Let’s face it – the path to designing a successful customer training program comes with hurdles. How do you secure the required budget and proper resources? How do you harness the expertise needed to design an effective program? How do you determine partner engagement?
More and more organisations are identifying the need to deliver value at every stage of the customer lifecycle and recognising the importance of implementing formal customer training programs. Research from Talented Learning proves that 68% of trained customers use products more often than untrained customers.
However, companies might not always be aware of the methods and means they can use to overcome issues they may meet in the design process.
Fortunately, these challenges can be easily overcome and help is at hand.
Making sure you’re prepared for whatever might crop up along the way will help minimise disruption and streamline the development of your program.
We’ll explore some of the most common obstacles people face in the design and development process and how best to tackle them.
Customer Training Program Common Challenges
Producing effective learning material is the big challenge for most, and a common issue to encounter when designing a customer training program. Gather any existing training materials you already have, no matter how small – everything will benefit from evolving your program, even if you’re using previous content to assess gaps where new training needs developing.
As long as it’s in a deliverable state, the content can range from anything to tech specs, old manuals, and previously used classroom presentations.
If you’re sourcing an external company to deliver your program, they will be able to assist with the creation side from the available content you own.
Expertise Required to Set Up
A frequent issue many businesses encounter in the design process is lacking the knowledge needed to set up in the first place. Although they might implement a new LMS, they’ll stumble at the hurdle of tackling the endless capabilities it brings. This can severely impact the budget splashed on the system in the first place and lead to a lack of satisfaction.
Your chosen training program might come with all the functions you require, but if your internal staff simply don’t have the necessary knowledge or training to be able to use the system to its full potential, you won’t be able to reap all the benefits available to you.
Before you settle on your chosen LMS, take your time to properly assess the functionality, accessibility and properties that your learners may or may not be able to connect with.
Carefully consider who is going to take on the role of launching and administering the program.
You’ll likely need ongoing support with your LMS even once it’s up and running, so make sure you know who will support you and your learners every step of the way.
Securing the Budget and Resource
Designing an effective customer training program can be pricey, not to mention the ongoing costs of keeping on top of updates and developments. Keeping product information and course content new and fresh is vital for a program’s longevity, meaning there has to be ample funds in place when you’re going through production.
A simple way to break down the expenditure is to create a budget during the planning process. This can include:
- The cost of the LMS.
- The cost of administering and managing the training program.
- The cost of producing training content.
When crafting your budget, you might also want to consider other factors such as whether you have the right team in place to manage, deliver and design the program in-house, or whether you will need to source additional support.
Determining Customer Engagement
Without proper customer engagement, your training program will likely fall flat. A lot of organisations struggle with this issue – maybe the trainee can’t connect with or understand the learning objectives, or fail to see the relevance of the training in their role. It could even be the chosen mode of delivery that’s causing an issue.
The best way to tackle engagement is through feedback. Target the problem at the source by making the customer invested in their learning – communicate and collaborate with them on what exactly they need, what they’re missing, and what you can do to help. Use surveys, appraisals, and one-to-ones to create custom content that involves the trainee from start to finish.
Steps for Effective Program Design
Now we’ve identified the challenges and how to overcome them, we can explore the right steps to success in designing a customer training program.
1. Identify Needs
First things first – identify the training needs of your customers. This will not only streamline your process, but it will help you create a more effective and engaging program as you’ll have to pinpoint and analyse the exact requirements.
Ask yourself what hurdles your target customers are currently meeting that your training will alleviate – what are their exact needs, and how do you intend to meet them? A good way to conduct this process is to survey and interview your target customers and respond to their feedback. Determine any areas of confusion and distinguish the key desired outcomes they would like to achieve from your program.
2. Develop Objectives
Once you’ve got your customer’s needs established, you can move on to setting the responding objectives. If you’ve effectively identified the demands of your customers, you can easily make your objectives relevant to them.
What steps are necessary to fulfil the needs of your ideal customer? Try to set small, specific objectives – being able to pin down more exact goals will make it easier to evaluate what you’ve achieved or not achieved along the way.
Remember to relate your customer’s requirements back to the overall objectives of your organisation. Training programs should be mutually beneficial for all parties to remain invested.
3. Seek Out Appropriate Resources
Assess whether you have the appropriate resources in-house to deliver your training and get the results you want. Do you have access to the right expertise? Would it be beneficial to seek out some extra support?
Many companies are increasingly opting for external training program support to take advantage of the experience, skills and knowledge it can bring. While there are hiring costs to consider, external training providers can work out to be more cost-effective. There is greater flexibility with the timescale of outsourcing, and organisations will benefit from a wide range of services without the obligation of another set of salaries to fill and employees to manage.
4. Implement Build the Program
Time to build your program. Timing is key here – you want to provide your training to customers in the way that is most going to benefit them. Will they need training far in advance to use your products or services? Will your program need to be provided on-demand?
It’s also important to consider your method of implementation. Will your training be pushed to customers in person? Would it be better to embed your training inside your service portal or software, or on a separate website?
Consider what is most beneficial to your exact desired customer. You might want to run some test models prior to full implementation to assess the most effective option.
5. Launch the Program
Once you’ve established your design, created the training content, tested your delivery platform and set up your final version, you can confidently launch your program. This is extensive work and shouldn’t be underestimated, but once it’s done, you can now target your program promotion.
You’ve done the heavy lifting – now it’s time to shift your focus onto building a narrative for your partners about why exactly your program is important. Get your key partners on board and support them all the way through the onboarding process.
6. Review Program
A successful program doesn’t stand still once it’s released. Taking the time to continuously improve your program will elevate your training to the next level, as at this stage you’ll have the ability to review the process and respond to feedback.
Examining how customers are reacting to your program will allow you to assess how it’s functioning and recognise possible areas for improvement. You could use learning analytics, review and compare support requests, or simply directly ask customers what their thoughts and opinions are and whether they’re satisfied with the level of training.
Ready to see some customer training success stories? Don’t miss our blog ‘4 Examples of Customer Training Success‘ and learn how others have overcome common challenges. Read it now!