What Exactly is Customer Training?
Anyone involved in the eLearning space is familiar with employee training and its benefits - faster onboarding, better performance, lower costs in the long run - but what about customer training? Do these same benefits apply? What does successful customer training even look like?
In its simplest terms, customer training is aimed at improving the customer experience by providing content and other materials to educate and support the users of a product.
Customer training programs are most commonly found in the tech industry, specifically SaaS, because of the complex products found in this space. This type of training is a segment of the 'extended enterprise', which basically refers to any external stakeholders important to your business - like resellers, partners, and of course: customers.
Why Customer Training is So Important
Product complexity has increased, and with that has come low adoption rates, high churn, and lower profitability. The primary focus for a lot of tech organizations these days seems to be new customer acquisition.
The truth is - while acquiring new customers is important, focusing on the success, satisfaction, and retention of current customers is the key to long-term profitability. In fact, 70% to 90% of SaaS profits are generated through renewals and up-sells, according to Userlane.
How Does Customer Training Reduce Churn and Maximize Revenue?
Even if your product has the most powerful functionality on the market, if your customers struggle to understand how to use it to achieve their goals, they will simply get frustrated and look elsewhere.
However, a robust product with lots of functionality doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating to use, especially if customers are adequately trained on how to use it.
With a well-designed training program, you can assure customers that they will receive all the information and guidance they need, in bite-sized portions they can handle. Not only is their hesitation removed during the sales process, it also makes customers excited to jump in and learn all the ways your product can help make their lives better.
This excitement not only leads to higher sales initially, but also increased adoption, customer satisfaction, and retention rates in the long run; all things that are key for sustainable SaaS growth.
Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) found that increasing retention by just 5% can increase your profits by more than 25%.
If done correctly, a focus on customer training can not only create loyal customers, it can also provide so much value that those customers become passionate evangelists of your product.
For any company that wants to achieve long-term profitability and success, creating product evangelists is a top priority. Customer training just happens to be one of the best ways to achieve this goal.
Follow These 7 Steps to Create a Wildly Successful Customer Training Program
1. Conduct Customer Surveys and Interviews with Your Ideal Customers
The very first step to developing your customer training program is finding out what the training needs of your customers actually are. However, you want to prioritize your ideal customers. Typically, these are the customers who receive the most value from your product and enthusiastically recommend it to others.
Begin by conducting surveys with these ideal customers to determine areas where they are the most confused about how to use your product. In addition, survey your ideal customers on what their most important, desired outcomes are that they are hoping to use your product to achieve.
Follow up with 1-on-1 interviews to get even more detailed feedback, if possible.
2. Gather Current Training Content and Identify Gaps
Once you have identified your top training priorities, it’s time to start gathering the existing training materials you already have, and identifying gaps where new training needs to be developed.
Reach out to marketing, sales, product, and customer service teams, as they will likely have developed their own training content to help customers navigate and use the product to achieve their desired outcomes.
Identify any training needs that have yet to be addressed, and begin prioritizing which training content to create first.
3. Work Collaboratively to Create New Training Content
In a previous article, we spoke to Monica Green, the Director of Learning and Development Strategy at Epicor Software to get an inside look at her process for producing content rapidly and efficiently.
According to Monica, the Learning and Development team shouldn’t be siloed off to develop customer training content after products have already been developed. Instead, she believes that L&D should be part of the product development process, from beginning to end.
“We develop customer training content incrementally, using an agile methodology, rather than all at once,'' Monica stated. “We sit in scrum meetings alongside the product team as they are developing a product’s features and functions. Then, we create training content at each stage of the product development process.“
Monica went on to explain the benefits of Epicor’s customer training development process:
“[Epicor] customers don’t get software updates, and then wait 6 months to receive training on new features. Training is ready and goes live alongside the product, so customers have instant access to everything they need to adopt the product right away”.
At Epicor, Monica and her team develop 3 primary types of customer training content:
- Live training
- Video training
- Guided learning that walks customers through a particular feature or process, embedded directly in the product itself
“Training is grouped by agendas that are role-based,” according to Monica. “Once a customer goes through an agenda of training, they’re fully-functional in all the relevant features they will be using in that role.”
Regardless of what your content creation process looks like, seek to involve key members from different departments within your company, as they can add unique insights you won’t have access to on your own.
4. Test and Gather Feedback
Before deploying your new training content to all of your customers at once, it’s important to allow a group of selected customers to go through the training and provide feedback. These customers can provide a fresh, outside set of eyes on the training materials you’ve developed, and allow you to get new perspectives and ideas on how to make the training even better.
