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Dare to find out if your training is effective?

Posted by Julia Borgini on Jul 11, 2018 11:53:07 AM
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With the rise of the customer success philosophy, companies are spending even more on corporate training. They know well-trained customers use their products more, get more engaged, and are most likely to remain loyal. That's why it's important to measure the effectiveness of your training, to ensure that they're learning as much as they can, and can use what they learn.

What is effective training?

That's the eternal question for any seasoned professional in the customer education space. Ask anyone in the industry, and you'll get a different answer from each one. Some companies consider it effective if they've helped customers achieve their particular professional objectives, others tie it to attaining business outcomes.

For example, an effective training program could teach a customer to use specific product features to increase their productivity (professional objective). On the flip side, the benefit for the company is that the increased product feature usage leads to a decrease in customer support calls (business outcome).

How to evaluate your training's effectiveness?

Each company uses different methods and activities to measure training program effectiveness. To gather the most meaningful information, use the following guidelines:

  • Measure effectiveness at various times of the training program/process.
  • Look for specific behavioral patterns in attendees and customers.
  • Use non-traditional (non-training related) metrics to evaluate effectiveness.

When to measure for training effectiveness

Most training professionals only ever measure effectiveness right after a course ends, which reveals only part of the picture. By checking in with learners before, during, and after the class, you'll gain more insight into the perceived course value at every stage of the learning cycle.

  • Before they take the training (pre-training), you need to accurately assess their skill level and understand their learning objectives to direct them to the appropriate content. No sense in sending a product expert to the newbie course, right?
  • During the training, you need to check in with them to see how successfully they absorb the content they're going through. Since each person learns differently, you'll need to evaluate them in a variety of ways to get a full picture. Based on the feedback you receive, you'll be able to adjust the course to make it more useful.
  • After the training course (post-training), you must determine if the delivered content met their expectations and if they feel confident that applying what they learned will bring value to them.  

We talked about this kind of performance-based evaluations in an earlier post, which you can read here.

The behavioral patterns to look for

As a training professional, you're probably familiar with the Kirkpatrick four-level model of evaluation (reaction, learning, behavior, and results). When evaluating learners, it can be restricting to use just one method, so let's combine the Kirkpatrick model to our earlier "time-based" evaluation method.

Pre-training behaviors

Before training, you need to understand what customers know and don’t know about your products. You can uncover this information by tracking what information prospects and customers are looking for both online and in-person.

Behavior to watch for: Questions asked online and in person, increased customer support calls, line-ups at your booth at live events, packed Q&As during webinars, and website traffic metrics.

During-training behaviors

Once customers are taking your training programs, it's time to start looking at how well you're delivering information to them and how well they're absorbing it.

Behavior to watch for: Increased questions during courses, decreased/increased course sign-ups, increased customer support calls, and decreased product feature usage by customers who've taken the training for it.

Post-training behaviors

After customers have completed training, let's dig a little deeper into their behaviors instead of just sending the usual post-training evaluation survey. Their behavior will reveal much more than their response to a survey.

Behavior to watch for: Product usage numbers, training signup numbers, customer upsell numbers, churn numbers, increased customer support calls on features they were trained on, product adoption rates, and stories from customers that employees are helping each other using your products.

Metrics to use in evaluation

We've talked a bit about some of the metrics you can use in your evaluation efforts since they're a good sign of how well your training is doing and how successful customers are with it. What about the other metrics your company is already tracking? Could there be a way to apply them to training effectiveness? You bet!

The metrics tend to be in one of the following three categories:

  • Business-specific metrics relate to your company's business overall.
  • Audience-specific metrics relate to behaviors your customers and learners display.
  • Employee-specific metrics relate to behaviors your employees display as a result of customer activity.

Reach out to the sales, marketing, and support teams to find out what they're tracking and how you can apply them to training effectiveness.

Final thought

A successful training program typically evolves, as your customers' needs change and your company goals shift.

Customer training is a catalyst for customer success and growth because it helps transform customers into power users and as a result, positively impacts customer satisfaction and retention.

As challenging as it is to measure the effectiveness of your training, it's something you should always be doing because these valuable insights will help you deliver meaningful training to your customers that ultimately propel them to success.

Topics: Customer Education, Sales Enablement, Measure Training Effectiveness

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Julia Borgini

Written by Julia Borgini

Julia Borgini helps Geeks sell their stuff. A self-proclaimed Geek, Julia is a freelance writer and content marketing strategist who teaches tech companies how to develop & execute successful tech content marketing programs. Her helpful articles have appeared on CrazyEgg, Social Media Examiner, KISSMetrics, and B2B News Network, as well as her own tech content marketing blog. To learn more about tech content marketing, visit her website at spacebarpress.com.

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