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Mobile Performance Support at the Grocery Store

Gone are the days of the hand-written grocery list – these days all you need is your cell phone. Like many people, when I’m at the grocery store I use my smartphone at least a handful of times.

First, I start by opening AnyList, an app that lets me manage my shopping list right on my phone. Because our apps are synched, my husband adds to the list while I’m out, noticing that I didn’t have peanut butter on the list. Next I remember that new kind of cereal that my friend, Susan, was telling me about, so I Google it to see what the package looks like. Then I call my husband to verify the kind of mustard he wanted, oh and to check if we’re out of soda.

Next I head over to get a box of diapers and since they seem a bit expensive, I go to Amazon.com to compare the price. Finally, I remember that we’re having company over soon and I wanted to get a cake for dessert, so I double-check my Outlook calendar to make sure Jillian and Gabriel aren’t coming over this weekend.

As I wait in line to check out, my infant son starts to get fussy. So I use iTunes on my phone to play his favorite nursery rhyme, which keeps him happy until we make it back to the car.

Wow – what an impact just one mobile device can have! Grocery shopping wasn’t like this 10 years ago. These are all examples of performance support in my every day life – I’m getting the help I need at exactly the moment I need it.

This is the state of my life, and most likely a lot of people throughout the world. We have become accustomed to having the information and support we need just when we need it, wherever we are. And we have taken this bias into the workplace. Our employees expect to get what they need when they need it, because that’s how the rest of their world works.

By providing performance support and other support tools on smart phones and tablets we enable all that we take for granted at the grocery store and extend it into the workplace. And how exciting it is to bring that level of support to our employees!

Imagine it… A sales rep can use Google maps to find his way to a sales call. And when he arrives he can access Salesforce.com to review his last call notes, future call objectives, and review objections this customer had in the past. Since he’s a bit early, he can also use a training app in his car. The app can help him to review market and brand messaging, test his knowledge, practice objection handling, and recall key competitive information.

While in the call, the rep can use his mobile device to demonstrate product information and literature, share a prepared presentation, and even email information to the call point. Finally, after the call is over, he can go to his car and quickly go back into Salesforce.com to add notes, send additional literature to the customer, identify objectives for the next call, and even set the next call date.

Our workers may not be trying to check off every item on the grocery list while entertaining an infant, but they are trying to successfully make their way through their own to-do lists while a number of other tasks scream for their attention. They have pressing deadlines, a mountain of work, and a pile of other important duties all vying for their time. They want the support they need – exactly when they need it.

Let’s not forget the exciting power of mobile devices in our everyday lives. Sometimes it’s easy to take them for granted and forget the difference they can make. And when we take them for granted we forget the vast power and potential they can have in the workplace too.

This post was written by Carla Torgerson. A version of the post originally appeared on ASTD’s blog