What Does the 4th of July Have to Do With Hands-on Training? You’d Be Surprised
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For many software businesses, helping customers get the most out of their technology can feel like a battle. You need to overcome resistance to change, use smart tactics to promote the technology, and expand the ‘territory’ of end-users who truly adopt your technology.
As we celebrate the 4th of July, there is a lot that customer success managers can learn from American Revolutionary War generals when it comes to winning the ‘battle’ of customer retention. And in particular, we can channel the hands-on training methods of a Prussian Baron who introduced new military drills to the revolutionary army back in 18th century America.
That’s right, you too can be an American hero this 4th July!
How Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben changed hands-on training
Time for a history lesson!
It was the deep, dark winter of 1777-1778 and the Continental Army was struggling in the War of Independence. Many of the soldiers were volunteers with little or no military experience. Their camps weren’t exactly the cleanest places to hunker down. The rag tag troops lacked uniforms or proper equipment. And different units were following different drill manuals – which meant they worked at cross purposes in battle.
It was more Apocalypse Now than Band of Brothers.
The army was low on discipline and morale. But Benjamin Franklin had an idea. He had heard about a distinguished Prussian military officer called Baron von Steuben who was in need of work. The Baron spoke very little English, yet he had been trained in the Prussian army which at that time was the most professional in the world. Baron von Steuben traveled to America in 1777 and by the following February, had arrived at Valley Forge to train the army in Pennsylvania.
Von Steuben immediately set about with hands-on practical training in the most advanced military techniques of the time, including:
- Extremely strict drills and parades
- Making soldiers march in compact columns rather than long thin lines
- Efficient methods for firing and reloading weapons
He also spent a lot of his time shouting and swearing at the volunteers in a crazy mix of German, French, and garbled English!
With his larger-than-life personality and charismatic approach to hands-on training, the baron soon transformed the Continental Army. Before long, they were whooping the Brits in battle!
What you can learn about hands-on training from von Steuben
The arrival of an expert in hands-on practical training for inexperienced soldiers completely changed the fortunes of the colonists. Baron von Steuben’s approach boosted morale and ensured that everyone knew their roles.
If you are trying to increase customer success with business technology, there are several things that you can learn from the charismatic Baron:
People need hands-on practical training
You cannot expect staff to learn how to use a technology by themselves – especially if they are not technical experts. Hands-on training from an expert with a deep understanding of business technology is the only way of truly transferring that knowledge to end-users. Baron von Steuben didn’t just leave the volunteers to figure out military tactics for themselves.
Hands-on experience boosts morale
Receiving training directly from an expert who can show them how technology works in person can really boost people’s morale. They can ask questions and get immediate answers, thereby boosting confidence. It also shows that business leaders actually care. Baron von Steuben’s drills had the same intention; by giving people practical tasks, watching how they worked, and providing instant feedback, the baron boosted the soldiers’ confidence.
Hands-on training ensures better adoption
Before von Steuben took over training of the Continental Army, there were many incidents of soldiers fleeing the battlefield because they felt unconfident about how to fight. In the same way, many companies struggle with software adoption because people simply don’t feel confident with the tools, therefore avoid using them. By providing extensive hands-on training, you make sure that technology really sticks – and ensure greater customer retention.
Channel the spirit of Baron von Steuben with hands-on training!
If you really want to achieve long-term customer retention, hands-on training is essential. It means customers will feel more confident with your technology, adopt it permanently, and use it most effectively.
With CloudShare, you can channel the spirit of Baron von Steuben’s approach to hands-on training! Just like the revolutionary war hero, you will be able to provide hands-on practical training to your customers and win the battle for adoption and retention.
Contact us today for a free demo!
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