“We have truly been able to take learning to a higher level”

31/08/2021

Laura Donders developed a global learning platform for the adidas contact centers that seamlessly fit with the developments around customer service: “Customer service is no longer viewed as a Cost Center, but more and more as a Value Center” she says. “The training courses used to be process oriented, but now they are much more focused on developing our employees and the experience of our customers.” 

Laura Donders – Senior Project Manager – Global CS Learning & Development

Laura Donders oversees the L&D activities of all adidas customer service representatives. That’s literally a function with global impact, as contact centers of adidas operate all over the world. “The employees at our contact centers are the brand ambassadors of adidas. They speak to millions of customers, and therefore they have to know everything about adidas and our products.” 

“When I started in this function, there was no integrated global approach where learning or developing our people were concerned. There wasn’t really a guideline or a strategy. Teams mainly worked with PowerPoints, and they all had different versions. Interactive courses didn’t exist. There was no insight whatsoever into who used what resource.  

Therefore, I wanted to build a learning platform for all our people to use globally, so that there would be one source of truth.” And that platform is now up and running: “We have truly been able to take learning to a higher level, and I’m proud of that.”  


We offer training content in different ways and have created several expert journeys. Self-study is an incredibly important element, but for several of our courses we still like to use facilitators, for example for our onboarding. A course like that partly consists of self-study and e-learning, but also of instructor-led classroom training. That would be a blended program.” 

The new platform got the name SPIKE, named after the first Track & Field sprint shoe ever developed by founder Adolf “Adi” Dassler. SPIKE is short for ‘Single Point In Knowledge Excellence’, Laura explains: “One central point where you can find everything and learn about adidas policies, processes, products, and more. It’s a platform that is used worldwide. 80 percent of the content is created by our team, and 20 percent is created by regional teams, based on their own needs and processes. This is possible because we use a Content Management System (CMS) in SPIKE.” 

The courses are broad, and are not just about product knowledge, but just as much about skills. Laura explains: “Of course, people mainly associate customer service with ‘I have a problem and that problem needs to be solved’. And of course people can reach us if they have a problem, but we want to take it a step further. We want to emphasize the customer experience, and to teach our employees how to give our customers the feeling they are part of the adidas community. Our employees have to think more commercially, and the courses are adapted to that idea. 

For example, we have created a learning-chatbot where we can simulate a session with a customer; a kind of simulation where it seems as if you are talking to a customer. The nice thing about that chatbot is that it is a direct result of the feedback we received from our first onboarding version, where new agents asked us how they could get more practice with customer conversations. 

We have several interactive learning formats in SPIKE. For example, we use a so-called hotspot for product knowledge, where employees click on a product, after which the core features of that product are highlighted. 

Above all, learning should be fun and engaging, so we also make use of experience points, badges, and trophies that you can earn after completing courses. I find the use of gamification, to make learning more attractive, very interesting and I am sure that there are still many great opportunities there.” 

In the search for a partner to build this desired learning platform for adidas, Laura quickly ended up at RMMBR. “I was incredibly impressed with one of the platforms they had built for VolvoTrucks. We had already spoken to several international vendors before we came into contact with RMMBR, even though they are right across the street from us! Sometimes the solution is closer than you think. From the first moment we had contact, we hit it off. 

There are many parties that offer a standard LMS that you can customize a little bit, but then you’ll never get our full adidas brand experience. We are a brand that everyone knows, has cool products, and looks amazing. That’s why we were looking for a learning platform that was able to fully adapt to our, informal, sporty, and of course progressive look and feel. What RMMBR has built is fully on brand, and looks great.  

The good thing was that RMMBR actively contributed ideas, because the assignment we had given was quite complex. We are a global team, but the regional teams also needed to be able to create their own courses. This set out some tough requirements for the construction of the backend. 

RMMBR has helped us with developing the  first three learning paths. They were set up exceptionally well, and because of that we could start building our own content independently. . RMMBR does continue to think along with us on how to improve SPIKE. 

All in all, I am very happy with what we have achieved and where we are now. SPIKE is completely in line with the latest developments around customer service. Before, the courses were excessively process-based, but now they are much more focused on developing our employees, and the experience for our customers. This also shows our people are viewed differently. 

Our employees speak with so many customers a day, which is incredibly valuable for adidas and opens a lot of opportunities for the organization. This is why customer service is no longer viewed as a Cost Center, but increasingly as a Value Center.” 

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