We often focus on training employees, but there’s another area of training that you may need to take on: training your customers and clients.
Whether you sell a product or a service, it’s important that your customers know how to use it, and use it well.
One industry where training customers is of particular importance is within the technology sector, but the need isn’t limited to tech companies.
It’s unfortunate that customer training falls by the wayside for many companies because customers account for what Clomedia calls “an employer’s largest audience.”
Consider this information, also from Clomedia: Companies including Franklin Templeton, Apple and DriveFleet are all leaders when it comes to iniatives to train customers. The Aberdeen Group conducted a study in 2012 finding that 51 percent of 400 surveyed businesses train customers, and 41 percent of respondents trained distributors, vendors, and advisers. While this certainly represents a significant and growing number, there’s still many businesses that aren’t training customers, vendors and other stakeholders, but that could benefit greatly if they did.
Why Should You Train Customers?
If you’re a business operator, and you’re not providing your customers with training, you’re likely going to suffer on a personal level. You’ll find that you’re spending most of your time, even during off hours, working to solve customer concerns and problems. If you were to be proactive and provide them with in-depth training upfront, you’d save yourself time that could be put elsewhere.
Customer training is a valuable way to build loyalty and your brand as well. When your customers feel like you’re providing them with the information they need to support the use of your products, they’re going to be more engaged with your brand and more likely to stick around. There’s likely to an improvement in how customers perceive your business, and that can more easily spread to new potential clients. Providing training to clients can either create a relationship or strengthen one that already exists.
You’ll improve your sales. When customers are thoroughly trained on the use of your products or services they’re going to find them more effective, which is going to mean they’re going to become repeat buyers. Plus, when they’re well-trained they’re likely to enjoy better overall outcomes, and a satisfied customer is frequently a repeat customer. You’re also minimizing risks that can occur if products or services aren’t used correctly, which can save you a lot of future headaches.
Tips for Training Customers
The very first thing to do when developing a customer training program is to get to know the most relevant stakeholders in the process: the customers. If you don’t know your customers, you’re not going to fully understand how to engage them when it comes to training.
You may consider doing an in-depth study of your current customers, and segmenting them to deliver the most effective possible training.
Perhaps your baby boomer customers will enjoy online training that’s simple, straightforward and easy to use, while your tech-savvy or Millennial customers may want a learning management system that feels more cutting edge.
Spend time gathering data about the most frequently misunderstood aspects of your products or services, and also work closely with help desk staff to delve into where knowledge gaps exist. Drive your training toward alleviating these shortcomings.
Once you’ve created online training content give it several test-runs. Work with a few of your long-term customers and give them a beta version of the training you’re considering launching. Ask for their feedback and built it into the final product.
Choose a learning management system that will allow you to make frequent changes and updates to your customer learning content, without having to completely overhaul training. This is particularly relevant in the technology sector, where products are always changing and evolving. You want your customer training also to be able to evolve.
Never view customer training as something that has an end point. It’s your job always to be asking questions, collecting feedback and building that into your training.
Think about adding a reward to customers for completing training. One way to do this is by providing them with certifications for meeting certain training milestones. You can also design your products so that employees who complete training receive special pricing or discounts or even get access to additional features as a result. The use of a learning management system simplifies this because you can easily track training and then automate certifications and other notifications.
Finally, develop a marketing campaign that ties in with your customer training. If you develop an outstanding training program, but your customers don’t know about it, it’s useless. Consistently market your client training in a way that shows customers the value they’ll derive from it.
What Not To Do with Customer Training
Don’t think that customer training is just adding a user manual to your website. Active customer training is much more than that. Utilize an LMS that allows you to incorporate videos, elements of interactivity and scenarios. Strive to create training that’s interesting and personally engaging.
You should also try to avoid delivering customer training that feels like it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Each of your customers is unique, and this is another reason an LMS is going to work well here. You can offer a variety of ways for customers to access and undergo training, which will help them feel more interested and excited by the training.
Don’t approach the development of customer training from your own perspective. You have to remember you’re an expert on your product. Your customers likely are not. Work with key customers to understand what it is they need and want in training from your company.
As a final note, consistency is key. You should develop a long-term strategy for training your customers, new and long-term. Consider customer training an important part of your overall business strategy and build on it over time. If you fail to be consistent, you’re going to leave customers feeling confused and frustrated.
Do you train your customers on your products? If so, let us know your best practices!