Beware of the oft-used title — “customer service.” As practiced today, customer service is merely a response department in which their sole job is to respond to complaints, error reports and other problems.

What you should be looking for is a courseware vendor that practices “customer assurance” — a training vendor that is always thinking “customers” — from initial development through service-after-the-sale.

It all starts with courseware development. And, I’m not talking about the myriad Regulatory Training or Microsoft Office Training vendors. Those vendors need only do “manual” and published regulation research in order to initiate their courseware development activities. And, that is because they are creating “information” courses that re-package existing print-based knowledge. The content is universally available to everyone at all times — one of the major reasons there exists so very many Regulatory and Office Training vendors (almost anyone can do it).

What I’m talking about is skills-based training that, while having a base of procedural information, must also include “best practices,” “proper tool use,” and “safety and good housekeeping considerations.”

So, the first step in “customer assurance,” for any vendor offering training in skills acquisition, is a partnership with its customers. Does the choice of subjects-to-be-taught come as a response to customer-interest? Are the video and graphics used originating from actual on-site visits to process and manufacturing companies? Is the talent used comprised of actual workers, already expert at the procedures being taught?

The second aspect of customer assurance involves the planning and review stages that are integral to the programs being created? Are applicable customers being involved at every step in the development process?

The final step is the one we refer to as “customer service” — an after-the-sale activity that results in “fixes” to problems and questions.

However, without the first two aspects of “customer assurance,” the “customer service” component will be never-ending — simply because “customers” were never seriously considered in the planning, making, and reviewing processes — all so essential to meaningful learning today.

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)