Chances are you’ve invested a lot of time and effort to train your employees. However, have you considered training your customers as well?
What is customer training? It's the process of educating your customers on how to best use your product or service to meet their goals.
When done well, customer training can lead to stronger customer loyalty and lower churn rates.
In this blog, we'll share some inspiration from companies successfully executing this, and give you key tips and best practices on building an effective customer training program.
TL;DR: What is customer training?
- Examples of successful customer training programs include Shopify Learn, HubSpot Academy, Skillshop with Google, and Trailhead - Salesforce University.
- To create a successful customer training program, identify touchpoints, understand customer needs, set SMART goals, create learning objectives, choose the right technology, deliver training at the right time, and track and improve.
- Customer training benefits include increased loyalty, revenue, and engagement, as well as reduced support costs.
- Scribe is a versatile tool that can help create and deliver customer training programs effectively.
What is customer training?
Customer training, also known as customer education, is the process of training and providing knowledge to customers regarding the successful use of a company’s products or services.
Client training efforts should also include activities that empower your customers to support themselves through self-directed learning—freeing up valuable time for your customer service personnel.
Types of customer training tools
Customer training tools are devices designed to help customers get the most out of a company's products and services. They could also be used by an organization to interact with their customers and provide them with additional products and services.
The different types of client training tools include:
- Videos provide step-by-step instructions for customers on how to use your products or services.
- Guides are usually text pages designed to educate clients on how your products or services work, what they entail and how best to use them.
- Live chats enable a company's customer service representatives to reply to any queries in real time and offer personalized support.
- Step-by-step tutorials instantly turn any process into training guides you can use for onboarding, training and supporting customers.
4 customer training program examples
Here are a few of our favorite examples of companies effectively maximizing the benefits of customer training strategies.
1. Shopify Learn
Shopify Learn is a public academy available to anyone looking to learn how to start and grow a successful business (including with Shopify).
The academy boasts of general topics like business planning and strategy to branding, marketing and finance tips. It provides instant access to hard-won business lessons from established Shopify entrepreneurs around the world. Shopify also has a customer-facing academy, Shopify Plus, that focuses on helping its customers be successful with its technology.
2. HubSpot Academy
HubSpot is the undisputed leader in providing people with resources on everything from social media marketing and SEO to digital marketing and HubSpot-specific features. Via its HubSpot Academy, the inbound marketing giant uses videos, quizzes and a certification program to train customers how to get the most out of their service.
As someone who has benefited from their academy several times, I love that their resources are grouped by topic, type and category — hence, making it easy to navigate to the relevant content. The certification is also a huge motivator — as it's usually seen displayed on websites, social media and email signatures.
3. Google Skillshop
Google's Skillshop teaches you how to use Google products to their full potential and earn Google product certifications to showcase your expertise. From offering courses on how to grow your skills using Google Ads to advertise your business online to teaching you how Google's Marketing Platform can help you plan, execute, and measure your ad campaigns; or learning how Google's measurement tools help grow your business through its Analysis academy — there's something for everyone looking to learn how to master Google tools.
4. Trailhead – Salesforce University
Trailhead is Salesforce's free training program on customer relationship management. Modules are broken down into bite-sized chunks of ten to twenty minutes, keeping learners better engaged and learners can also connect with other members (Trailblazers) learn relevant skills and give back.
The program also offers in-person training, live webinars and certifications.
How to create a successful customer training program
Are you ready to start a customer training program? Here are a few steps to help you get started!
Step 1: Discover your customer support touchpoints
Identify the important touch point for your customer training strategy. Set up a meeting with your sales, account management, customer success, and support teams to map out where and when they typically interact with customers.
Step 2: Understand your customer's needs at each touchpoint
Once you’ve identified their touchpoints, work with your team to understand your customers' needs at every touchpoint. You can make this even easier by asking customers directly.
Ask them about what information and training they would find helpful or create open forums where they can ask questions. Doing this helps you measure your web traffic, product usage statistics, or internal search queries to see the types of information commonly searched for.
This would provide valuable insights needed to create effective customer training material and help you determine the best delivery method.
Step 3: Set SMART goals
Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) doesn't just apply to other aspects of your business, but works for training your customers too.
Decide on what you’ll use as a success marker or KPI for your new training initiatives. A goal like “to enable our customers to effectively use feature X of our product” is a good example.
Breaking your goals into smaller objectives helps you…
- Identify what you need to tell/show customers and what they need to know/do to improve.
- Think hard about what your customers’ needs really are, as opposed to a broad statement that identifies nothing.
- Create a potential customer training program structure—where each objective could form one module or one section within a larger module.
- Ascertain which training objective should be solved first, which ones will be the easiest or hardest to address and which ones your customers will appreciate most.
Step 4: Create learning objectives
Learning objectives are the purpose of creating your training content. Not only does it ensure that you don’t end up including irrelevant educational information, but it also gives your customers a clear idea of what they stand to gain when they sign up for your training program.
