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Training & Learning

Everything You Need to Know About Customer Education (+ How to Do It)

63% of respondents in a survey plan to grow their customer education teams in 2022. It’s hardly surprising because companies that invest in customer education see significant growth in customer retention, thanks to improved onboarding, greater brand awareness, and lower customer churn. 

Customer education, or customer training, teaches new and existing customers how to use a tool, a product or service to solve a pain point. The idea is to guide your customers to get maximum value from the user experience. If you don’t educate your customers on everything your product can do, you’re leaving them feeling confused, frustrated, and like their investment is wasted. 

Instead, a solid customer education program built with a learning management system (LMS) instills trust and helps customers use your product or service to replace labor-intensive work with newer, efficient methods. In turn, you earn customer loyalty, reduce support costs, boost sales, and build a stellar reputation for end-to-end customer service that will retain more customers for a longer time.

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What is customer education?

Customer education includes all of the ways customers become familiar with your product or service, including training and tutorials that show them how to get the most out of their investment. Customer education is more than just a quick tutorial or an FAQ; it’s a journey that begins with sales and customer onboarding and continues throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Traditionally, a customer success manager or training manager would schedule one-to-one training sessions with their customers. These sessions, recurring or one-time, could be in-person or via a Zoom call, and are with the key stakeholders of the product or service at the company.

The companies that deliver stellar customer education use technology to offer support in the form of live training sessions, blog content, discussions, pre-recorded videos and webinars, interactive simulations, quizzes, and games. These resources together give customers access to clear, reliable, and accurate information about using your product or service that they can access whenever they want. 

Related: 3 Real-Life Customer Education Examples and What They Can Teach Us

Customer education includes all of the ways customers become familiar with your product or service, including training and tutorials that show them how to get the most out of their investment.

6 benefits of customer education

Customer education plays a key role in improving customer satisfaction and retention. Naturally, when customers find it easy to use your product or service to solve their pain points, they are faster to adopt and try newer features, leading to higher engagement and satisfaction. This relationship of trust and dependability forms the bedrock of customer retention and helps you build your brand as one that cares deeply about customer experience.

1. Faster onboarding

Onboarding is an opportunity to make a great first impression—but only if you have a strong customer education program for your product or service. Poor onboarding is responsible for 23% of customer churn on average. And 67% of all churn can be prevented if customer issues are resolved during the first interaction. A helpful onboarding process allows you to lay the foundation for a great relationship and win over your customers. 

A new product can be scary and intimidating, especially if it’s replacing a well-established process or widely used tool. When your training gives customers the ease of use and confidence they are looking for, they quickly become efficient users and gain maximum value from your product or service. In one report, customer education led to a 14% annual improvement in onboarding over a two-year period. Your educational content builds trust and credibility for your product because customers know they can count on the resources you provide.

Poor onboarding is responsible for 23% of customer churn on average.

Customer education improvements across the customer lifecycle

Time to value (TTV) is a metric that measures the time it takes customers to realize the value they expected when they purchased your product. In other words, it’s how quickly they see a return on investment. Customer education during onboarding is the key to shortening TTV because it helps you provide value right at the onboarding stage.

2. Higher engagement and better product adoption

Customers want to use products that address their pain points and make their work efficient and productive. After all, they signed up for your product. So, they’re already poised to become engaged users. But even the most engaged users need ready answers. Customer education, especially a program that lets users customize their learning path, fulfills this demand and gives them clear and reliable information at the time of need

When customers are already engaged with your product, they are ready to adopt new features and product releases as the product evolves. Experts suggest that the greatest measurable impact from customer education in product adoption. Higher product adoption leads to deeper engagement and creates an ongoing long-term learning cycle.

3. Fewer support tickets and lower costs

The modern product user is a self-directed learner—they are used to seeking answers on Google or watching a short video to understand a concept. When learners access information through a customer education database, they don’t need to contact customer support as often. Even for customers who want high-touch service, you can’t have support staff present for each little query, especially as you scale your business. 

A strong customer education program plays a similar role by preempting customer needs and providing self-service access to content that answers common questions. The result is fewer support tickets and lower operational costs. Once learners are ready to go deeper, they can find course modules on specific topics within your learning management system

4. Higher customer satisfaction and retention

Customer education helps learners become master users of your product, leading to a marked improvement in customer satisfaction scores (CSATs). But a PowerPoint presentation or a slide deck isn’t enough to achieve customer satisfaction. Even live training sessions are often riddled with learner fatigue and cost more. 

High customer satisfaction comes with intentional customer education. By identifying key implementation areas, Mitsubishi Electric achieved 99% customer satisfaction while training over 2,000 people. The company used a mix of blended learning, course authoring, upskilling, and collaborative learning to engage their customers. 

Happy users naturally want to stick with your product and may even become brand champions. That kind of loyalty builds long-term customers and improves your customer retention rate.

The modern product user is a self-directed learner.

5. Stronger brand reputation and loyalty

When customers can count on you as market leaders that excel in training and sharing industry-specific knowledge, you expand your brand awareness and create brand champions, increasing word-of-mouth referrals. 

