A customer training strategy focuses on educating users about products, enhancing user experience, boosting loyalty, and driving product adoption.
Congratulations! You’ve just confirmed your 100th customer and celebrations are in order. But now you might be wondering … is it time for a customer training strategy? Where should you start to create one?
You’ve developed an amazing product or service, and you want users to make the most of every feature and application. Plus, you want to build brand loyalty through positive customer interactions.
A poor or non-existent customer training strategy contributes to churn and lost subscriptions, leaving customers feeling confused or stuck in their understanding of your product.
One important takeaway about customer churn? Each lost customer represents multiple future years of lost sales from that customer, lost opportunities to upsell, and lost potential second-order revenue from referrals they may have made.
Without being all doom and gloom, it’s proven that a strategic customer training approach will support customers to make the most of your product without all the confusion and frustration that leads to cancellation.
So what are the very first steps you need to build your customer training strategy?
We can break the customer training strategy process into 3 stages: the classic before, during, and after.
If you don’t currently train your customers, the ‘Pre’ steps will set you on the right path to plan this important part of growing your business. Then you’re ready to get into the design process, and we shared the steps you should follow for a clear roadmap. What comes after? Keep reading to the end to find out what you should be tracking after your customer training strategy is up and running.
The Pre-steps to define your customer training strategy
1. Take an inventory of current training materials and assets
Even if you don’t have a formal customer training program, you likely have some version of onboarding materials, user guides, and standardized answers or resources that your customer service reps use daily.
As you evaluate your starting point, sketch out your vision for your customer training strategy. Maybe you want to centralize all customer training into an LMS. Maybe you want to find new ways to educate customers through webinars, videos, or recorded tutorials.
2. Analyze your customer lifecycle
Where are you currently losing people in your customer journey?
- Struggling to acquire customers and close deals?
- Reevaluate your messaging and the ‘training’ you give to prospects to help them see your value as they’re deciding.
- Seeing a slump in engagement rates with current materials?
- Incorporate a variety of learning styles, make content more relevant and specific.
- Seeing cancellations and significant churn rates?
- Determine the underlying reasons why customers aren’t renewing your service. Are there features or use cases you can highlight to change their minds or prevent future churn?
3. Consider and set your end goals
Ask yourself: what do we want our customers to do with our product / service that they aren’t currently doing? Get detailed about what you want them to gain from your training.
Maybe you’ve unveiled a new feature, and you’re trying to get the word out. A SMART goal could be to have 65% of active users complete the new feature training sequence within 3 months.
How to create your customer training strategy
Once you’ve completed the ‘Pre’ steps, move onto this list and into the actual design process. Keep your end goals in mind and look for simple training methods that can make the biggest impact to tackle common customer questions.
1. Pinpoint customer needs
Make this a 360 process, including customer service reps, account managers, sales, and marketing leaders to identify the biggest pain points of your customer journey.
You can even survey a sample of your customers to discover their common questions, struggles, and knowledge gaps as they use your product. Use this detailed information to set your priorities as you create or update your training content.
2. Find the gaps in your current training materials
Use the information gleaned from your own teams plus your sample group of customers. Compare those areas of need to any data you have on web traffic, product usage rates, and customer renewal / retention rates.
This will help you set your priorities for the customer training content you should create first.
3. Outline a desired training pathway for customers
Sketch out what it will look like for a target customer to move from implementation through to mastery of your product. Ideally, how long do you think that process will take? What information is the highest priority up front, and what can be learned along the way?
Be sure to set clear learning objectives for each sequence of training materials.
4. Find the right platform
Lots of businesses have chosen an LMS to deliver their customer training program. They’re incredibly flexible, meaning they can be used to train internally and externally – employees, customers, partners, and vendors!
High-level segmentation means that each user sees exactly what is relevant to their role and needs. Look for an LMS with powerful reporting features so you can easily track how customers are using your training content.
5. Design short & relatable content
Now you’re ready to build your training modules – another area that an LMS shines! The right one should make it a breeze to author or upload content.
Keep content targeted, specific, and explain things in a non-technical way. Show outcomes, benefits, and use cases after clearly showing how the product or service works.
Continu reading: 5 Absolute Best eLearning Authoring Tools for 2023
6. Include all departments in the process
A cohesive customer experience significantly boosts satisfaction rates. On the other hand, 46% of consumers will abandon a brand if employees are not knowledgeable.
