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Customer Education for Customers Who Don't Think They Need It

Written by Bill Cushard

Published on December 3, 2015

When it comes to Customer Education, we know many of our customers need training, but either choose not to take advantage of it or join training sessions and act like they do not need (or want) to be there. Dealing with challenging students is a major skill that trainers need to master because there will be numerous occasions when trainers will have students in class who don't want to be there for a variety of reasons.

Since this is such an important issue for trainers to master, we thought it would be useful to spend some time discussing it in a webinar format with an expert. To help us hash out this issue, Peter Bell, Founder of Wheelhouse.io, Github trainer, and co-author of the O'Reilly book, Introducing GitHub: A Non-Technical Guide, joined us on a webinar to discuss how to design and deliver training to customers who don't think they need it. 

Of the many issues we discussed, I want to to make a special mention of two. 


People Don't Know What They Don't Know

One issue we discussed relates to dealing with students who do not think they need to be in a training class. This type of person has a lot of experience and figures he/she knows enough about the topic or perhaps even more than the instructor. They may believe they don't need the training because they will just pick it up as they go and that training is a waste of time.

For users like this, one of the things a trainer can do is help this student understand what they don't know about the product or about how the new product can help them do their job better. "Training can help people understand what they don't know," said Bell. Bell goes on to discuss how training should not just be about teaching features, which in many ways is the easy part of learning new software. Training can, and should be, about so much more than features.

Listen to the webinar recording to learn more about how to deal with this student type.

It's OK. Not Everyone Needs Training

Thanks in part to the design-focused movement in SaaS, cloud software and the consumerization of IT, enterprise software is becoming easier to use. More and more employees are using work tools in a browser, which is an environment they are comfortable with. So, if enterprise software is becoming so easy to use, why is there so much demand for training?

We discussed this issue on the webinar and Peter Bell even said that GitHub itself, for example, is pretty straightforward. So why all the training? Bell explains it this way, "I don't do a lot of technical training for software developers at companies like Facebook, Google, or Uber." These places have a high number of highly-motivated, self-directed engineers, who will tend to discover and learn new tools by tinkering and figuring things out on their own. 

"Then there is every other software developer in the world," says Bell.

Bell goes on to explain. They don't want to read blog posts, search Stack Overflow all night, attend MeetUps and conferences, or keep up with user groups. They want to work from 9-5, go home to their families, and have a normal life. They want to learn new products as their company adopts them, on the job in a more formal way. In a training class for example. 

This related closely to the different roles of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle popularized by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm

The point we discussed here is about knowing your audience. If you do have an early adopter student, who may not really need the training, Bell suggests recruiting that person to contribute to the class. You should listen to the webinar to hear that part of the discussion.

We Discussed Many More Things

We talked about many more issue, including:

  • Level-setting and pre-testing with pre-class assessments
  • Recognizing existing competence
  • Recruiting the troublemakers (ok, experts)
  • Setting expectations
  • Starting with the problems
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Leveraging technology

If you are looking to design more engaging training, you could learn a lot from Peter Bell in this webinar. Download the recording and have a listen.

View Webinar

Call for comments

  1. We would love to hear what you thought of the webinar. What was the most important thing you learned in this webinar?
  2. What was the worst student type you have had on your training sessions? How did you deal with it?

Originally published Dec 3, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated Dec 3, 2015