Should You Do Customer Training – the Whys and Hows

As we discussed last week on our article about extended enterprise learning, the scope of corporate learning is evolving. Training your own employees is no longer enough, as the importance of other stakeholder groups has increased. Interestingly, customers have become a major training recipient for many organisations. While training organisations are naturally accustomed to training their clients, traditional companies may not be. Thus, let’s look at customer training, it’s benefits and how to do it.

The benefits of customer training show on your top line

Everyone who has worked in sales, marketing or business development knows that getting new customers is more expensive than retaining old ones. Thus, customer engagement and retention (the churn rate) has become one of the most looked after sales metrics.

A great customer training program can have multiple positive effects that are likely to contribute to your top line:

  • Increased customer engagement – people and buyers are interacting with you outside the immediate transactional scope
  • Improved customer competency – customers who know how to use your products or services to their full potential are happy customers
  • Increased brand engagement – buyers are nowadays looking for brands they can identify themselves with. Customer training programs give you a channel to communicate your brand and values.
  • Better conversion rates – nowadays many buyers base their decision on the level of support services offered. Training programs are a great medium of customer support, enabling independent and self-directing problem solving.

Overall, there seems to be a lot going for providing learning experiences to ones customers. And don’t just take our word for it – have a look around! Most technology companies and many traditional businesses have such training programs in place. Some have even developed their own separate business models around it.

How should you do customer training?

Naturally, training your customers is a slightly different than training your employees. While the same principles of learning still apply, the primary difference comes in motivation. The reasons why your customers take up on your learning may be quite different from your employees. To make things simpler, we can divide training into two kinds:

1. Customer onboarding and performance support

Whenever someone buys from a product or a service from you, you should strive to get them up to speed fast. Especially with complex products and solutions, developing the main users’ competency is important. Hence, a customer onboarding training might be a worthwhile consideration.

Regardless of the complexity, you should always provide your clients with performance support resources. These can range from training programs to newsletters to online communities and everything in between.

2. Customer training as a branding & sales tool

Whereas onboarding and performance support deal more with customer retention, training can be used in client acquisition too. Many organisations use free online training offerings, e.g. courses, webinars and videos to grow their pipeline. Every touch point is a chance to deliver more information that may lead to a buying decision. In an era of global competition, potential customers are much more likely to remember you after taking your course or attending your webinar.

Likewise, people like to buy from brands they can identify with. Training programs let your organisation to spread its core message and demonstrate its values. Training topics that could enhance your brand image may include e.g. sustainability, self-development and social responsibility.

How does training customers differ from training employees?

Like previously mentioned, the primary difference between employees and customers comes in motivation. Whereas your employees may sit through uninteresting training out of obligation, your customers won’t. Thus, it’s important to offer great user experiences and engaging learning materials. Thankfully, the learning technology space has a lot to offer in that department.

Are you looking to develop a customer training program but not quite sure how to go about it? Feel free to drop us a note, and we’ll do our best to help you.

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