Have your customers hit a roadblock in maxing out your product’s potential? Or, are you losing customers at annual renewal time because they’re just not getting any value?
According to CallMiner, U.S. companies lose $136.8 billion per year due to avoidable consumer switching.
If your customers aren’t recognizing the intended value out of your product or service, and are leaving as a result, it’s probably time to start thinking about a customer education program.
Not entirely sure what that means?
Let’s find out.
Related article: Learn how to optimize customer success with customer education strategy.
What is customer education?
At Thinkific, we see customer education as the process of enhancing your customers’ knowledge about your product or service to help them achieve value faster and better scale user growth.
Customer education starts before customers buy your product and continues throughout the customer journey. For example:
- Stage 1: Prospect customers might need education on how your product has helped other customers solve a problem (I.e., customer case studies)
- Stage 2: New customers might need educating on the basics of how to use your product (I.e., how-to information, platform walk-through videos, etc.)
- Stage 3: Long-term customers might need education on how to optimize their use of the product for extended value (I.e., webinars and video training on underused features)
Ultimately, customer education equips your buyers with the information they need to experience value from your product and want to continue to use it.
Benefits of a customer education program
So, you’ve decided to create a customer education program to scale your business and reduce customer churn quickly. That is a great first step!
But, before doing anything else, it is critical to know the value-adds customer education brings to your business.
Let’s take a look.
More flexibility and scalability
In today’s environment, there is a heightened need for flexibility across every element of doing business. That includes customer education.
On-demand education courses let customers deepen their knowledge on their own time. And digital courses are easy to update when content needs to be refreshed.
Then, as your business grows, so can your customer education program. With the right technical tools, you won’t have to sacrifice your program’s reliability because of your growth.
Boosts customer service and interaction
Has your customer service team mentioned it gets the same questions over and over again? That could be a sign your customer education program isn’t up to par.
Slack’s Chief of Staff, Customer Experience, once said, “I think of CE [customer education] as jet fuel for CSMs. Anything we can do to help you build relationships better, faster.”
Solid customer education programs deliver need-to-know information for customers to obtain the real value of the product – and that starts by tackling frequently asked questions.
When an education program addresses the common questions upfront, your customer service team can spend more time having quality interactions with customers and tackling their more in-depth needs.
Faster adoption and onboarding
Just like anyone else, customers value their time. They’ve likely already spent a lot of time and energy researching before deciding to go with your product. Which means, they probably want to get up and running with it quickly.
With an established, on-demand education program, your customers can move through their onboarding at their own pace. That builds customer confidence in using your product and speeds up the adoption process.
Related: Want to improve new customer activation? Check out the recordings from Thinkific Activate Summit.
Improves customer retention
Customers aren’t going to purchase your product and then look for reasons to leave. But they will if they don’t get the information they need to use the tool they’ve spent time, energy, and money on.
That’s why it’s critical to build a customer education program that meets the needs of your users. Customers will remain loyal when they trust your product, feel confident in using it, and quickly recognize value from it.
Related article: Check out our customer success strategies guide for more tips on boosting customer education.
Five best practices for building a customer education program
Now that you know the positive impacts a customer education program can have on your business, it’s time to start building your program.
Here are some of our tips for launching your first customer education program from scratch.
1. Find the right education platform
Customer education programs can include a combination of verticals, like:
- Traditional in-person training
- Blog posts
- Customer success stories
- Downloadable guides
Instead of using a piecemeal approach, collapse all of these channels into one easy-to-use platform: a learning management system (LMS).
LMS platforms, like Thinkific, are used every day to create customer education programs. Especially given COVID-19, customers have a greater need than ever to have flexible, online access to product education and training content.
LMS’s also give you insight into your program’s performance. Make sure your LMS partner offers rich data and analytics to know which courses are most helpful for your customers and where you can make ongoing improvements.
Want to see it in action? Check out how Echosec Systems launched a successful customer and employee education program with Thinkific Plus.
2. Define success
Just like starting any new business process from scratch, it’s important to define success from the very beginning. Make time to outline the program’s vision, near- and long-term goals, and KPIs to measure performance.
Possible goals could include:
- Reducing customer onboarding time
- Decreasing the amount of time customer service teams are spending on training
- Expanding product utilization
- Helping customers adopt more preferred behaviors
3. Start with your customers’ biggest pain points
When it’s time to tackle your strategy, start with the easy wins: your customers’ most common challenges.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the most common customer service questions within the first three months of onboarding?
- Are customers grasping the basics? Or, are they making it to the next level of use?
- Where are my customers dropping off in utilization?
- Are they taking the right actions?
- Are there underused features?
Once you have a grasp of the education gap, you can start focusing on content development.
Pro tip: Tap into customer feedback. See if customers regularly suggest more information/materials following their onboarding, and then integrate those concepts into your program.
4. Keep content fresh and interesting
Content is king. Having the right content on the right platform will set you up for success in launching your customer education program. So, how do you get started?
We recommend keeping these three things top of mind when developing content:
- Interactive: Making your education content interactive with quizzes, discussions, and surveys is a great way to keep your customer engaged throughout the learning experience.
- Digestible: With everyone doing more these days, a customer rarely has a ton of time to spend learning a new system or product. Keep their attention by creating bite-sized lessons.
- Informative: Make sure your content packs a punch with easy-to-understand information. Videos, presentations, and tutorials are great content resources that resonate with customers getting up to speed on a new process or system.
5. Optimize, optimize, optimize
Once you get your first customer education program off the ground, it’s time to celebrate!
Then, remember to create a plan to integrate ongoing optimizations to the program based on:
- Customer feedback and interactions
- Course data and metrics
- Updates to existing material
- Customer desires for expanded material
Remember: the more you can help customers build their knowledge from quality training and education, the sooner they realize your offerings’ value and will be more likely to sign up for renewals or expansions.
Ready to start educating your customers?
With Thinkific Plus, you can build, design, market, and host your product training courses that are easily accessible to customers. Thinkific Plus is a scalable platform that is simple to maintain, seamlessly integrates with your existing software, and is customizable for your brand needs. Schedule a call to try it for free.