Products are complex, but that doesn't change the fact that your customers have lofty expectations of them.
Someone buying a livestock enterprise management solution expects it to help them boost the performance and efficiency of their farm.
Someone using Shopify expects the tool to help them streamline their business and ultimately make more money.
Of course, more goes into these customer outcomes, but the message is the same: Your customers expect to get value out of your product or service.
Historically, companies tackled this demand with traditional help centers, chatbots, and ad-hoc meetings with their customer success manager (CSM) (if they met a spending threshold).
Unfortunately, these tactics—and other manual ones—fail to deliver the learning experience your customers expect. In 2023 and beyond, your customers want answers to their questions instantly and overcome hurdles without waiting on hold. This is the "right-now" mentality of your customer—and traditional customer training can't deliver that.
But digital customer training can.
Here's what you need to know about digital customer training and how product and customer training platforms can help you—and your customers—thrive.
Digital customer education refers to using product and customer training platforms and a digital customer academy to increase the reach, impact, and efficiency of customer education programs.
Unlike traditional training, i.e., training customers manually via ad-hoc sessions, PDFs, webinars, and 1:1 calls with customer success managers (CSMs), digital customer education delivers high-quality, interactive, and on-demand resources that give customers an effortless way to unlock the full potential of a product or service.
Additionally, digital customer education creates operational efficiencies and elevates the customer experience by moving beyond ineffective, labor-intensive, and expensive training tactics, giving customer-facing teams more time to focus on retention and revenue—all without increasing headcount.
A product and customer training platform (also known as a learning management system) is a software application for the management and delivery of customer training content. Product and customer training platforms help companies deliver materials to their customers in a way that improves the customer experience and boosts training efficiency. Said another way, the platforms allow companies to deliver learning experiences that meet the "right-now" mentality of society.
Here are a few of the best product and customer training platforms available to companies in 2023:
So, what are the benefits of product and customer training platforms? There's a long list, but here are the highlights:
The outcomes and benefits of a digital customer education program are impossible to ignore. But how do you put it into practice? How, exactly, can you apply a customer education platform to the customer journey?
Overall, digital customer education improves the customer experience, which is more important now than ever.
Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than other companies in their industry.
Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by almost 80%.
Almost 100% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty.
More than 75% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
Loyal customers are 5x more likely to purchase again and 4x more likely to refer a friend to the company.
Consumers will pay 17% more to purchase from a company with a reputation for great service.
For a digital customer education program to thrive with a product and customer training platform, stakeholders across the company need to be involved in the RFP process, implementation, and ongoing delivery.
While no two customer education programs are the same, a few key roles will almost always be involved:
This person is responsible for getting leadership buy-in and the RFP. They also lead the charge during implementation and are responsible for ensuring the program's success.
The executive sponsor guides the greater team to ensure the program aligns with the business’s strategic priorities—now and in the future.
The subject matter expert (SME) ensures the learning content meets customers' needs and addresses key pain points (and is delivered in the format that drives the most engagement).
The instructional designer translates the concepts into content and courses that enable your customers to learn and retain critical information.
The technical lead will be involved heavily during implementation to ensure data is flowing, integrations are working, etc. They'll also ensure the platform's backend keeps pace with the evolving needs of the program.
Building a product education program is easiest when you use a high-quality training management platform. You can improve your odds of success even further by sticking to the tried and true steps to turn your product education objectives into reality.
First, your product training strategy needs a purpose. What kind of business outcomes are you hoping for? What kind of experience do you want your learners to have? The answers to these two questions are often intertwined. When customers are given opportunities to succeed with your products, it nearly always translates to better business performance.
To deliver content that’s fully relevant, you should strive to understand exactly who the users of your academy are. Developing a user persona can be very helpful for designing courses that appeal to your target audience specifically.
Before you create the actual content of your courses, you should create a roadmap that lays out what modules your course will include and how users will progress through it. This usually involves brainstorming the best course structure for achieving your objectives from step one. By planning out your course in its entirety before you start designing content, you can ensure all your content works together toward the end goal. This is where you should pull out all your best content strategies, such as leveraging interactive training ideas.
Next, you should build the actual content of your course. This will probably be the most time-consuming step, and it’s also one of the most important. The effectiveness of your product education depends on the quality of your training content. To simplify this step, ask yourself if there’s any content you’ve already created that you can republish as part of your course. This can save you time and effort and make your past content more accessible.
Now you need to deliver your training course to your learners. The content needs to be easy to find to have the maximum benefit. One of the best ways to organize your software training courses or other product information is to use a training management platform. A dedicated platform can make it possible to store all your product content where it’s easily accessible to users from a central location.
The last step of building a product training course is to measure its impact after launching it. By using an LMS to track the behavior of online learners taking your course, you can develop a better understanding of what your learners need. Then, you can adjust your course to meet those needs.
Northpass is a market-leading learning platform for customer education that empowers businesses to elevate their customer experience and optimize operational efficiency through digital learning. Iconic brands, including Walmart and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to hundreds of growth businesses, like Pipedrive and Freshworks, choose Northpass to power their digital customer academies. Our award-winning platform and expert services give companies a surefire path to transform outdated customer training methods into modern digital education programs that match how customers want to learn today and improve training efficiency, effectiveness, and reach.