Launching a customer education program for the first time can seem like a monumental task. Finding the budget. Getting the Leadership team to give you the green light. Measuring it with any sort of certainty. All of these aspects — and a whole lot more — come together to form a seemingly impossible maze. Well, guess what. I have the map. Keep reading for a simple 5-step customer education program checklist guaranteed to get you out of the maze without a scratch.
Set Customer-centric (and Business) GoalsThe success of your customer education program hinges on setting realistic goals. In the absolute simplest terms, a successful launch starts when you ask (and answer) the questions: What do we want to accomplish and what outcomes do we want our customers to achieve?
Do you want to increase product or feature adoption?
Do you want to decrease the number of support tickets received by your internal teams?
Do you want to get new customers up and running faster (decrease time-to-value)?
Do you want to boost your Net Promoter Score (NPS)?
It’s critical that you hone in on this question and come to a consensus. But here’s the thing: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of questions to answer and problems to solve. To avoid that, start with one goal and put all of your resources into that. If you want to improve product adoption, just do that. If you want to boost NPS, do that. Whatever you decide, focus on one problem at a time. At the same time, you should align these goals with specific metrics (e.g., course completion rates, monthly active users, etc.). These are secondary to the initial set of goals but are still important as you can use them to measure program impact.
You’re not done.
While it’s important to set goals for the program itself, its longevity relies on something else: How it’s impacting the greater business, which is why it’s also critical that you set goals that demonstrate real business impact.
Do you want to increase revenue?
Do you want to increase customer retention?
Do you want to boost customer lifetime value?
Now, before you move on to the next step, take your goals — both your program and business goals — and put together some customer personas, secure an executive sponsor, audit existing content (more on that in step #2), determine the ongoing needs of your customers and agree on an implementation timeline. Once you’ve done all of that, move on.
Create (or Update) Relevant ContentNow that you’re standing on solid ground, you can take these goals and start building the content that’ll help you achieve them.
To complete this step, you’ll need to team up with at least two people: A subject matter expert (SME) and a designer.
- SME: This person has an intimidating understanding of your customers, their challenges and how online learning can help them. (This person is essential. Seriously.)
- Designer: This person takes the knowledge from the SME and turns it into a visual reality, like webinars, videos, infographics, etc. If you can get your hands on an instructional designer, even better. Why? Because an instructional designer “redesign courses, develop entire courses or curriculums and create training materials.” Said another way, they understand what you’ll need to build courses that are actually effective.
Now, audit your content. You’ll either have some existing content to work off of or you won’t.
If you don’t have any, identify what you’ll need to get started and create that. If you’re sailing on this boat, don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of “all the content you need.” Instead, think back to your goals and determine what piece of content will have an immediate impact. If you’re trying to increase product adoption, this could be a 30-second demo video. If you want to decrease time-to-value, it could be an infographic illustrating the steps to log in for the first time.
If you do find yourself with some content, woohoo. You’re ahead of the pack. But before you press the big red “launch” button, sit down with your SME and make sure it’s relevant to your customers. For example, if you got your hands on an infographic created by the Sales team that addresses FAQs, make sure those questions resonate with your customers. If they don’t, work with your team to version it accordingly.
Best Practices to Keep in Mind When Creating Customer Education Content
- Prioritize the readability and legibility of your content. Make it incredibly easy to digest.
- Short-form content is better than long-form content (most of the time).
- Incorporate videos and images whenever and wherever possible.
- Make it personal and customize elements, including the design, when you can.
- Create learning paths to help your customers understand how you’ve organized the information and create a frictionless learning experience.
- Use quizzes and other interactive elements to add a fun twist to the learning experience.
- Group relevant content to help customers retain more information.
Prepare to LaunchYou’re just about there. But before you launch, you’ll want to cross a couple more things off of your to-do list and they both revolve around communication.
Most importantly, communicate the program’s launch with your entire company, but especially the Leadership team. Show them your plan, explain your goals and illustrate how everything will help the company grow. Your ultimate goal? Get everyone else on the same page and excited about the program. Remember: All successful initiatives need internal cheerleaders — the more the merrier. on the same page.
Outside of your colleagues, there may be a need to onboard customers prior to the launch. This will likely only be relevant for top accounts of those paying for more services and support (i.e., they’ll have access to a dedicated Customer Success Manager). If this is the case, introduce everyone and bring everyone up to speed on the expectations and what’s included in their package.
Measure With a MicroscopeYou’ve launched your program, but the fun is just getting started. After you’ve given your customers some time to learn — say, a couple of weeks — start to measure performance.
Are they finding the content valuable?
Is a particular course tripping up a lot of customers?
Does it seem like customers who are going through the courses are more likely to use the product more?
Is it easier to upsell people who’ve gone through your courses?
Is everyone on the Leadership team still aligned?
Are certain content mediums more effective than others?
Are your learning paths working?
And most importantly…
Are you progressing toward the goals you set at the beginning?
How do you get these answers? Two ways. The best way is to go straight to the source by sitting down or sending surveys to your customers. Ask them what you want to know, collect the feedback and then measure it. You can go a step further by picking a handful of high-performing customers and talking to them directly to try to figure out what they like and why they’re outperforming their peers.
At the same time, you should lift the hood on your LMS and look at supported metrics that apply to your goals. Once you put everything together, you may pass go and continue to the final step. (Yes, that was a Monopoly reference.)
Pro Tip: Use your LMS to send surveys to customers automatically. Then, track their responses in one central hub to paint a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not.
EvolveThere’s not a whole lot to say here. The final step is the end, sure, but it’s also the beginning. Take what you’ve just learned (no matter which method you used) and evolve. Then, launch the updates — no announcement necessary — measure results and evolve again if necessary. Customer education is a never-ending journey and while this checklist aims to boil it down to 5 simple steps, the reality is that you’ll be repeating the same ones for the lifetime of your program.
Your customers will thank you.
Just getting started?