Product Knowledge training helps employees to acquire the necessary information about a product’s features, specifications and its benefits that are required in order to do their jobs effectively. Employees could be product service personnel, sales personnel, customer service personnel or tele-call executives. The content of the training program will of course depend on the target audience and its relevance to their jobs.
While there are various ways in which employees can receive training, online product knowledge training has assumed significance in recent times. Let’s see the reasons below.
Fast changing technology: Technology has been changing rapidly and along with that the pace at which new products are being developed has also increased significantly. This is particularly true for products in the hi-tech industry. Consider the number of Nokia mobile phones that have been launched in the past few years. Traditional, face-to-face training sessions to impart product knowledge is no longer viable. Learners want just-in-time learning delivered any-time anywhere. New devices such as Smartphones and iPads have redefined the way training needs to be imparted.
Geographically dispersed workforce: Big organizations have their employees spread over diverse geographical regions. Imagine the logistics involved in organizing a face-to-face training program for employees who are physically located in different regions. Either the training manager will need to travel to multiple-locations or the employees will need to be invited to a central location. If employees have to travel, they will have to forego more number of hours away from their work location. Either way, it turns out to be an expensive proposition. Sometimes, due to multi-cultural and multi-lingual limitations, a representative is chosen as the trainer who gets trained and then imparts the training back on home ground. This might result in inconsistencies in training across the various offices of the organizations.
High employee turn-over: In industries such as retail, employee turn-over is very high. Companies cannot afford to spend long hours in training staff who may or may not be with them on a long-term basis. They need an option where employees can be quickly brought to speed with respect to product knowledge and customer service so that they deliver results almost immediately. In such cases, online training or eLearning would be an excellent option. In fact, organizations such as Nike have developed pioneering strategies for training their sales associates and channel partners with their program called “Sport Knowledge Underground”.
Information on a click: Knowledge becomes more relevant and useful if it is made available when a sales person or a service engineer needs it most. By having the training online and making it easily available to the employees, information can be accessed when the employee is in the right frame of mind, is most receptive and when the information has immediate relevance to him. In such an event, chances are that he processes the information more effectively and retain the knowledge better.
Update of product information: As mentioned earlier, product life cycles are reducing and therefore, what has been developed today may not be up-to-date and relevant three months down the lane. When product training has been developed for online access, it is easier to update the training material with the current information. This way, employees three months down the lane will continue to access updated and current information. In a traditional format, it is difficult to update content about new products or market intelligence which are critical for a sales person. Apart from being time-consuming, costs involved in updating information are usually high in traditional training methods.
Given the factors discussed above, it would be prudent for organizations to adopt online product knowledge training for faster knowledge transfer and application.