What’s the Buzz in Customer Training? – December 12

By: Erik Snider, VP Marketing at Strigo

Many businesses experience growing pains as they become more successful, expand their customer base, and scale their operations. When developing your customer success strategy, it’s important to consider not only how you’re driving customer success today, but also how you will continue to delight customers and retain loyal, renewing clients in the future. 

Customer education has become such a fundamental part of driving customer success. Here too, with the right tools and technologies in place, you can create a scalable training program that will enable you to avoid some of the aforementioned growing pains – and allow your customers to thrive and grow as well.

Let’s hear what the experts have to say about why you need a scalable customer education program, and how to create a training strategy with a growth mindset:

Irit Eizips, at CSM Practice, recognizes that scalable training is a necessity for customer success. She says that most customers want to do more with your product, and the best way to empower them is by offering online training opportunities, which they can execute at their own pace. This way they have more control over their adoption of the product and can move their own growth needle at the pace that suits them. When formulating a scalable training strategy, she suggests taking a four-step approach:

  1. Listen to customers and get their feedback. 
  2. Plan your scalable training offering based on your assessment of customer needs.

  3. Test your new offering on a small cohort of customers.
  4. Deploy your new training model and highlight how it will help your customers more effectively adopt existing and new features for a larger number of users.

We agree with Eizips that customer training and customer success go hand-in-hand, and we love that she focuses on how businesses can best enable and empower their customers using training. We appreciate how she’s highlighted the benefits of virtual training, as it allows companies to scale their operations and reach more customers.

While this article was written before the current Covid crisis, when in-person training was still possible, it is clear that in-person training is not a scalable model. Today it’s imperative to have a remote training platform that enables you to train customers throughout the lifecycle. With the right technology in place, you can offer high-quality, impactful hands-on training to many more customers in a way that suits their needs, improves their adoption of your product, and creates a better customer experience.

CELabs calls customer education the “Scale Engine that powers customers’ ongoing success.” The purpose of education programs, they say, is to help customers become self-sufficient with products, explore new ways to use them, discover strategic applications for their business, and become “power users.”

According to CELabs, it’s imperative to build a foundation of training content that can serve many customers at once, and allow you to scale before you begin customizing. This might include an onboarding academy, short videos that cover core concepts, webinars, or virtual training. This empowers customers to gain the knowledge that they need in order to get value out of your products and frees up your customer-facing teams to focus on strategically building your CX program instead of “hand-holding.” Once you have this content in place, it also becomes easier to create tailored programs for larger customers who are looking for premium services.

We like CELabs’ no-nonsense approach to creating an effective customer education program and appreciate the engine analogy. Training really is like an engine that propels customers forward, giving them the knowledge and tools that they need to succeed and grow their own businesses. Not only that, but it also equips customers to identify and resolve issues on their own and eases the burden on support teams.

Donna Weber, writing for Thought Industries, outlines the “6 Ingredients of a Scalable Customer Education Program.” First, she suggests that you must identify the different personas of customers that are using your product, and then create a learning pathway for each of those personas to ensure that they get the information they need at every step of the customer journey. She says that you must also be able to quickly produce content that empowers users to be successful with your products, especially when new versions and features are rolled out. Also, it’s important to measure your training efforts by evaluating how engaged customers really are at various stages of your customer education program.

We like how Weber is approaching this from a very strategic perspective, and agree that it’s important to stay on the ball, roll out new information when needed, and tailor the content for customers depending on where they are at in their journey with your product. It would also be interesting to dive into the types of learning platforms, and address which tools and technologies would be the best for creating scalable customer training programs.

Pamela Hogle, at Learning Solutions, examines a specific type of e-learning approach called microlearning, which gives students the ability to break down learning into very small chunks and gain more control over when, where, and how learning takes place. Here, too, scalability is important, she says – you need to be able to modify and add content at any time, as well as increase the number of learners using the system at any time. The purpose of this modality is to allow students to take in smaller bits of information while engaging with the content more frequently.

Even though Hogle’s piece focuses specifically on e-learning, the same principle applies – no matter which modality of training you’re using, the best approach is to offer an engaging learning experience that meets the specific needs of your trainees and at the same time be able to scale your training to reach more customers while maintaining quality and effectiveness. We would add that companies can create a more varied and dynamic customer education program by offering different modalities of training within one training platform. This gives customers the option to choose the right type of training for them at various points of the lifecycle.

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