Conversely, 92 percent of these employees believe their employer undervalues empathy.

There is a significant gap. Why does the empathy gap exist?

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A real-life work example:

Before we answer that question let us look at a real-life work example:

Scene: Customer Service Rep from a Telecom Company sitting at his desk looking concerned and worried. Jenny walks up.

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Jenny: Hi Deepak, you look sad, what is going on?

Deepak: Since the morning, I have been getting low customer satisfaction scores on my emails. I am at a total loss of what to do. I am trying my best!

Jenny: Show me a copy of a few emails that we can look at.

Deepak: Here is one email.

This is the Customer’s email

Dear Sir,

I have a prepaid mobile plan on 9811089401. From the last 15 days, rarely am I able to call or are people able to reach me. It takes me many tries to get through and then I get cut off after a short period. This is extremely frustrating!! I have not been able to take important work and personal calls. I need this resolved as soon as possible!!!

Regards.
Dr. Jain

This is the Customer Service Executive Deepak’s Response

Dear Dr. Jain,

Because of the merger of our company with another, there is a lot of work happening on our infrastructure. Hence, we are sorry you and others like you are experiencing connectivity issues. Please bear with us.

Regards,
Deepak Bajaj
Customer Service Associate
Telecom Company

Jenny: Deepak, what do you think a typical doctor’s day is like?

Deepak: I know they deal with patient problems and emergencies, so it must be incredibly stressful.

Jenny:  Most doctors receive at least a 100 calls per day of which many are extremely critical. On top of that, given their schedules they have limited and specific timing when they are available. Call dropping can be very frustrating. It is natural to expect that she will be angry and upset with the current quality of service.

2. What is Empathy?

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Empathy means that you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and acknowledge the questions even if you cannot answer all of them. Make the person feel heard and that you care. The opposite of this would be sounding indifferent, frustrated, angry, or parroting standard responses which demonstrate a lack of personal touch.

We know how important connectivity is to a doctor. If you put yourself in his shoes, would you rate this response as high on empathy?

Deepak: No probably not. However, I am not sure how to write it more empathetically.

Let us rewrite a response together for Dr. Jain’s email.

Dear Dr. Jain,

We are very sorry to hear that you have been experiencing significant connectivity issues. Given your profession, we understand the urgency of remaining connected. I studied your area of work and residence. We have five towers getting refurbished after the big merger, which will finish in 10 days.

We hope to make things better for you soon. If you have any other issues, please let us know.

Deepak Thakur
Customer Service Associate
Telecom Company

When empathizing be careful of your tone. For example, in the Customer Service Executive’s first email there is little empathy for the difficulty that the Doctor would have faced or concern for the need for the importance of a Doctor’s accessibility. Instead, the email focusses on blaming the infrastructure and meekly apologizes midway

Empathy means:

  • Understanding. and appreciating how others feel.
  • Avoid hurting the feelings of others.
  • Getting in touch, relating, and being sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings.
  • Respect other people’s emotions.
  • Care about how others feel.
  • Express the feelings and the facts from the other person’s view.
  • Notice the unsaid – read between the lines of what the customer wrote.

Examples of empathetic words and phrases:

While writing emails you express empathy by your words. Here are examples of words and phrases that are empathetic:

  • I experienced the same.
  • I really want to hear what you have to say.
  • Give yourself some time to process.
  • If I were you, I would feel the same.
  • I wish things were different.
  • I can imagine how that might have felt.
  • I can see this is making you upset.
  • You are frustrated.
  • I know how you feel.
  • That must be hard.
  • I do not know what to say.
  • I cannot imagine what you must be going through.
  • I wish I could make it better.
  • It makes me really sad to hear this happened.
  • Thank you for sharing with me.
  • I am glad you told me.
  • This must be hard to talk about. Thanks for opening up to me.
  • I am here for you.
  • That must have annoyed you.
  • We really appreciate.
  • I have experienced a similar issue.

“Empathy works so well because it does not require a solution. It requires only understanding”. John Medina.

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Yet in day to day life both at work and at home it is hard to practice. Data shows, as we saw earlier in the video, the empathy gap at work is huge. Why is it hard then for people to be empathetic?

What empathy is not?

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Source: (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623091828.htm)

For the rest of us it is a skill we learn. Empathy is a combination of both nature and nurture. The reasons why it is not a widely displayed trait at large are:

  • We mistake empathy to mean agreeing with what the other person is saying and or doing. None of that is true. Empathy means listening and understanding that is all. You can be assertive and empathetic at the same time. You do not have to necessarily agree with the other person nor say yes to doing things you do not want to do.
  • Being empathetic is different from being sympathetic. We often end up equating the two, while the two are different. Sympathy is feeling sorrow, compassion and pity for others while empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and feeling what they are feeling, which could be a whole range of feelings, from happy, frustrated, joy, angry, cheated to disgusted.
  • Empathy takes work. In our fast-paced lives, we are not able to take time out. One of the most important things which helps you be empathetic is to listen to the other person. You must be patient and proactively display empathy. This takes effort and you need to invest in people and relationships.

3. A real-life work scenario:

Real Life

Let us look at a workplace scenario where a team leader is having disciplinary issues with one of his teammates. She is coming late to office as well as not working full shift hours. Here is the email that he sends to the employee:

Less empathetic

Hi Michelle,

As we discussed, you have been late to work 8 times in the last one month by 15 to 45 minutes each time. This is because you are not used to having to take your child to daycare before coming to work. We agreed you would talk to your sister about helping you manage this.

I look forward to seeing you here on-time tomorrow.

Regards,
Lisa Holmes

This mail captures the facts and documents it. It rates high on assertiveness but is low on empathy. It does not build any emotional bond with the employee. Emotional bonding drives loyalty to the company, significantly improves productivity and motivation. Let us see how the same email could be written empathetically:

More empathetic

Re: Lateness

 

Hi Michelle,

I understand you are going through a difficult time. If I were in your position; I would feel the same way. Your family needs you. We are also counting on you too and need you here every day on-time.

As we reviewed, you have been late to work 8 times in the last one month by 15 to 45 minutes each time. This is because you are not used to having to take your child to daycare before coming to work.  We both agreed you will seek help from your sister to manage the situation better.

I look forward to seeing you here on-time tomorrow and every day this month!

Regards,
Lisa Holmes

Conclusion

Always remember the famous Maya Angelou quote “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
To know the empathy score of your emails you can turn to kWurd.com.
When was the last time you were truly empathetic towards someone? What did it feel like?