Whether your company sells software applications or water pumps, a formal customer training program helps you reach all customers with the specific learning they need to successfully use your products.
But you know that scalability is just one of the many benefits of training your customers. And you’re already convinced that training is a key part of any strategy to improve the customer experience. What you really want to know is, what should you consider before implementing client training?
Ta-da! We’ve summarized the top 5 questions you should ask yourself when it comes to training customers.
1. Who is your customer training intended for?
It’s no secret that training is more effective when it’s personalized and relevant to the target audience. Your target audience will be your customers. And their lifestyle, time constraints, accessibility and learning needs must be considered carefully when designing customer training.
For example, are your customers more likely to enjoy in-store training, or do many customers purchase your products online? If customers are on-the-go or make purchases via an eCommerce store, then it’s time to invest in customer training software.
A powerful learning management system (LMS) means you can deliver consistent training that customers get to access anytime, anywhere. They can select the training content most relevant to them, just when they need it the most. Plus, with an LMS, you can train customers who are located internationally and are multilingual, too.
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2. Which course should you develop first?
Ah, where to begin! You understand your audience and you know what they need, but your training is going to have to roll out in stages. So now you’re wondering, which course do you implement first?
Your instinct might be to start with the most complex product in your catalog. And it’s not a bad idea. But remember what this training is all about – customer satisfaction! Through training, customers will be able to get the most out of the products they’re purchasing, and they won’t need to deal with busy call centers to get the help they need.
So, in the spirit of great customer experience, design your first course around the product that receives the most customer queries. Analyze your sales and support tickets, chat with your customer service team, and find out what customers are struggling with the most. That’s where you’ll discover the highest priority course for your customer training.
3. Can your customer training offer extended value?
Sure, customer training content is often focused on the particular knowledge, skills and abilities needed to use a product, and use it well. And that’s great. But what’s even better is when your training offers bonus value to customers in the form of transferable skills.
You should exceed customers’ expectations about training by providing multiple courses, not only about the use of your own software. For example, Xero, an accounting software company, offers courses in business finance skills and general industry knowledge. And to further enhance the customer experience, their online certification courses count toward continuous professional development (CPD) credits.
So, think about ways in which your training can extend beyond the specific products offered by your company. What skills can customers gain from the training experience that could be transferable to their lives or businesses?
4. What resources will you need?
As the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easily. But designing, developing and implementing your customer training strategy is a lot less challenging when you’ve got the right resources. And the most important resource will be your training team.
So, which people should your training team include? The number one role to consider is the instructional designer, who will be responsible for creating the learning design plan. The subject matter expert is also very important, as they’ll be working along your instructional designer to create the most appropriate course content for your learners.
But wait, there’s more! A learning technologist can transfer the course from the design plan to the learning platform. And then there’s the training manager, who oversees the whole project. When courses include live components, like webinars or in-store demonstrations, and personalized feedback components, like discussion forums, then a facilitator is also needed.
It’s important to consider whether your company already has the people to fill these roles, or whether they would need to be hired. You’ll also need to consider other resource investment, such as time, and money for an LMS subscription if you decide to deliver your training as eLearning.
5. How will you measure your training success?
When you train clients, you’re investing company resources. So, you’ll want to make sure that your investment pays off, right? That’s why it’s important to consider how you’ll measure customer training success.
It all comes down to evaluation. With the help of your training team, you can create the criteria by which you consider training successful, and then connect those to your training courses. Having customers take quizzes during training and analyzing results in thorough reports can give you a detailed image of how effective your training has been so far. Comparing your customers’ knowledge before and after training is another way to measure how successful your training has been.
A common approach is Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of training evaluation. It consists of four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. The evaluation starts with surveys that provide an idea of how satisfied the learner has been with their training, and moves on to quiz them on their new knowledge. By the third level, you are determining if customers actually use their newfound skills in various ways, such as monitoring changes in the use of online features, or measuring the time it takes them to complete certain tasks. On the last stage, it’s time to measure your results by comparing them to your initial training objectives.
Over to you
Having taken all of these important considerations into account, customer training is bound to add value to your customer experience strategy. But remember, your training should undergo frequent evaluation and improvement, especially when product features change or new products are introduced.