How critical is customer education to building trust and loyalty? Picture Sophie, a patient of ABC Healthcare. Sophie is apprehensive about a new medical procedure she’ll soon be undergoing. Her healthcare provider directs her to its patient portal, where she finds detailed information about her surgery, including an on-demand eLearning video that helps her visualize the procedure. While there, Sophie also signs up for a live webinar and then completes an online course about post-surgery care. She now feels more in control of her treatment and emotions.
Sophies’s journey from worry to self-assurance illustrates the power of customer education and its ability to alleviate concerns, foster trust, and deepen patient-clinician relationships. When businesses educate and empower their customers and clients, they tend to become more loyal, satisfied, and likely to refer products and services within their communities.
Customer education, sometimes referred to as customer training, is the tools and strategies organizations use to help their customers understand, use, and get the most value out of a product or service. It can include instructional resources like knowledge bases and FAQs as well as webinars, on-demand eLearning modules, online academies, and certificate programs.
While many people think of user manuals and product tutorials when they hear customer education, digital advances have transformed the process into a proactive and multifaceted approach that helps people troubleshoot issues while enhancing how they experience a brand’s offerings. By designing a customer education program that people enjoy using, organizations can reduce churn, bolster brand loyalty, reduce support ticket volume, and increase renewals.
A well-constructed customer education strategy ensures you create the right content to help your customers get the most value from your product or service. It should include:
- Microlearning/just-in-time content. Break down complex topics into easily digestible bite-sized modules that allow customers to learn at their own pace and level. For instance, online educational tech company Duolingo offers its users short language-learning lessons they can quickly engage with, making mastering a new language fun and achievable.
- Personalized learning paths. Offer customized learning experiences that help customers find the most relevant educational content for their specific needs.
- Engaging interactive content. The human brain processes visual and interactive information 400 times faster than the spoken or written word. Incorporate interactive elements like simulations, quizzes, and gamified modules to enhance engagement and knowledge retention. Software giant Adobe often integrates interactive tutorials and challenges within its products to help users get up to speed quickly on various features.
- Feedback loops and continuous updates. Routinely solicit feedback from customers to help refine and update your educational content. Many software providers release beta versions of their products to gather reactions and then use the insights to improve and educate a wider audience on new features and functionalities.
- Blended learning methods. Keep things from getting boring by combining various educational approaches, including written content, videos, workshops, and live webinars. The “Today at Apple” sessions that Apple offers in its retail stores are a great example of this, with in-person sessions offering customers a break from browsing online manuals and tutorials.
Effectively implemented, these strategies foster a strong bond between brands and their user base while making the customer learning experience enjoyable and useful.
A solid customer education program can be a game-changer for an organization’s growth and revenue, helping to:
- Increase customer satisfaction. The more a customer feels they understand a product’s full range of features and uses, the more satisfying their user experience tends to be. By preemptively addressing common issues and questions, you reduce frustration and create a smooth user journey.
- Reduce support costs. Educated customers are empowered ones who have less need to contact live customer support. When people can find answers to their questions through online educational resources, it lessens the demand for call center agents, leading to decreased operational costs.
- Enhance brand loyalty. Customers like brands that demonstrate a commitment to their well-being and success. Customer education fosters trust, deepens relationships, and can lead to higher customer retention rates.
- Drive engagement rates. Educating customers on your product or service’s benefits can increase adoption rates and open the door for upselling and cross-selling opportunities, as customers who are more aware of advanced features or complementary options are also more likely to invest in them.
- Encourage referrals. Customers with a fuller understanding of a product or service more often than not transform into brand ambassadors. The positive experience they have with a brand’s education offerings makes them more likely to recommend it to others, increasing positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Customer education is much more than mere instruction; it’s an investment in building a positive and lasting brand experience, driving tangible and intangible benefits that solidify an organization’s reputation in the marketplace.
Measuring customer education results lets you know if your strategy program is working to meet your goals and where it might benefit from improvement. With customer education metrics, you can identify the content, materials, and formats customers find most useful and which ones they abandon.
- Content or course completion rates. Do customers find your learning materials engaging? Monitoring how many users start and finish an education module provides insights into its relevance and effectiveness. Low completion rates could mean the content is too long, complicated, or not meeting the user’s needs. However, it could also mean people are solving their issues before the course ends.
- Knowledge retention. Post-training quizzes and surveys can help gauge how well customers have retained information. High scores indicate effective education, while lower ones could suggest areas for improvement.
- Learner satisfaction. Surveys can also provide qualitative feedback and satisfaction scores, including NPS (net promoter score), often referred to as the “only number you need to grow.” High satisfaction means the user found the content helpful; low satisfaction can help guide tweaks and refinements.
- Support ticket volume. Measure the volume of support tickets coming in from the accounts who use educational content. A decrease in support tickets can indicate customers are finding answers on their own, a positive sign your program is having an impact.
- Engagement metrics. Average time spent on training materials, content interaction rates, and the number of repeat visits should be measured to learn if users find the content valuable and compelling.
- Product adoption. Measure metrics like the increase or decrease in active users and the average time spent interacting with the content. Also track new sign-ups and active and returning users to gauge the overall appetite customers have for your program.
- Badge achievement rate. If your educational program includes gamification elements or completion certificates, track how many users achieve them. This can be an excellent indicator of customer perceived value.
- User pathing. Monitoring how users progress through educational content can show you which topics are most popular and if there’s a logical flow to the learning journey.
Organizations that want to increase loyalty and retention in new and existing customers should follow these seven best practices to make their education program more effective.
- Simplify and clarify. Content should be easy to understand and avoid jargon or overly technical language. Make it easy for customers to participate by using bullet points, numbered lists, clear headings, and common graphics like question marks and light bulbs to break information down into sizable chunks.
- Create an onboarding checklist. Checklists give customers a visual way to track their progress. It helps keep them motivated throughout the onboarding process and lets them see how far along they are.
- Segment and personalize content. Understand that not all customers have the same knowledge level or similar needs. Segment content based on expertise levels and user roles, personalizing learning paths whenever possible.
- Use accessible and responsive design elements. Educational materials should be accessible across various devices, including mobile, tablet, and desktops. They should also be designed with inclusivity in mind, catering to different abilities and learning styles.
- Use tooltips for specific features. Simple text snippets that pop up when a customer hovers over a feature can be highly effective at promoting repeated usage.
- Incorporate feedback. Regularly solicit customer feedback and implement changes and updates as quickly as possible. This iterative approach ensures content remains relevant and customer-focused.
- Promote ongoing learning. Offer advanced modules, new feature updates, and industry best practices to foster a culture of continuous learning. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep customers engaged with your brand for the long haul.