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If your organization sells complex products, your customers will likely need guidance on using those products to achieve their goals. No one can get far in our complex, cloud-using world without the right tools to lead them through the necessary learning experience for tech competence.
That’s why, for fast-growing tech companies, implementing a customer training program that teaches customers to derive more value from products has proven highly effective at increasing adoption, retention, and profitability.
Adoption and retention should already be high on the list of your priorities, we’re assuming. Research shows that companies focusing on customer training and retention are three times as likely to increase market share as those focused solely on acquisition. That makes online training programs worthwhile, regardless of your use case.
However, while the benefits of training employees are apparent, most organizations are only now beginning to realize the ROI potential of using an LMS for the purpose of online learning for customers.
In this post, we will answer all your questions about why you should use a learning management system (LMS) for online courses and how to choose the right e-learning platform for your organization’s unique customer training needs.
But first, let’s start by discussing what an LMS is and why you need one.
The Benefits of Using a Learning Management System (LMS) to Train Customers
Before you can decide that an LMS is the right move for you, you need a few definitions. Let’s take a look.
What Is an LMS and What Is a Customer Training Program?
A learning management system is software that leads people through scaffolded information delivery to training them on a specific skill set. Your LMS may include automated content only, or it could have an in-person, instructor-led component.
Some learning management software includes homework, assessments, forums, chats, pre-built templates, and various ways of measuring learner progress, such as gamification and certification.
You can use such a learning platform for employee training courses – teaching skills such as customer support or e-commerce IT. You could also use eLearning courses to train internal teams on sales, HR, or other departmental concerns.
The external uses of learning and development systems interest us today because there are also scenarios in which you will need to develop training programs for stakeholders external to your business. This includes partners, vendors, resellers, and customers.
The latter, in particular, need guidance on using your products to extract the maximum value out of them as quickly as possible. To accomplish this, you need a customer training program that gently guides people through knowledge acquisition while allowing them to view the learning process.
Together, these tactics help invest your customer in the learning and in you and your product.
Why Use a Learning Management System for Customer Training?
An enterprise LMS software is specifically built to help organizations quickly implement training materials that are accessible, scalable, and engaging.
For the organization, adding course content is fast and easy, you can control who has access to the information, and progress can be tracked and reviewed. Moreover, you can automate your customers’ training, allowing you to spend more time building relationships and with course authoring. For the user, access to course content is convenient, courses are engaging, and they can progress through the training at their own pace.
The features that make an enterprise LMS a user-friendly solution for training employees can also be used to meet customers’ training needs.
Customer Learning Platform Benefits
While one-on-one customer education can be effective, it is also very difficult and expensive to scale. Many technology companies have begun using an LMS internally and externally for the following reasons:
- Increased Customer Engagement: The faster your customers can dive into your product and extract value from it, the more likely they will keep using it repeatedly.
- Increased Customer Satisfaction: Customers who aren’t given clear guidance on using a product typically have to contact support to get help. Frequently, they just get frustrated and move on. A customer training program can reduce users' confusion, hassle, and frustration, inevitably leading to increased customer satisfaction.
- Reduction of Customer Support Costs: Because a customer training program reduces the need for customers to contact customer support for assistance, you won’t have to hire as much support staff, which adds up to enormous, long-term cost savings.
- Increased Customer Retention: Even if you successfully get your customers to their initial quick wins, you must still be there to assist them in progressing toward their long-term goals. By proactively providing training and guidance every step of the way, you minimize churn and maximize customer retention.
- Increased Revenue and Profit Margins: Not only are free-trial users trained on how to use your product more likely to upgrade to a paid plan, but existing customers are also more likely to upgrade to higher plans.
- More Referrals: In addition, the increased satisfaction from your customer training program will also lead to an increase in referrals and word-of-mouth from existing customers, leading to increased revenue, ROI, and higher profit margins.
Why You Can't Just Retrofit Your Internal Employee LMS
It’s not as easy as turning your internal LMS outward, however. Unfortunately, many companies eventually realize that a traditional corporate LMS is ineffective, and a more robust, online customer training platform is needed.
In fact, a recent LMS trend poll conducted by Brandon Hall found that over 58% of the companies surveyed said they were looking to replace their traditional LMS with a corporate learning tool to meet their business needs and objectives better. And we’ve written previously about the ten reasons why the traditional LMS is failing technology companies.
When developing your customer training program, you will want to look for an online customer training platform that is flexible enough to rapidly and securely deliver up-to-date information, training, coaching, and certifications. It must do so in an engaging way, accessible to anyone, from any device, anywhere in the world, 24/7.
Luckily for you, those programs exist, such as the ones we help you build here at Raven360. (More on that later.) For now, here are the top 10 advantages of using a robust, online customer training platform to create happier, better-equipped customers.
The LMS Features You Need for eLearning Customer Training
While many enterprise LMS options exist, few offer all of the critical features your organization will need to implement a successful customer training program. A good one should have all the following, so let’s begin.
1. Intuitive User Interface
Even if it has all the basic functionality you need, most traditional corporate LMSs are incredibly outdated, slow, and hard to navigate. Encouraging your customers to adopt these ancient tools is particularly difficult in an age where everyone expects software to be simple, fast, and intuitive.
If you want to maximize the use and engagement of your customer training program, it should feel more like Netflix and less like a traditional course catalog. Your messaging should reflect the simplicity of your product, and you should provide metrics to back up your claims that people love it.
2. Flexible, Open Content Creation
Because it is very difficult to constantly create a vast amount of up-to-date content, traditional corporate LMSs are extremely limited in the value they can provide learners.
Ideally, you should have the flexibility to create and share training and information in whatever length and format you choose rather than being limited to the long, rigid, traditional course structure of an LMS.