Step 5: Create useful and engaging learning
The level of engagement with your training determines its success. While the biggest success driver could be whether the training effectively meets customers’ needs, don't underestimate the importance of creating an aesthetically pleasing and fun learning experience. Below are four examples of eLearning that motivates customers to learn:
- Scenario-based learning engages customers through an immersive training experience modeled on real-life scenarios rather than theoretical examples.
- Microlearning focuses on a specific topic and takes between 1 and 15 minutes to complete. It's also a flexible way for customers to access specific information and reduce information overwhelm.
- Mobile learning events are useful for customers on the move or those without ready access to desktop computers or laptops.
- Gamification motivates customers via various intrinsic activities such as game mechanics, like points, leaderboards and badges.
Step 6: Choose the right technology
Organizations can use either a content-authoring tool or a learning delivery platform (or both) to train their customers. A content authoring tool allows you to create the online learning content your customers would engage with.
A learning delivery platform, on the other hand, is a portal your customers will use to access your online learning content This could be an LMS, LCMS, or another type of learning portal.
Fortunately, Scribe works as both a content authoring tool and a learning delivery platform. Scribe scales your customer training and reduces ad hoc customer questions by instantly turning any process into a step-by-step guide.
Scribe user Alyssa Sanchez shares how Gong uses Scribe to drive customer success:
All you have to do is turn on Scribe to capture your process. Your step-by-step guide is automatically generated in seconds—complete with screenshots, instructions and clicks.
- Ask AI to add titles, descriptions, additional context, helpful tips and more.
- Edit screenshots, redact any sensitive information and add text, annotations and custom branding to make your program visually appealing.😁😎
- Use Scribe's pre-built templates or ask the generative AI to build customer training documentation for you.
- With Scribe Pages, you can seamlessly combine multiple guides with videos, images, GIFs and more.
- Easily collaborate with your team when creating training programs.
- Applying your brand colors, logo and other brand elements is easy-peasy!👌🏾
- Flexible learner and content grouping feature that allows you to organize libraries of content titles and make them available only to select customer groups.
- Share your guides however you need: via email, embed in your wiki or LMS, or export to PDF.
Step 7: Deliver training to customers at the right time
Training can be provided to customers...
- Before they use your products or services.
- Just in time—immediately before the customer uses a feature of your service or product.
- When directed to your support pages when necessary.
- When embedded inside your software or service portal rather than a separate website or LMS.
- When training suggestions (such as hint tips or videos) are sent via email.
There's no right time for when training should be sent. It all depends on the company, its customers' needs, its customer journey, and the structure of its training program. The important thing is to ensure that the training is convenient and easily accessible.
Step 8: Track & improve
The best training programs evolve and continually improve. Observing how customers access and interact with your training and evaluating how effective it helps you improve and continually build success.
Here's how to track to gain more insights:
- Review your support requests to determine where training could be created or improved.
- Compare support requests vs the training provided. Have you noticed any improvements or positive impacts?
- Measure customer satisfaction to know if users have real or perceived training needs.
- Directly ask your customers what their training pain points are.
- Use analytics embedded in your customer training software to observe how customers are using your products.
What should be included in a customer service training program?
Customer service training is a vital component in enabling customer satisfaction and retention. Training should cover the following:
- How to deal with difficult situations.
- Common customer complaints and how to address them.
- How to use the company’s customer service system.
- Courteous behavior and how it applies in a customer service situation.
- The vision and values of the organization.
- How to provide proactive customer service.
Customer training best practices
Here are a few of the best practices you should consider implementing in your company’s client training regimen:
- Focus on one training goal/objective at a time. Attempting to be too many things to too many people will only create confusion and ruin the entire program even before it takes off. For example, start by aiming to reduce support tickets and only move on to another goal once the first has been completed.
- Before responding to a customer complaint, consider your response from the customer’s perspective.
- Set your customer training program goal to tie back to the business (i.e., customer retention or LTV). A successful customer training program isn't just about the actual program. It's about how it helps the entire company grow.
- Always put your customers first. Instead of only thinking about how customer education will help your business, don't forget to focus on how to support your customers too.
- Track customer satisfaction and engagement metrics for the best customer service.
- Enable self-paced learning. Scheduled training courses can overlap with other priorities. Additionally, people have different learning styles and personal preferences. Using self-paced learning allows your customers to access information when they need it most AND when it fits into their busy schedules.
Benefits of customer training
According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of companies think their customer service is “superior,” while only eight percent of consumers feel that way about those same companies.
Here are some of the benefits of investing in customer training:
- Builds customer loyalty.
- Increases revenue and decreases costs.
- Reduces customer support costs.
- Increased engagement with your products.
- Increases consumer confidence.
- Cost-effective PR solution.
- Improves the chances of upselling.
- Reduces one-time customer support issues.
We hope we've answered, "What is customer training?" and given you the strategies for building an effective customer training program. By investing in customer training, businesses can help their customers to achieve their desired outcomes, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.
Ready to start your customer training program? Sign up for Scribe and start building your customer training materials today!