Learning & Development

Extended Enterprise Learning for External Users

Extended enterprise learning is the future of corporate learning and development.

It’s a given that not everyone who interacts with your product or service works for your company. So, what value is your organization putting on training external users?

A 2020 study by Brandon Hall Group on extended enterprise learning uncovered these impressive results:

  • 58% of companies say extended enterprise learning has reduced their training costs
  • 55% of companies say it has improved customer relations
  • 41% of companies report it helps maximize customer retention

If you don’t focus on extended enterprise learning, now is the time to do so. This is where company training and development is heading to stay on the forefront of industry advancements.

What is extended enterprise learning?

Extended enterprise learning is the practice of providing non-employees (partners, vendors, students, or customers) with company-based training and learning materials. The goal of extending enterprise knowledge to external uses is to improve organizational efficiency and encourage self-learning.

This type of corporate development is an off-shoot of enterprise learning. However, instead of focusing on all learners (both internal and external), you only target outside users.

But, what can your organization expect to gain from implementing extended enterprise learning?

Extended enterprise learning benefits

Effectively offering extended enterprise learning and resources to non-employees will reduce the cost of training, lower customer service requests, and retain more customers.

For example, providing product knowledge training to partners can increase their sales. And customers having access to learning materials will reduce support tickets.

Extended enterprise learning is a win-win for both parties. Here’s some other benefits your organization can expect to see:

Lowers business expenses

One of the major benefits of extended enterprise learning for organizations is that it lowers businesses costs by eliminating the knowledge gap between internal and external users.

Increased profit

While you may offer customer support for your products or services, today’s consumer wants to buy and use right away. By offering training to your customers, they feel empowered and knowledgeable instantly. They walk away feeling satisfied doing business with your company, more willing to be a repeat buyer, and you have a better chance of these customers referring others.

Spreads brand awareness

Offering extended enterprise learning can help strengthen your brand and spread awareness. Use wikis, videos, whitepapers, and training programs to explain your brand’s narrative. By giving access to learning resources to outside members, they’ll become better brand ambassadors.

Better corporate communication

Corporate communication is key in any organization. However, the more people you have involved in the buying process, the more lost in translation your messaging can get. Extended enterprise training can fill these knowledge gaps, clear up customer confusion, and handle misinformation from partners.

Fluid learning environment

A lot of companies flounder because they fall back on the same processes over time. In order to stay ahead of the competition, you need to be flexible and willing to change directions quickly when something is not working. Extended enterprise learning can keep your company agile. Plus, it helps onboard new partners quicker and more effectively reducing the learning curve.

Reduce corporate risk

Whether you are talking about lawsuits or bad customer reviews, reducing corporate risk is always important. Extended enterprise learning can help lower this risk. When all your vendors, suppliers, and customers are on the same page, you will reduce the likelihood of negative issues.

Improve supply chain and processes

When you implement extended enterprise learning, you soon learn where processes are lagging or where certain people may need additional training. Just like training your employees, training external partners is beneficial in uncovering areas of improvement. With increased training, your processes will get stronger and your supply chain more efficient.

How to implement extended enterprise learning

  1. Determine who should receive training
  2. Define key performance indicators
  3. Select an enterprise LMS
  4. Develop training materials
  5. Distribute learning resources
  6. Measure training effectiveness
  7. Improve and adapt

Step #1: Determine who should receive training

The first step in implementing extended enterprise learning is figuring out who should receive learning and training resources. Does your company provide a product or service that customers need training to use? Does your organization allow partners or vendors to sell and market your product or service? Or a mix of both?

Either way, these are the questions that need to be answered before creating your enterprise learning strategy.

Step #2: Define key performance indicators

Next is to determine what training and development metrics should be measured to define success. Here’s a few examples of training KPIs to use for extended enterprise learning:

  • Support tickets
  • Course completion rate
  • Assessment results
  • Feedback ratings
  • Learner satisfaction

Once you figure out the key performance indicators you want to track, your organization will have an easier time measuring the value of training external users.

Step #3: Select an enterprise LMS

Now that you know some of the advantages of extended enterprise learning, it’s time to look for an enterprise learning platform. Even though you currently have a learning management system, your provider may not be equipped to handle external partner learning effectively. 

So it’s important to look for these key features in an LMS provider:

  • Individual user profiles
  • Searchability and navigation
  • Curated content
  • Support resources
  • Built-in analytics
  • Online certification
  • Security and compliance

Luckily, Continu has all those features and more! Plus 5-star reviews and awards on G2.

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Learn why modern companies choose Continu for their learning needs

Step #4: Develop training materials

Now that you have an LMS that can handle extended enterprise learning, it’s time to develop effective training materials. These learning resources need to provide extensive product knowledge and support articles for selling, marketing, using, and interacting with your product or service. Make sure these training materials are thorough and answer any common questions that may pop up.

Step #5: Distribute learning resources

Once these materials are created, you’ll have to choose optimal ways of distributing your learning resources. You can give external users access to your learning platform, links to your support center, a branded whitepaper about your product, or even invitations to online webinars and workshops.

Step #6: Measure training effectiveness

Similar to measuring an employee’s training progress, you can use the same means for external users. But instead of focusing on how learning new skills or information is affecting their job performance, look at it from an organizational perspective.

How are these extended enterprise learning materials impacting our company as a whole? Are these improving partner sales? Is there a reduction in support tickets from customers?

Step #7: Improve and adapt

Finally, with all of the data gathered through measuring, use this to find ways to optimize or improve your extended enterprise learning approach. Look for opportunities to answer common questions, proactively train or inform customers, and ask for feedback from external users.

Continu, an LMS built for extended enterprise learning

As you can see, extended enterprise learning is crucial for modern businesses selling products and services. Without the implementation of partner or customer training, your organization is missing out on opportunities to reduce support tickets, increase sales, and spread brand awareness.

That's why its more important than ever to provide learning resources and training programs to users outside of your company.

Continu built their learning platform to not only provide employees with effective means of learning and development, but external users as well. Here’s what Continu can do to solve your extended enterprise learning challenges:

  • All-in-one learning platform
  • Create content directly in the platform
  • Learning tracks and courses
  • Import third-party, outside resources
  • Customer, partner, vendor, and student training
  • Assessments, quizzes, and tests
  • Built-in analytics for valuable learning insights
  • Online workshops and webinars
  • Training and attendance tracking
  • And much, much more!

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