Tag: voice of the customer

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

How Do You Know What Your Students Want? Voice of the Customer for Business Clients of eLearning

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As a Six Sigma Quality consultant, I coached many teams in new product (or process) design.  One of the very first tasks of any design project was to find out: 

What do customers really want? 

This is not to be confused with what I want, what I think they want, or what I have to sell and am hoping they’ll buy.  In my role as a consultant my most frequent question was “where is the data to back that up”.  As a Moodle content creator, I find myself asking that impertinent question with even greater emphasis.  This is because… 

If you don’t know what your students really want and what they really need, you can not design training for them. 

Most small business owners lack the resources to perform market research in the form of focus groups, large-scale studies, or small market trials.  Yet, getting the product right the first time is more critical for a small business than for a large one because of that very same thing; a lack of resources.   

How do you know what your students want before you build your eLearning?   

This is a question that plagues every design team creating a new product.  You can’t ask them because they aren’t students yet, unless you are converting from a different LMS (in which case, I hope you collected their concerns and are addressing them with your new solution).  What you can do is what everyone in New Product Development does: 

  • Observe current usage on other, similar products (web browsing, for instance).  My litmus test for whether something is tricky or not is to compare it to Facebook, Amazon, YouTube.  If young and old alike can buy a book or a toaster, view a surfing dog video, and figure out how to “like” my recommendation for an article on information overload, they can navigate Moodle, recover a lost password, and submit a comment without any trouble. 
  • Locate studies of usage on similar products for customers similar to yours.  If your students will be middle-aged managers, observing web usage of college kids won’t do you much good.  But the way people are browsing the Internet in an airport travelers lounge might be very informative. 
  • Locate past surveys of eLearning and face-to-face training with students similar to yours.  Many professional organizations maintain such statistics for their membership.
  • If you have the resources, conduct your own study or survey.  Alway, always, always hire experts to do this.  Bad data is worse than no data.

Some places to start learning about your customers and their eLearning needs:

  • The eLearning Coach – a great blog by Connie Malamed on instructional design  (She also wrote a book)
  • American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) – webcasts, publications, study results, etc.
  • Professional societies that your students might belong to, such as IEEE for engineers or the American Nurses Association, for instance.
  • StudentInsights, a market research firm focused on higher education.  Although their target clientele are universities, their findings for adult learners could still be useful for a small business delivering training to those same students. 

Don’t make assumptions about what others are thinking.  Ask around, listen, and watch.  

Watch for future posts on how to gather Voice of the Customer (VOC) data for your eLearning offerings, how to organize and analyze that data, how to prioritize it to fit your budget and other resources, and how to turn what customers want into what you build for them.

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