Customer education is a very important part of a successful business. However, despite its importance, it’s still sometimes overlooked. It might sound obvious, but customers won’t be willing to buy a product they don’t understand how to use. And while some products are fairly intuitive, you can’t assume that customers will be able to figure out how to use more complex products on their own.
If you want to convince these customers that your product is worth purchasing and provide them with a great experience long after making the purchase, you can benefit from creating a customer education plan.
Why's Customer Education Important?
There are a few ways that a better customer education program can benefit your business. Here are a few examples:
Product Adoption: When customers understand how your product works, they’ll be more likely to adopt it. It’s just human nature to avoid products that don’t make sense to us.
Customer Retention: Better customer education helps customers understand how to get the most out of the products they use. When customers aren’t getting any value out of your products, they don’t have any reason to continue to be customers. But, if they love the product they’re using, they’ll probably remain a customer much longer.
How To Build A Customer Education Program
Planning a successful customer education strategy isn’t easy.
You can use these steps to guide you as you develop your training resources:
Step 1: Write a Customer Education Mission Statement
The first thing you should do is write a clear mission statement. Your mission statement should lay out your goal for your customer education program so everyone is aligned and working toward the same objectives.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your education program beyond simply helping customers learn.
What business outcomes are you hoping for? How do you hope the program will impact customer experience? Make sure you communicate with all the different departments that will be affected to determine whether your objectives are realistic or not.
Step 2: Think About Your Customer Education Team Structure
Your subject matter expert will help by providing the actual information that customers learn in the courses. This should be someone who has an exceptional knowledge of the product so they can communicate it effectively to learners.
Your instructional designer will be familiar with designing educational courses and graphics. This person will take the information outlined by the subject matter expert and convert it into effectively formatted training materials.
Step 3: Allocate Resources
Once you have an idea of what you’re creating, you’ll need to allocate the resources to turn it into a reality. Don’t expect to transform your customer education program overnight. It'll most likely take some time to build momentum and develop your program into the booming success you’re hoping for.
Do whatever you can to communicate with financial decision-makers, aka leadership, to convince them of the benefit of allocating funds toward improving customer education. You can also borrow or trade resources with other departments. Wherever you look for the resources, just focus on progressing one step at a time.
Step 4: Create Content
After you’ve figured out where to get the resources to put your plan into action, it’s time to create the actual content for your customer education program. As mentioned before, this step will fall mostly to your subject matter expert and instructional designer.
When you’re designing content for your customer education program, keep the following factors in mind:
Subject Matter: Of course, the primary concern should be what the content actually teaches the customer. Make sure each course is based on one learning objective and that the subject matter stays focused on moving the learner toward that objective.
Length: It’s good for your content to be thorough, but also consider your customers’ attention spans. People generally learn better in short bursts, so break your content into short lessons rather than present it in one long block. This is called microlearning.
Medium: Each of us learns a little differently, so it’s important to provide customers with multiple kinds of content to cater to every learning style. Including a mix of text, videos, graphics, and more can help keep learners engaged, too. This is called blended learning.
Step 5: Choose a Delivery Method
You’ll need a way to deliver the content you’ve created to your customers. One of the most effective and convenient ways to deliver online education to your customers is with a learning management system (LMS), like Northpass. An LMS is a great tool for keeping a large database of learning materials organized and easily accessible to customers, employees or any kind of user.
Step 6: Create Customer Education Certification
Next, it may also be a good idea to create some certifications that your customers can earn for completing various education courses. This is a great way to improve customer engagement with your courses. When customers feel like they’re working toward something concrete, it can help keep them motivated and encourage them to retain what they’re learning.
Offering certificates to customers who complete training courses is also a good way to create advocacy. When someone earns a certification from one of your courses, they’ll be more inclined to share about your training program with other people in their network. Few people will tell someone else about the training they just completed, because it just doesn’t sound very interesting. People are much more likely to talk about the new certification they just earned because it indicates an improvement that makes them look good.
Step 7: Implement Customer Education Marketing
Once you have your customer education program ready to go, you might want to devote some time and resources to customer education marketing. Your training resources won’t do customers any good if they don’t know the resources exist or how they can access them. A learning management system is one of the best ways to keep your customer education courses accessible.
You can also consider doing some internal customer education marketing. This can be a great way to get all departments on board with the project and convince executives that the program will provide a lot of value to the company.
Step 8: Collect Feedback From Customers
The final step of the process is to gather feedback and implement it. Give your customers plenty of opportunities to tell you what they think of your customer education program, either by building them directly into the education experience or by reaching out to ask for feedback directly. Use the feedback you gather to make iterative improvements to your learning materials.
Make sure you analyze how well your customer education courses meet their goals. For example, are customers achieving the learning objectives? Are the metrics you’re using to measure success (time to value, product adoption, etc.) improving as expected?
You should also consider customer experience. Even if your course material is working, customers may be hindered from reaching learning objectives by the clunky, unintuitive course design. Asking for feedback can show you where you need to improve either of these areas.
The Future of Customer Education
Customer education is already an important part of running a successful business and it looks like it will continue to play a central role. Online customer education has gained a considerable amount of traction and new techniques and trends are continually emerging.
Here’s a bit of what you can expect from the future of customer education:
Personalization is on the Rise: Customers want more personalized experiences. The best customer education tools make it possible for online learners to be presented with tailored information and customized learning paths. This gives them the most relevant educational experience possible. Customization is customer learning aids not only the quality of their education but also improves learner engagement.
Customer Education Will Continue to Drive Revenue: The link between better customer education and increased revenue is undeniable and it doesn’t look like it will be disappearing anytime soon. When customers are fully equipped with the knowledge to use your products effectively, it naturally leads to more sales and higher retention.
Customer Education Software
One of the best tools you can use to drive your customer education program is a learning management system (LMS). Northpass is an online LMS that you can use to deliver an exceptional customer education program even if you have no prior experience with online education.
The Northpass learning platform is designed with usability and scalability in mind.
Usability: Customers can access whichever training courses they need through one convict portal. This makes it easy to keep courses organized and accessible. If customers have to struggle to find or navigate your learning materials, it can damage engagement metrics significantly. With Northpass, customers can enjoy an intuitive and streamlined learning experience.
Scalability: Another great reason to use a learning management system for your online customer education is that it enables a scalable program. Normally, as your customer base grows, so does the amount of resources you must allocate toward education. However, customer education software can provide equal digital access to learning materials for dozens of customers or thousands.