If you have an organization, you will have a product that forms the core of its business and if you have products, you need people to make it, sell it and service it. Even when the product is not tangible, such as an insurance product, or a mutual fund product, you still need people to create it, sell it and to a certain extent service it (as in addressing customer queries and follow-up). Product training is relevant to all organizations, irrespective of the type of product they deal with. It is essential to ensure that employees or end-users are equipped with the required knowledge to go about doing their business (be it selling, maintaining or using the products).
Traditionally, product training was given, either on the job through a mentor, or through instructor-led classroom training. Many organizations still adopt this format for imparting product training, to their employees. However, certain market dynamics and changing business scenarios, have forced organizations to explore other methods, which can go hand in hand, or sometimes replace the existing methods. E-learning or online training, is being increasingly adopted as a preferred method of training employees, channel partners, distributors, resellers and even customers. Here are some reasons why?
Supports the need for speedy launch of products
Thanks to the increasing competition, organizations cannot afford delays in product launches. The time-to-market of new products and services, is critical to survive and succeed. Under such circumstances it is difficult to simultaneously train relevant stakeholders, through traditional classroom sessions. E-learning, helps organizations launch their products faster, across their globally dispersed markets.
Makes real-time knowledge transfer feasible
Constant innovations and improvisations in products, means the version or model that is present today, is quickly replaced with another more advanced or with add-on features. Quite naturally, service engineers, sales people or even customers, need to be educated on the implications of the changes for them and for the end-users. Sometimes, this new information is extremely important, to clinch a crucial deal, for a sales person. E-learning provides the required power and capability, to update your key stakeholders, about products on real-time basis, with minimal costs.
Ensures consistent and accurate information enterprise-wide
Typically, if organizations are spread across a diverse geographical area, they adopt the “train the trainer” approach wherein, a few key individuals are trained, and they in turn, train their team members. However, consistency and quality of knowledge transfer cannot be ensured in such cases. E-learning ensures that all employees, across all levels in the organization, benefit from consistent and same quality of training.
Can be easily customizable to suit different audiences
As mentioned earlier, product training is required for several people, within the organization such as service engineers, sales people, customer sales representatives, channel partners or even customers. Though the main content (i.e. information about product), is the same, the approach to training needs to be different, for different people. For example, in case of sales people, features and benefits are important, for service personnel troubleshooting and maintenance is the key requirement, and for end-users – best practices and tips in handling, may be more relevant. When creating online training modules for different personnel, it is easy to customize a package or a lesson plan, according to the target audience, without much additional effort , or cost variation.
Can be used as a prerequisite to classroom training
In case of complex products, hands-on training becomes essential. However, there is invariably, a limited time to learn in a face to face training sessions, particularly when a large group of individuals needs to be accommodated. In such situations, time with experts becomes very valuable. To ensure that participants get quality interaction with the SMEs, eLearning can be used as a prerequisite to classroom training. Basic knowledge about the product can be handled by online training, leaving participants to focus on complex concepts in their hands-on session and interactions with experts.
Given these benefits, it is not surprising that many organizations use eLearning to train their key stakeholders, on their products. Do you think there are other reasons that I have not touched upon here? In your experience, what are other benefits of using eLearning for product training? How do employees react to the idea of online product training? Do share your experiences.