Rewriting the training materials has a widespread impact on quality at Askia, making planning and delivery easier of the trainers and improving customer service.
Askia needed a series of training courses that its support team could use to make their training delivery more consistent. Courses had to be easy to customize and to update as the software continued to develop.
Askia grew its team of trainers, who become more confident in giving training because the new courses removed the burden of working out what to teach or finding worked examples to show. Customers gained a more positive first experience of Askia and learned more effectively. Calls to support about basic software questions largely eliminated.
“Tim quickly grasped the functionality within our applications. That was absolutely essential. We could not have worked with just anyone who knows about training; it had to be somebody with good knowledge of market research and software.”
Matt Long, Key Account Manager at Askia.
- meaning developed a series of training modules, each one lasting an hour, independent of each other and based around realistic practical exercises.
- A small team from Askia and meaning worked together to discuss exact content and realistic scenarios for exercises.
- The training modules were designed so that instead of just watching demos, the participants spent at least half of their time actively working.
Askia and meaning set up a small project team to develop ideas for each new training course – with Askia explaining to meaning the functionality within the software and meaning working with Askia to invent realistic examples or scenarios typical of those faced by market researchers. For each course, meaning created a detailed outline that identified the topics to teach and placed them in the ideal sequence for efficient learning.
“We worked with Tim Macer because we knew he had done this before. He has experience of being a trainer, so we could tap into his knowledge. Also, we are working with the software all the time, so it can be easy for us to lose sight of how easy or difficult to pitch the course,” said Matt Long, Key Account Manager at Askia.
The course is a series of modules, each lasting about an hour. The trainer chooses only the modules that are relevant to the customer. Each module follows a pattern in which the trainer explains a concept, then participants are able to ask questions and complete realistic exercises using the software. As Jamey Corriveau, Askia’s North America Director, explains: “each module builds on the previous ones, so the exercises are interconnected like in a research project, rather than simply teaching a list of features.”
At the end of the module the trainer recaps the key learning points. According to Matt, there are many reasons why this format works so well: the many practical exercises help to cement the learning, the bitesize pieces means that the trainer gets a regular breather from the intense work of teaching, it is easy to schedule breaks and you can accurately estimate how much time each course will take.
There are two coursebooks to accompany each course – one for participants and the other for the trainer. The trainer’s version contains useful guidance for the trainer on how to teach each section, which helps to standardise course delivery. Jamey observes: “When I talk to prospects, I use the separate trainer manual as a selling point – we can train their internal champions and then they can use the materials to train their own staff.”
Working with meaning has been cost-effective for Askia. As Jamey puts it “Tim works very thoughtfully and efficiently”. For example, according to Jamey, Tim created screenshots that do not include version numbers so that Askia could continue to use them even when the software has been updated. Better still, the trainer and trainee manuals are actually created from one master file – this is important because it reduces errors and saves costs when updates are made.
Matt adds: “It’s clear that Tim quickly grasped the functionality within our applications. That was absolutely essential. We could not have worked with just anyone who knows about training; it had to be somebody with good knowledge of market research and software. Our working relationship was very positive. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with meaning again.”
- Noticeable reduction in the burden of calls to technical support – simple questions from new users now largely eliminated.
- Easier to train new trainers – Askia now has a larger pool of trainers available to deliver courses.
- Increased confidence among trainers in delivering customer training because the structured courses and worked examples make the task simpler.
- Enables cascade training –Askia has been able to grow its own team of trainers, and the courses are also used to ‘train the trainer’ for clients to deliver their own training.
- More adaptable – courses can easily be customised to match the needs of different customers.
- Good PR – the professional appearance of the courses gives new customers a positive first impression of Askia
- Online delivery – Askia is able to save on travel budget by sometimes delivering the course online
- Efficient to update – in practice, the materials rarely need updating because of how they have been written, but when they do, the work is minimal.
- Helping drive sales – the professional appearance of the courses stands out against competitors and larger clients value being able to use them to deliver their own training.
Askia is a comprehensive software platform for market research companies that supports every part of the research process, from data collection and fieldwork management through to analysis, reporting and presentation. Beyond the software, the whole team at Askia is passionate about working in partnership with its customers around the world, rather than acting simply as a technology provider.