Ultimately, customer education is the gap between what you know and what your customers need to know to succeed with your product. Pass on that knowledge through a systematic and dependable training program, and you’ve won customers for life. 

Plus, you can offer certifications in your product or service, which increases your reach as customers add these certifications to their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Over time, your certification becomes a must-have in your industry for credibility.

6. Engaged customer communities and discussion forums

Customers don’t operate in a vacuum. They are part of online communities and networks that focus on discussing common pain points and industry trends. A customer who has benefited from your education program will often engage in these communities and share tips or solutions from their own experience, often naming your product and knowledge source in the process. This leads to a healthy exchange and a trustworthy third-party review of your customer education program that you didn’t even orchestrate.

Related: How to Choose the Best Customer Training Software for Your Business

Ultimately, customer education is the gap between what you know and what your customers need to know to succeed with your product.

How to build a collaborative customer education program

Just like all L&D efforts, an effective customer education program is a continuous and collaborative process. But all too often, it fades into the background after onboarding. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to use your customer education program to create brand champions. 

Given that the cost of acquiring new customers is five times more than retaining current customers, you want to be present for customers throughout their lifecycle. A customer education program built on collaborative learning methods is the best way to attract and retain customers because it’s centered on the customer’s needs.

Know your customer and pinpoint their needs

Success means something different to each customer. Your customer’s pain points and business goals are the keys to providing them with the skills they need to master your product. A collaborative LMS can help you document these success factors in a centralized spot and stay on track with a custom training dashboard that provides an overview of customer education participation and completion rates. 

customer education dashboard on 360Learning
A collaborative LMS like 360Learning can help you document success factors in a centralized spot and stay on track with a custom training dashboard.

Once the business goals are identified and documented, you need to educate customers according to their unique needs. Your customer education program needs to be comprehensive enough to serve every persona but also customized for each learner’s use case.

Your customer education team can’t possibly train all decision-makers, admins, developers, and end users in 1:1 settings, but you can offer customized experiences by segmenting your customers into relevant groups or sub-groups and setting visibility rules for privacy. Users can share resources and takeaways or ask questions through a discussion forum, motivating peers to finish their training and boosting overall completion rates. 

Self-registration on 360Learning
On 360Learning, you can offer customized experiences by segmenting your customers into relevant groups or sub-groups and setting visibility rules for privacy.

Users can surface additional training needs by requesting a course through the Learning Needs tool. The rest of the team members can upvote topics based on their own needs, and you get a ready lineup of courses that will fill any gaps in your customer education program. Who knows better than your end users what they need to learn to succeed?

Create relevant content with a focus on collaboration

For customers to gain the maximum value in a short amount of time, your content needs to be relevant, useful, and available just in time. Relevant content cannot be created in isolation—for an in-depth understanding of your users’ problems, questions, and training needs, you need to involve them.

This bottom-up method of training helps your customer education program stay fresh and updated. For instance, a user who took a basic course in using your product could become a product champion on their team. When they discover new features that reduce internal barriers to productivity, they can use an authoring tool to create a new course (or co-author it with an expert on your end). Their participation makes customer education immediately relevant to the team’s business outcomes, and their team is more likely to find value in your product. 

Plus, users can help you iterate content and keep it accurate when they leave feedback on courses and react to content. The more users engage and collaborate with trainers in a course, the better they will learn and boost your training ROI. 

Choose the right tools to make customer education flexible and scalable

An amazing customer education program is useless if you can’t make it flexible or scale it for different users. Customers want a seamless learning experience that caters to their unique needs, and you need technology to fulfill this demand. Choose a learning platform that has the features you need for successful integration, customization, and reporting. 

A collaborative LMS presents content in a neat course catalog, where customers can browse through the course offerings and purchase the training they need. 

Customization helps build brand recognition. With an LMS like 360Learning, you can customize your customer’s experience, which means you can use brand elements and custom URLs to make your customer education program familiar to users. You can even provide a custom URL for each customer within the learning platform. This helps provide a richer user experience because it looks like the training is coming directly from your software and not from a third party.

360Learning's customizable academies
When it comes to customer education, customization helps build brand recognition.

Gamify your customer education program to make it engaging

Gamification attracts customers by adding game elements like leaderboards, quizzes, levels, and badges to your training. Gamification has been proven to motivate learners to work harder and provide a better quality of learning. Plus, it’s fun for users to test their knowledge and compete with peers through the ranks and levels displayed on a leaderboard. This type of recognition pushes learners to absorb even more information from training and get higher scores.  

Use microlearning and mobile learning techniques to strengthen your training 

Your customers don’t want to spend a lot of time learning about your product. They want quick fixes that they can apply right away when facing a challenge. Microlearning techniques—like short tutorials, videos, or quizzes that are under 10 minutes—cater to this need and help users learn in the flow of work. 

You can further bolster your customer education program by offering it through a mobile learning solution. Users want to access training at their convenience, and mobile learning offers them the anytime, anywhere option that is crucial to course completion rates.

Want to see our customer education and mobile learning solutions in action? Get your free demo today.

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