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Customer Education & Its Best Practices
Customer education is an essential aspect of developing loyal customers. It’s a core approach to customer lifecycle stages, from engaging and educating prospects to creating user-focused education after a purchase.
A CE program helps your users get the most value out of what you sell by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and instruction they need to get results. When customer education is done right, it can accelerate product adoption, increase revenue, and drive positive customer outcomes.
What is customer education and what does it look like?
What is customer education? Customer education is a must-have part of any Customer Success strategy. It’s an ongoing process designed to help customers understand your brand, products, and services so they can have a more fruitful relationship with you. It’s a way to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers, understanding what’s important to them and making sure you’re fulfilling their needs.
Before a sale, customer education takes the form of educating prospective buyers or influencers about your service or product. After a sale, customer education encompasses instructing your customers on how to best use your product to get the most value from it.
A good CE program helps customers realize the total value of your product and can lead to increased retention, increased conversions, and a lower churn rate. Customer education can also take many forms such as webinars, training videos, email campaigns, FAQs, and more.
The idea is to create an ongoing dialogue with your customers so they can get to know you, your businesses, and your products. Customer education is crucial because it helps build trust. Informed prospective customers will be more likely to complete a purchase, and current customers will be more likely to recommend your products and stay engaged with your business.
Why is customer education important?
Customer education is important because it’s a strategy that can boost your business. It can include activities like live training or instructional articles, but at its base, it’s a strategy.
It also reaches a number of people involved in the buying decision, so having a solid customer education program or strategy can be influential. Often, customer education spans different customer personas like buyers, administrators, developers, and end users, meaning your program has to be designed to be accessible and valuable for your different intended audiences.
Customer education also helps put your customers on the right track as they begin their customer journey, and a well-thought-out strategy can ensure that your customers experience steady value and growth.
Finally, customer education can break down barriers for new prospects. It enables sales teams to sell more effectively. By focusing on the customer experience and providing information, prospective customers can understand the value they’re investing in.
Using customer education, you can answer the questions of prospective customers and empower them with knowledge all while displaying the value of your product and motivating customers to use your services in ways they might not have conceived of previously.
With this sort of information in hand, potential customers may be more likely to buy.
Customer education best practices: how to educate customers
Using a customer education strategy is effective at converting prospects into long-term customers. It helps build lasting relationships and develop brand loyalty, which makes it more likely that your customers will continue to choose your company over a competitor.
Here are our top tips for how to educate customers with customer education best practices.
Own your customer education
Many companies go through a period where their customer education comes about organically. Sales pitches, customer training, content writing, and other content creation are all a team effort. But at some point, it’s important to outline a formal customer education program.
If no one inside the organization takes ownership of the customer education strategy, there won’t be one. If there’s a specific strategy and specific team leading the initiative, your customer education can become consistent and effective. You’ll avoid duplicating any efforts and wasting valuable time, all while building an intuitive and straightforward customer journey.
Outline your goals
Once you have your customer education team in place, it’s time to make sure you outline your goals and understand the impact you’re trying to make with your customer education program. These include goals for your business overall, departmental goals, and goals for the customer.
This is an important step because your whole team needs to be able to define what success will look like for your customer education program. Laying out your goals will make sure everyone is on the same page.
Create and deliver content
The content you create will be the cornerstone of your customer education strategy as customers access these educational resources to help them along the way. This is where your initial goals and objectives come back into play. You want to create resources that help drive you and your customers toward those goals.
Consider a number of different factors when mapping your content: the subject matter, the medium, the length, and how you’ll deliver it to your customers.
When it comes to the topics, this is the foundation of almost everything else. What do you think your customers need to know? What aspects of your product or services do you customers need more guidance on? Based on your customer base, what information will be the most helpful for them to increase the value they get from your product?
Moving on to the type of content and the length: a mix of mediums can help keep your customers’ attention. Most people don’t have the time or the patience to read through lengthy instructions, so consider adding videos, images, or infographics. At the very least, make sure to break up any written content with headings and other structural elements.
