Understand your customers' needs and gaps
"Keeping the client happy" is an overly used phrase, but if the client is ‘happy’, chances are their company is too!
Who are your clients? What are their needs and expectations?
It is important to define who you mean when you use the term ‘client’, as all of the following could be termed clients:
- Individual learners, students, apprentices, trainees
- Candidates for assessment
- The company contracting you to perform the training
- Enterprise or industry
- Other parts of the training and/or assessment organisation
- Government departments or agencies
It is also important to know what the needs and expectations of your clients are—they may vary enormously. For example:
- The best practise is to ask your customers/client what they want the outcomes from your training to be? What are their KPI's (Key Performance Indicators)
- If you're writing the training for them, you need to quantify what their required outcomes are, from the training
- When do they expect the training to be delivered and completed? What type of briefing document will you send them? How will you deliver a debriefing document, etc?
Has there been a time when you enrolled in a learning programme, and found that you already knew much of what was being taught? Wouldn't it have been easier/better to do a training programme that focused on what you needed/wanted to learn?
It is helpful for learners if trainers have processes in place to analyse what learners know before they start training.
In the past, training was mainly offered in a classroom situation. Assessment was based on what had been covered in class, in relation to teaching goals. Now, learning is acknowledged as happening in a variety of ways, including classroom-based, distance-based, on-the-job, in community activities, in volunteer organisations and through managing a home and family. Assessment is in relation to the skills and knowledge (competencies) required to ‘do the job’, not in terms of hours spent in the classroom.
Acknowledging how adults learn
An effective learning environment provides a wide range of opportunities for people to access learning and allows for different learning styles. We'll cover this in other modules.
Meeting the needs and expectations of the client
It's important that you are aware of the many different aspects of how to meet client needs and expectations. How you meet these needs will depend on operational limitations. These may include:
- Occupational health and safety requirements
- Staffing resources
- Physical environment
- Cost limitations
- Time limitations
- Scheduling difficulties
As a trainer, your role in supporting the learner is vital. To be able to support learners, you will need to:
- Know a little about the learner, including why they are doing the training
- Help learners plan their learning
- Take the initiative to generate and encourage communication
- Advise learners of the best way to contact you, which will also include how you can be contacted, for example: by phone, email, chat groups etc
- Keep in touch with learners
- Help learners monitor their own learning
- Link learning to learners’ experience
- Give effective feedback
- Motivate learners to keep them going
- Set and monitor their learning goals and action plans
- Encourage and assist learners to create an online learning community to support each other in their own learning and job implementation goals
Communicating with learners
There are many ways to communicate with learners and for them to engage with learning. These include face-to-face meetings, webinars, phone calls, virtual meetings, emails, online chat rooms, apps and discussion boards. Produce your own documents and learning materials or outsource it to a graphic designer or online freelance services, such as fiverr. You can give presentations by various online or computer software programs and/or apps. You can use videos, audio recordings and online learning resources. In fact, these days, training people anywhere is easy, as long as you know the limitations.
Providing information to the learner
All trainers should have information available for learners and prospective learners. Usually this is in the form of an induction booklet, and includes information on:
- Enrollment and induction
- Complaints, grievances and appeals
- Assessment/self-assessment, including recognition processes, pre-assessment and appeals
- Access and equity
- Welfare and guidance
Training Needs Analysis
Understanding the needs of your customer is paramount to learning what they need in training.
If a client tells you their sales team are great at presenting the product, but their conversion rate is low, then it's pretty easy to understand, the training for the sales team is on 'closing'. Once you understand what your customers need is, then you can tailor-make your training programme to meet the client's need (gap).
A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is a review of learning and development needs within an organisation. It considers the knowledge, skills and behaviours that people need and how to develop them effectively. In order to deliver appropriate and effective training which meets the needs of individuals, the company and represents value for money, a TNA is essential.
Before you start writing the course, you should send out a TNA for all the participants/learners to complete and return within good time. Understanding their needs, will help you to ensure you are fully engaging all the participants.
Here, download your copy of the TNA: