As more companies realize the benefits of customer education and how it can improve the customer experience (CX), even those who've steered clear of customer education in the past will start paying attention.
If you fall into the "I'm-not-quite-sold-yet" category, don't worry. These customer education statistics will convince you.
If you're a pro wanting to take your customer education plan to the next level or maintain leadership buy-in, they're for you, too.
What's Customer Education?
What's customer education? Customer education is a strategy you can use to improve the customer experience through educational resources. These resources provide value to your customers by fostering their success, ultimately increasing customer loyalty. The best customer education programs are designed to impact measurable business metrics, such as product adoption, customer retention and customer lifetime value (CLTV). For example, customer education could help a SaaS company teach its customers how to use its technology.
Why's Customer Education Important?
Customer education has never been more important.
The question is: Why?
Well, a few reasons, but the main one is that the metrics companies have historically looked at to measure success (e.g., metrics that only focused on the company) aren't enough to survive. Today, customer-first metrics are more important.
The best way to retain customers is by always delivering value. (The idea is that someone will continue to use something if they see it's helping them somehow.)
Unfortunately, there's no easy button to retain customers.
There is customer education, however, which is pretty close. A customer education program consistently provides people with the knowledge and resources they need to realize the value of your product or service.
Go to Amazon.
What do you see?
Probably some products Amazon thinks you might like—think "Inspired by your shopping trends…" and "Recommended based on your purchase." Amazon uses these snippets to get you to spend more and therefore, become more valuable to it.
Customer education can act similarly, but instead of showing customers products, you show them related courses they may be interested in — for example, a course on a more advanced feature that'd require them to upgrade to a higher pricing tier.
It could also mean a piece of content that simply keeps them engaged with your product or service. These touchpoints create a stronger bond with your customers and keep them in your book of business longer.
Customer Education Helps CS Teams
Imagine this: Your CS team is regularly treading water, trying to keep up with your growing company. You give each customer success manager (CSM) another customer's hand to guide as you onboard new customers.
They're overwhelmed and spend all of their time covering basic information to keep customers afloat; there isn't time to dedicate time and resources. After all, your CSMs are human.
You probably don't have to imagine this situation.
Customer education tackles this challenge by limiting the hand-holding required from your CSMs. With more time, CSMs can dig themselves out of the madness and have conversations that'll help grow the account.
An oft-overlooked benefit of customer education is how it can help organic growth. (Full disclosure: Using customer education for organic growth purposes is generally for more mature companies that already have brand equity and subject matter authority.)
The best way to visualize how customer education can help organic growth is to look at The HubSpot Academy.
While HubSpot has a lot of customer education available only to paying customers, a lot of it is available to everyone. Because of this, people depend on HubSpot to level up their knowledge related to CRMs and inbound marketing software, which keeps the company and its product top of mind with millions of people.
10 Customer Education and Experience Statistics
A TSIA study found that 68% of customers report using products more after training, while 56% use more product features than they would if untrained. The same study found that 87% of customers say they can work more independently when trained.
Only 29% of B2B accounts are engaged; however, those accounts helped achieve 50% higher revenue, 34% higher profitability and 55% higher share of wallet.
Erica Kuhl, VP of Salesforce's three-million-member Trailblazer Community, reported that the company saw deal size increase by 2x, 2x more pipeline and 85% increased propensity for cross-selling and up-selling from active accounts.
73% of people say that CX is a deciding factor when purchasing.
How to Build a Customer Education Program
Are you ready to start a customer education program? Great. Here are a few steps to get off on the right foot.
Align on Goals
Any successful customer education program starts with a goal-setting exercise that includes the program's impact on the company and all of the departments within it.
When setting goals, think about what you want the program to accomplish and which metrics you'll look at to sell customer education to the rest of the company.
Think about it this way: When you're talking to someone outside of your team, which metrics and proof points will you use to convince them that customer education is working.
You probably won't have everything you need to achieve your dream academy right away — and that's ok. Optimizing your customer education program will take time; however, that doesn't mean you can't get started. (A lack of resources is far from the end of the world.)
