Unpacking the power of remote customer training
This article originally appeared on Strigo's Medium.com blog.
While remote training has been around for a long time, you might feel overwhelmed trying to figure out yet another new way to do things during these challenging times. Don’t worry, read on to ready your team and your customers for hands-on remote training no matter where in the world they are and no matter where in the world you are.
In the recent webinar hosted by Strigo titled “Need to Switch to Remote Training? We’ll Show You How,” remote training experts Donna Weber and Ryan Schneider share best practices and tactical tips to get your team and your customers ready for impactful hands-on remote training.
While this article answers a handful of the onslaught of questions we received, watch the webinar recording to implement these best practices:
Change and smoothly transition your team and your customers to remote training
Design effective and interactive remote training sessions
Prepare instructors and learners for successful remote classes
Deliver interactive, hands-on classes to engaged learners
Review and gather feedback to improve remote training offerings
Questions and answers to successfully implement remote training today.
Q: How do you encourage sales teams to sell remote training as opposed to onsite classes?
A: While virtual instructor-led training might be new to you, it’s not a new area. In fact, I transitioned all my instructor-led public classes to remote delivery about eight years ago and found the change pretty seamless. Both sales reps and customers loved the offering. Create a go-to-market plan for your new offering so you aren’t just throwing something new out there. In the plan, include the benefits for sales reps as well as customers. Then detail how you plan to market the new offering to internal teams and to customers to drive awareness and adoption.
Q: What’s the ideal length of time for delivering remote classes?
A: A best practice for designing live online classes is to break full-day and multi-day classes into half days. Consider delivering over quarter and half days, or two to four hours at a time. For example, if you currently deliver a class over two full days, chunk it down into four half-day sessions with breaks every hour or so. Attending classes in smaller chunks allows users to manage their jobs, even while learning, and shorter classes accommodate different time zones to expand your reach.
Q: When designing the course slides, is there a difference between the kinds of slides you use in the classroom versus remote training? What’s the balance between text and the talking points?
A: In general, I like to keep the text and screenshots to a minimum, whether I’m delivering classroom or remote training sessions. Instead, I put most of my effort into building impactful hands-on sessions. When designing instructor-led courses for remote delivery, it’s important not to overthink it. A course, whether it’s delivered remotely or in person, requires the same components to be impactful. What you need, no matter how you deliver classes, are good course design, instructionally sound content, and interactivity. That means defining clear learning objectives and activities for participants to stay engaged. If you already have well-designed, interactive courses delivered in classrooms, then you don’t have much work to move to virtual training. One area to address is when instructors use whiteboards to explain and illustrate topics. You might work with the product or graphics teams to illustrate the concepts in slide builds.
Q: How do you properly prepare for a remote hands-on session and avoid wasting time managing technical setup?
A: First and foremost, as an instructor, know your tool and have a set of ready-made answers to troubleshoot common problems. Also, have a line of communication open with your tech support team in case there’s an issue. With labs in place make sure you are ready to easily share access with students. Participants prepare by making sure audio and video are working. In addition, they should conduct a system and network check to access the labs.
Q: Do you recommend sharing video through the whole course or just in the beginning?
A: As in any interactive classroom environment, you want to get to know who your participants are. So, take time to start the class with introductions. I like to turn on cameras for introductions and have a few questions up on a slide for each person to share about themselves and what they expect to gain from the class. It’s a great way to connect and for the instructor to know the needs of each attendee. You can turn cameras off after the introductions to save on bandwidth, or keep them going if that seems to work for participants.
Q: What timer do you recommend for labs and breaks?
A: Put a countdown timer on screen so people know when to come back from breaks and labs. Then, actually begin when you say you will. This drives the behavior you want to keep the class on time. I use this Online Stopwatch.
Q: What is possible to perform during a lab? Is there anything that’s not possible?
A: Labs are a key component of virtual hands-on training. They provide the interactive component that is so important to increase learner retention. I have included sample databases, client and server environments, and developer tools like Eclipse in training environments for the companies I work with. Remote training environments like Strigo allow you to include all the data, software, and tools students need to get a great learning experience and real-world examples. Strigo’s platform embeds communication, content sharing, and collaboration tools, as well as the live labs, all in a single environment. Rather than struggling with multiple tools, like most people who joined the webinar deal with, you have one place to go for remote classes. Students receive a single link that opens the classroom in a web browser and you don’t deal with the trouble of juggling several tools to deliver and receive training. Instructors can easily “look over a student’s shoulder” by entering each student’s lab in real-time, without the need for the student to take any action. The Strigo platform makes remote training an awesome experience for your customers and for your instructors.
Q: How do you manage multiple attendees all wanting to share their answers to the instructor’s questions?
A: It depends on how you want to handle questions and answers. As in any classroom environment people might interrupt each other and the instructor picks someone to ask their question. Most remote training platforms also include chat sections and allow users to raise their hands. What’s most important is you determine which approach works best for you and your users and then share the approach at the beginning of class so everyone knows the ground rules.
Q: What are best practices for using break out rooms?
A: When using breakout rooms, it’s important to provide clear guidelines for participants. Determine how and when to use the breakout rooms when designing the remote courses. During class, clearly indicate what is to be covered in the breakout rooms and for how long. You might have one person take the lead in the breakout room to make sure they advance on the required task or assign moderators for each breakout. Then, indicate when it’s time to return to the main class.
Q: What kind of goals should you set when receiving feedback from training? Positive remarks from trainees or something more specific?
A: To continuously improve your remote training, adopt a cycle of setting goals, gathering data from learners, and acting on trends demonstrated in the data. I like to learn whether participants find the course relevant, the labs valuable, the instructor knowledgeable and available. It’s helpful to include a net promoter score as well. Keep surveys and course evaluations short and simple to encourage users to provide their feedback. Then, once you receive their valuable feedback, it’s important to act on what you learn.
Whether your remote classes are a temporary replacement or a permanent fixture, training customers remotely brings a new level of opportunity and flexibility to your business and to your customers. Consider Strigo to seamlessly take your remote training to the next level.
Strigo.io empowers companies to scale and drive growth by delivering a superior, hands-on customer training experience for all formats of training. Learn how to deliver outstanding remote training with Strigo.
Written by Donna Weber, Customer Onboarding and Enablement Expert and President of Springboard Solutions.