At The Cincinnati Insurance Company, they’re taking training to a new level by using just-in-time learning, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) to help team members be more confident on the job and more efficient in their work. In this Powered by Learning podcast episode, Tricia Inderhees, Learning and Development Consultant Manager of Cincinnati Insurance shares the best way to create innovative learning programs that get results.
Tricia Inderhees of Cincinnati Insurance offers great advice for organizations looking to improve learning and development through innovative training. Her key points include the following:
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[00:00:00] Announcer 1: This is Powered by Learning, a podcast designed for learning leaders to hear the latest approaches to creating learning experiences that engage learners and achieve improved performance for individuals and organizations.
[00:00:15] Announcer 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dvinci.com.
[00:00:41] Susan: Hello, and welcome to Powered by Learning. I'm your host, Susan Cort. Today, I'm joined by d'Vinci CEO Luke Kempski, who's going to talk to our guest, Tricia Inderhees, of Cincinnati Insurance Company, about designing innovative learning programs. Tricia is a Learning and Development Consultant Manager at the Cincinnati Insurance Companies and a recent speaker at the Training Industry Conference & Expo. The Cincinnati Insurance Company is among the nation's top 25 property-casualty insurer groups based on net written premiums. The group markets business home and auto insurance products through a select group of independent insurance agencies in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Welcome, Tricia.
[00:01:22] Luke Kempski: It's great to have you on, Tricia. Welcome.
[00:01:24] Tricia Inderhees: Thank you.
[00:01:26] Susan: Tricia, to start us off, explain a little bit about your role at Cincinnati Insurance Company.
[00:01:32] Tricia: Absolutely, Susan. I am the Learning Consultant Manager for the Cincinnati Insurance Company, which we oversee all of our training for both associates and agents. Our role is to take it from the very beginning of understanding what is the business opportunity or the business gap that training is going to actually support, and maybe even help close that gap. We go through a needs analysis, we go through a discovery period of interviews, we design, and we create the solution.
We then work with a team of developers that will either help us do some of the online development or will take it into the classroom and facilitate as well. My role in all of that is to manage a group of people who oversee that process, as well as participate in that process. I also assist in coming up with our new strategy for the company and for our agents, depending on what the company's strategy is as well. It's partly my role in the learning and development space.
[00:02:36] Luke: That's great. You're definitely using a variety of methods for delivering training or learning. When you think about them, what modality to use to deliver training? How do you decide? What do you look at? What do you consider?
[00:02:49] Tricia: When we think about the modality, there's a couple of things we consider. We consider; one, the audience. We do have people across the country that both work for Cincinnati Insurance but then even our agents, and so we have to think about the audience. How often do we want them to participate in this training? Do we want them to be able to reference the training back at some point in time, or is it one of those things that they need to actually attend a training conference to be able to apply the knowledge in order to remember it so that they can get back to their offices and actually start doing that work?
We take that into consideration as, again, who's the audience, where are they located, how often will they be needing to reference this training back, or even maybe possibly how fast will they apply this. Then we take into consideration the content. Is it content that we consider sharing the knowledge, or is it content that is building up a new behavior and new skill set? Anytime that we think about the specific skill set, we usually are in the classroom because we're teaching them something new.
Maybe that's system training. That might maybe a little bit more about how they handle a specific product line. Then, obviously, well, I should say, a behavior development is also something that we usually do within the classroom, from a standpoint of we want them to go through role-plays and different things like that. When we think about the classroom, we are also doing that through web sessions and different modalities as well, not just a classroom specific in a room.
[00:04:22] Luke: That's excellent. I also understand that you've branched out to more innovative approaches like using virtual reality or VR to help teach claims examiners to identify hazards in physical spaces. Can you tell us how you decided to use VR?
[00:04:38] Tricia: I would say probably about three or four years ago, we realized that what was needed in the industry was not being taught specifically in the classroom like we were doing, so this probably started maybe three to five years ago. We toured many other facilities and other companies to see what they were doing, and a lot of them were building brick and mortar, and really building buildings where people within the industry could apply the knowledge, and we thought about that. We thought about maybe we needed a building so people could come in and do the hands-on learning.
As we went through that process, we also realized that it's a very expensive thing to do and that maybe it wasn't what was best from a standpoint of, “How often are you going to be able to bring people in? How often are they really going to be able to do the things that we need them to do?” As we went through thinking, “Okay, what does this look like next?” we came up and we started to learn a bit more about AR/VR. That was coming out at the time and it was new to the industry-- I should say new to the world, but it was also very appealing and exciting. We started to explore, “What would this mean for us?”
What we learned was just-in-time to training was what it was really going to mean for us. People within the United States who were going to help deliver our services as well as use our services would be able to do this right at their home and be able to do it right from their desk versus having to fly in and be at the brick and mortar. We started with a small pilot group. When I say small, it's one unit of our company. We started in the claims arena, quickly realized that we have people that are coming from college grads, right out of college, that are going to participate in being at claims associate for us, as well as agents that are coming directly out of college and they're going to start selling insurance.
Very rarely are you finding that people are talking about the construction industry within the business degree for different colleges and universities. In order for our claims adjusters to really understand how to adjust claims, how to handle claims, they need to know a lot about the construction industry. They need to know about what construction types, how do particular damages occur from what coverages we provide. We realized that in order to do that you had to see it; you had to be able to see what was really happening. In the past, they were getting up on roofs. They were getting up and going to specific damaged property to be able to learn a little bit about that.
It was working, but it wasn't working as quickly and as effectively as what we wanted. When we looked at the AR/VR, we said, “You know what? Let's put them in a specific space with a headset and let's show them.” I will tell you that you're not missing a beat. It's just like you are up on that roof. Yes, you might get a little dizzy here and there, so you have to keep your balance, you can't keep the headset on too long, but the other part was that you could reference it back. We really took into account just-in-time learning.
Then obviously-- well, I shouldn't say obviously, but also, we took into account, “What do they need to know, and what's the best way to show them what they need to know, minus being able to put them up on a roof and possibly even hurt themselves?” There was some thought that went into that, and that's where we are now. Again, we've had some success with that. We've had people who've participated and said, “It's just like you put us up on a roof at a real loss.''
[00:08:11] Luke: That's great. Talk about how you delineate between augmented reality, where you put the learner in a real environment and have them interact with virtual objects through their phone, versus virtual reality, where you immerse the learner in a virtual environment where they wear a headset and have them interact with controllers?
[00:08:29] Tricia: It's a great question. I don't know that we're quite there yet. I think we're exploring both. I think what we have said was the cost and what's needed in order to do either one. That's really what it's coming down to. If you have a tablet, a phone, you're going to be able to do one without the other. We do have to take that into consideration. How many headsets do we want to buy? How do we want to ship them? How do we want to let people use those? It's a cost right now, but it's really pulling us either way, but we have not specifically said, “We know which one's best yet,” we're doing both right now, and we have a developer who's actually able to do both. That's still to be determined for us.
[00:09:11] Luke: Now that you've implemented this pilot, what kinds of feedback are you getting, and then what kinds of things are you measuring to determine if you're getting the results that you're sought after?
[00:09:23] Tricia: Well, the first thing that we are receiving from a feedback standpoint is one that, again, the just-in-time learning is going to be key. In the past, we would bring people in, they would learn a little bit about their specific role, and then they would go out to where they worked. If that particular event did not happen or that particular loss did not happen, or maybe that they didn't run up against it, they would lose that knowledge because they couldn't apply it right away.
What the biggest feedback has been is that we can apply this just-in-time learning at the situation when it arises, and that has been very helpful. Now, these folks are also the ones that have the headsets, they're the ones that are set up to do both AR and VR with their tablets and with their headsets and everything else. That is one of the things that they have said is that, "I can get back into the course. I've had this particular instance. I've had some hail damage. I can go back into the course and I can get that information again."
That is still also to be determined for us is that how do we supply all of those materials and all of those things to every person that might need it. That's a conversation we're still having, but the feedback is, "Hey, we can get back into that course or that development opportunity, get what we need, and then go and actually work that real-time application process right after learning it." That's been huge for us. The things that we're measuring is; one, how are we adjusting claims? Are we overpaying? Are we actually paying what's appropriate? Do our folks truly understand what is happening from a loss standpoint, either to a vehicle, to a building, whatever it might be?
They're being able to, I don't want to say reduce payouts, but they're paying fair amounts. They're also able to quickly identify what has actually occurred where before they would have to get up and take the pictures, and then go through their materials, and then say, "Okay, this is what I think I saw. Now I need some coaching and development and help." The identification of what's happening for a loss is a lot quicker as well. The confidence in these particular people. They would go out and they would say, "I've never seen this," and now they're really being able to go out and say, "I can reference something back." The confidence that allows us to put into our associates to be able to settle also is giving us some feedback from our insureds and agents that we're really starting to see the experience and the professionalism come out as well.
[00:11:53] Luke: That's great. You know a lot of learning leaders haven't had the opportunity to work with AR and VR yet. Do you have any advice for them as they prepare for or consider using these more innovative applications to their training programs?
[00:12:08] Tricia: I would say don't be afraid of them. I would also say that, do not go in with a mindset that this is going to take away from that human connection because that's not true at all. What it will do is it'll supplement the human connection. We're still big believers that we want to see you face-to-face, that the relationship is key, that we offer an experience to our customers that is top-notch. We must also sometimes work shoulder-to-shoulder and really just try to build our relationships up and have great communication, but this particular type of innovation in the training world and the development world is still going to give you those types of experiences. It's still going to give you that service level, so I would say, don't be afraid of it.
