Many leaders in the customer education business are trying to figure out a way to understand the demand for customer education. I hear this all the time, “Customer ask us for training. Then we offer training and no one shows up.” There are many factors involved here, and just because someone tells you they want to do something, doesn’t mean they actually will.
A Yale University study, cited in the book, Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Build Common Ground, and Reap Big Results, demonstrates the difference between what someone says is important and what they actually do.
In the study, researchers showed a group of students several pictures of patients with tetanus. Horrifying pictures. Then the students were asked, “How important do you think it is to get a tetanus shot?” Another group of students (who did not see the pictures) were asked the same question. Guess who scored highest? Students who saw the pictures were far more likely to say it was important to get a tetanus shot. Duh, right?
But it gets more interesting.
The researchers took one more step. They measured which students actually went to get a tetanus shot. Guest what? Those who said it was important to get a tetanus shot were no more likely to actually get a shot than those who did not see the pictures.
In other words, your customers may tell you training is important, but that does not mean they will actually attend your training.
What to do?
Be Proactive and Collect These Two (OK, Six) Data Points
The last thing you want to do is react to customer requests and schedule courses after you get requests. Unless, of course, the requests are for private training and you are charging a fee for private training.
If you want to measure the demand for your training, you simply have to start by scheduling courses and collecting the data.
There are two data points you are seeking:
- Number of courses delivered
- Number of attendees
You just need to schedule a few sessions, and then work to fill those spots with attendees. If you don’t know where to start, post three training sessions (one per month) on your website so customers can find them and register. You will want to communicate to customers that the training sessions exist. Why not start with those customers who told you need need training?!
Then, measure the results.
You will measure six data points:
- Number of courses offered
- Number of courses delivered
- Cancellation rate
These three data points are important so you can decide how often to run courses and to prompt the question, “Why are we cancelling courses?” Cancellation rates can be a barometer for demand.
Then you will measure these three data points:
Number of registrations
Number of attendees
By measuring registrations and attendance, you will know whether people are signing up at all, and whether people actually show up. Low registrations may mean there isn’t enough awareness, the registration process is difficult and turning people away, or customer don’t actually want training (or this particular training). Low attendance rates could mean people don’t see the value of showing up.
This happens a lot with free training. You know, like those free webinars you sign up for but never attend.
Collect the Data, Ask Questions, Make Adjustments
If you scheduled those three classes and you get 10 or 20 or 30 people to join, you may want to offer courses more frequently to meet the demand. There are many levers you can pull to adjust your training to meet the existing demand or generate more demand.
The point is to get you to think about how to measure demand for your training. The only way to do it is to stick your neck out there, post a training schedule, and measure the results.
Once you have that initial data, you can ask questions and make adjustments.