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suggestions for support materials: customer service video

Author kirklott
#1 | Posted: 17 Jan 2007 16:02 
I'd be very grateful for any insights re the purpose of support materials for training media (video, software, etc.), and what makes excellent materials.

1) What's the purpose of support materials? (a basic question, to be sure, but I'm trying to see the whole picture). In other words, should support materials make training easier? Better? Explain how to use the media? Etc.

2) What types of support materials should be included? (e.g. discussion questions, role plays, games, Power Point, etc.)

3) Finally, for hard media (DVDs, etc.), should the support material be printed, or included in the DVD (e.g. PDF files on a DVD)?


Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 18 Jan 2007 06:26 
Hi Kirk,

Good questions, all. I believe that the answer to all three is...it depends.

What is the depth and breadth of the subject matter? What we can impart in video/DVD training often can be surface material, and if such, the support materials need to dive into the depths of the practical application.

For example, consider individual development software, i.e., 360-degree survey software. The use of the program, setting up a survey question study, and distributing on-line surveys, is quite straight-forward and most people with basic computer skills can readily accomplish this with the most basic instruction. However, the story behind the story is the integral piece. This is where values, morals and legal liabilities become paramount. Storytelling at this stage must be an integral piece of the training. Sharing applicable real-life experience is a must. At this level, the written materials are much better positioned to delve into the practical side of the application than the video/DVD itself.

Have you ever had the experience of having a question after viewing video/DVD training, then turning to the manual to find the exact same information in the written material? Unfortunately, this is far too often the case. Most users will attempt to find the solution that they are seeking in the training medium itself, and if unable, then and only then will they refer to the written supporting documentation. Including FAQ materials, exercises and real-world examples helps "de-mystify" the application.

I'm a fan of .pdf files for DVD training as I can then simply print what I need when I need it. However on the delivery side, the greater audience must be taken into account. I've also had the experience of frustrated end-users who don't want the "burden" of having to print out their own materials, and prefer instead to have an accompanying user manual with a well-built index. A practical approach is to offer two products, with the printed training manual product carrying the higher fee.

Good luck!

Author Michele Eby
#3 | Posted: 18 Jan 2007 06:49 

In addition to Karen's insight, I would add this: support materials should add depth to the training experience.

Learners don't want to be talked at by video/DVD/ software. The media experience should capture and engage the learner while outlining the learning points. The support materials should expand on the learning points to connect with the learner and his/her environment. What is in it for them; why is the learning relevant to their work environment; and what are the benefits, i.e. why is the training worth their time.

If the training is trainer-led, then the support materials should include group activities and discussions that go beyond what was included in the video to provide learners the opportunity to connect the learning to their world through experiential activities, if possible, and discussion so everyone can learn from one another (for example, realistic customer problems and scenarios in customer service training).

If the support materials are self-study, the support materials should force the learner to think beyond what was presented in the video to again, connect the learning to his or her work environment.

If the support materials don't add value to the learning experience by broadening what the learner walks away with (in knowledge and/or ability), then they aren't "supporting" the training.

Michele Eby
Writer and Training Advisor
Media Partners Corporation

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