Everything you need to know about product education
June 01, 2022
Your product has a new user… now’s the time for them to dive into product education.
You know you have a great product and the influx of customers proves how useful it is to so many. What you don’t know is how difficult it can be for your customers to learn how to use the product, and whether they are eventually able to gain the most value out of it.
This is where product education comes into play as a mix of onboarding, training, support, and even marketing and sales.
Back in the day, product education was focused on live sessions and written instructions. While those days aren’t completely gone, things have changed quite a bit thanks to amazing technological advancements, world pandemics, and more!
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the ideal process for educating users about your product and why it’s so important, as well as the best methods and techniques available today.
Product education 101
Product education is not a new concept. After all, since the beginning of the software age, users have had to learn how to use new products as part of the onboarding process, including when and how to use the product, its features and benefits, how to troubleshoot and optimize it, etc.
What has changed over the years is the way we provide access to information. From the initial sales process to implementation and continuous support, product education has an exceptional impact on customer satisfaction and experience, as well as on product adoption and retention.
Either way, your customers start out not knowing how to use your product. Even once they have the basics down, there is typically a ton more out there for them to learn.
Let’s take Microsoft Excel as an example.
Most people know how to use Excel at the basic level. They use the product to enter and save data, maybe using a few simple formulas, color code lists, tabs, etc. But as any true Excel expert user will tell you, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Users who learn how to make use of its full potential can truly change the way they work and run their business.
So how do users move past the basics that they may be able to learn on their own? The key is product education which teaches users how to best utilize the product for their specific needs by focusing not only on the practical (how to use the product) but also on the theoretical (use cases and best practices). The process needs to begin before purchase to make sure they know what they’re getting into, then go into more details during the onboarding process and, of course, continue throughout the customer journey.
The benefits of product education
Product education that works makes customers happy. If it teaches them how to use a product so that it becomes beneficial and useful considering their everyday needs at work (or at home), they will keep coming back for more and remain loyal customers.
Improving product adoption
High-quality product education will help your customer adopt your product easily and in a professional manner. Through the process, they will learn about the product, how to use it to their advantage, the best use cases, and more. This process can be difficult for those who aren’t taught to use the product in the correct manner, and this is why product education is so critical.
Increasing customer retention
Customers who understand what they are doing while using your product will always be happier. There’s nothing worse than trying to use a product, getting stuck, and having no one to turn to or learn from. When your customer feels that the product provides great value, they will be able to utilize it on a regular basis and grow to love your product (and therefore advocate for it!). This will lead to a higher rate of customer retention, meaning your customers will stick around for longer.
Creating a trustworthy brand and product
A brand that provides comprehensive, compelling and engaging onboarding experiences to their product will lead to greater brand loyalty and trust. As a result, customers will believe that you truly have their best interests at heart (you do want them to succeed after all!), and recommend your product to others.
Lessening the load from customer service
When your product education is top-notch, you won’t have to answer nearly as many support calls, emails and other inquiries. This is because your customers have access to the answers they need, without having to reach out to your customer service representatives. That being said, it’s important to always keep those communication channels open in the event that someone does need help.
The challenges of product education
While the benefits of product education can be quite clear to companies, there are, of course, challenges similar to those that arise in any educational context.
Tapping into the right educational context for each learner
Not all learners are created equal, and this can serve as a challenge when you’re looking to educate new customers regarding your product.
Why is this an issue? Because while some learners may thrive sitting through a 3-hour lecture, others need short increments and recorded materials in order to really stick with the program and get the maximum benefit. On the other hand, others prefer to learn at their own pace, on their own, while others need a teacher to guide them through the product and answer questions on the spot.
Today’s technological advancements allow us to address these issues, which we’ll dive into in a bit.
Keeping learners engaged
Regardless of the training modality, it’s difficult to constantly keep learners fully engaged and ensure they learn what they need to know. This is why it is important to integrate a variety of learning methods, to keep learners on their toes and interested. These include live trainers, interactivity, hands-on practice, combining practical and theoretical knowledge, assessments, and more.
Maintaining the right pace
Your product is robust with a wide range of offerings and you want your users to jump into all of its amazing features from the get-go. This is a common mistake organizations make when trying to educate their customer base.
When designing your customer education curriculum and plan, it’s important to pace yourself (and therefore your learners). It’s also important to understand that each user has specific needs and interests and it is therefore essential to zone in on these needs during the learning process.
If your users feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of information you’re throwing at them, there’s a good chance they’ll back off. And then, what have you achieved? Not much. Introduce your users to the most important features and have them start working on the most important aspects of the program at first. Then, slowly, dive into the more advanced stuff, once they can handle it.
The product education process
The product education process begins even before your customer hits the purchase button. This is called the awareness-raising step and is when customers start to become aware of your product. This is the point where you need to convince them that your product is the best use of their time and money for their needs.
Once your lead has converted into a customer, you’ll need to onboard them. This is considered one of the most important parts of the product education process, as this is when your customer learns how to use your product and dives into using it. It’s important to approach this step with the right strategy to keep your customers satisfied and find value in the product along the way.
After beginning to use the product, you’ll need to retain your customers and ideally, have them advocate for your product when talking to others. This is where ongoing product education comes into play. Along the way, your customers will want to learn about and use new features, get help when they run into issues, etc.
All of these processes are part of the implementation process and will vary depending on the type of product as well as the type of customer.
How to best implement product education
Product education has gone through a wide range of changes and adjustments over the years. The most traditional form of product education is through user manuals. Just think of the book that you used to receive with a new piece of equipment or software, explaining every in-and-out of how to use the product. While all of the information is present in this method, it isn’t effective or efficient in any manner.
Another method that has become more popular in recent years is product education through videos. The advantage of this method is that users can clearly see how to use the product and get to know the different features. Users can also use video as part of their on-demand learning process, meaning they can work at their own pace and review materials multiple times as they feel is necessary.
Today’s technology allows product makers to move product education inside the product itself. This means real-time, highly specific, and personalized education that sits right inside the product itself and is provided in context of what the user is doing. No more searching for videos or product manuals to figure out what users are doing or how to reach their goals.
When moving education inside the product, you have the opportunity to provide your customers with a more engaging, accessible, dynamic and effective experience. The advantages of this method include:
- Users remain inside the product while learning. Instead of having to look for answers on external sites (and therefore potentially get lost), they have access to everything they need to know as soon as they need it.
- Contextual training allows learners to see content based on where they are in the product and what functionality they’re using. This means your users will be trained at the exact right moment.
- Practice makes perfect, or so they say. Product education inside the product allows users to actively practice using different features in real-time.
- The content is aimed at helping users succeed by ensuring that they understand both the “whys” and the “hows” of the product so they know what to do whenever they need to make a product-related decision.
- Each customer receives personalized training that fits their specific use case at each point of their journey, whether they’re just starting out or are advanced users.
- Who doesn’t love a bit of data? In-product training allows you to track actions to optimize the training and learner path so that each user receives the product education they need.
When you’re ready to ensure that your product education offerings are optimized and that your customers are receiving the best possible training, schedule a demo with one of our product education experts who will be happy to show you how the Strigo product suite can help you achieve your goals.