The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer, with over 2,300 stores across North America. The company has an established presence in the sale of home appliances, from stoves to refrigerators to washers and dryers.
The Home Depot struggled with the implementation of a successful sales training program for its geographically dispersed appliance sales team. Multiple approaches that included traditional and online training were attempted, but none achieved the level of success that stakeholders expected. Blue Atlas was retained to design and develop an innovative online training solution that would engage sales representatives to take advantage of learning content with the goal of consistently increasing sales of appliance warranty plans.
Blue Atlas proposed a 3-prong approach to achieving the learning requirements set forth by The Home Depot:
- Discovery and strategy
- Development of an online learning portal
- Ongoing collaboration and data reporting
The discovery and strategy phase was recommended for identifying where past initiatives fell short and where contemporary training best practices made sense for The Home Depot. With fresh eyes leading the discovery, repeated past miscues could be avoided as the new training solution was launched. The services included an in-depth review of the current learning environment, interviews with key stakeholders, and brainstorming sessions with the core project team members. The deliverable for this phase was a project blueprint detailing both business and technical requirements.
The completion of the requirements phase launched the design and development of a new online learning portal. Four key requirements for this project were content security, support for the rapid addition/deletion of learning content, easy inclusion of multiple content types, and capturing results for analytics and continuous improvement. Concrete CMS checked all of these requirements and was selected as the CMS for the portal.
Blue Atlas worked closely with the client’s design team to create a strongly branded UI with a clean, simple and intuitive navigation structure.
To promote usability and the ability to “push” specific content during any given month, a hero slider was implemented as the dominant feature of the landing page. Strong call-to-action slides (up to five at a time) present the user with suggested content. The slides are updated monthly based upon The Home Depot initiatives for that month. In addition, throughout the month, the order of the slides are manipulated as a mechanism for keeping the portal content looking fresh and new.
In addition, the portal supports a simple notifications feature in the utility navigation area. When clicked, recently added content links are displayed. This ‘quick links’ feature is another mechanism for driving visitors to new portal content.
To support user adoption, engagement and retention, numerous learning content types are used, including: video, infographics, FAQs, quizzes, and downloadable assets. In addition, one of the most popular features of the portal is quiz participation contests. By entering their name and store number, portal visitors who attempt a quiz and receive a minimum grade of 80% are automatically entered into a random drawing to win a substantial gift. This component of the portal is a significant part of the consistently high repeat portal visits.
At the start of the project, Blue Atlas stressed the importance of tracking usage and metrics to help inform the future direction of the learning portal. Weekly team meetings are held to evaluate the data, discuss upcoming initiatives and brainstorm new ideas. All with the goal of keeping the portal content fresh, relevant and dynamic. This effort has ensured that the team is able to identify early what is working and what needs tweaking. Google Analytics is integrated with the portal and in-depth monthly reports are generated for team review. The reports track trends over time and are correlated to specific “marketing” campaigns targeted at driving sales reps to the online learning portal.
The first goal, engaging the sales team, was achieved within the first 18 months of portal launch. By implementing the proposed user attraction campaign, adoption of the online training portal has increased over 1000%, with consistent month-over-month usage. This in turn has resulted in improved sales, with the average store achieving a 35% increase in appliance warranty sales during the second year of portal usage.
Concrete Key to Portal Success
The selection of Concrete as the CMS for the learning portal was a key component to the stellar outcome:
- First, the client had an appreciation for it being open source and not proprietary. This was a significant concern of the client’s IT department.
- Second, the security model of Concrete helped us get through the approval process.
- Third, the ability to easily have new content added within 24 hours of content approval has been a huge improvement over the client’s past portal attempts. They were used to a 3-week turn-around, which made the new content close to obsolete once it was actually published.
- Lastly, the foundation Concrete provides out-of-the-box to readily add new features, custom blocks, etc. Many new ideas come out of our weekly brainstorming sessions with the client, and we are rarely in the position of saying ‘No, it can’t easily be done.'
About Blue Atlas Interactive
Blue Atlas Interactive is a web-based software strategy and solutions company that moves businesses forward by leveraging technology. We craft solutions tailored to the needs of each client, and we help our clients manage data and deliver content that increases efficiency, improves users’ experience and drives action. Our team of seasoned multidisciplinary software developers has experience in the full stack of applications, from business needs assessment through full implementation.
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