Imagine you’ve never heard of Muhammad Ali. Would you call him the “greatest boxer in the world” if you never saw him in the ring? Sure, someone can tell you he’s the fastest or has the best form, but until you see him fight, you won’t know how good he actually is.
Similarly, the best products on earth can’t truly be “the best” if your customers haven’t seen them in action.
For a customer to truly understand the power of your product and all that it does, they need to know how to use it. And for that, you need product education.
For SaaS companies, product education is the process of training new and existing customers on how to use your product to experience the greatest benefits and customer satisfaction.
Product education is more than just the user manual that comes with a software product (although guides and tutorials are a part of this). It’s a collaborative learning process that is most effective when it helps your customers learn in the flow of work. And when you use product education to help your team members understand your products, they can better explain to users how to maximize your product’s benefits.
For optimal product education, you need to meet your customers where they are within their journey, then tailor educational messages and target them at their touchpoints.
Bottom line: It doesn’t matter how awesome your product is if your customers don’t know how to use it. Product education is important for users to get the most value out of your product.
When your support teams have access to top-notch educational resources, they’ll be better equipped to help retain customers through engagement. This shortens time to value (TTV) and improves overall customer satisfaction.
Time to value measures the amount of time it takes a user to experience the expected value of a product. Faster TTV vastly improves the user experience, which encourages positive word of mouth and builds brand loyalty. And if you’re driving repeated value, you’re reducing user-product friction—which can also help you reduce churn. A win-win.
It’s also important to empathize with your team members. Approach product education as finding ways for them to overcome pain points and discover additional value, so they can pass this knowledge along to your customers. For example, if your customer success team receives a lot of questions about creating new accounts, then you can add resources to your customer onboarding that addresses this topic.
Product education should share useful information that helps users make the most of your product. You’re not just teaching your team about a product, you’re helping them build a relationship with your customers. And maintaining a healthy relationship is a process that requires continuous engagement.
You should engage your users most during the onboarding phase when they are still new to your product. Your LMS plays an important role during new customer onboarding—particularly for microlearning and gamification (more on this later).
To drive effective engagement with customers, it’s best to reach out to them at their convenience—which means using their preferred communication channels (e.g., phone, email, text, chat, etc.). And to maximize your customer outreach efforts, complement your LMS with a customer engagement platform.
You’re not just teaching your team about a product, you’re helping them build a relationship with your customers.
When your customers know how to best use your product without running into issues, their satisfaction levels will naturally increase. And when a product is delivering on your company’s—and product-educated employees’—promises, customers will notice.
When users are able to achieve their goals with the help of your product, they’ll gain confidence in your company. You’ll know your customers are truly satisfied when they begin seeing your product as their go-to tool for helping them reach professional milestones.
Greg Rose, chief experience officer at Intellum, says that if organizations want to increase customer retention through product education, they need to “start small and look for business problems that you can address with education.” Customer churn can be addressed with product education.
Well-educated users will be able to find more value and success with a product, making them more likely to stick around. In fact, a recent Forrester report shows that customer education works: “An average formalized customer education program” drives a 7.4% increase in customer retention.
And according to Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends report, 61% of worldwide customers say they would switch to a competitor after just one negative customer service experience. When customers are happy with the product they’re using, they’re less likely to jump ship.
Product education is a cross-company strategy, making it a perfect fit for the same tools your company uses to manage learning internally. If your company’s L&D team already has a learning management system in place, use it. LMSs are designed for education, and every department can contribute to customer education resources.
It’s an easy way to implement product education quickly because many people at your company are familiar with standard LMS features like course creation, management, and delivery tools. 360Learning also offers advanced LMS features to upgrade your product education initiative: mobile learning, microlearning, and within it, gamification.
Mobile learning, or mLearning, makes on-the-go training possible with an LMS directly on your phone. With product education videos and courses available anytime, anywhere, users can experience asynchronous training on their schedules.
L&D teams want to use consumers’ increasing dependence on mobile phones to their advantage and increase participation in their training programs—even when they’re internal product education courses. Simultaneously, learners want to be able to access training sessions at their own pace. Another win-win.
Mobile learning is convenient and easy to return to when a learner needs to step away. It also solves the problem of providing product education training to your remote teams, who are often working in different locations and time zones.
Your customers don’t want to have to sit through lengthy webinars just to forget the information within 20 minutes. They want short videos and courses that apply to specific tasks.
The digital age has not only brought about the need for mobile learning, but also training approaches suited to shorter attention spans. Enter, microlearning. As the name suggests, microlearning is an educational style in which trainees learn in small “chunks” of information, typically between 1 to 10 minutes long.