You want to be sure that all your teams (the customer service reps, account managers, sales, and marketing leaders we mentioned above) are working from the same centralized customer training resources. Guiding a customer to the answer efficiently and suggesting new use cases will leave a great impression.
Looking for a more detailed version of the customer training design process? We expanded this list to a full 12-step guide to help you plan & prepare!
The Post-steps after building your customer training strategy
Now that your fledgling customer training strategy is off the ground, it’s time to assess and make adjustments. These are some next steps to continuously refine the process and bring more value to your clients.
1. Explore more LMS features
If you’re using an LMS to deliver your customer training, explore more features over time to enhance the customer experience. Lots of businesses have built a community through their customer training – helping clients to connect over shared appreciation for the brand.
Many LMS platforms use leaderboards, badges, and other ways to recognize users for top performance, number, or variety of courses completed. This is a great way to start building brand loyalty and community through your customer training.
2. Analyze your learning data
With an LMS, you have clear visibility into how clients are using your training content. Reporting features help you to see what’s working and what needs more revision or reimagination.
An LMS also helps you to easily calculate your customer training ROI. (Compare training content usage rates to your customer satisfaction rates, subscription renewal, and customer retention rates.)
3. Keep listening to your customers
Keep your ears open to what your customers still want to know and use about your product or service. If you’ve fine-tuned your onboarding process, don’t stop there! Continue to anticipate customer needs throughout the whole lifecycle. This commitment to customer satisfaction and retention shows the high value you place on partnership and support.
Reasons to provide customer training
- Takes pressure off your customer service reps: Put FAQ and introductory knowledge into easy-to-access guides or videos. This will save significant time for your reps during the onboarding process.
- Educate and empower your customers: Once they’ve been able to find comprehensive and helpful answers to their questions, you’ll see the immediate trust from your customers. With well-designed learning tracks that customers can complete at their own pace, they’ll gain a greater sense of ownership and connection to your brand.
- Build brand loyalty: The educated and empowered customer will eventually become an enthusiast for your company. The value they find in your product will translate into license renewals and even referring others in their network to your business.
- Improve your products: Customer training gives an opportunity for concrete, real-time feedback that you can use to improve your products or services. Areas of confusion and common misconceptions become clear, and you can take all that into consideration for updates and product development.
- Increase cross-selling and upselling opportunities: Effective customer training gives you an open door for customers to renew their licenses, purchase a different product, or expand their current usage. With a good customer training strategy, you’re supporting your sales team to close deals with confidence.
What is a customer training strategy?
A customer training strategy sets the roadmap and helps you decide how to educate customers to use your product. Using varied training formats (like knowledge hubs, on-demand training videos or guides, instructor-led training, and certification courses), a customer training strategy equips customers with important knowledge they need to make to maximize their investment.
A customer training strategy should include components like:
- Goals for your client training program
- A clearly outlined pathway of courses
- Strategies to include all relevant departments
- Chosen methods or delivery formats
- A plan for which data points to track
Customer training can begin even before a customer has started to use your product, as soon as they engage with your service. A customer training strategy is all about anticipating questions and providing the most effective answers and resources so they feel confident and supported.
Why do I need a customer training strategy?
Customer training is vital for any business that wants to enhance their customer experience, boost retention rates, and position their products in the best way possible.
You may need a customer training strategy if:
- You’re in software, SaaS, or other industries where you hope to retain customers with license renewals.
- You want to improve your NRR and ARR scores
- You want to help your customers, partners, contractors, and distributors to master your products and services.
- You want to help field basic inquiries & free up your customer service reps.
Use Continu to build your customer training strategy
Customer training is a vital component of a thriving culture of learning. It will look different for a software company than for manufacturing or retail. That’s why a customizable platform like Continu makes customer training accessible whether you have 100 customers or 10,000!
Continu gives you the central platform to train inside and outside your organization.
- Integrates with the business tools your customers already use
- Provides in-depth analytics to track progress and engagement
- Builds beautiful and simplified learning tracks guiding users to master your product
- Automates countless administrative tasks to help you save time and resources
Churn rates may be a necessary metric in business, but a thoughtful approach to customer training will put you a step ahead and in the shoes of your customers on a daily basis. The insights you gain will be invaluable!