Look for an online customer training platform that supports any kind of content you already have and allows you to upload content in any format, such as PDF, video files, Google docs, blog posts, YouTube videos, HTML packages, SCORM packages, and more.
3. Dynamic Learning Capabilities
A traditional LMS provides little more than a static list of resources, much like a college course catalog. Search capabilities are extremely limited, and there’s little in the way of direction or suggestions on what content to consume next.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t how we, as users, interact with technology anymore. Effective customer training programs ensure that learning is seamlessly incorporated into the workflow rather than being a separate, designated activity.
Dynamic learning capabilities make learning exciting, engaging, and far more useful. To wit:
- Custom Learning Paths: To maximize user adoption and retention of information, it’s often helpful to direct your customers down pre-defined “learning paths” according to their individual needs.
- Recommended Learning Based on Past Activity: Your customer training tool should provide recommended courses based on their previous activity and personalized content tailored to their specific needs.
- Live, Instructor-Led Training, and Two-Way Interaction: To maximize engagement and participation, your customer training tool should provide the ability to conduct live, online, and video classes as well.
- Self-Labs and Virtual Machines: Always provide learners with access to a virtual machine instance of your software on their browsers with no downloads or installs. This lets customers get hands-on experience using your tech without compromising accurate data or breaking anything.
This kind of dynamic training isn’t possible with a traditional LMS.
Gamification of learning content is popular in apps, compliance training, corporate training, and now customer training. It is one of the best ways to incentivize customers to complete your training program.
How? By using quizzes and offering rewards, such as points, badges, and trophies that recognize their progress through your onboarding modules. You can also spark a competitive spirit among your customers by providing leaderboards so they can compare their progress with their peers.
These gamification features increase engagement and allows customers to share their progress and certifications with their colleagues and friends on social media, which can attract new customers and further establish your brand in the market.
5. Mobile Learning Options
In an on-the-go, globally-connected world, your customers need the ability to quickly access bite-sized training and onboarding from their mobile devices using a range of operating systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Whether we’re talking about an employee training platform or a customer LMS platform, your learning paths need to offer course content anywhere your user is. From smartphones to tablets to laptops, providers must make customer training and elearning as easy as breathing.
6. Offline & Online Learning Options
Even among traditional corporate LMSs that provide remote access to users from mobile devices, only some allow users to download content for offline viewing.
Unfortunately, most wireless providers impose strict data caps, which means that your customers who are traveling or are without internet access for any reason will be unable to access content and continue their learning on the go.
This is why companies like Google, Netflix, and Amazon allow users of their mobile apps to download files, documents, and videos for offline viewing. You also need an online option, so your customers never feel you’re not working for them.
7. Custom and Recommended Learning Paths
The LMS you choose for your customer training program should provide intuitive navigation that clearly shows users additional content related to courses they are currently taking, recommended courses based on their previous activity, and personalized content tailored to their specific needs.
To maximize the adoption and retention of information, you must be able to send your customers down pre-defined “learning paths” according to their individual needs. A cluttered, one-size-fits-all solution won’t cut it.
Instead, you need personalized suggestions that provide clear “next steps” for users, reducing confusion while maximizing usage and ROI. Working in some social learning through team efforts or even social media is also a plus, creating a fun environment while customizing everyone’s experience.
8. Advanced Reporting
While most traditional LMSs may provide simple reports on test scores and display the number of users who completed a course, they cannot typically create in-depth, customized reports on things such as:
- The impact training is having on specific business objectives
- How much time a user spends on courses, tutorials, webinars, or other training sessions
- What content was accessed by users (and which content is unnecessary)
- Where in a course users are getting stuck or confused
- What knowledge gaps do users have, and where is additional training needed
- Data visualization to help administrators identify patterns and trends
Ensuring your LMS has an integration with your CRM (or can be integrated) to see all this data can also be critical.
Suppose your organization has a strong training and skill development culture, and you have knowledge that might be valuable to individuals outside your organization. In that case, you can monetize this knowledge by selling it as online courses for learners who need such skills.
In this case, make sure that the online training vendor you choose allows you to charge for your content through an e-commerce platform (ideally, one you can set up without coding).
You’ll also want LMS features that allow you to create an experience that offers many of the same features of a traditional classroom – support from teachers, progress tracking, and peer interaction – without jacking up the pricing.
With high-profile data breaches of confidential information in the news headlines regularly, it’s vital that you choose a vendor that you trust and feel comfortable with. Look for security features such as:
- Single Sign-On (SSO): SSO allows your users to access multiple applications with one login and password securely, managed independently, allowing you to mitigate some of the most common security threats.
- Individual and Group Level Access to Content: Assign individual and group-level access to your content so that only designated people can access confidential information. With this feature, you can prevent confidential data from leaving the platform or landing in the wrong hands.
If you prioritize these ten features when looking for a new LMS vendor, you’re bound to see the results you’re looking for!
The LMS You Deserve and Your Customers Need
Ready for a learning management system that will actually engender eager learners, maximize your training functionality and course materials, work in multiple formats, and increase customer retention? Of course, you are.
It’s time to say goodbye to the old days of elearning, to the dinosaur LMSs weighing down the world. It’s time to adopt a program that will let your customers go at their own pace, absorbing the content they need to succeed with your product – and want to stay with you forever.
Your LMS should work on an academy level, offering certifications to users and metrics to you, helping you to ramp up your customer base and word-of-mouth marketing with each new learner that joins. So, where can you find an LMS like that?
Our online customer training platform provides more than excellent education; you also get advanced analytics and reporting capabilities to see your customer training program's direct impact and make any necessary adjustments or improvements.
If you’re ready to learn more about the best LMS for customer training, lower churn, and to watch your profits grow to start today, then request a demo now.