What advice do you have for companies just starting to build out their training?
The programs I manage are customer facing, so my team trains customers on how to use our product. As with any training program, internal or customer facing, it’s best to start with the end result. What do you want the audience to get out of the training?
Find examples of trainings that you like and analyze what they are doing. Why is it helpful? Why is it engaging? As a customer, I watch so many trainings that are really boring and confusing and it seems like the only mistake was not preparing at all.
What do you wish you knew when you first started your career in training?
This is a hard one! There was a lot that I didn’t know, but I’m not sure that was a bad thing. I was a teacher before moving to tech, so I knew I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I read the book The First 90 Days when I first started at Smartsheet. It has great advice about getting to know colleagues throughout the company. Smartsheet was also much smaller two years ago.
It turned out that forging those relationships early on was key, especially as the work evolved. I am so thankful for all the amazing people I work with, who are not only incredibly smart, but are also always willing to help.
How do you measure the success of your training program? What data do you use?
There are two main indicators we use:
- Does the usage of the trainees increase after the training?
- Does the training lead to customers purchasing more training?
The first one is tricky. We know that customers who purchase training already plan on using our product and are invested in building something, so the usage is probably going to increase even if they don’t purchase training. That being said, if a training is not effective, people might participate and then not use the product. This data is not perfect, but it is a first line of defense. In other words, if we don’t see usage going up after a training, we know for sure that the training wasn’t effective.
When assessing the quality of a product or tool, many companies use a Net Promoter Score. Would someone recommend this product to someone else? A level deeper than that is, would someone buy the product again?
Because of the nature of Smartsheet, when our users are active, they tend to share and get others involved in projects. As a result, it is common for the same organization to come back and purchase more training for new groups of users. When that happens, it is a sure sign that the customer was satisfied.
I don’t rely on how satisfied a customer is. Obviously, it is essential for our customers to be happy, but that isn’t the true indicator. The real goal of product training is to teach someone how to do something. If they enjoyed the training, that is great, but unless that person has gone out and done what we have taught them to do, we have not succeeded.
In our Training Tips series, we asked Training, Marketing, and Customer Success Managers what some of their best practices are to get the most out of a customer training program. Stay tuned for new Q&As each month!