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Consumers (not only customers) are always right too

As anyone who has worked in retail knows, the customer is always right. And yes, the same rule applies to consumers too!

Whether you agree with it or not, what’s important is keeping not just the customers, but also the consumers happy – it’s certainly a standard of excellence.

I have taken part in many conversations with peers around whether our consumer in the learning and development (L&D) space is the business or the learners.  In my mind, the business is our customer (the buyer of technology and training services) and the consumers are the learners (end users who sit in class to receive training), agree?

As a workplace and learning professional (WLP) for many years, treating learners like consumers—empowered, decision-making, critical-thinkers—not only better shapes our course content and the product we release but also guarantees a more positive, personalised learning experience and greater satisfaction – a key ingredient of successful user adoption.

So, let me share some of the keys to our success in achieving excellent satisfaction ratings from our consumers.

 1. Listening intently, from beginning to end

Sure, this means putting a lot of effort into genuinely listening to the voice of consumers about what they want to get out of your training, upfront. We then marry up expectations with the learning outcomes so we can fine-tune the delivery of training and ask routine yet powerful questions such as:

  • Is the pace OK for everyone?
  • Is everyone still following?
  • Are there any questions so far?
  • Is everything crystal clear so far?
  • Any thoughts on the topic we just covered?
  • Any real-life examples from class?
  • (and most importantly,) Have we met our learning objectives today?

2. Being an Enter-trainer (Yes, entertainment in training!)

We don’t necessarily mean making a memorable song-and-dance performance in class (although … why not?). Enter-training is not only a funny sounding made up word, it really works! We have an obligation to keep our consumers “entertained” in class, so here’s how we ace a sensei-tional performance every time:

Starting with a bang

Our learners tend to be both impatient and busy, so you want to capture and hold their attention for as long as you can. We start off confident and structure our “performance” so it begins with something fun to break the ice and engage the audience such as the use of mobile apps, fun quiz games and poll questions – gamification, it is!

Have fun in class

It isn’t entertaining to see a facilitator only going through the motions, so smiles, laughter, and a bit of humour are a part of the routine. We let it out and share it with the consumers—our audience in the class room.

Share the spotlight

There’s always one smarty-pants consumer (a heckler, if you will) who could easily become disruptive to our “act” if handled poorly. Therefore, it’s very important that we let such consumers share their thoughts, so that you can then state them in your own words, and ask them to provide more examples based on experience—give them something to do, that’s one less problem to worry about.

3. Valuing their feedback

Feedback is a gift as I was always told as a kid. I am a huge subscriber of Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation model, in which Level 1 gauges how the learners feel about the instructor, the topic, the material and its presentation, pretty much a consumer’s overall satisfaction survey.

It’s here that we focus on valuing the learner (our consumer) over just the experience (learning). Not only do we try to validate what’s awesome about training and discover opportunities for improvement, but also realise the “promotability” of our training to others so we always ask—On a 0-10 scale: How likely is it that you would recommend Sensei training to a friend or colleague? (Net Promoter Score, NPS it is!)

I say, “happy consumers, happy customers” 🙂

By Francis Luzuriaga, Training Consultant at Sensei Project Solutions

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