In today’s highly competitive marketplace, businesses are always searching for an edge. It’s no secret that an effective employee training program can provide huge advantages for a company in terms of productivity, retention, and profitability.
However, many organizations have found that the development and implementation of a customer training program (also known as extended enterprise training) has yielded exceptional results as well. The following information will discuss what customer training involves, why it’s important, and how you can use a learning management system (LMS) to further this business goal.
What is Customer Training?
In simple terms, customer training is a way for your company to support customers by providing them with the materials, information, and guidance they need to successfully use your product or service. Both B2B and B2C businesses can develop effective customer training programs.
Companies can deliver customer training in several ways. Learning materials and programs can be guided, self-paced, or fall into the hybrid learning category and can easily be disseminated in an online environment. It really depends on the nature of your business and the needs of your customers.
One common example of customer training is guided onboarding. For example, think of a SaaS (Software as a Service) company that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) or other technology software. In order for the company’s clients to gain immediate benefits from their newly acquired software, they must first understand the basic features of the program and how to effectively navigate the platform. A quick onboarding tutorial from the company can promote these objectives and help to flatten the learning curve for each customer.
Other examples of effective customer training include on-demand learning modules and the creation of a knowledge base or digital library for helpful references. Customer training programs can be a “win-win” for both businesses and their end users. On the one hand, customers are able to achieve familiarity with a product or service in much less time and with less tickets to the business’s support team, thus boosting their operational efficiency and protecting the time of the support team. On the other hand, businesses that invest in customer training initiatives also acquire a potential additive to their revenue stream through additional product or service trainings and courses, as well as the ability to foster a core of product/service evangelists who help drive future success. Knowledgeable clients are happier clients, and happier clients have the highest impact when it comes to word of mouth that influences new customers to purchase a product.
The Benefits of Customer Training
There are a number of reasons why customer training is an important initiative for many companies. Here are just a few benefits associated with this form of extended enterprise learning and development:
- Strengthened brand position. Customer experience is a key consideration for many (if not most) businesses today. One survey found that for 73% of consumers, a good experience is one of the key factors that influences brand loyalty. When your company invests in customer training, it is also investing in a superior customer service experience. Ultimately, this will result in many returning customers — some of whom will actively advocate for your brand and refer others to your product or service.
- Client retention. This leads us to client retention. Ensuring that your clients have the knowledge they need to effectively use your product or service means that there is less hinderance to product adoption. When your clients are using your product to its full potential, they will receive the most value. This fact directly impacts whether a customer will remain a customer, as customers that struggle to use a product or gain adoption are less likely to remain clients.
- Increased revenue. Beyond the potential revenue if your company chooses to monetize product or service trainings, an exceptional customer experience, bolstered by customer training as mentioned, will lead to a higher customer retention rate. That’s good news for your company, since it costs approximately 5 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. In addition, the top 10% of your customers may spend three times as much on your product/service than an average customer would.
- Decreased costs. The corollary to the above point is the reduction in costs that a well-designed customer training program can provide. For example, customers that are trained to use a certain product won’t have to frequently contact company representatives for support. This can free up your support agents for other tasks, and perhaps allow you to reduce payroll costs as well.
- Enhanced innovation. When your customer training program includes features that promote user feedback and collaboration, you may receive a steady stream of suggestions for improvement. This will encourage continual innovation, and over time may lead you to develop more efficient business processes or more practical product features.
How a Learning Management System Can Help
Implementing a well-designed Learning Management System (LMS) can help you to deliver exceptional customer training quickly, systematically, and efficiently. Some key advantages that an LMS can provide regarding customer training programs include:
- Centralization. Instead of having learning materials scattered across different files or platforms, a learning management system can provide a centralized, easily accessible location to hold all of your training documents and courses. This enables your customers to quickly find the appropriate materials within a virtual hub for their need without wasting time and energy on the search.
- Efficient content delivery. Products, software programs, and services are constantly being refined, updated, and adjusted to meet the ever-changing needs of the market. One of the outstanding advantages that an LMS offers in this regard is the ability to seamlessly update learning materials, and then deliver them to the end user. This means that customers will be able to quickly learn about user interface updates, new program features, and adjustments in the service process.
- Flexible learning methodology. Customer training should, as a rule, be offered to end users on their terms. A high-quality LMS will meet this need by offering different learning methods to customers. For instance, some customers prefer formal learning, such as through a training module or course, whereas others prefer informal learning methods, like social learning. An LMS allows you to diversify content and resources for an engaging and effective experience.
- Measurable success. It’s important that you set expectations for your customer training program early on and define your KPIs. The beauty of an LMS is that, once those metrics are in place, it’s relatively easy to gather the performance data you need to measure the success of your program. For instance, you can see which modules are most frequently accessed by customers, which may indicate a pressing need in user education around the topics covered by those modules.
Customer training is an excellent way to promote brand loyalty, drive customer retention, and increase revenue; and a well-designed learning management system provides an effective and engaging way to delivery training for any type of customer training program.
If you’d like to learn more about the impact that an LMS can have on business and customer success, request a demo of eThink’s low-cost, open source eLearning platform today.Request a Demo