Once the training content has gone through any revisions, it is now ready to be deployed.
5. Deploy and Improve Using Tracking and Analytics
After deploying training content to users, Monica and her team at Epicor closely track what training content their customers are consuming. This includes how often they complete training, hit milestones, and even how long they watch training videos.
Epicor also allows customers to rate how useful each piece of training content is. All of this data helps Monica and her team refine their customer training program based on direct feedback from customers.
However, it’s often what content customers don’t consume that provides the most valuable insights.
“We don’t want to be spending time creating content that customers don’t need,'' Monica said. “By monitoring what content customers don’t consume, we can stop creating that type of content, and focus our time and resources developing training on topics that customers do need more information on”.
6. Provide Continuous Training to Maximize Retention and Upsells
Your customer training program is not a “set it and forget it” type of initiative. Even if you are successful at getting your customers to their initial “quick wins”, you must still be there to assist them in making continual progress toward their long-term goals. By proactively providing training and guidance every step of the way, you minimize churn and maximize customer retention.
In addition, by monitoring the training progress of individual customers, you can see which of them are highly-engaged and may be open to up-sells on related products or features.
You can also discover which customers are not engaged with the training at all, and are at risk of churning, so you can reach out to them proactively.
7. Achieve Increased Revenue Growth and Profitability
With a successful customer training program, not only are free-trial users more likely to upgrade to a paid plan, but existing customers are also more likely to upgrade to higher plans, as well.
The increased satisfaction from your customer training program will also lead to an increase in referrals and word-of-mouth from happy customers (product evangelists), ultimately resulting in increased revenue, ROI, and higher profit margins.
Right Customer Training Tool for Training LED Growth
Customer training is the secret to growth, plain and simple.
For these reasons, we use the term “Training-Led Growth” for the practice of using training to achieve customer satisfaction, retention, and profitability.
While one-on-one customer training has proven to be extremely effective, it is also very difficult and expensive to scale. At a certain point, it is no longer feasible to just keep hiring employees.
You will need to find a way to automate the process and provide training to all of your customers in a way that’s easily accessible 24/7 from any device.
The Benefits of Using a Learning Management System (LMS)
- Enterprise LMSs are specifically built to help organizations quickly implement training programs 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.
- For the user, access to course content is convenient, courses are engaging, and they can progress through the training at their own pace.
Unfortunately, most corporate LMSs lack the flexibility to truly place the customers’ needs at the center.
A customer training platform like Raven360, on the other hand, gives you the ability to help your customers build a flexible learning path that fills in all of the gaps in their knowledge.
Why Choose Raven360 for Your Customer Training Program
Raven360 is an enterprise-grade, scalable platform that helps fast-growing companies with high-complexity products painlessly train employees, customers, and partners.
Raven360’s secure, cloud-based platform allows you to onboard faster, train better, and retain more customers with these powerful features:
- Upload content of any format: Raven360 supports PDF, video files, Google docs, HTML packages, SCORM packages and more. You can author your own material from within the platform or bring in outside content.
- Seamlessly integrate with your existing tools: Integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box to access everything you already have from one single dashboard, at the right time.
- Always up-to-date: Upload your training material once and users will always have access to the latest version and you won’t have to update your docs on multiple platforms.
- Accessible anywhere, on any device, 24/7: Allow users to access training on the go and at their own pace. Raven360 works on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Users can even access content while offline.
- Dynamic learning experiences: Go from open classrooms where users can access all the material at once to pre-defined learning paths where you dictate how the content is consumed. Manage how you feed your content to increase knowledge retention.
- Self-paced labs: Learners can access a virtual machine instance of your software on their browsers —no downloads, no installs. They get hands-on experience using your tech, without compromising real data or breaking stuff.
- Generate extra revenue: Sell subscription-based trainings through a simple e-commerce platform.
- Keep sensitive information secure: Assign individual and group level access to your content. Prevent confidential information from leaving the platform or landing on the wrong hands, with industry-leading security.
Let’s Start Building Your Customer Training Program Today!
Whether you need to train customers, employees, salespeople, or partners, our expert team can advise you on the best way to set up a successful training program.
Our platform is incredibly flexible and easy to personalize, no matter what your specific needs and use cases may be.
Request a demo (here) or give us a call at 508.786.0500 to have one of our experts help you:
- Determine whether to offer free or paid training
- Identify the right features and customization options
- Provide guidance and an implementation plan