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David Guillen’s Hot Takes on Digital Transformation & Training Metrics [Episode Recap]

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David Guillen
January 13, 2023
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I recently had the opportunity to join Ryan Dillon on his interview show Hot Takes, where we discussed customer education topics spanning from success metrics to teachers transitioning into the industry. As the interview went on, both the questions and the wings amped up the intensity. I wanted to reflect on the experience and share my thoughts – read on for a recap of the interview!

Hot Take: Customer Education Should Pinpoint the Same Goals as Customer Success

First up, we talked about the deep connections between a customer’s engagement with learning content and their overall health score. Ryan asked, “Does high health mean your learner is always getting value out of the program?” – which I think is a tricky question for learning practitioners. In other words, does content success equal customer success? 

David Guillen discussing the connection between training engagement and account health

At TraceGains, for the first few years of our training program, the emphasis has been on the success of our content. We’ve been trying to normalize and hype product learning as part of the customer experience. Now that we’ve successfully achieved that milestone, we’re shifting our focus toward learner metrics. Ultimately, we want our team to have a seat at the Customer Success leadership table as we try to tackle the conundrum of overall customer health scoring.

So while there may not always be direct lines we can draw between these results, what content success can tell us it that there’s interest. If there’s high traffic to the learning experience, we know that some amount of engagement is happening.

Hot Take: The Academia-to-Customer Education Pipeline is Alive and Well – For Good Reason

Next up, we chatted about a topic very near and dear to my heart – teachers transitioning to the corporate world. To me, now having seen both sides of this spectrum, I know that there are so many skills that teaching professionals bring to the table in other environments. Great instructional ability isn’t a given at a company, and there’s a huge need for it.

Guillen describes broader professional opportunities for academic workers

I understand and empathize with the exodus of teachers from the classroom. More intense classroom management, increase in lesson prep due to growing expectations, a push toward “edutainment” style content… the field is certainly changing. Any of these reasons is enough to make a teacher consider other options. But – especially for departing teachers that are actually good at handling those types of challenges – that skillset absolutely translates into success within corporate environments. Schools, businesses, hospitals, prisons… they’re all institutions. They all share a love for creating regimented workflows for managing change, and teachers often excel at that very thing. 

Customer education and training, which Ryan and I discussed in this episode, is just one avenue to consider. But I think there are more – opportunities around change management, project leadership, or implementation are all ripe for teachers looking to transition.

Hot Take: Customer Feedback Should Influence Your Content Strategy

For this third question, Ryan asked me how I know when it’s time to go back to the drawing board on a course or learning path. How do I know when it’s just not working? The answer is usually… feedback. This isn’t a simple answer, either. One piece of anecdotal feedback shouldn’t cause you to scrap months of work. But, if you’re really doing your due diligence to keep a pulse on your audience, what they’re engaging with, what content resonates with them, you should be willing to sharpen your content offering as much as possible to fit within those guide posts.

Guillen gives his take on audience feedback informing training content strategy

When you’re building for scale, so much of what you’re building is based on assumptions that are projected onto an audience of some kind. So to me, the value of candid customer feedback is that it validates my team’s current assumptions and line of questioning. 

We bring in feedback through two mediums: First, we set up interviews with our Academy power users. Second, we give learners ample opportunity to submit their thoughts, either through satisfaction ratings or comment boxes. 

When it comes to building or refreshing a piece of content, those feedback sources are revisited, combed through, and we can once again validate our assumptions moving forward.

Hot Take: Digital Transformation Has Blown Open the Doors on Gated Training

In this final question (and extremely spicy chicken wing), Ryan asked how my perspective on e-learning changed in recent years. This is such an interesting topic right now – there has been so much rapid digital change in such a short amount of time. 

Guillen on the expansion of learning channels in a digital world

First, the format and delivery method of training has so many more options in a digital world. It’s been so fascinating to watch these possibilities expand, as well as this total commercialization of learning. On top of that, it’s never been easier than it is now to create learning, to earn credentials, or to discover learning. It’s such a great time to be a learner because you can so easily find someone to simplify or explain things in a way that best resonates with you.  

Product owners, however, are facing a new risk that their customers are being taught how to use or configure their products in a way that’s not necessarily intended. But even as I write that, isn’t that such a great feedback loop for product teams in itself?


David Guillen is the Director of Education & Enablement at TraceGains. He started his career as a Residence Hall Director at Manchester University and spent several years in academic instruction and advising before starting his own business in learning and development consulting.

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