Examples of microlearning educational content “chunks” can include:
Microlearning works well for users who need to learn how to use a specific, basic feature. You could offer a quick walkthrough via a screen recording, so a user knows exactly where to click.
For example, Petstablished, a data management tool for animal shelters, offers a variety of microlearning resources to its customers. Each video targets a specific task, like how to filter available pets. Shelter volunteers can learn how to do that specific task and get back to work.
The digital age has not only brought about the need for mobile learning, but also training approaches suited to shorter attention spans.
Gamification, also known as game-based learning, is when training uses gaming principles within its design and functionality to encourage learning. And science says it works—gamification can improve user learning outcomes.
Two types of gamification are particularly successful: performance and content. How you approach gamification depends on your customers’ needs and your product education goals.
Performance gamification, or structural gamification, guides users through their educational journey and motivates them during key moments so they stay engaged. This could be used in product education by offering badges when users reach new levels of product proficiency, or by offering a certificate of completion at the end.
Content gamification occurs when you add game-like elements like storytelling, new challenges, and simulations to your program to make it more engaging. For example, you could add multiple levels of difficulty to a product education game.
Microlearning elements like gamification can empower your customers to quickly become product experts and product loyalists.
Product education should happen within—and throughout—the customer’s journey. The six touchpoints within this journey are typically associated with specific teams within your organization, where you can add or reinforce product education.
Awareness begins before the customer starts using your product. During the awareness stage, a potential customer is attempting to solve a problem, find an answer, or meet a specific need.
The “awareness” touchpoint is often thought of as a marketing or sales team initiative, but it’s also an opportunity to educate potential customers about the pain points your product solves.
During this phase, it’s important for your team members to highlight the product’s value proposition and set user expectations with product education.
Before a sale or conversion happens, a user may sign up for a free trial or use a freemium account.
To get customers interested in a paid version, employees—typically from sales or marketing—can educate customers on a few limited product features. This can inform potential users about advanced capabilities they can access with a paid subscription.
Demonstrate how useful your product is by giving customers temporary access to it. Your team members can then upsell customers to convert their trials into subscriptions or memberships.
During onboarding, your customers learn how to set up and use your product. It’s the ideal time for product education, but if left in the hands of just one team, your customer education could fall flat.
Customer onboarding is a company-wide task that all departments should contribute to.
During this touchpoint, your team should focus their onboarding efforts on a few core product features that demonstrate early value, so as to not overwhelm users. Use customer feedback, product reviews, and sales and marketing data to inform which features you focus on.
Microlearning elements like gamification can empower your customers to quickly become product experts and product loyalists.
After a user has adopted your product, you want them to engage more deeply with it, so they can find any issues they may need assistance with and get help with new features.
It takes a village (or a cubicle pod) to retain customers. This touchpoint can be associated with the customer support department, any communications teams within the company, the in-product messaging, design, and marketing teams.
Once a customer is regularly using your product, your team should help them get the most out of it by demonstrating its advanced features. For example, you can use your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform to set up a series of emails that refer customers to product education resources. However you choose to highlight your product, make sure it’s helping send users out into their roles steadily after onboarding. As the user becomes more comfortable with the product and masters its features over time, their perception of its value will increase, and you’ll reduce churn.
Product education needs to serve your internal team too. They need to be able to talk about your product to customers. If you take a cookie-cutter approach to educating your various team members or your end users about your products, it can cause confusion and frustration.
To create a useful experience for each segment or group in your audience, use an LMS that supports customization and allows you to create separate, private groups for different levels of users. Not all team members learn the same way, and not all customers have the same use case or need for your product, so differentiating these groups can engage your users and build trust. You can set up separate product education groups for your team—and use those groups to customize training to different departments’ needs.
Employees and customers want to experience the maximum value of your product in the shortest period of time. So it’s imperative that your company creates helpful, relevant content. However, this content can’t be created in a vacuum. You should involve both team members and end users in the process, otherwise you won’t have an accurate understanding of users’ needs, questions, and pain points.
Creating collaborative content follows 360Learning’s “bottom-up” training methodology and keeps your product education materials fresh and on message. Let’s say two employees from different departments took a basic course about using your product and had two completely different takeaways from it. Those employees could use an authoring tool to create a new training course (and invite others to add to it), highlighting each person’s perspective, or co-author a course with one of your subject matter experts (SMEs). Trainees can also leave course feedback and reactions, so they’ll be more likely to engage.
Your team’s participation in developing the content itself will create a bigger buy-in for employees to participate in the overall product education training.
Education drives engagement and helps your customers use your products to their fullest potential. Discover a new way to use the 360Learning LMS by adopting it for internal product education. Ready to see what a product education strategy can do for your company? Contact us for your free 30-minute demo today.