Does your global training have a localization strategy? This is a critical question for multinational companies.
The effectiveness of customer training is central to their business – companies with trained customers are retained at a higher rate than companies with non-trained customers. Thus, the customer training that is developed and proven centrally must be deployed regionally, requiring a multifaceted adoption strategy - localization.
Developing an effective and scalable global training localization strategy requires experience, insight and foresight. We were fortunate to have Daniel Quick, Vice President of Learning Strategies at Thought Industries, help us understand the complexity of the situation and how to formulate the answer.
“Companies that train customers internationally need a scalable strategy to ensure that their training and customer success goals, their training content and delivery are aligned with the unique needs of each region. This begins with language translation and continues from there.”
It’s very important to note that while the learning experience, the content and delivery may change, the goals of the training don’t change. The values and mission are bedrock. Bottom line – the training must help customers achieve success using your product to do their jobs better, more efficiently, with greater quality.
Five localization strategies for your global training program
1: Don't boil the content ocean
Translation is the first step in localization and the immediate reaction of many training teams may be, well, we have to have everything translated. However, Daniel counsels, this is not effective, is expensive, time consuming and not scalable. Extending these learning opportunities means minimizing additional effort, developmental costs and time delays. “This is really, really hard.”
“The temptation to just translate all content doesn’t take into account the 20 / 80 rule: In most cases, there is the 20% of content that solves 80% of the goal. 20% is the core that gets learners 80% of the way. Concentrating on this core content allows you to save time and to do a much better job of adapting and meeting regional needs. You have less content to work with, can do a more thorough job of localizing and get to market faster.”
Training teams should also look at what they are translating. For instance, if it is a video, the two most important elements are the visual and the narration. The visuals should not need much adjustment (although it helps to show your product’s UI in the proper language). A native-speaking local partner can review the translated script for accuracy and nuance, and then provide the new narration.
Also, look to see if some training elements can be condensed. Could several elements be combined into a webinar, which is created first in English, and then reworked by the CSMs in the region.
2: Culture is a powerful driver of localization
“Culture is a significant factor in localization, and many times we’re not paying enough attention.”
A book could be written about the effects of culture on effective localization. For now, here are 2 examples:
The training may assume a top-down management style, as in the West. However, if your training is being delivered in the East, e.g., Japan, mid-level management consensus is the rule.
This is why your training department will need a strong local, native speaking partner to review your translated content. You don’t want to lose your audience because of language nuances or inadvertent insensitivity.
3: Vary training delivery by the needs and capabilities of the region
“Think about how they best learn. They won’t adapt to you.”
There are 3 things to consider here:
Different regions have different learning preferences. Pushing for interactivity works in one region but not in another. Virtual training is preferred in some areas, but distinct regions favor ILT.
What is the state of available technology? For example, if you are training in a developing country, your learners may not have ready access to computers or the Internet.
The end-point of training is to have your customers successfully use your product to do their jobs much better. Good idea to check if the workflow you assume is actually how they do their jobs in each region.
4: A modern learning system is essential
Next-generation learning management systems, such as the Thought Industries Platform, provide advanced solutions:
Translation of content directly from the platform
Easy management, universal updating and distribution of content directly from the platform
Customization / localization of the user interface
Localization of the learning experience through individualized learning environments
It’s critically important that companies who train internationally choose their learning system partner carefully.
5: Measurement must survive localization
Both qualitative and quantitative measurement processes and actual metrics must remain in place, no matter what other changes take place through localization. Metrics and their evaluation must be consistent across all regions to understand how well you are training your customers and identify (and address) knowledge gaps. Some of these metrics include:
Engagement rate with educational content
Qualitative feedback (voice of the learner)
It is always a good idea to divide the audience in half – those who engage with training and those who don’t – to contrast results.
Advice on avoiding customer training content localization pitfalls
Acknowledge that your product or service is going to change. You must have a strategy to update your content and maintain localization.
Develop customer training content with localization in mind to eliminate some of the pain of localization and updating. There is a strong argument here for narrowly focused content, such as short, pre-recorded videos in the native languages.
Have a strategy for nurturing and developing your network of superusers. This is an important, on-premises resource for customers who are using your product to solve similar problems. Sometimes it’s easier and more effective to get the answer from someone who is already doing it.
Similarly, nurture and grow your online community of users and share best practices. Make sure that there is room for the community to accommodate learners in different regions. Consider region-specific moderators.
Make sure you have an outreach strategy. Don’t rely on customers who are motivated to engage, make sure that all customers are aware of what’s available, that training is promoted and is easily available, such as through in-app widgets. Let your customers know what the learning path is, what’s next, and why it’s important to their job performance and growth.