Extended enterprise has been described by John Leh as one of the most important elearning trends that companies need to invest in. It is used for many types of specific purposes, and can take on many different formats (many use an extended enterprise LMS for the job). The idea is to offer training to people outside of your organization who are connected to the success of your organization. These people can be customers, partners, franchisees, and more. For the purposes of this post, however, we’ll focus on those main three.
A brief overview of how extended enterprise training benefits these groups:
Customers: Extended enterprise training benefits your customers by offering them tools to better use your products or services. Think of the way Adobe makes classes and certificates available to people hoping to become experts at Photoshop. And what do experts at Photoshop do? They use Photoshop forever, they encourage others to use Photoshop, and they go on to use Illustrator and Premiere, too. Extended enterprise training turns customers into a loyal fanbase.
One of our clients, a veterinary tech supply company, uses product training to educate customers on the tools they purchase from the company. It means their products can be used safety, and makes it less intimating for customers to consider an expensive purchase of technology they don’t know how to use.
Partners: Benefits to offering partners- such as vendors, distributers, or suppliers- training include better business relations with these companies and more efficiency in how they sell your products and services. Training can make these partners more attuned to your business preferences (even for things as simple as addressing packages correctly!) to reduce errors or miscommunications. People who know more about your product can do a better job at effectively and safely selling, delivering, marketing, or packaging it. You can expect to see fewer costs and delays due to human mistakes with this kind of training.
Franchisees: Franchisors can offer training to reduce the burden on franchisee owners while maintaining proper branding, brand quality standards, and legal health and safety compliance. Making great training will make it easier for franchisees to keep up with changes in standards and gives the brand more control and visibility over what’s happening in each franchisee location. It can also be a greater incentive to new franchise owners if onboarding programs and product training already exist.
The factors that indicate the effectiveness of your extended enterprise training with these groups:
For customers: We talked with John Leh recently about the ways that extended enterprise training makes better customers, and you can use those factors as a gauge for the effectiveness of your training.
- How frequently do your customers ask for help? A great training program creates a customer that is confident in using your product, which equals a customer with fewer questions. Try comparing how many tickets or calls your company receives from customers before and after the training was implemented in order to see if the training is living up to the needs of your customers. You can also use commonly asked questions as fodder for new training material.
- How many of your customers are returning? You know you have a great product. So, if customers turn away after trying it, it could be that they are too confused to make the best use of it. An extended enterprise training program should address this by allowing customers to see how your product benefits them and make them a returning customer. Try checking the customer return rates before and after implementing a training program.
- How many of your customers are buying additional services and products? A satisfied customer often chooses to make additional purchases from the same company, as opposed to looking elsewhere. This is especially true if your products interconnect or relate to each other in some way.
For partners: Partners include vendors, distributers, suppliers, and other businesses you work with. Their needs include understanding your product enough to do their job better and understanding your business needs in order to do better business with you.
- Are there fewer errors in communication with outside partners? Think about the quality of your relationships with your partners. Since the extended enterprise training, has it improved? Are operations, deliveries, or projects with partners running more smoothly?
- Are partners more successfully selling or distributing your product? If your partner effectively knows your product better, they should be able to more effectively sell or distribute your product. See if sales by your partners are improving after the training.
- Is there a decrease in customer complaints or returns? Is there a correlation with higher return rates or dissatisfied customers coming through your partner channels? See if those customer complaints and returns decrease after offering more product and services training.
For franchisees: Franchisees can be tricky in terms of extended enterprise training. The nature of those with joint employment makes training nearly or entirely impossible to mandate. A successful training program is all about giving franchisees the tools to be successful and reflective of what franchisee owners say their needs are, while making it easy to use.
- How many franchisees are opting into the training? If the training is successfully meeting the needs of franchisees and giving them effective help with operations, more franchisees will opt into the training. The more franchisees opt in, the more successful the extended enterprise training is. But remember: make the training and training system easy to access and easy to use!
- How many franchisees have issues with compliance? Franchisees that are better trained will have fewer mistakes in regards to both legal compliance and compliance to brand standards.
- What is the customer satisfaction at franchisee locations? Chris Shanks from Dairy Queen has spoken to us in the past about correlating training with customer satisfaction. They use customer satisfaction as one of the metrics they use to determine the effectiveness of training.
Extended enterprise training can be one of the most important elements in your training strategy; sometimes more vital to business success than the training of your own employees. Discovering what makes that success happen and keeping track of the vital signs that those factors are working will help you tune your training for maximum positive effect.