Technical support. Did those words put you to sleep? It’s understandable as it’s not exactly the sexiest topic to be discussing when it comes to online training. It does have its role though. If support is done properly, then your online training course will thrive. If your staff are left hanging with little or inadequate support, all eyes will be on you for not coming through. It could be your butt on the line — which now suddenly gets your attention.
As long as there have been employees, there has been a responsibility to keep them happy and productive. Over time, support has had to evolve to keep pace with increasingly more knowledgeable and sophisticated employees.
How does this factor into delivery of your online training? There are two ways:
- Support has diverged into two distinct offerings: Course support and Software support
- Support is now an expected part of your online training program
These points are very much volume related. If your employee base isn’t large enough to justify a dedicated support person, then support will need to be a delegated task to an existing employee or outsourced on a part-time basis. At minimum, support needs to be a consideration in your future growth plans.
Here are four tips that you can incorporate today into your online training program:
Endlessly Test for Quality, Utility, Usability
This is a preventative measure. Running your online training course through several quality assurance cycles, incorporating not only standard testing practices but using crowdsourcing and user focus groups, will produce the flawless product you want to be selling.
Provide Multiple Self-Help Channels
Your online training software should provide readily accessible links to self-help channels include FAQ’s, User Forums, Tutorials, etc. It’s much less expensive to provide online self-help resources than to maintain a support staff. It’s critical that self-help resources are intuitive, simple to use, fully searchable, and robust in terms of the breadth of information available. If not, it can be a frustrating experience for the staff member who will probably give up and call you with the question.
Always Provide Direct ‘Real Time’ Access
At the very least, a phone number, online chat service, or ticket-based troubleshooting system should be available. It’s healthy to assume that you can’t possibly provide a response to every question in your self-help resources. Providing a method for that employee to contact you is the failsafe. Most of you will have experienced the frustration of looking for contact information on a website that seems to be hidden in an effort to push one to less expensive FAQ’s, blogs, and online manuals. While you may field unnecessary calls, the impression that it leaves is far from favorable.
Consider Tiered Support
Support is seldom considered a revenue stream. It’s not even a loss leader. It’s most often a cost item incurred as a result of the obligation to back what you sell underpinned by the promise of return business. However, offering a paid premium level of support provides your top employees with the quality of service they expect. It provides a new source of revenue for you.
There are several different models for tiered support that can be followed, for example:
- Pay per use
- No charge online support (email) with paid voice/chat support
- Priority telephone numbers
Selecting the method that best suits your online training is a function of the size of your market; do-it-yourself (DIY) vs third party handling; and your budget.
Enhanced support for your online training can be the competitive edge that moves you ahead of your competitors. It’s crucial to take care of your employees to keep them happy, productive and motivated.