If you’re selling a product, you’ve probably heard your customers saying, “How do I learn your SaaS product?”
If they don’t reach out directly to you, they’re probably saying it to themselves or their network.
It’s on you to answer them.
This is why training for SaaS is so important (commonly known as customer education).
Training for SaaS is the process of teaching users (i.e., customers) how to use a piece of software. SaaS training — sometimes referred to as customer education or product training — provides users with the necessary knowledge, resources and support needed to get the most value out of your product.
For SaaS companies, SaaS training improves product and feature adoption, increases NPS, reduces churn, boosts retention and more.
There can be a misconception that SaaS or product training is only a post-sales tactic — and while it certainly is, that’s not the only way it can shine.
One of the most obvious ways product training can be incorporated into the customer journey is during onboarding.
The main benefit of training for SaaS at this stage of the customer journey is that it can decrease time to value (TTV) or the time between when someone becomes a customer and first realizes the expected value from the product.
For example, if you’re selling them a product that aims to help them speed up the billing process for their eCommerce business, TTV would reflect the amount of it takes for them to see this process accelerate.
You’re probably familiar with the need to introduce new users to your product and show them what they need to know to start using the product. But training in a SaaS company should actually go further than that.
The importance of onboarding and getting users off to a fast start cannot be understated.
Case and point: 55% of people say they've returned a product because they didn't understand how to use it and 70% of customers say understanding to use products and services is important to winning their business.
Don’t let this happen.
Here’s a hill we’ll die on: Customer retention is the most important metric for SaaS companies.
Acquiring a new customer can cost 5x more than retaining an existing one. So, unless you’re trying to burn through some money, retention should be your north star.
These existing customers are also 31% more likely to spend more on their average order value. So, unless you’re trying NOT to make money, retention should be your focus.
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try your business’s new product. So, unless you’re trying to avoid upsell opportunities, retention should be your priority.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but retention is clearly important.
Here’s another hill we’ll die on: The only way to retain your customers is to consistently provide your users with value (i,e., show them that your SaaS product is still helping them in some way, shape or form).
This is exactly what SaaS training aims to do.
There’s no getting around the fact that product training applies to external parties, but it can also help internal teams succeed.
Here are two teams SaaS product training can help:
Set a Goal
Each version of your training program and courses should be built with a goal in mind. The overall goal of the course might be, for example, improving product adoption.
But, you should also have a goal in mind for each individual module in the course that’s more specific. If the goal of the course is to improve product adoption, the goal of the module might be to show the user how to use a specific feature.
Outline the ContentOnce you have a goal to work toward, you should consult with a subject matter expert (SME) to create the best SaaS course content you can. This is the actual information that the course will be imparted to the learner.
Format the ContentNext, the content will need to be formatted into a training course. You can work with an instructional designer (ID) to determine how to structure your courses and the best mediums to use.
Launch and Gather FeedbackFinally, launch the training program. Give your customers some time to start using it and then gather feedback from them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply ask them what they thought of their learning experience and whether or not they feel adequately educated about the product.
Shopify, the all-in-one commerce platform helping millions of brands start, run, and grow their online businesses, has a robust training program that offers beginners and experts alike the resources they need to get the most out of its SaaS product.
A quick hover over the “Learn” tab offers an impressive list of resources, including a Help Center, Blog, Free tools and a Community users can join to get help from their peers.
Shopify also offers a more robust training program, Shopify Learn, which provides even more resources and opportunities to learn from the best and brightest in the business world.
HubSpot arguably does SaaS training better than anyone else out there. The HubSpot Academy, which the company launched more than a decade ago and years before anyone else realized the value of this type of initiative brings both free and paid (in the sense that you need to be a customer to access them) resources to the forefront of their business strategy.
What makes HubSpot’s approach to product training unique is that it offers people a mix of industry- and product-related resources. Said another way, HubSpot doesn’t confine itself to training customers — anyone wanting to better themselves on Marketing, Sales and Services can benefit from The HubSpot Academy. As a result, HubSpot has become the undisputed leader in its category.
Zenefits “provide innovative and intuitive HR and payroll software and services purpose-built for these small and mid-size companies.”
It also provides its customers with a robust training program that covers the breadth of its product offerings, ensuring that all of its customers, regardless of their use case for the product, has the tools needed to make the most of it.
The most successful programs are effective because they nail all the SaaS training best practices. Your customer training program has a better chance of helping your customers and your business if you take some of these best practices into consideration.
Here are a few examples:
Stick to One Goal
It’s always tempting to try to do more than one thing at once. We all like to be productive, but don’t let that desire for maximum results get in the way of setting a clear, achievable goal.
If you try to accomplish all your goals at once with a single training program, you’re unlikely to get anywhere. However, if you set your sights on a single goal up front, you’re much more likely to build a training program that actually reaches that goal.
Appoint a Leader
In the same vein, you should choose a single person to lead your team. Whoever it is should have strong leadership skills and a drive to see the training program succeed, but it’s also best to choose someone who is also fully aligned with the program’s business goals.
So, if you’re aiming to improve the onboarding process, see if someone from the CS team wants to lead the charge.
Optimize for Mobile Learning
Mobile is ubiquitous, so assuming your users will be consuming your content with anything BUT is a strategic mistake.
To this end, it’s essential that your training program is perfectly optimized for mobile learning, ensuring your users can benefit from your resources, no matter when and where they need it.
Use Microlearning to Your Advantage
When it comes to online training, microlearning is almost always more effective than long-form content.
Microlearning is a learning style that breaks content into small chunks and presents them one by one as parts of a whole instead of including all the information in a single piece of content.
When you separate the content into manageable pieces, it is much more approachable for your customers. They’ll be able to digest it one step at a time and they’ll be more likely to retain what they learned.
SaaS certification programs are often some of the most successful at driving learner engagement.
Because people are usually more likely to complete courses when they’re working toward a tangible goal like earning a certification. Providing opportunities for your customers to complete SaaS certification training courses is also a great way to boost customers’ confidence with your product and encourage social sharing.
Using a learning management sytem is one of the best ways to build and maintain your SaaS product training.
An online customer education platform like Northpass is a great example of the kind of software that can help you create a better SaaS training program.
One notable benefit of using a SaaS training platform like Northpass is the way it can enhance the training experience with automation. Automation can provide a way to increase training capabilities without increasing customer support or customer education staff. This can lead to a more scalable customer education model.
Automation can also make it possible to offer your customers more highly customized training content. Automation tools can use analytics about user behavior to detect contextually relevant courses to suggest to customers.
Tailoring the experience to the individual customer and their position along the customer journey can have a huge impact on how much customers get out of your training program.