In a previous post, I talked about ways to build strong connections with customers through teaching. The inspiration for this conversation comes from the lessons learned from Adobe about how to engage and retain customers for life. I commented on their model of education, community, and fun, for building customer loyalty. Adobe’s approach to education is a model for businesses of any size.
Different Learning Styles
Everyone learns in a slightly different way. We each have a dominate style of learning and secondary preferences. There are seven identified learning styles. Depending on your style and that of your customer, you may have challenges in getting on the same page. One style is not better than another, it is just the way in which we tend to ingest and process information. I tend to learn best when I have a combination of with visual stimulation and physical (kinesthetic) or muscle memory (see and do) lessons. One of my hobbies is singing, and in that sphere, I turn on my ears as the primary way in which I learn, with visual and kinesthetic becoming secondary.
The better you understand how you learn and how your customer learns, the more likely you will be able to tailor the way in which you teach.
The Seven Learning Styles
- Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
What Questions Are Your Customers Asking?
Now that you have an idea of different learning styles, what kind of information is your customer seeking? What do they want to know? How can you help them understand? Are there questions that come up over and over?
- What may be easy for you is not easy for your customers.
- Offer step-by-step instructions to guide for processes that your customers use.
- Providing clear instructions helps people get good results.
- Create an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your website. It helps your customers and demonstrates how you think.
- Create a short booklet, book, or e-book based on the questions and answers.
- Better yet, create a guide that walks customers through a process, step-by-step, with clear directions and visuals.
Education and Expertise
As a consultant, author or speaker, one of your most important jobs is educating consumers. Helping them know how and why they can use your knowledge to help them solve their problems wins you business. Education is one a major function of marketing. The better you educate your audience, the better they can consume what you have to offer and keeps them coming back for more.
16 Tips For Successful Training
For many years, the main focus of my life and business was graphic design. Over time, I learned more and more about marketing, publishing, and speaking. Before becoming a graphic designer and brand evangelist, I cut my teeth in the world of training and organization development. I apply what I learned as a consultant to my work with authors, speakers and business owners about marketing and business operations. I have a strong belief in the power of collaboration. These tips on training are a blend of what I have gained from each of these disciplines.
- Start by listening. Find out what your customer/student wants to know. This will help you shape the training experience and met your student where they are now.
- Meet your student where they are now. You are an expert. It took you many hours or years to learn what you know. Meet your student at the level of knowledge they have now. Gentle them into learning at a pace they can embrace and maintain.
- Be patient. What your are teach may be easy for you because you have lots of practice or experience. Your student, customer or collaborator doesn’t have your knowledge yet.
- Approach teaching with a beginner’s mind. At some point in time you didn’t know what you know now. Remember how you felt when you were trying to learn, how you may have struggled, what helped you bridge the gap from not knowing to knowing. This will help you pace and share information in digestible quantities.
- Encourage note-taking. Taking notes helps get our brain and muscles involved in learning. The more parts of your body and brain that are engaged in learning, the more likely you and your student will retain the information.
- Have your student show you what they have learned. When we can teach someone else, that is when knowledge is really in our grasp. This will also reveal where there are gaps in understanding.
- Show, don’t tell. Demonstrate first. Then give your customer/student space to follow in your footsteps and enhance what they are learning.
- Identify the results and purpose of what you are teaching. Communicate clearly with your audience. When they know where you want to go it makes the journey relevant. This will also help you frame information and tie steps to the outcome in meaningful ways for you and your student.
- Reinforce success. An attitude of improvement will support teaching and learning far better than a black and white perfection or failure model. Continuous improvement is the goal and allows for experimentation and risk-taking without the fear of failure looming and stifling learning.
- Relax. Take a deep breath. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Eliminate distractions. When you are relaxed, composed and confident, you create an atmosphere that will be absorbed by your student and allows for creativity to flourish. Fear is an emotion that compromises our ability to access the reasoning parts of our brains. Fear puts us into our primitive, or lizard brain, producing a fight or flight response. Putting a body and mind into this kind of stress is not optimum for mastering complex or complicated information.
- Be enthusiastic. It’s contagious.
- Reward the behavior you want.
- The student to become the teacher. Teaching reinforces learning and reveals any remaining gaps in knowledge.
- Be open to questions. This encourages curiosity and allows for students to master the information.
- Show, observe, repeat.
- Follow-up. After a few days or a week have passed, it is wise to follow-up and see how well lessons have been retained. This also gives you another opportunity to reinforce learning and answer any lingering or new questions that have come up since you last met. If there are gaps, you can address them. Your customer may have discovered a new and better way to accomplish a task and is eager to share this with you. In any case, you are continuing the conversation and deepening your relationship, like Adobe, teaching is a way to build life-long loyalty.