In this episode we explore the assertion, “The best way to start developing your Customer Education program is to leverage Virtual Instructor-Led training.” Why would you want to use Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT). What are the options for delivering it? What kinds of pitfalls and tips would you suggest? Oh … and most importantly Adam sings for us, making this another can’t miss episode!

Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) lets you prototype faster

As Customer Educators, we know that content development is no small feat. It takes a long time to product and develop content. Self-paced, online, and interactive content take the longest. In this episode, we reference the content development estimates from the ATD (Association for Talent Development) 2017 survey. This survey shows that even an hour of passive e-learning takes 42 hours to create, and that balloons as development becomes more complex.

When we’re developing for customers, passive won’t always cut it. When we create content, we often need it to have more interactivity to promote real learning goals.

That’s why it’s important to know where you’re going when you create self-service content. While e-learning will provide more scale, vILT allows you to prototype content more quickly.

By putting together a virtual instructor-led version of your course, you will quickly test material. Based on what you learn, you can quickly iterate and then train again.

We recommend running these virtual trainings as “beta” sessions with trusted customers to get input from them. These sessions can be free, even if the content you develop later will be paid.

Tools for Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)

You don’t need fancy tools to get started with vILT, so there is a low barrier to entry. Any virtual meeting or webinar technology can be a starting point. For example, Zoom has become very popular, but companies like Citrix and Webex also offer common solutions.

Once you have budget secured, you can use more sophisticated technology meant for virtual training or webinars, like GoToTraining, Adobe Connect, BigMarker, Demio, and more.

Dave also suggests one of his favorite platforms, Twitch, is great for more than just video game streaming and US Army recruiting: it can also be a great way to do B2C software education. In fact, he wrote a whole article about it on Medium.

A few points Dave makes about using Twitch for Customer Education, vs. traditional vILT or Webinar platforms:

  • The interactivity is “turned up to eleven”
  • The “friction” associated with conventional platforms is stripped away (Marketers love this!)
  • You can follow or “subscribe” to channels that interest you — which notify you when they’re live

Tips to run great vILT

We’ve assembled some tips to use vILT to run your Customer Education program.

First of all, scheduling and communication are critical. You need to work far in advance of your training to make sure everyone has the links, has downloaded the software, and shows up. vILT is usually “point-in-time” training, but it can be scheduled on a recurring basis too.

Marketing is also essential. If you build it, will they come? Not if you haven’t advertised your vILT sessions. It’s essential to work with your marketing teams to promote the trainings you create. Customer Success Managers can also help you promote these. They can be great “gives” for your customers.

Ideally, you will integrate your classroom sessions into the customer’s onboarding experience, so you don’t have to fight as hard to make customers aware that it exists.

Finally, setup is critical. Make sure you have a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted — or interrupt others trying to do their work.

Invest in a proper headset or microphone. Directional mics are your friend here. Bill Cushard from ServiceRocket/Learndot and Helping Sells Radio wrote a great article on his recommendations.

Finally, be prepared! Be prepared for questions, for technology issues, and to expect the unexpected. It’s okay not to have all the answers on the call, but we recommend having a wing-person or assistants to help answer questions in the chat, or help people who are joining late.

Afterwards, provide surveys, quizzes, and reporting to measure the effectiveness of these sessions.

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