By Andrew Maximow, Chief Drone Officer.

In a recent Firmatek blog post, Services vs. DIY: a Value Choice, we discuss the merits of a DIY model. Our model allows our mining clients to fly the drone, collect data whenever, wherever, and as often as they wish, while Firmatek processes and analyzes all of the data on-demand. For the DIY part to work well, training is a key component. In order to ensure that our clients are prepared and equipped to capture great data, we recently launched a training program that teaches our clients about the end-to-end process, expectations, FAA Part-107 compliance, and of course, how to fly the drone to collect and upload the data to Firmatek. We knew that for the training to be successful and effective it had to be done right. It’s one thing to post a bunch of online technical documents, and it’s another to create a program with engaging content that teaches the audience about technology that is often outside of their comfort zone. As we created, iterated, refined, and polished, we learned that creating an effective training program is part science and part art. We realized that training is a make or break customer satisfaction opportunity. If training is not executed well, it may actually chase your clients away.

Just like our services model, we chose a hybrid approach, which includes a combination of our own content, the Firmatek Support Center, and a high-quality training partner who specialize in Part-107 training content. It was important for us to find a program with a high degree of expertise, quality, and willingness to work with Firmatek and our unique set of customer requirements. Here are a few key take-aways that we believe help make training programs great:

Doing it yourself vs. partnering.

Let’s face it, you can’t do it all. Leverage and focus on the knowledge and expertise that’s in your wheelhouse. For example, the teams at Firmatek are experts in mining, drones, and analytics. While FAA Part-107 exam preparation is not our specialty. It turns out there are many online FAA Part-107 exam preparation courses that offer very high pass rates, reasonable prices, and money-back guarantees. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel by recreating something that has been already done by passionate specialists.

One of the best examples of excellent FAA Part-107 exam preparation courses is UAV Coach Drone Pilot Ground School, founded by Alan Perlman. They offer a lifetime membership with ongoing support, all for a very reasonable price. Thousands of students have successfully taken the course with 99% having passed the exam on their 1st attempt.

Training Content vs. Technical Support Documentation

Sometimes training programs don’t have enough information. On the other hand, all too often they include too much information, which tends to overwhelm students who then lose interest and may never complete the course. The secret is knowing and delivering just the right amount of information that students can retain and apply to get up and running, preferably the first time they go through the course. Then, make sure they have access to all the other information, which is viewed as supplementary and support documentation that should be accessed easily when needed. There is no need to cover all what-if scenarios and things that can go wrong. The what if scenarios are only a distraction from the overall objective of getting up and running.

This balance is not easy. At Firmatek, we cycled through several iterations in which we fine-tuned the training content to include only the relevant information. Everything else was organized into a separate documentation section on the Firmatek Support Center.

Make the Abstract Seem Simple

Making sense out of abstract concepts is really more of an art form that requires a combination of communication skills, a knack for teaching, and the use of video as a medium. By now it’s common knowledge that You-Tube videos are preferred over boring user manuals. As such, Firmatek is taking the time to record “how-to” videos with scripted narration. For example, we are using software like TechSmith to record how-to procedures to configure an app on a iPad. We have found that people engage and absorb complex, abstract information better this way. Our next step at Firmatek is to transition our training content to learning platforms such as Teachable with support for multi-media such as video, audio, animation, and raw data.

A Strong Training Program is Key to Customer Success

Building a strong training program is a key piece that we have focused on at Firmatek in the last year as we have rolled out Enterprise Drone Programs with some of the largest producers in the country. We recognize that it is important to help clients be successful. We both win when they fly the drones more frequently. Keeping the program targeted, partnering with the right companies, and making it as simple as possible helps our clients get their drones in the air to collect good data as quickly as possible.