Original published February 23, 2017 on Business Wire.
We talked a while ago about the content marketing strategies you can steal to help market your training, but are there other strategies you can use to manage and develop training programs? Sure! Let's take a closer look.
When it comes to customer education programs, most training teams focus on the development and delivery, as that's where their strengths are. Yet there are other equally important aspects that have significant impacts on customer outcomes too. I'm talking about the sales and marketing of training programs, as well as analysis and reporting. And given that there are entire disciplines centered on these topics, it's no wonder many education teams are ignoring them.
One of the biggest mistakes I see made in hand-on training activities is a lack of clear instructions for what to do in the activity. How many times have you been in a training course, the trainers says, “OK. Now you try it.” Most of the class looks up and says, “Wait. What do you want us to do?”
As a customer education professional, you know how important it is to measure your program's' effectiveness. You want to make sure that it meets the needs of the participants and meets the business goals you set out for it. However the thought of doing a deep dive into your training program's results is scary. Probably because that means wading through a stack of paper feedback forms or attempting to use a database program that has more options and features than NASA Mission Control.
What metrics should customer education pros use to measure training effectiveness?
As companies continue to increase their spending on corporate training, it's important to measure the effectiveness of that training. Your customers want to know just how much of the information is sticking with their employees.
Employers care about training and the key results from it, as it can improve the profitability of their business, and cultivate more positive attitudes toward profit orientation. A successful training program must evolve over time, changing as the employee's and company's needs change. Training measurement should be a part of all training plans and done consistently to ensure accurate data. Sure, measuring the impact of training can be a challenge, however it's not impossible.
Let's first look at the prep work you need to do to set up an effective training evaluation process. Then we'll look at what to measure in training evaluations.
Customer education pros know the advantages to well-informed customers: more satisfied and empowered customers and support staff that's freed up to concentrate on helping customers who truly need help. Some customer education pros have turned to content marketing strategies in order to increase the customer value in their training programs and dial up the trust customers have in them. They're using them to produce valuable content to promote their training programs.
Quick question: The last time you signed up for training, did you finish it? If you're like me these days, probably not. Even though I was very excited about it and read through all the marketing materials for the training, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.
The internet is filled with stories about how business departments have trouble working with each other. Whether it's the IT team frustrated with marketing, or product development that ignored engineering or technical support, working in silos can be a problem. And customer education pros are no different.
There are three schools of thought when it comes to whether to sell customer education to customers. One argument is that customer education is a valuable service and should not only be sold, but the customer education function should be run as a business with responsibility for making a profit. The second school of thought also believes customer education is a valuable service, but the goal is not to make a profit, but for training to just pay for itself, so it can sustain itself and otherwise avoid the scrutiny of CFOs during lean times. The third school of thought argues that training should be a service that is included in the price of the product subscription. After all, adoption and renewals are the main goal, not making a few bucks from selling training.