Connecting The Dots Between Learning And Action
The days of serving up content to a captive audience are mandatory over—and rightfully so. In our new normal of screen fatigue and ever-more-fragmented attention, learning is subject to the same market forces as the apps, streaming services, social platforms, and games that compete for learners’ attention. .
Like other digital products, learning requires an investment of time and energy. When that exchange leaves learners feeling enriched and empowered, they feel more connected—and loyal—to their organizations. A survey by LinkedIn reports that an overwhelming 94% of workers stay longer with organizations that invest in their professional development .
That loyalty is priceless: it keeps tribal knowledge in-house, stabilizes teams, and saves organizations the cost of turnover—an average of $15,000 per role . Not surprisingly, workers with future-prepped skillsets perform better and enjoy greater role satisfaction. In fact, many view upskilling and reskilling opportunities as part of their compensation package and a reason to join—or remain at—an organization.
These are just a few reasons why an investment in custom eLearning can pay dividends for people and organizations. These case studies will help you decide when—and whether—you’ve got a case for a custom eLearning solution.
But First, The Basics: Needs Analysis
Let’s take a step back for a moment: how do you know you need a learning solution?
Here’s where I join my colleague Emma on her needs analysis soapbox: your learning partner should be working with you to determine whether your business need is truly a learning need. (Pro tip: If the answer is never “no,” find a partner who asks you these six vital questions every time.)
Once you’re sure you have a learning need, it’s time to consider whether it’s a case for a custom or off-the-shelf solution. Off-the-shelf content can be highly effective—see no. 3 below for an example!—and exactly what the stakeholders ordered. But there are learning needs off-the-shelf content can’t address.
Got A Case For Custom eLearning?
If you need a solution that helps your learners do any of the following, you just might have a case for custom.
1. Practice And Fail Safely When Stakes Are High
A nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid to people in crisis had the ultimate custom eLearning need. Its audience of managers, volunteers, and staff needed to know how to respond to a crisis with minimal resources—without putting themselves or others in danger.
The organization partnered with SweetRush to solve the custom eLearning paradox of preparing learners to respond to real-life danger…without endangering them in real life.
The solution: A mobile, custom eLearning simulation that mimics the one tool literally in learners’ pockets—a smartphone.
Learners are dropped into the middle of the action and briefed on an unfolding crisis.
Then, they’re prompted to choose their next steps from the simulated mobile interface. Should they check their messages, read the news, scan social media, or make a call?
The clock is ticking—and learners might not be able to reach a key point person.
Nudges prompt them when they take too long to act or make a choice that puts themselves or someone in danger. The immediacy of the simulation makes the learning memorable and reinforces the need to get responses right.
If things go really wrong, learners are prompted to start over—with zero harm to actual humans.
2. Build Empathy For Customers
A leading financial institution wanted to prepare its largely Gen Z and millennial tellers, bankers, managers, and call center associates to connect with customers from all walks of life. Though these banking professionals represent diverse backgrounds and circumstances, many have yet to experience life situations their customers face, such as retirement, marriage, divorce, a major business decision, or a large home purchase.
The organization’s L&D team wanted their banking team members to walk a mile in the shoes of their customers—and have some fun in the process. What better way to engage younger, tech-savvy professionals than with a high-interest, interactive first-person gamified simulation?
If that sounds like custom eLearning to you, you’re right!
The solution: The organization joined forces with SweetRush to create a set of simulations with three characters who couldn’t be more different. All have vastly different backgrounds, abilities, histories, resources and priorities. These diverse characters represent their range of customers—and help learners gain familiarity with the banking products and services that address their needs.
Learners meet each character in young adulthood and grow with them into middle age and the senior years. During each hour-long simulation, learners make life decisions that affect the character’s financial health.
Just as in real life, unforeseeable events like illness, accidents, and layoffs arise in each simulation. These challenges help learners empathize with customers facing these situations—and show them that life satisfaction and financial success can change on a dime.
As learners laugh, cry, and cheer for each character, they gain understanding and empathy for every customer. This opportunity to walk in everyone’s shoes is nothing short of transformative.
