How can you get closer to your clients and build a strong relationship with them when, physically, you’re far away? This is one of the questions that all businesses are grappling with in 2020, when the current reality is that face-to-face interactions cannot take place.
The current situation is forcing everyone to adapt. Customer relationships are now being built online, in the virtual world. So, what can you do to engage, interact, and connect with your clients in a digital environment? And how can your training team begin to, or continue to, provide outstanding value through effective training at all stages of the customer lifecycle?
Let’s look at what the industry experts have to say about creating customer success in a virtual world.
According to Cynthia Clay at Training Industry Magazine, companies must bring their “V game” to online customer training – meaning, they should apply their “virtual competence to the actions needed to master the virtual world.” In a 2-part blog series, she delves into six ways for businesses to successfully adapt their training efforts to the virtual classroom:
- Help trainers feel confident and comfortable online so that they can focus on delivering an engaging training session.
- Choose the right platform to fit your client’s specific training needs.
- Delegate roles and responsibilities across your training team so that everything runs smoothly during the training session.
- Repurpose existing programs from the physical classroom – but do so thoughtfully, in a way that will suit the dynamic of the online classroom.
- Have the right equipment and technical setup to allow for a smooth virtual experience.
- Train your trainers so that they can become masterful facilitators during an online session.
We love how Cynthia has really taken a deep dive into the world of online training and given some very thoughtful and practical tips on how organizations can set up high-quality remote customer education programs. Everything she says about creating the right technical set up and choosing the right platform is spot on. We’ve seen in our own experience that one of the most effective ways to set up virtual hands-on customer training is by using an all-in-one platform that combines the tools needed for hands-on learning, including communication, content sharing, collaboration and product environments in one UI. Also, students and trainers should be able to access the classroom through the simple click of a URL. This takes out all the hassle of tricky set-ups and firewalls, allows participants to effortlessly enter the training environment, and enables instructors to do what they do best – deliver the materials in an engaging manner.
When it comes to her advice on repurposing existing programs for the virtual classroom, she also makes some excellent points. We agree that it’s wise to break up online sessions into shorter chunks of time, giving students more control over when they choose to learn. As far as what she says about engaging students in discussion, we’d suggest that virtual learning environments should include chat rooms where trainees can engage each other in private or group discussions, share knowledge, and facilitate collaboration outside of the specific training session.
Recent blog posts from software companies SAP Concur andSlack also addressed how companies can drive customer success in a digital world. They both offered similar advice, mainly focusing on how to adjust your approach to customer interactions and relationship building when all of your customer outreach must be done remotely. While many of these focus on meetings, here are some tips that are still applicable for remote training:
- Set a clear meeting agenda and use tools like whiteboards and breakout rooms to make the meeting interactive
- Communicate with empathy and kindness, and create a human connection with clients
- Find ways to proactively support your clients, and help them get maximum value out of your tools
We enjoyed getting a first-hand perspective from software vendors who’ve had to radically shift how they work with customers. But, somewhat surprisingly, neither one of them mentioned the use of customer education programs as a way to foster strong customer relationships. In fact, customer training can be implemented at all stages of the customer lifecycle, from pre-sales, to onboarding, to retention and renewal. With the right technology in place, businesses can easily conduct virtual hands-on training for their software, which enables customers to stay up to date on all of the latest product updates, and empowers them to drive their businesses forward. Now, especially, when face-to-face meetings are not possible, having a virtual training platform in place is an excellent way to help you engage, interact, and connect with clients.