Starting a customer education program and launching an academy is a great step, but their long-term success and sustainability require something else: engagement. If you can’t get your customers to engage with your academy, all of the work you did getting leadership buy-in, building courses and implementing the learning management system (LMS) is for naught. To that end, the success of your customer academy and greater program hinges exclusively on getting your customers to use it.
But how? Here are three ways:
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How to Get Your Customers to Engage With Your Academy
Offer (and Update) Certifications
If you’re like me, there was nothing more exciting than finishing a sports season as a kid or wrapping up a year of school and getting awarded something. A trophy. A medal for perfect attendance (full disclosure: I never got one of these, but I like to think it would have made me happy.) Anything that would validate my hard work.
Your customers approach learning in the same way. It’s human nature to spend more time doing something — learning included — when you know you’re working toward something tangible. In the case of a customer academy, the perfect example of this is certifications.
HubSpot pioneered this approach years ago and can attribute a lot of The HubSpot Academy’s success to this. How many times have you seen a connection on LinkedIn post about a new HubSpot certification? Probably a lot.
Probably a lot.
This is because people love to show off their achievements. So, by giving its customers (and literally anyone else) the opportunity to get these certifications, HubSpot is able to continuously generate engagement. It’s why it’s the gold standard of customer academies. You can do the exact same thing.
Take Advantage of Engagement-first Automation
In a perfect world, your customers will default to your academy when they need help or want to level up their skills. Need help adding a new admin? Easy. There’s an article for that in the help center. Want to learn more about a newly released feature? Great. There’s a learning path in the academy. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for the overwhelming majority of your customers.
So, why not help them? A gentle nudge from time to time never hurt anyone. Luckily, doing this at scale won’t be a problem if you’re using an LMS with built-in automation features designed to generate customer engagement. For example, you can set up an automated email to automatically send to customers the second they officially come on board. By doing so, you’re making the next steps clear and immediately getting them to engage with your academy. You can also use inactivity nudges to reengage previously active customers — think sending a message to someone who hasn’t taken a course in a while or started one but not completed it because they’re struggling to understand the content. In-app messaging is another way to drive engagement without much lift from your customer success managers (CSMs) and related support teams.
Connect Your Academy to Other Learning Resources
You might have existing learning resources out there, most likely taking shape in the form of a help center or knowledge base.
Traditional knowledge centers likely served you and your customers well during your early days of customer education. Now that you’re scaling, however, you need a full-fledged customer academy. As you transition to this next step of customer education, don’t abandon the resources and tactics that got you here. Instead, connect them with the academy (i.e., link to related resources). Similar to how I link to different articles within this blog, you should do the same, helping keep people engaged and diving deeper into your academy.
Creating an Engaging Customer Academy
Even the best customer academies won’t shine if you can’t get people to use them. This is why before, during and after implementation, you need to invest in getting — and maintaining — your customers’ engagement. There are many ways you can do that, but a few of the most impactful revolve around certifications, automation and connecting the dots with any existing learning resources.