Learning trends

4 Questions with Jonathan Sheppard of Molton Brown

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Molton Brown is a global luxury British fragrance brand that was founded in 1971.

With the largest proportion of the learner population being retail employees, the company decided to make a cultural shift from traditional classroom and paper based learning. They shifted to an interactive and self-directed learning journey that provided their teams with a truly blended learning experience.

Molton Brown launched The Digital Learning Academy and CrossKnowledge’s mobile My Learning App to the whole organization, and disseminated flagship content thanks to The Fragrance Academy, which is focused on developing fragrance expertise across the global business. The project won two Silver 2021 Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards, for Best Use of Mobile Learning and Best Advancement in Learning Technology.

We spoke with Jonathan Sheppard, Customer Experience Manager of Molton Brown Global, to discuss the project from his perspective.

1. What benefits have you seen since going Digital / Mobile?

Digital learning, specifically via a mobile device, has allowed us to share knowledge and education on our brand at the touch of a button. We are able to quickly reach our global teams, in different channels and markets, and give the ownership of learning back to the learner. They can educate themselves at a time that suits them, and with a “bring your device to work” policy in place, they can truly learn on the job. We believe this was a contributing factor to the 70% mobile connection rate we saw in the first 12 months.

The Molton Brown platform, The Digital Learning Academy, has enabled us to standardize content and learning processes while providing the learner with a blended, interactive learning experience that we are able to track, assess and report on. We can gather data and insight into each learner’s experience and make improvements based on their feedback. In doing this we have seen our NPS score improve greatly, and by showing our teams that we listen to them has helped further drive engagement to the platform.

2. What has been the overall business impact for Molton Brown?

There have been many positive impacts on the business since we launched the platform back in 2019, and these manifest themselves through efficiencies, cost reduction and overall customer experience.

We launched The Digital Learning Academy to coincide with the re-branded fragrance launch of our Eaux de Parfum and Eaux de Toilette collections. We debuted the platform with flagship content that delved into the world of fragrance, and fostered our teams with the skills and knowledge required to become a fragrance expert. Creating this course digitally made for a consistent user experience, one that we could easily evaluate. It also allowed for a much quicker time-to-market due to the accessibility of the platform. The results were simply outstanding! A full 92% of the learners who connected went on to complete the course and we saw a 4% increase in fragrance sales.

As you can imagine, prior to the platform going live, the costs of delivering classroom training and creating paper-based materials for a global business was huge. However, almost overnight we saw a reduction in our travel and expenditure costs and reduced our printing budget to zero!

As we entered 2020, we focused on our plan for the future with a robust strategy of delivering content. Then out of nowhere the pandemic hit. Throughout the year most of our teams were on furlough, but we decided to continue to enrich the platform with exciting new content with a non-mandatory approach to the training. We wanted to see if when given the choice, they would still engage with the platform if they didn’t have to. It’s fair to say our teams didn’t disappoint, with over half still engaging in the learning. I still believe today that this is the point where The Digital Learning Academy really came to life.

3. You’ve accomplished a lot in a short time. What comes next?

In addition to the Product and Experience pillars on The Digital Learning Academy, Molton Brown will be focusing on our People pillar through the launch of a talent management program. This program is designed to support succession planning in our retail sectors. With the option of Elucidat as a new authoring tool, we can enhance the user experience through truly blended learning, introducing more gamified modules, increased video content and the opportunity for our teams’ voices to be heard through the use of surveys, NPS and open text questions.

We will be introducing two exciting new learning channels in 2022 and spending much of the year evaluating the data and insights from feedback that we can use to elevate and improve the user experience. We have already learned a lot from listening to our teams, and we’ve put that into action by introducing new content, layouts and modules resulting in over 80% of users saying they prefer the new look and felt more engaged in learning.

Our fragrance program will also evolve this year with a phase 2 course that will support bringing learning to life. We will also be translating course modules into an additional 5 languages.

4. Can you talk a bit about Molton Brown’s collaboration with CrossKnowledge?

CrossKnowledge has provided a consistent and high level of service since day one. Their approach has been one of a partnership rather than business and consumer. From the set up to our everyday needs they have supported us in building our knowledge and confidence with the platform, helping us to grow in our capability to become self-sufficient and self-guided. From technical support to project management and account ownership, CrossKnowledge has been there every step of the way on our digital learning journey.

To find out more about Molton Brown’s multi-award winning learning project, check out our on-demand webinar hosted by Jonathan and Ali Khan, Senior Digital Learning Project Manager at CrossKnowledge.

Jonathan SheppardJonathan Sheppard has been a Global Learning & Development Manager at Molton Brown for the last 3 years. He has 20 years of experience in the luxury beauty and fragrance sector, previously working for Estee Lauder companies, L’Oreal and The Perfume Shop. Sheppard’s priority is the development of Molton Brown teams across product and experience so they can provide the ultimate in customer experience, and his passion is the development of others so they may reach their ultimate potential. Nothing satisfies him more than finding a solution to a training need, delivering it, then evaluating its success. His mantra? “Always explore opportunities even if they may seem impossible!”