I would also say, do the research. What I mean by that is that there are plenty of vendors out there that can support you, but really, when you come down to the business case, you have to determine how much you're willing to spend. There's a lot of developers out there that actually are developing this stuff on their own. This is not one of those particular fields where you don't have a group of people who are really just like-- I like to call geeked out about it. [chuckles] They do. Our developer that we found, he was doing this on the side and doing this at different times as well to build up his skill level. I would say, do the research, pick what's best for you, but there are people out there doing it, and they're doing it for fun. You might snag up a pretty great associate that can help you.
You just have to do the research to find out what people are doing and what they're not doing. The other thing I would say, too, is that, understand that it's a fast-paced world right now. People want things at their fingertips. They want to be able to explore and do things differently, and so you can't fight that. You probably have to join the race, and this is a great way to do that. We also have come out of a huge change in the way we work. People are going to want and expect things differently. I think we just have to tackle that and approach it with an open mind.
[00:14:16] Luke: Yes, for sure. With that, Trisha, talk about what you see next for learning and development at Cincinnati Insurance.
[00:14:23] Tricia: Well, I think what we see next is really being able to participate and take this particular technology and this particular scenario and this particular learning to our soft skills. That's our next goal. We want to be able to do interview skills, we want to be able to do presentation skills, we want to be able to do different roleplays and assessment centers using AR/VR. The amount of people that can join, the amount of different personalities, and different job profiles that can join something like this is just going to help us get better.
Our next goal is to take out of the, what I like to call, the production component, the technical component. It was the easiest for us to tackle and now take it to the soft skill. We hope to have really this built up so that we are using this across the board in developing our associates for all different ways. I would also say that our strategy is to really find that learning euphoria. Building everything we can possibly build, socially connecting, creating a space where people can really just learn from others, and doing it from a virtual standpoint, we will always bring people in.
That's how you get to know us, we have a home office, and we have one home office for a reason. However, we want to build up that competence and that skill level from a standpoint of just-in-time, and so I think this is really going to take off for us in how we do that from a professional and technical standpoint, meaning hard skills and soft skills.
[00:15:52] Luke: Yes, that's for sure, Tricia. With all that exciting innovation happening there, we'll have to catch up with you in a year or so and [crosstalk] see how everything is [crosstalk] progressing.
[00:16:03] Tricia: I know that the next group that's coming in is going to be early this year and every particular person that's going to be able to come into the training is going to be able to participate in this particular AR/VR situation for us and learning environment for us. Definitely, after early next year, we'll have some feedback on additional items because it's spreading out from a pilot group to now really being part of just a 30 person training. I'm just really excited to see where we're headed as well, so for sure, check back in.
[00:16:37] Susan: Yes, it sounds like the possibilities are endless. This is --
[00:16:40] Tricia: They are.
[00:16:39] Susan: -- really exciting to hear about and certainly inspirational, not just for people in your industry, but other industries as well.
[00:16:46] Tricia: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:16:48] Susan: Thank you for sharing.
[00:16:49] Tricia: Yes, thanks for having me.
[00:16:50] Luke: Thanks so much for joining us, Tricia.
[00:16:52] Tricia: Yes, thank you, Luke.
[00:16:55] Susan: Luke, great conversation with Tricia. She's got some great ideas and the future for her company is bright. What are some of the takeaways that you got from the conversation?
[00:17:03] Luke: Yes, Susan. I think we have some really good takeaways from Tricia and her work at Cincinnati Insurance. First, before she picks a learning modality, she looks at our audience. She's training different types of roles within the company, and also agents as well. Then she looks at the subject and content and decides whether it's best for instructor-led, online e-learning, or some blend. Then she spoke about her ventures into virtual reality to provide learning experiences in simulated environments for employees involved in evaluating claims. She talked about how VR can provide more efficient and safe learning experiences for employees.
We also talked about what she is learning from these VR pilots. They see it as valuable just-in-time learning alternatives versus bringing learners to a real environment at a specific time. She also talked about real-world metrics they are trying to change through learning. Ultimately, they want accurate claims outcomes that pay out the appropriate amount. They also want the process to be efficient and a more skilled examiner to be able to identify the factors and determine the loss faster, and a more skilled examiner will also provide better customer service, and that will be measured through feedback.
Tricia also talked about VR being a supplement to other forms of training, not a replacement for the human elements. She challenged other learning leaders to not fear VR and AR, to start doing your research now, and look for opportunities to start piloting their use. Finally, she talked about future plans to try to use VR to teach and practice soft skills like interviewing. Overall, a really good conversation about an insurance company jumping into some progressive training approaches.
[00:18:45] Susan: Thanks, Luke, and many thanks to Tricia Inderhees, Learning and Development Consultant Manager of Cincinnati Insurance for joining us today. If you have any questions about what we talked about, you can reach out to us on d'Vinci social channels through our website dvinci.com, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:19:06] Announcer 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dvinci.com