Recently a friend showed me his brand new car, complete with all the bells and whistles. As we tested out the heated seats and push button start, he explained that the dealership was offering free training sessions to learn how to utilize all of the car’s features. The concept of being trained on how to run a car was foreign to me. My friend has been driving for years; he certainly doesn’t need a training session to show him how to get to the bank. But after some thought, I realized that these training sessions help a new owner achieve two fundamental goals: (1) to adapt to the change associated with driving a new car and (2) to understand how to use the features of the product to enjoy the most benefit.
In fact, this training and applications support model is well established in other industries that utilize increasingly advanced technology. It seems as though every mall in America has an Apple store, complete with experts waiting to help you best utilize your new laptop, iPad, or iPhone. Food safety is another industry that can benefit from well-developed training and applications support, as it increasingly adopts more advanced technology.
What makes a training program effective?
The word “training” is defined as the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior. But product training for a new user is more dynamic than the definition implies. In the food industry, where a poultry processor has very different needs from a produce grower, a vendor must understand the unique needs of each segment they want to serve in order to build an effective training program for their products or services. Product training should be highly customized to the needs of the specific user, and therefore, the training program must be flexible and adaptable to the specific segment, company, or even to the trainee themselves.
What makes training and applications personnel effective?
Depending on the type of food produced, shelf life can have a major impact on profitability. For this and other reasons, food companies cannot afford decreased efficiencies while adopting new technology. Vendors must be able to minimize disruption to normal processes when food companies are integrating their products. To help mitigate disruptions, the product trainer must possess a unique blend of technical and interpersonal skills. When adopting advanced technology into routine processes, several visits by a trainer (sometimes called Field Applications Specialist) may be necessary to ensure that new users are comfortable with the new workflow.
Additionally, an effective trainer helps the new user utilize the product features in a way that provides the best user experience. In food production, as in many industries, companies assess whether new products can provide one or more of the following core benefits:
• Improve the bottom line by decreasing cost
• Improve the top line by attracting new business
• Improve the quality of the product or service that the company provides
A trainer should understand how the product will help the client achieve these goals and should assist the new user in gaining the maximum benefit out of the product features.
Effective training is crucial to successful adoption of new technology
The food industry is fast-paced, dynamic, and extremely diverse. Food companies are constantly under pressure to do more with less. As companies evaluate new technology, they may assess several parameters, including cost and quality. Those companies evaluating highly advanced technologies should also consider the services that are provided by the vendor, specifically the training and applications support that they offer to new and existing users. In the long run, these services will provide lasting benefits by ensuring that new technology is integrated appropriately and new users are comfortable utilizing the products.