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If you run a training organisation, ask yourself this. Do we care what our learners think, or do we just pretend that we do? There are many ways of showing you care. But if they aren’t designed or dealt with carefully they have the opposite effect.

A great deal has been said elsewhere about the benefits of listening to what learners think about the quality of their learning experience. Yet our inspection teams still come across training organisations which don’t do this well.

Training organisations are no different to any other service providers. They need to identify and understand any dissatisfaction with their services, because customer dissatisfaction quickly undoes a hard earned reputation.

Listening to your learners starts before you train them. Pre-course questionnaires provide valuable information to trainers on prior learning, expectations and current roles. Great customer service starts with the way you handle enquiries and joining instructions and shows your customers that you mean the fine words on your website.

Listening to your trainers also gets you closer to what your learners think, because they spend the most time with them.  So make sure your trainers are skilled at reading learner abilities and attitudes and identifying any problems with course content or materials, the pace of learning, the style of teaching or the learning environment. And remember, if your trainers are not properly motivated this will be picked up on very quickly by the people they are teaching.

At the end of a course, it is common for evaluation forms to be handed out. Learner surveys might also be sent out in the weeks following a course to check on its impact in the workplace. It is easy for these to give the impression that your organisation is only paying lip-service to evaluating the quality of the training it delivers – especially if they ask obviously leading questions, or the trainer is unenthusiastic, or there is no indication that you take the feedback seriously.

There is a trend away from paper evaluation forms to digital post-course surveys. Be careful about this. It might suit some learners but it won’t suit them all. And response rates are likely to fall if learning evaluation forms are not completed by learners before they leave the classroom. The trick is to get a good quality response before they do.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t use the term ‘happy sheet’. It reflects and feeds the cynicism that has grown up around the evaluation of training, where the number of responses received from learners is valued more than their content.

Listening to Learners is one of five essential ways to improve compulsory training/licensing programmes that CAS has identified through its monitoring and inspection contracts – read more about them here.