Your new service launch strategy is quite rightly focused on areas such as time-to-market and the actual operational release, but if you neglect to properly consider education as part of your planning, your roll-out strategy may be at risk.
When it comes to launching a new product or service, these best practices around education will set you up for success.
1. Target your training
Launching a new service requires a higher level of training to ensure you’re addressing the specific behavior changes your workforce needs to make, and to highlight the positive product benefits included in the new release.
To address this challenge, choose learning solutions appropriate for these higher levels of learning, and partner with marketing and sales to incorporate case studies, product demos and hands-on practice.
2. Include training in your launch plan
The point at which your learning and development professionals get involved in the framework of change is an important factor in your overall success. By becoming part of the change management or implementation team, your training team will be in a stronger position to prepare appropriate training materials and have a better grasp of the potential impacts on your customers and support team.
Integrate training into the launch process and make it a line item in your strategy planning. Your training professionals will then become accountable for their specific area within the overall project team.
3. Deliver in-time training
Consider your overall go-to-market plan – training has to be delivered in a framework to support your ‘speed to market’ strategy. Here, the timing of when training is delivered can be the difference between success and failure of a well-executed plan.
4. Include self-service tools as part of your overall education strategy
In situations where the new product or service is genuinely new or significantly different from the system it replaces, you may need to do more than provide a one-time training course. Customer service/support staff will need to be ready from the get-go to manage calls and emails from customers, and extensive classroom training will not always be sufficient or even logistically possible from an operational perspective.
To address this challenge, your learning and development professionals should consider innovative and creative ways in which the essential information can be provided, on an as-needed basis instead of all at once.
Rather than teaching a large amount of content in a single sitting, training can instead focus on teaching your service and support personnel to access self-serve tools and information that will allow them to effectively support your customers when they’re ready.
5. Establish relationships between training and product development
Developing training materials while the product is being developed creates challenges, since any changes to the product will have a knock-on effect for the training content.
Developing strong working relationships between learning and development professionals and the product development team will be key in ensuring product deliverables and training deliverables are aligned from a timing and content perspective.
6. Build a flexible training platform
So, at the pre-release stage of development, what subject matter experts can you really rely on to build good training content?
Many of your SMEs may not have even used the product yet, and training developers may find the content they are creating is based on feature wish lists, guesses of customer reaction, and support requirements, rather than proven data.
Your learning professionals will need to factor this into their planning. It’s normal and often expected that iterations of the training will be required, as product specifications are firmed up and market feedback is incorporated.
Traditionally, the largest training audience for any new product is your sales force; a high-energy, busy group, often spread across the globe. For this key team, flexibility and accessibility of any learning tool is essential for them to fully understand the message, the positioning, and the technology.
Addressing this challenge, your learning and development professionals should consider including a web-based learning approach into their education strategy. Having training as a portable solution allows for at-your-fingertips learning, and if presented in an engaging and interactive way, your sales force will get what they need, when they need it. eLearning, virtual instructor-led learning, podcasts and learning portals are all methods to consider for this audience.
In summary, the effectiveness of training and the quick and accurate transfer of skills and knowledge is an essential part of any new product or service launch. The development of new product training has unique challenges, so tracking this as part of your strategic launch planning process will help your learning professionals succeed, and help you land a more successful launch.