3. Bridge The Gap Between Theory And Practice
We all shop around for the best online deals, and one international sportswear brand has taken note. Its marketing experts wanted to help customers shop even smarter by offering a seamless eCommerce experience across all partner sites and its mobile app to drive sales and growth. To meet that goal, the brand needed to upskill its global sales force in eCommerce concepts and strategies.
The L&D team began the upskilling program with three levels of high-quality, off-the-shelf content: from foundational eCommerce concepts and methods to the final project, which asked learners to create their own eCommerce strategy.
This content provided the brand’s learners with a solid understanding of eCommerce—but the L&D team found that learners needed more help to apply core eCommerce concepts to their own accounts. The team wanted to help learners bridge the gap between theory and practice: a perfect case for custom eLearning.
The solution: The sportswear brand partnered with SweetRush to create a collection of five high-impact, interactive eCommerce lessons targeted to its business, culture, and sales strategy. These stunning lessons feature on-brand custom visuals, sports metaphors, and storytelling to engage learners and spark “aha!” moments about how to apply eCommerce strategies.
As learners follow authentic customers on their shopping journeys from partner sites, they identify strategies to drive traffic, increase conversion rates, and boost product visibility in web searches. This 360-degree view of the customer journey helps learners create seamless eCommerce experiences for every shopper.
The result? Zero heavy lifting for learners—unless that’s their sport of choice. Custom learning eliminates any guesswork about how eCommerce concepts and strategies work for the brand.
4. Experience Your Brand Personality
An urban, upscale hotel brand wanted to create a virtual onboarding experience that prepared new hires to connect with and inspire guests…all in its signature quirky, cheeky tone.
When no one’s doing quite what you’re doing, you’ve got a case for custom eLearning!
The solution: The hotel brand partnered with SweetRush to create a beverage and guest experience onboarding program that mimics the witty banter they’ll exchange with guests. (The SweetRush writing team was all too happy to get into character!)
Things get personal right away as new bartenders find out the real reason they were hired: their sparkling personalities. This hotel brand is all about the rare skills of guest experience and engagement. Mixology is teachable…and learners are about to experience the round of their lives.
Learners delve into history, methodology, and ingredients—complete with quotes from made-up prophets and other luminaries. The irreverent tone holds their interest and makes the content (and the cocktails) memorable.
5. Develop A Sense Of Belonging
A global leader in snacks and beverages wanted new hires to enjoy a more personal onboarding experience and feel united across its many divisions and regions.
This was a job for custom content! This organization partnered with SweetRush to create a fun onboarding experience that was anything but anonymous.
The solution: A welcoming, whimsical onboarding experience featuring storytelling, humor, lovable 2D characters, and interactivity that engages learners and encourages them to share their own uniqueness.
Learners put a literal face on the experience by creating a fun character—a “unique ingredient” resembling a lollipop—to accompany them on their onboarding journey. They then enjoy a meet-and-greet with a group of diverse “hosts” at the Flavor Factory. Here, they learn about the company’s mission, culture, heritage, and values of diversity and inclusion.
Along the way, learners unlock additional flair that represents their character and builds their excitement about their future with the organization.
This upbeat, welcoming onboarding adventure isn’t just a bright spot in learners’ day; It’s a first taste of the organization’s culture of imagination and innovation…and the many adventures to come.
Learning Transfer ≠ Lucky Accident
What do these wildly different custom eLearning solutions have in common? Each began with a business and learning need that was too important to be left to chance.
If learners don’t understand how learning helps them create an experience, keep their team safe in a crisis, or offer financial options to a squeezed customer, they miss opportunities to serve and help people. With more competition—and more accountability—than ever, organizations can’t afford to cut corners.
Any time we need to be sure learners understand how to apply new practices at their jobs with the resources they have on hand, we’ve got a case for custom eLearning. Our learners are counting on us to help them transfer their learning into the world—and show care for their colleagues, clients, and community.
In the mood for more custom eLearning inspo? Check out our custom eLearning lookbook for five more colorful, compelling use cases.
 Be Our Guest: A Service Design Approach To Learner Experience
 What Workers Value: Training Gains On Compensation In Importance
 Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report