Look at asset allocation from two angles:
Content: What content do you have available? This could be existing blog posts, help center articles, YouTube videos, etc. Whatever you have available to get started.
Team: Who's available to help? See there's anyone internally who can lend a hand (e.g., a subject matter expert, designer, technical expert, etc.) If not, that's ok. Customer education programs can start as a one-person band.
Again, don't let a lack of resources stop you from getting started. Take what you have and start building a foundation.
There's not much more to say here. Take what you have a deliver the content to your customers.
At this point, you may also want to invest in some form of customer education marketing. From an internal perspective, focus on spreading the word about what you're doing and its value. Externally, explain to customers how it can help them.
How are things going? As expected or are you off-kilter? Either way is fine — in fact, you should expect some things to go awry — but it's on you to recognize what's working and make improvements accordingly.
The best way to do this is to collect feedback from your customers. Send surveys, ask for feedback in the last section of courses, give them your email. Whatever gets them talking.
Customer Education Program Examples
Now that you know how to start a customer education program, you may be wondering what the end product could look like.
A simple search of "customer academy examples" will return millions of examples — 127,000,000 as of writing this — but to save you some time, here are a few of our favorite examples of companies putting a customer education strategy to work.
Shopify Learn is a public-facing academy available to anyone looking to learn how to start and grow a successful business.
Shopify's academy includes general topics like goal setting and product development from industry leaders to SEO best practices for beginners. Shopify also has a customer-facing academy, Shopify Plus, that focuses on helping its customer be successful with its technology.
Compass Academy delivers resources to its agents to help them improve and grow their business. Part of the academy focuses on how they can use Compass' technology, but there's content covering more general topics, too, like "Advanced Marketing."
Obligatory HubSpot inclusion — it's just not right to talk about customer education program examples and not include The HubSpot Academy.
HubSpot is the undisputed leader of online learning, offering gated and ungated content to people looking to level up on everything from social media marketing and SEO to digital marketing and HubSpot-specific features.
5 Customer Education Best Practices
We've covered much of the customer education world, including stats, steps to getting started and our favorite examples, so let's talk about some best practices.
Prioritize One Program Goal
Focus on one goal/objective at a time — trying to be too many things to too many people will slow growth and keep you from realizing the benefits of customer education.
So, for example, start by aiming to reduce support tickets. Once you do that, move on to another goal, like decreasing time to value. Over time, you'll have a customer education program that addresses many business challenges.
Define Your Business Goal
After just talking about how important it is to set one goal, there's probably some confusion with this best practice that contradicts what we just said. Let us explain.
A successful customer education program isn't just about the actual program — it's about how it helps the entire company grow.
So, when you're setting your program goal, set one that ties back to the business (i.e., customer retention or LTV). Think of it this way: What will you report to the Leadership team when they ask how everything is going?
Appoint One Customer Education Leader
Just like you should have one goal at a time, appoint one person to lead the charge; too many cooks in the kitchen could quickly become your program's downfall.
When looking for a customer education team lead, your best bet is to find someone aligned with your goal.
So, if your goal is to reduce support tickets, see if someone on the CS team wants to join the initiative. The closer the leader is to the goal, the more successful your program will be.
That said, anyone passionate about customer education can lead the charge, so don't let limited resources keep you from getting started.
Set a Foundation (But Always Keep Your Eye on the Prize)
As you know, there are a lot of impressive examples of customer education out there — and while it's perfectly ok (and reasonable) to stop and stare, try not to obsess over them.
Instead, make any move you can to get the ball rolling while using the academies you envy as a wishlist you pull from as you grow your program.
Put Your Customers First, Always
We still see even the most seasoned customer education pros prioritizing their goals over those of their customers (i.e., they do everything to reduce the number of support tickets without considering the implications on the learning experience).
Instead of thinking just about how customer education will help you, adjust your mindset to focus on how you're supporting your customers. If you do this, the results will follow.