What is a contextual help system and how does it differ from traditional training methods?
In this article, we’ll look at contextual help systems, including:
- What they are
- How they differ from traditional training methods
- How contextual help systems are different from digital adoption platforms (DAPs)
To start off, we need to answer the most fundamental question of all…
What Is a Contextual Help System?
Contextual help systems are in-app training solutions that provide context-based answers to questions that app users may have.
These systems can help by:
- Allowing users to access help articles from within any other app they are using
- Suggest articles based on the application’s context
- Offering in-app tool that prompt users on which action to take next
These systems can be very beneficial for enterprises that want to reduce technical support calls and help users become more self-reliant.
Contextual Training vs. Traditional Training Methods
How do contextual help systems compare against traditional training approaches?
Examples of Traditional Training Methods
Workplace training is nothing new, and traditionally has included methods such as:
- Classroom teaching
- Mentorship and apprenticeship
- One-on-one tutoring and teaching
- On-the-job group training
These methods still have their place in the modern work world, but they simply cannot keep up with the needs of the modern workplace.
Why Traditional Training Doesn’t Deliver in the Work Environment
Traditional training approaches suffer from a number of problems in the modern work environment, making them unsuitable for the digital workplace.
The methods mentioned above, for instance:
- Cannot be scaled effectively
- Are costly to implement and maintain
- Are wasteful and inefficient
Since training is often delivered out of context, it is less personalized, less relevant, and less useful.
Also, since this training is delivered separately from the time it is being implemented, there is a greater chance that employees will forget what they have learned.
The Benefits of Contextual Help Systems
Contextual training outperforms traditional training approaches in several ways:
- Since context-based training occurs directly inside an app or software program, employees can immediately apply what they have learned, improving knowledge retention and understanding
- Users don’t need to break from their current task and spend a great deal of time researching answers, which increases engagement and productivity
- Technical support calls and costs decrease
However, despite all of these benefits, contextual help systems are not necessarily the best training solutions on the market.
As we will soon see, there is another training platform that offers even more advantages…
Are Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) Contextual Help Systems?
Yes and no.
Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) are training solutions that offer contextual training, but they take this training approach even further.
These platforms offer:
- In-app walkthroughs. Using pop-up bubbles, in-product walkthroughs take users one step at a time through a series of actions. Like contextualized help systems, they operate inside the context of the software itself. However, they take this process a step further by actually training users on a complete workflow.
- Product tours. A product tour is an interactive introduction to a product’s features and functions. These tours can be used on a website, in a software trial, or after sign-up – or at all of these points in the user journey – to streamline onboarding and improve competency.
- Software analytics. Analytics can track user behavior throughout the onboarding and training experience, monitoring interactions with software. That information, in turn, can be used to further improve training walkthroughs and product tours.
- Task automation. Certain digital adoption platforms can also automate repetitive tasks. This frees up employee time for more valuable activities, while also reducing error rates and massively increasing productivity.
All of which can dramatically improve the training process.
Using digital adoption platforms for employee training can:
- Accelerate employee training timelines
- Decrease onboarding friction and frustration
- Lower confusion and simplify the software experience
- Increase overall proficiency and productivity
To name just a few benefits.
Digital adoption platforms are built around a philosophy of digital adoption, which extends its scope far beyond employee training.
Digital Adoption vs. Employee Training – A Big Difference
Digital adoption means using technology for its intended purpose and to its fullest extent.
In the modern enterprise, after all:
- Digital disruption is driving continual organizational change and digital transformation
- To maintain a productive workforce, organizations must continually train employees and ensure that they have the proper digital skills
- Employee training, therefore, must focus not only on training employees, but also on maximizing software value and streamlining the digital workplace
Digital adoption is the business function that embraces activities such as these.
Many businesses are beginning to understand the value of contextual training, digital adoption, and digital transformation.
Any HR professional or trainer who wants to make the most of their training efforts, therefore, should look beyond contextualized help systems and extend their gaze to include digital adoption.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.