The 3 E's of Training Company Data: Efficient, Ethical, Effective

Data is everywhere. As we've pointed out before, IBM estimate that we collectively produce around 2.5 exabytes of data every day. That's 2.5 billion gigabytes; or 156,250,000 16GB iPods.

The issue of data is so large, in fact, that the European Union is already preparing to roll out the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 25th 2018. According to the official website:

'The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world.'

This, in effect, will ensure that British and EU customers retain full control and consent over how businesses use their data. And, since it's a regulation, not a directive, the new rules have substantial legal weight attached for those not following the correct procedure.

Ultimately, we're processing more data than ever before. But are we using it the right way?

How do you collect delegate feedback? Read more in 'Happy sheets vs. Automated Surveys'

Best practices

First, let's consider what it means to use data ethically.

These days, people expect their data will be collected - whether it's accepting your website's cookies or handing over their email addresses in return for an informative white paper like this one right here

Think of this as a quid pro quo. Your customer is going to volunteer key information; you're going to protect that data and use it in the proper manner. It's about building trust. As such, best practice dictates that to ensure that your business is using data ethically, you should be...

Open and honest

Tell your customers that you're collecting key data; tell them what you're collecting; tell them how that data will be used. It's as simple as that. If your customer doesn't want to share their details, offer an 'unsubscribe' or opt-out option.

Responsible and respectful

Just because you can collect all that data, most of it will be unnecessary for your business. As such, only gather the information your training organisation actually requires, and understand how you'll use that data for the benefit of both your customer and your company.

Privacy- and security-aware

The threat to privacy and security in the data-world can't be understated, so operate on the Gandalf principle: 'Keep it secret, keep it safe.' If you can't guarantee privacy and security, you're better off not collecting data until you can properly safeguard it. Not doing so will result in your customer's loss of trust, and you could be facing legal repercussions.

Person looking at data on tablet

How to use data

With that in mind, it's worth considering how training companies can make good use of the data they're collecting; ethical uses that benefit you and your delegates.

For your delegates...


You probably know your delegates better than you think. With the right training management software, you can see at a glance all the previous courses your delegate has taken with you.

This is actionable data.

It means you can now engage in cross-selling related courses that are likely to be of interest. This is more or less what Amazon does when they suggest recommended purchases; items also bought by those who purchased Product X, and so on.

Marketing new courses is fairly straightforward using automated systems. The delegate receives an email that offers courses that are most likely to be of interest to them without any laborious manual processes, so you won't have to write each individual email by hand. This way, your delegates get even more value from your training company, while you gain additional revenue and increased customer loyalty.

Expiring awards

If you offer compliance courses, you can use your collected data to really enhance your standing with delegates. Crucially, you know the date that a delegate passed their compliance-based course and when that award will expire.

There are two ways to proceed. If you don't currently use a training management system, you can set up Outlook notifications at the time the delegate completes the course; if your business does employ a training management system, you can easily set up automatic notifications that will alert learners about the forthcoming expiration of their awards.

Once again, you're using that data to add value to your delegates' lives while driving revenue.

Relevant marketing

It's not a requirement that you only sell training to existing customers. If a customer consents to offering you their details and expressed an interest in particular courses, then you can use those details to form a connection.

The key data here isn't just that all-important email address, but the types of courses they're interested in. Now you know what they're into and can begin to market your existing course offerings appropriately.

Much like cross-selling but without the pre-existing relationship, this data allows you to create tailored marketing communications that are likely to be well-received by the customer (since they asked for information anyway).

For more remarketing options available within our system, you can read more here.

 Course feedback checklist collected through training management system

For your training business...

Google Analytics

We've discussed Google Analytics before, but it's worth a brief revisit simply because this data is incredibly insightful and can help define the direction of your business.

Integrated with your website, Google Analytics offers just about everything you wish to know about visitors to your website - including their location, browser, device, how they found your site and how long they stayed for.

More importantly, by analysing the Analytics, you'll gain a comprehensive picture of the way in which delegates navigate your website. Are people bouncing from your site without interacting? Which pages are most popular? What keywords are people searching for to find you?

This powerful sort of intelligence allows you to identify gaps and issues that may be limiting sales, and realign your marketing strategy accordingly.

Staged feedback and surveys

Taking feedback from delegates is par for the course for just about every training company, whether you're using paper-based happy sheets or online surveys. And this sort of data is invaluable for refining the overall delegate experience.

Employ staged feedback to gather data at key points throughout the learner's journey (again, this data is given 'by consent', so there are no dubious ethical issues). Request feedback before the course starts to identify what delegates hope to get out of the course, but also once the training is completed.

Measure those evaluations against your business objectives. How do they stack up? It may highlight a discrepancy between how you're marketing the course versus what you're delivering; it may reveal deficiencies in certain trainers or showcase areas where you're exceeding expectations.

As a side-note, make sure you accept all honest feedback, good and bad - that's really the only ethical issue here, and the only way to genuinely improve your operations.

Profitability and performance

Modern training technologies now allow for the collection and extrapolation of vast amounts of data. This enables you to see in far greater detail how your business is performing.

If key courses are profitable, the data will depict this. This allows you to make the decision to extend that particular training (and, of course, the reverse is true for courses that don't perform as expected).

Are resources being stretched? Do you require more trainers? These sort of business issues are readily viewed with detailed, accurate reports. Thankfully, there's no need to grapple with an insurmountable level of data.

With our training success platform, you can perform three actions that simplify this process...

  • Filter - So you only see the information that's relevant to you.
  • Export - You can export reports into your preferred format.
  • Schedule - To ensure that key stakeholders are always informed, you can automatically schedule reports to arrive in inboxes.

These actions are designed to bring efficiencies to your business. You can become more effective, using data ethically to become a fully data-driven training company. 

Request a free demo of our training management software now.

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