Your business has developed a competitive product. It’s actually one of the best on the market. You’ve also trained your sales team to promote it in the best possible way. And customers do buy. But what happens afterward? Do your customers know how to use your product to its full potential in order to get the most value from it?
In the modern business world, too little attention is paid to customer education. This is despite companies (especially software vendors) releasing more technologically sophisticated and innovative products that can sometimes leave customers scratching their heads.
The simple fact is that new and exciting products require new knowledge and skills from customers. And if customers aren’t educated in the uses and benefits of a product or service, they won’t be able to recognize its full value.
This is why “customer education” is also thought of as “customer empowerment”. Your product or service should help customers do what they do best, and do it even better than before!
Let’s look at what companies stand to gain by investing more in customer education.
5 key benefits of educating customers
The benefits of customer training range from improved day-to-day satisfaction with a product to increased trust in the brand. But before you start planning your customer education program, it’s important to understand that it’s not only new customers that need to be trained.
Educating customers is key to success across all phases of the customer lifecycle. Potential and newly acquired customers should be onboarded to use a product for the first time. Existing customers will continue to need education on added features, new products, or upgrades.
No matter the stage where customers are, these are the greatest rewards of customer training:
1. Improved customer satisfaction
Imagine you’ve just bought a new car. It’s fresh off the showroom floor, and is supposed to sport some mind-blowing new features that make driving easier and more enjoyable. The only problem is that you haven’t driven in years.
Your first drive is meant to be fun, but instead, you stall repeatedly and keep confusing the windshield wipers with the air conditioning. Needless to say, you’re unsatisfied with your purchase. The great shame is that there’s nothing wrong with the car, you just need some training on how to use its cool features.
The point is, customer satisfaction soars when customers are properly educated in using the product or service. This is because they’re able to take advantage of all the tools and features, without running into problems that make their user experience frustrating.
2. Boosted customer engagement
Customer education improves the experience they get with your product, which in turn increases customer engagement with your brand. And of course, everyone engages more with brands they trust and enjoy.
Through this increased engagement, customers will be more likely to renew or repurchase your product. They’re also more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth about your product and brand to their friends and colleagues.
3. Increased loyalty
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but satisfied and engaged customers are less likely to shop around for an alternative product or service. Why? Because they’re loyal. And customer loyalty has many benefits.
Some of the benefits of customer loyalty relate directly to ROI, like:
- Lower costs to secure each purchase — securing repeat purchases costs companies much less in marketing spend than it does to secure a new customer.
- Improved brand advocacy through positive customer word-of-mouth and testimonials, which translates to free high-quality advertising.
4. Higher quality customer support
When companies invest in customer education, there are fewer complaints and questions to be handled by the customer support department. This is because customers are able to figure out these snags using their product knowledge.
Removing most minor issues from the customer support queue means that the customer support team gets to focus on the more complex issues that are still reported. And because the support team is free to assist customers with complex issues more quickly, improved customer support feeds back into increased customer satisfaction.
5. A more trustworthy brand
When customers are empowered to find useful information on products, services, and their benefits, their trust in your brand increases. They understand that you’ve got their back, and they value your professionalism.
And why build this trust with your customers? A trustworthy brand improves customer advocacy and repurchases, and reassures new customers that they’re in good hands. All of this increases customer loyalty and improves ROI.
So, make your customer education materials easy to find. Your customer support team should be well-trained in recommending relevant resources to customers who report an issue. Don’t just focus on product training. Your customer service reps should also hone their soft skills.
A complete customer service course should include, for example, how to build long-lasting relationships and how to increase trust.
How to educate customers about using your product
If you’re planning to leverage customer education for its many benefits, start by understanding who you’re training. Knowing your audience is the first step to designing customer education that genuinely adds value to their user experience.
Sounds difficult? Just follow these best practices to help you deliver valuable customer training:
Make your team an asset
There’s good news. You don’t have to guess what your customers need. There are already people in your team that spend time with customers and understand their problems and desires.
Invest some time in talking to your salespeople, vendors, and customer support teams. Aim to understand the causes behind frequent customer questions, and where training will be most effective in providing the right answers.
These “frontline” team members will also play a special role in your customer education efforts. They’ll be directing customers to educational materials, and educating customers in using your products, while onboarding them or resolving their issues.
Rely on existing communication channels
You’ve already invested in a blog, social media marketing, and customer support forums. So, why not use these channels to share your educational content?
Join forces with your content marketing team to create training resources for customers that are engaging, user-friendly, and easy to share.
Using channels that your customers are already comfortable with, like Facebook and Instagram, to support your customer education efforts is a quick win. But do think carefully about the kind of content you create, and how it will perform on platforms designed for bite-sized information and quick entertainment.
Offer video tutorials
The old saying “show, don’t tell” is especially important when creating educational content.
Do you need customers to learn a process, or understand a use case? Well, short videos are a powerful tool for customer enablement. Consider how the use of your product or service can be practically demonstrated, and create a punchy video tutorial that covers the basics.
A Learning Management System (LMS) with video functionality can be a great platform for customers to access your video tutorials in a user-friendly and convenient way.
Leverage the power of webinars
While you’re leveraging the power of live demonstration through video, don’t forget to consider the role of webinars in your customer education strategy.
Perhaps there’s something new happening with your brand, or with one of your products? Offer a free webinar on your LMS, and advertise it on your blog and social media channels. Webinars bring a sense of active discussion and collaboration to your training, and this can be invaluable in making customers feel considered, engaged, and satisfied.
Create relatable case studies
Case studies and scenarios provide a valuable opportunity to practice new skills. They provide a safe space for customers to fail and try again, and also to get feedback that helps them succeed in the future. This can make them feel comfortable with a product before making the financial commitment to purchase it.
The key to successful case studies is making sure that they’re relevant and relatable to your target customers. So, you might need to create tailored cases and scenarios for sub-groups of customers.
An LMS to support customer education
With an LMS that integrates with your CRM, you’ll be able to upload your training content in various formats, and your customer education efforts are bound to pay off. Even better if your LMS provides mobile features so you can truly deliver customer training anywhere, anytime.
By using the best practices we’ve outlined here in combination with a powerful LMS, your customer education won’t only improve customers’ product knowledge, but also their ongoing trust in your brand.
Originally published on: 28 Mar 2018