What's the biggest key to success for product-first companies?
People using the product.
But to use the product, they need to understand the ins and outs of it and how to realize value.
The best way to do that is with a product education program.
What’s Product Education and Training?
What’s product education? Product education provides customers, employees, gig workers and channel partners with the necessary resources and knowledge they need to be successful with a product. The best product education programs help increase product and feature adoption, improve satisfaction and lower churn. Today and far into the future, product education is a must.
Product Education & Training For Customers, Channel Partners, Gig Workers and Employees
There’s more than one way to apply product education and training. The four we’re going to talk about here apply to customers, channel partners, gig workers and employees.
Product Education for Customers
When use hear someone talk about product education, what's the first use case you think about?
This makes sense because the only way for product companies to stay in business is to get their customers to use their product. That's what product education aims to do.
Here are a few examples:
Product walkthrough during the onboarding process
Help center documentation
Support for customer success managers (CSMs)
Webinars explaining recent product updates
However your product education program comes to fruition, it has the same goal: Keep your customers using your product. It's as simple as that.
Below is an example of The HubSpot Academy. As you can see, the courses aim to help HubSpot's customers make the most of its products.
Product Education for Channel Partners
Product education can also help channel partners stay informed about products and services so they can remain aligned with your organization’s business goals and effectively sell them outside of your walls.
FYI: If you're not familiar with channel partners, you can think about them as an extension of your sales team who go outside of your walls to advocate and sell your product.
Product education for channel partners is similar to how you'd apply it to your sellers. For your channel partners to be effective, they need to be power users, understand your customers' pain points, how to talk about the product, the state of the industry and much more.
Oftentimes, the material you create for your customers can be used here as well. For example, if you have an introductory learning path that gets your customers up to speed on your product, it probably has similar value to your channel partners.
Product Education for Gig Workers
Companies in the gig economy can also use product education.
A grocery delivery app could use it to show its drivers how to start using the app.
A ride-hailing app could use product education to show its drivers how to use advanced features.
A food delivery app could use product education to show its drivers how to deal with customer complaints and challenges.
Product education in the gig economy is important for two reasons:
Product education makes sure workers (i.e., contractors) are successful.
For example, someone using a ride-hailing app may stop using it if they don't understand its basic features and how to use them to make money. Not only is this person now less likely to use the app, but they might see if a competitor's app is easier to use.
Product education keeps customers happy. Educated workers are more likely to deliver exceptional service to customers. When the customers are satisfied, they keep using the product.
In addition, product education aimed at the end-user (i.e., the person ordering the food) can help them use the app more effectively.
A product education program is also necessary for gig companies because it's the only realistic way to train a disparate workforce.
Think about it: The value proposition of working in the gig economy is that you can do it whenever and wherever you want.
What would happen if a gig company required workers to travel for a week-long, in-person training? The majority wouldn't show up and would stop working.
Product Education for Employees
Product education for employees can occur in two ways:
Product education can help train CSMs and other internal teams on the product to provide better customer experiences.
Product education can help HR teams and hiring managers onboard new employees to be successful in their roles.
From an internal team's perspective, product education strives to help customer-facing teams provide better customer experiences.
Product education aimed at CS and support teams could offer material that helps them optimize the onboarding process or demonstrate a specific feature's value.
Meanwhile, training employees during the onboarding process could focus on compliance, company messaging, goal setting, etc. You can think about this type of training as a way for you to "set your employees up for success."
Product Training Best Practices
We've defined product education and talked about how you can use it. Now, let's talk about some best practices you can use to ensure you're actually delivering a valuable experience to your customers, channel partners, gig workers or employees.
Prioritize One Goal
Set one goal at a time.
Said another way, don't attempt to solve every business challenge at once. Instead, pick one — for example, increasing feature adoption or growing revenue from your channel partners — and solve that.
Once you do, move on.
Spreading your resources too thin prevents you from giving each goal the attention it deserves.
Set a Foundation
There are a lot of companies with impressive product education programs.
While it's ok to stop and stare, try not to window shop.
Instead, build whatever you can — creating a new video, adding a learning path or experimenting with instructor-led training.
Product education is an iterative process.
Put Your Learners First, Always
It's not uncommon for beginner — and even seasoned — product education teams to approach their program with a biased POV.
Don't fall into that trap.
Change your thinking and only prioritize how the program will help your customers, channel partners, gig workers and employees.
If you do that, the results you once obsessed over will come naturally.
Optimize for Mobile Learning
Your customers, channel partners, gig workers and employees are on the go more than ever before, which means there's a good chance they'll be learning away from desktops.
To that end, design your content for mobile devices.
Opt for Microlearning
The world is moving faster than ever, meaning that people likely won't have time to spend hours learning about your product.
For this reason, you must take advantage of microlearning (i.e., bite-sized pieces of content) whenever and wherever you can.
Essential Product Education Tools (aka an LMS)
The best product education programs are built on the back of an advanced LMS.
Why? A few reasons:
With an LMS, you can personalize the learning experience for the unique needs and learning preferences of you whomever you're teaching. You can even train multiple groups in the same system (i.e., train partners and customers in the same LMS).
Product education tools come with built-in integrations that make it easy to align the processes and data that come from the LMS into tools you're already using. For example, an LMS with a HubSpot integration empowers your sales team with learner-level insights they can use to have more valuable conversations with prospects.
Most product education tools provide you with access to important learning education metrics that can serve as valuable insights to help you improve your product education program.
These are just a few examples of the different tools and capabilities that an LMS can equip you with. If your product education program isn’t working as effectively as it could be, implementing an LMS may be able to help you make the improvements you need.