Once you have your content all mapped out, it’s time to think about how it will actually reach your customers. For your customers to retain anything they learn, they have to be ready for it. That gives a great advantage or educational resources that your customers can access anywhere, any time. They can drive their own educational journey.
When you bring on new customers, they have to go through the onboarding process. This is a great opportunity to display the value of your product from the get go. The better and more informative your onboarding process is, the more likely your new customer will stick around for the long haul.
Make sure that your customer has all the information they need to succeed from the start. If there are parts of your products or services that aren’t necessarily very intuitive, make sure you’ve provided resources to help walk your customers through them or answer common questions that might pop up.
Minimize time-to-first-value rate
Without customer education, your customers don’t know how your products work, and they don’t know how to use them to best address the problems they need to solve. It’s important that the time between when your customer first encounters or adopts your product and when they experience the value your product can bring is as short as possible.
If your customer is waiting ages to experience the benefits of your product and how it can help them toward their goals, they’re going to be more likely to drop off and more likely to churn. If you can minimize your time-to-first-value (TVF) rate, your customers will have a good grasp of what they can get out of your product.
Optimizing your customer education platform
What is customer education without a flexible and accessible approach? Often, it’s not as effective as it could be. Your program should educate your customers on what they need to understand about your product and its functions at their convenience.
Any on-demand customer education platform should be flexible and accessible to all, regardless of whether you’re a small business owner or a global enterprise.
For example, on-demand video training enables customers to learn at their own pace and convenience. Customers can view the content whenever they like, pause and resume training sessions as needed, and watch videos as many times as they need to ensure they grasp all the key points.
An optimal customer education platform offers training to your customers any time, anywhere. Don’t restrict them by geography, time zones, or any other possible obstacles. Flexible, on-demand training availability will eliminate scheduling conflicts that could stand in the way for some customers.
Invest in automation for your Customer Success managers
Your Customer Success managers (CSMs) are responsible for maintaining good relationships with customers, and customer education is a major component of that. As your customer base and your Customer Success teams grow, automation can help ensure that your CSMs are still helping deliver customer education where and when it’s needed.
An automated system can help complete repetitive tasks, such as frequently asked questions. If there are common questions you find your customers are always asking, for example, you can set up an in-app WalkThrough to guide your customers through a process within your platform. This helps give your CSMs more time to dedicate to high-value customer interactions that may need their undivided attention.
Automation can help streamline your customer education and reserve employees like your CSMs for customer education scenarios that may be more delicate or require more specific support.
Use analytics to measure the effectiveness of your customer education
When it comes to just about anything in terms of your business, you won’t be able to improve if you’re not tracking your efforts. It’s the same deal for customer education. If you’re building a video library, for example, it’s worth it to check in on which videos are being watched and which are less popular. Then, by taking the time to figure out why that might be (is a certain video too long?) you can make sure all your customer education tools are as effective as possible.
Analytics will help you understand what content your customers are using and what they aren’t, which will then allow you to tailor your education program to provide the greatest benefit to them. You can identify the most in-demand topics for educational content, and figure out what subjects your customers are pretty solid on.
This can also come into play when you’re looking at your product itself. If there’s a topic area that your customers have repeated questions on, or they’re always asking for more resources, it might be a good idea to revisit that product feature and see how you might improve it.
Some of the best ways to gather this feedback is to send surveys to your customers and ask for their honest opinions on your products, their onboarding experience, and your educational materials.
Make customer education work for you
Customer education can be a critical competitive advantage for your business that can help improve customer retention and boost adoption rates while decreasing churn. If you don’t already have a customer education program in place, there’s no time like the present.
Learn more about customer education by checking out our webinar, “Customer Education: The Secret to Scale in Customer Success.” If you want to dive more into the details of how to educate customers, check out our blog post, “Customer Education in SaaS: Growing User Competence, Confidence, and Capacity for Change.”