An interesting thing is happening in the on-demand economy. When it comes to training, every company I’ve worked with is taking the development of the supplier side of their platforms very seriously. What is more, they are making it more provider focused and innovating in ways we’ve never seen in the world of professional education.
This trend in training for providers is because on-demand economy companies differ in some fundamental ways with traditional Fortune 500 companies. As a result, they are baking provider training into the recipe rather than treating it like a side dish. What we’re seeing is no less than the breaking down of training from the monolithic elearning that is common in large companies into content that is more contextualized, more automated, more outcomes oriented and more empowering.
Key differences in the on-demand economy
The relationship these new companies require with independent providers in order to create value for the consumer is bringing into relief some fundamental differences in this economy.
First, to a much greater degree than with employees in a traditional company, providers are the face of the brand. On-demand economy platforms facilitate a connection between a provider and a consumer, and from the user’s perspective, the provider is their experience. They judge the company based on that experience, so training is mission critical.
Second, the drivers, hosts and other providers only earn money if they are doing well on the platform, so success for the company depends on success for the providers. The goal of training in this context is very different. It’s less about ticking off compliance requirements and more about enabling partners to achieve more.
Third, in a traditional company, employees provide a service to a company, not to the consumer, the employer’s requirements drive the process. But, because providers in a on-demand economy company are independent and can decide when to provide services on their own clock, training is voluntary rather than compelled. The company has to create content that’s so engaging and helpful that they actually show up and participate.
Fourth, the organization of employee training in a Fortune 500 company often looks like a silo. But in the on-demand economy, training is a lever to directly impact business outcomes. Instead of living in its own vertical, training for providers has to be well integrated into operations.
Foundations for successful provider training
So what do on-demand economy companies need to do to succeed in this environment? I’m hearing a few major themes from the companies we work with.
- Training has to focus on the entire provider lifecycle. That is the foundational principle off of which everything else needs to be constructed. We’re seeing different use cases for different points in the provider’s relationship with the company — from enabling quicker activation on to the platform for new providers to sharing the expertise of power providers later on.
- You have to get the team in place that can make that happen. The most intriguing training programs are led by people who are in operations and plugged into the provider network, so they’re in touch with the needs of the provider.
- This content has to be on brand. You can’t download this training from an eLearning library and plug it into your learning management system. You have to create it from scratch by utilizing internal experts and team members who have worked closely with customer needs.
- The training experience for the provider has to be as frictionless as the buying experience for the consumer. The appeal of the on-demand economy for consumers is that it is on demand and fast. Providers don’t expect any less. They want it to be on mobile devices, and they don’t want to exit to another training platform to get it. It must be fully and seamlessly integrated into the core platform of the company. Anything less than that will fail.
- The training must use a technology suited for this new context. A learning management system based on tracking regulations, requirements and compliance won’t work, because it’s not optimized to deliver engaging content where these providers are and to help them succeed. This training requires a new type of platform that enables complete white labeling and deep integration into existing digital products.
- The ROI for training needs to measure increased success of the provider. The companies we work with set up their metrics to answer questions like these:
- Did we reduce the number of routine inquiries from providers?
- Is the provider getting better reviews from consumers?
- Is the provider staying with us longer?
- Is the provider earning more money?
These are all metrics tied back to that fundamental question: Are the providers succeeding?
New tactics to align with a new strategy
In the on-demand economy, fortunes can turn really fast, because as soon as the experience is degraded, consumers leave. Providers — like consumers — have a lot of options in the market, so the companies that help providers succeed are going to become leaders in the industry.
That’s why these new companies are taking training so seriously. It’s mission critical. The entire strategy for delivering on their value proposition is fundamentally different from a traditional company — and entirely dependent on independent contractors having and providing a great experience — so it requires a new set of tactics.
In short, these companies require training that:
- can be seamlessly accessed as a part of the product and branded experience.
- improves their entire funnel to attract, engage, activate and retain providers.
- optimizes the lifecycle of providers and empowers them to succeed.
- is relevant and served up in context when and where it’s needed.
- has a measurable impact on the company’s KPIs.
On-demand economy companies are treating training as a lever they can pull to impact key business metrics. The innovations you’ll see emerging from these companies will be more contextualized and more aligned with the overall theme of the on-demand economy to create seamless, frictionless experiences, for consumers and providers both, at scale.