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Make Training Count Tip 7: Ensure Trainers Understand Objectives and the Audience

Continuing my series, Make Training Count: 10 Tips to Increase ROI, here is my seventh tip: The trainer/facilitator understands (as much as reasonably possible) the goals/objectives for the training as well as the target audience.

Assuming training is the right solution; the trainer should have a clear understanding of what the overall need/problem to be addressed is and develop training objectives that match that. Participants must know what to expect from the course. They must be clear on the overall objective of the program. For example if the program is designed to be a refresher for  representatives on how to navigate a key desktop application, it is important to indicate whether the class will be taught at an advanced, intermediate or introductory level. If the class is on customer service skills/soft skills, what new behaviors should participants be able to demonstrate as a result of the training? 

In addition, it is critical that the trainer (whether internal or external) know as much as possible about their audience. Some questions that will enable that understanding include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the job responsibilities, titles and functions of the participants?
  • What is their knowledge of the learning session topic(s)?
  • How much do they know?
  • Have they ever attended other training sessions on this or a similar topic?
  • Is this subject matter completely new to them?
  • What topics/subject matter is most critical and relevant for them to learn?
  • What topics/subject matter is least important?
  • What is the culture around learning and training? (I.e. do people look forward to it, see it as a reward?)
  • What about attendance is it mandatory or voluntary?
  • Has pre-planning communication taken place? (Do they know why the training is taking place and what the expectations are?)
  • Are they excited about attending the session?

Click here to view my eighth tip, Match Call Center Training Delivery to the Need.

Comments (3)

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Joanna Jones — 9:17PM on Jun 17, 2011

Thanks for your great post on customer service training and coaching. Many companies that are attempting to improve their customer service approach the very serious task with little planning or resources. Using an outside company that doesn’t understand—really understand—the issues, is not going to make a meaningful impression in call center training.
It’s often difficult for companies to diagnose their own weaknesses in customer service internally, which is why it’s better to bring in a reputable training company that can effectively diagnose and work with the reps to bring about measurable change.

Ken W — 8:19PM on Jul 18, 2011

Agreed. Just having an external viewpoint can often be as valuable as anything else. But that viewpoint without sufficient knowledge of the audience and their environment will have little impact.

Great list of questions.

Laura Quinn — 2:04PM on Jul 19, 2011

This is so true Rose! Understanding your audience is the key to captivating the audience. I would add it's imperative to use this knowledge appropriately to have a positive impact.

A friend attended a "mandatory" Change Management training at work the other day. When the trainer introduced the course she tried to relate to her audience and said she understood they were her "hostages" for the day,since it was mandatory. YIKES! She started off with one thing working against her, the fact that change management is a tough topic to discuss and then to highlight the fact they didn't have a choice to participate was a negative way to start a presentation. The friend said no one wanted to participate or engage with the instructor the entire day. I imagine she was trying to relate to the audience, but instead she shut off anyone that had an open mind going into the training.

The situation got me thinking, what are great ways to start a training or presentation?