Steve Jobs once said that “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” And sometimes that team is bigger than you thought! We’re talking about your vendors, reps, consultants, franchisees, and customers.
Your extended enterprise allows your business to succeed because of a strong network of external partner relationships. When you provide these partners with extended enterprise learning opportunities, you’re improving their knowledge about your values, organizational mission, and the ins-and-outs of your products and services.
An effective extended enterprise learning plan results in improved revenue boosted customer satisfaction, and a more consistent brand perception – to name but a few of the benefits. But the thing is, not everyone gets it right.
The 5 Mistakes You’re Making in Your Extended Enterprise Learning Strategy
Training is an investment. But when it’s not effective, and it doesn’t lead to any positive gains for the organization, training just becomes wasted resources. So, let’s take a closer look at five of the worst mistakes you might be making in your extended enterprise training (and how to dodge them!).
1) Treating your extended enterprise like your employees
Designing and developing training for internal employees is what most organizations are used to. This makes it easy to fall into old habits when creating training materials for the extended enterprise.
A major difference between training internal employees and external partners is that employee training tends to be a requirement. They need to upskill within a specific time period because often, their career depends on it.
On the other hand, partners can choose when, how and if they want to complete their training. Meaning that they need to be motivated by other factors. This is especially true when designing training for customers, who engage with learning materials on a voluntary basis.
So, how do you motivate learners who aren’t strictly required to engage with extended enterprise training? Start by ensuring that your training is delivered through a user-friendly and mobile compatible platform.
Then, take some time to consider what motivates each of your external partners. You’ll need to set rewards that appeal to them and clearly communicate the benefits of completing training. For example, if a consultant understands that training will improve their ability to close deals, they’ll be more willing to sacrifice time with clients to brush up on their product knowledge.
2) Treating your extended enterprise like each other
It can be tempting to split your training into the categories “internal employees” and “extended enterprise” and then just be done with it.
But don’t. No organization has just one kind of internal employee. Similarly, the extended enterprise comprises more than one role.
Consider the difference between a franchisee and a customer. While both might want to know how to get the most out of your services, they’ll be motivated by different reasons. The customer is going to want that information to improve their experience, whereas the franchisee will be looking for ways to drum up business.
As a business, you’ll have more opportunity to engage (and re-engage) sales partners (like franchisees, vendors, and consultants) in training. After all, they have a personal interest in understanding the organization and its products better. But, you might only have that one special chance to capture the interest of customers and engage them in training.
This means that understanding what each segment of your extended enterprise wants and needs can take some work. So, start by incorporating regular opportunities for feedback into your communication with external partners. Ask partners and customers they would like to learn more about, and what their learning preferences are.
By making feedback a key part of your extended enterprise learning strategy, your training is more likely to be successful in the long-term.
3) Failing to tailor content for each audience
Having accepted that the extended enterprise is a varied group of learners with different needs and motivations for learning, you’ll also need to adjust your content for the appropriate audience.
Training for vendors, resellers, and franchisees should focus on practical steps, guides, and processes, like:
- How to construct convincing sales arguments
- Product/service benefits for the customer, or
- How to process orders on the organization’s SCM software
On the other hand, when offering extended enterprise training opportunities for customers, the content should cover topics and activities that improve customer satisfaction. After all, happy customers become brand advocates that help the business grow. So, deliver content that helps them to realize the full features and benefits of products and services.
Of course, the tone and style of content are also important. Customers want content that’s informal and easy to follow. Some brands might even add some fun and humor, depending on their industry. Other partners, like vendors, might require more formal content for compliance training and other more serious topics.
Finally, do a little geography! Today, companies often operate across vast seas and continents. This means that their extended enterprise might include partners, like suppliers, anywhere from New York to Hong Kong! Depending on the structure of your organization, you might need to tailor content for these kinds of language and cultural differences.
4) Setting the wrong metrics
It might be true that what can be measured, can be improved. But what if you’re not measuring the right performance indicators? What and how you measure the effectiveness of training can impact the improvement of your extended enterprise learning strategy.
Simple internal training metrics, like completion rates, can provide useful insight into employee motivation to learn. But these metrics may not be enough to measure how effective extended enterprise training has been.
For example, you could measure the number of training materials accessed by a customer. But how would you know whether these materials actually improved their experience or perception of a product or brand? In this case, measuring the number of support tickets logged before and after training would be a far more effective indication of training success.
Metrics based on learner perception can also be powerful. Include self-rating metrics, like overall product knowledge on a scale of 1 to 5, and ask learners to rate themselves both before and after training. This allows you to track their perceived success of the training, and to identify areas where there has been no change in score as an area for improvement.
5) Not leveraging the best technology available
By now it’s clear that extended enterprise training is complex. Each segment of your extended enterprise has their own needs, motivations and content preferences when it comes to learning. So, to meet all this complexity, you’ll need to be armed with a powerful suite of features and tools.
A full-featured LMS can mean the difference between an impactful extended enterprise training strategy, and missing the mark. The right LMS will make large-scale training simple by providing distinct user profiles and groups of learners so that content and assessments can be tailored appropriately.
An LMS with user-friendly interface and mobile compatibility will encourage more learners to complete their training. Plus, analytics features will enable real-time tracking of learners’ progress and will help identify areas where learners get stuck and drop off the training.
Finally, an enterprise-ready LMS will give you all the freedom to customize content, experiment with new training approaches, and enroll and manage your various training audiences with ease.
Make Extended Enterprise Training Worthwhile
Training your extended enterprise can take some real effort, but it also offers meaningful rewards – if you get it right. We hope these tips have helped you to identify opportunities for improving your extended enterprise learning plan. Just like Steve Jobs said – it’s time to do great things!
Improve your employee, partner and customer training with our enterprise-ready learning management system. Book a demo now and see why our diverse portfolio of customers consistently give us 5 stars (out of 5!)