Product knowledge training is commonplace in many organizations. Some companies release one or two new products a year, whereas others have so many different products that getting new hires up to speed can turn into a nightmare.
The problem with product knowledge training is that we need to take lots of it to really know the facts… but memorizing content is not fun to do. It’s hard to learn huge chunks of information by rote, and those “talking points” don’t come naturally.
If you need employees to know facts about a product from memory, handing them a bulleted list and saying good luck is not going to cut it. When the success of the organization is tied to how well people learn basic information, it’s worth investing in more substantial product knowledge training.
Lesson from the Insurance Industry
A close friend of mine started his career as an insurance agent selling auto policies. He moved on from the role after about one year, and I remember him telling me stories about the painful training he went through while starting the job. With so many different insurance products to sell, he needed to memorize a large quantity of information quickly. This information was presented in instructor-led courses and an online format that was, frankly, difficult to sit through. The result? Many weeks of trudging through the material, all the while thinking about what other jobs might be available.
If we want people to be successful in their jobs, it’s up to us to make the on-boarding process as smooth as possible. In the case of organizations with a large amount of products to sell, this means making it easier to acquire foundational knowledge.
Tips for Product Knowledge Training
Whether you use Knowledge Guru as part of your product knowledge training or some other combination of solutions, consider these tips to help learners retain more information, and enjoy the process:
1. Make the training fun
It’s not possible to turn the process of memorizing a bunch of new information into a complete cakewalk, but we sure can make it more enjoyable. If you’re using instructor-led sessions for your training, consider incorporating simple games into the sessions that let people rapidly practice the terminology. If you go the digital route, you do not need a fancy simulation or 3D game to practice product knowledge. A simple game or gamified experience will do the trick. The key is lots of repeated practice. You also want to ensure the game does not get in the way of the real learning. This leads me to my next point…
2. Use research-based learning principles
It makes perfect sense: look at what the research says on how we acquire knowledge, then model your training after those learning principles. Research tells us we need multiple repetitions, spaced out into small distributed practice sessions, to acquire new knowledge. We also need immediate feedback when we make a mistake.
We built all three of these learning principles into the Knowledge Guru game engine. However, it’s possible to design other learning solutions that leverage these learning principles as well.
3. Track what’s being learned… and not being learned
Do you need to hold learners accountable for their product knowledge? If so, make sure the learning solutions allow you to track the learning. In Knowledge Guru, you can see learners’ correct response percentages for each learning objective and question. This will help you fill in any gaps that exist in the learning.
4. Reinforce the learning and encourage extended practice
The Guru Grab Bag mode in Knowledge Guru is ideal for this purpose. It’s a separate mode of play with all of the content from the regular game scrambled together. The Grab Bag only becomes unlocked when players complete the regular game. Many users use the email tool within the game to invite players back for another practice session.
It’s also important to promote your learning solution internally. Consider the ways ExactTarget promoted their game internally, encouraging continuously play and practice. At the very least, a simple email sent once a week during and after the training will help reinforce what has been learned.
As you consider the best way to help learners with product knowledge, consider these examples from Knowledge Guru customers:
ExactTarget needed sales and support teams to know all the product facts, terminology for the launch of MobileConnect. They also wanted to teach the basics of mobile marketing. With lots of acronyms and terms to learn quickly, Knowledge Guru was an ideal solution for them. The game is still used for new members of the MobileConnect team. Learn more about their game here.
FrieslandCampina is using Dairy Guru to educate employees across the organization on facts about dairy as it relates to their products. Information like this can be very dry if it is presented in a bulleted list. So using a game like Knowledge Guru makes learning about dairy more fun and motivating. Learn more about FrieslandCampina’s use of the game in this interview.
What methods does your organization use to train on new products? Do they work? Leave a comment below and weigh in!