Picture this: You (i.e., the end-user) buy a product and can't wait to start using it. Unfortunately, when you dive in for the first time, you're greeted with a disorienting array of menus and features with no context or support.
At this point, you could respond in a couple of different ways:
You could begin exploring the menus and features they've provided and gradually piece together how to use the product. You'll likely have a few customers who prefer this method over more structured end-user training.
Or, you could do what most end-users would do: give up on the software because it's too confusing.
This means that 4 out of 5 end users may abandon your product if they don't know how to use it. This is why end-user training is so important.
What's End-user Training?
What's end-user training? End-user training is an initiative that provides product- or service end-users (i.e., customers, gig workers, employees or channel partners) the resources and support they need to realize its value.
End-user Training Objectives & Why it's Important
So, what are the objectives/use cases for end-user training?
The first way you can use end-user training is during the onboarding process. Providing end-users with excellent training is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth onboarding experience, ensuring they're realizing how the product can help them reach their goals as quickly as possible.
Every one of your end-users purchased your product or service because they had a problem they wanted to solve. An effective end-user training program minimizes the time and effort someone has to put in before they can see the value.
For example, if someone purchases a SaaS subscription, their first step is to activate their account. If activating the account is confusing or unnecessarily time-consuming, they might not use it — or at least not as much as they would if they could immediately get in.
The second way you can use end-user training is to gain ongoing product adoption. The product adoption curve visualizes and measures how quickly your product is catching on with end-users.
One of the best ways to improve the product adoption rate is to provide excellent end-user training. By giving customers access to all the educational resources they need, you can decrease time to value and improve the customer experience. Customers who are getting the most out of their products and have had a positive customer education experience are more likely to become brand advocates and accelerate product adoption.
For example, you can make product adoption smoother for customers by maintaining an online learning academy where customers can look anytime to find the resources they need.
When customers don't understand how to use your product or service, they won't use it. When they don't use it, they can't realize the value and when they can't realize the value, they go looking for an alternative that can (i.e., they churn).
For any business, retaining your customers should be the primary goal. The key to retention is to keep them happy. By consistently providing your end-users with what they need to be successful with your product or service, you'll keep them happy and in your book of business for years to come.
For example, you can use your customer education program to improve user retention by creating personalized end-user training modules. Pinpointing why a particular customer is struggling with a product can enable you to guide them towards the solutions they need, thus decreasing their time to value.
End-user Training Best Practices
Following are some end-user training best practices that can help you create the best education program possible:
Focus On One Goal
When you're creating end-user training material, try to set your sights on just one goal at a time. A robust end-user training program can accomplish many different things, but it's better not to shoot for all of them at once. Instead, build a program that addresses one challenge at a time — for example, reducing the number of support tickets. Once you solve that, move on to the next one.
Appoint One Leader
Just as you should only have one goal at a time, you should only have one leader at a time as well. The adage, "too many cooks in the kitchen," applies here. If you don't appoint a clear leader to spearhead your end-user training program, staying organized and aligned can quickly become challenging.
When you're thinking about whom to place in charge, ask yourself who's most closely aligned with your goal. For example, if you're aiming to reduce the number of support tickets, see if someone on the customer success team wants to come on board.
Microlearning is Generally Superior
For better or worse, your end-users simply don't have time to sit and read through pages of documentation or watch hours-long onboarding videos — even if they are inclined to do so (which they probably don't).
One of the keys to successful end-user training is presenting users with opportunities for bite-sized learning (i.e., microlearning). If you have 2,000 words of essential information to share, break it up into smaller, more digestible chunks rather than presenting it as one long article that customers will see as an unappealing time commitment.
Cater to Mobile Learning
Many end-users are too busy to sit and devote dedicated time to learning about a product at all, no matter how digestible the format is. For these learners, it's essential to have a way to learn on the go. You can appeal to this audience by optimizing all your end-user training materials for mobile devices. You should assume the majority of your users will be completing their training in this manner.
Put Your Customers First
Maybe it sounds obvious, but it's easy to lose sight of this idea. Yes, your end-user training program will bring about benefits for your business, but think about how that will happen. End users are going to benefit first and that will lead to decreased churn, increased revenue, or whatever your goal is. That's why it's important to approach the way you design your end-user training program with the end user's best interests in mind.
You can apply these best practices to various end-user training methods and customize your program to their needs.
Having a great product is step one, and getting the product into the hands of the end-user is step two. The third step is actually helping them realize the value. That's where end-user training comes into play. Following end-user training best practices can improve your business's onboarding experience, product adoption rate, customer retention and more.