People like to talk about how technology is disrupting the learning & development industry. Trainers are told that they need to adapt to a “new normal” or risk losing the attention of their learners. There is some truth in all of this hype, to be sure. I for one started my morning by catching up with news on my mobile phone. And when I need to learn something new or get a quick refresher on a concept, Google is usually my first stop. Does this sound like you? What about your learners?

In the life science and medical device world, commercial education groups are updating their customer training approaches to meet the changing preferences of their customers. Technology is usually the area of focus, and these groups often leverage internal resources or work with their marketing firm to increase the ubiquity and accessibility of training materials. The thinking is that if training is available at all times and across all devices, the customer will be able to choose the learning path they need—and learn exactly the skills they need—to be successful. And since the training is customer-facing, shouldn’t the marketing firm be able to handle it?

New Technology is Only Part of It


When it comes to helping customers use a complex product such as a medical device confidently and competently, technology, accessibility and compelling branding are only part of the equation. To get results, the training must be carefully designed to drive a desired outcome using careful analysis, sound instructional design principles and a blend of technology that is carefully chosen to drive the desired outcomes. This is the role of a training vendor.

Before you redesign your customer training, consider these four questions to make sure you are focusing on outcomes, rather than technology and trends for their own sake.

1. What’s the end goal?

Before you decide on tools, decide what needle you are trying to move. Perhaps you want to decrease time spent on-site with customers during installation, decrease support calls or lower the drop rate from home therapy? Understanding the desired outcome will influence every design decision you make.

2. What do our customers really need?

When budget and timeline allow for it, we start large curriculum projects with analysis. For customer training, this often involves surveying customers, conducting a task analysis by observing how customers use the product, or even leading a focus group with field trainers. We synthesize this data to identify what knowledge and skills learners need to know cold versus what they can find and locate via reference tools.

3. What learning solutions do we need to reach our goal?

Far too often, we talk about the need for technology in learning being a generational thing. The millennials are coming… help, we need an app! Once you have conducted your analysis and driven real conclusions based on the data, you can identify the appropriate blend of in-person vs. online learning vs. reinforcement your customer training curriculum needs. Did you know, for example, that research shows giving learners freedom to “choose their own learning” is NOT an effective approach? Understanding how adults learn best can also influence what types of solutions you include.

4. How will we measure success?

Micro-sites, web apps and mobile reinforcement tools might wow your customers, but they won’t lead to success unless you defined what success looks like and planned for how to measure it. For example, Roche identified a decline in customer support calls and total installation time spent on-site as key metrics to measure as we launched their new customer training curriculums.

It can be tempting to follow the hype and pursue technology for technology’s sake to ‘wow’ your customers. And while a marketing firm might be able to create a modern looking website or presentation for your customers, a good training vendor will help you use the right tools and technologies in a way that maximizes what customers learn and remember.

Case In Point:


The customer training curriculums we have created for Roche Diagnostics have won numerous awards,including the LTEN “Parternship Award”, Brandon Hall awards and a CLO award. Learn about the curriculums here.