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Customer education: The key to successful product onboarding?

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The L&D function is primarily geared towards training and developing employees. But what about your external customers? Providing digital content that educates customers on your organisation’s products and services is a great way to add value, build credibility, and lighten the load of your customer-facing employees.

24th Jan 2022
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Learning and development professionals are very familiar with training employees on sales techniques, active listening and negotiation skills, alongside educating staff on the value their organisation’s products and services are going to bring to customers. But what L&D professionals may not have considered as much is the importance of educating the customers themselves. 

In today’s highly competitive climate, businesses have begun to recognise the value of a customer-centered approach. As a result, the mission of L&D departments should now arguably extend beyond employee and management training to include accessible product onboarding for buyers. To help learning professionals new to this area, this article explores what customer education is and the ways it can be of great help to businesses.

It may seem that a customer education project is a demanding endeavor that takes a lot of time and money. But, in fact, L&D teams of any size and experience can find a solution that will suit them well. 

What is customer education? 

Customer education, or customer training, is a set of activities dedicated to informing your buyers on how to use your product or service. Let’s face it: buyers don’t always have a clear understanding of your offering. With customer education, you explain how it works, thereby bringing much-needed real-life context to your product. 

Why do customers need to be educated? 

As a rule, if customers buy your product or sign up for a service, it’s because they need to: 

  • Solve the problem they’re experiencing with the help of your product 

  • Avoid typical mistakes that people with similar goals or in similar situations make

  • Use your product correctly to get the results they expect.

Yet, sometimes customers need everything at once and want to be sure they’ve made a choice that really works for them. A proper customer education programme not only equips people with a knowledge of your product but also brings them added value. 

Let’s take cosmetics manufacturers as an example. Beauty brands conduct makeup and skincare workshops in which they show their products in action. While teaching people how to use their cosmetics products, brands identify customers' needs and expectations and improve their experience. As a result, customers leave such workshops with a positive impression and a sense that the purchase is worth it. 

How can businesses benefit from customer education? 

There are many reasons to implement customer education in your business:

  • Create value for your buyers by educating them. A positive customer experience boosts your product’s value. 

  • Build expertise within the industry and earn a stellar reputation.

  • Get people to talk about your brand and generate a “buzz” in the industry. By creating positive word of mouth and growing your business evangelists over time, your company will consequently enjoy greater customer retention and loyalty. 

  • Sell your product better. You can use customer education for pre-sales or substitute persuasive sales with it. Doing so will help you build trust and increase repeat purchases. 

  • Lighten the workload of your customer-facing employees. Well-established customer education takes the load off of your tech support team or customer success managers, and they can focus on more meaningful tasks. 

Your customer education project can help bring various customer-facing teams together and close the gaps in their communication skills. It will help you know the most common customer service and support requests and include meaningful information in training. 

The L&D department should also work closely with the digital marketing team that creates content for current and prospective customers. Your joint efforts can pave the way for education marketing and bring you closer to your customers.

It may seem that a customer education project is a demanding endeavor that takes a lot of time and money. But, in fact, L&D teams of any size and experience can find a solution that will suit them well. 

What formats should you choose for customer education?

Content formats for customer training can vary and include the following: 

  • FAQs and help docs

  • ‘How-to’ blog articles

  • Email (correspondence) courses

  • Online courses

  • White papers and ebooks

  • Video tutorials and YouTube channels

  • Workshops and webinars 

  • Conferences and live training

  • On-demand remote support sessions and demos

You can see that most of these content types are digital, and you no longer need to book trips for instructors to conduct on-site training sessions. You only need to package product onboarding knowledge as a content item (ie. an online course) that educates and inspires buyers, drives their purchase intent, and lets them make more educated choices. 

For example, you can create a short online course that covers essential steps for using your product. Add a link to this quickstart guide to your website or social media group/community, so people can find it easily and gain a baseline understanding of how your product works. 

Or, if you have a broad audience of existing customers and offer a sophisticated product or service (ie. enterprise software), you can build up a knowledge base in an LMS or launch certification programmes with assessments there. 

If you need a proven step-by-step plan to launch a customer education programme, go for iSpring’s guide, Customer Education: A Can’t-Miss Way to Boost Customer Loyalty and Retention. It will help you set the right goals, choose a training content type, and evaluate the results of your customer training. 

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