The rather ominous sounding title for this post is not just another desperate attempt to gain views from unsuspecting and curious readers. I have attempted to summarize the biggest challenges my customers are confronting when it comes to delivering customer education in the IT industry.
Not Measuring Business Impact: Offering the right training intervention to every customer team member that may be using your product has a huge impact on the successful implementation of your product. At the end of the day, customer education should be geared towards increasing the success probability of your customer’s ability to leverage your product for meeting specific business objectives. According to IDC, “Most vendors do not articulate the performance measures that their training is intended to influence. Therefore, they are unable to describe the business impact that successfully trained or skilled workers will have on the performance of the related technology. Technology training vendors have very few tools to convince a technology buyer of the benefit associated with a skilled IT workforce. This disconnect makes it difficult to effectively describe the opportunity cost of spending a dollar on training as opposed to some other essential need.”
Locked up in a Classroom: If you are used to just delivering classroom based courses to educate your customers and partners, its time to reexamine your training strategy. Classroom courses are certainly required to address complex topics or suitable for training users on complex hardware devices. Embracing a lean classroom training model (should I apply for a trademark?) is the way forward. When we deconstruct any classroom training, you will find that there are possibly three components, namely:
- Training that can be converted into self-study material that your audience can review before the class.
- Training that cannot be delivered any other way other than in a classroom.
- Post-training reinforcement or activities that can be delivered as self-study material.
If you haven’t done this exercise on your existing classroom training portfolio, you will never be able to scale your customer education delivery capability.
Free for All: Content is created and delivered in various forms. Without a consistent method, content development becomes a melting post of PowerPoint Presentations, PDF files, Webinar recordings, videos and everything else you can imagine. Suddenly you have a wealth of content that is as good as a builder staring at an iron ore mine. You may want steel to start construction, but you are free to mine the iron and forge the steel! Customer education in the IT industry is a prisoner of speed. Speed of content being generated by different employees using different standards and methods is your nemesis unless you put in place authoring standards, processes and tools.
Our Training Sells Itself: At the end of the day, customer education should be seen as a sales-driven approach to packaging content for various types of audiences, content formats, delivery methods, and most importantly ease of access across devices. Having a comprehensive eCommerce functionality and intuitive user interface is best accomplished through custom portal development or products specializing in addressing the needs of customers. Internal LMS applications usually fall short. Concepts like cross promotions, social media updates, email marketing, certification programs are required to sell training.