Streamlining training to benefit the student

In a previous job working for a banner ad company, I held two different job positions over the 4+ years I worked for them. For the first couple of years, I worked in their production department creating custom ads for big corporations. I then transitioned over to their support team to train new clients and support efforts from their in-house design teams.

When I began training for the support team, I shadowed various colleagues. I watched how they conducted trainings, what resources they had to share with the people they were training, and how to support them once they started making their own ads.

The first training I sat in hit me like a deer caught in the headlights. It was a live hour long screen share showing techniques I was very familiar with having worked with these tools for quite a while. By the time we finished the session, I was numb. So much information was jammed into that one hour.

This left me with the question, if I felt lost after that training with all of my previous experience, how did the new client feel?

I learned that after the initial training, there was quite a lot of custom support offered, making for a time intensive experience for both the client and our support staff. To top it off, there was very little written help to support client efforts. The help files we had were the bare minimum, and there was no way to add onto them.

As I started to prepare for my first training, I put myself into the shoes of the student. I wanted to create a more relaxed training that left the client feeling equipped to start their project and not worry about the technical stuff. I wanted to leave them with enough structure to drop in their initial creative assets after we completed the initial training.

  1. I created a quick survey to find out what structure of project they would need to build, and what types of media they would be using.
  2. I built bare-bones versions of the projects with obvious sample assets to get them started. These projects were well organized and commented in the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  3. Using Evernote along with Skitch, I created easy to ready directions with all the notes for topics we would cover in the training session. This way the client wouldn’t need to take excessive notes and could watch to get a feel for the setup. This allowed me to publish a document and easily send a link to anyone in attendance with annotated screenshots and zipped files of their skeleton projects.
  4. I recorded the screen share and sent a link with a followup email once the session was over.

Approaching new clients with a structured training with so much bonus material left me feeling more confident and relaxed as I conducted my sessions, and made my students feel more confident in what they were doing.

As I supported client requests, I found that I would often answer the same questions multiple times. Some of my colleagues would have draft emails with answers they could send over, but often they would type the same responses repeatedly.

Still unable to update our help files, I kept an Evernote notebook filled with my own answers with files I could quickly share with our clients. I would offer a quick overview in a response email and a link to my more detailed document. I could send this out with little trouble and say something like, “here is the quick response, give it a read. If you need more info, we can schedule a call.” Sometimes I would need to hop on with the client, but more often they would read what I sent over and solve the issue themselves.

When a client feels supported, they become your best salesperson. Designers and programmers that I worked with would switch companies, and advocate to work with us for our dedicated support. When I did finally leave that job, my entire team was using documents and files I wrote and created, and techniques for teaching that I established as best practices there.

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