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Customer education

Customer education

Table of Contents

    Learning and development aren’t just for your employees and partners. 

    Your customers need education too. 

    The learning process never stops for a modern company, but don’t get discouraged—the benefits are worth it!

    When you invest in customer education, you can expect to see better customer retention and increased satisfaction, and more. 

    So, what exactly is customer education, and why does it matter? 

    That’s what we’ll be diving into with this guide, along with:

    • The main benefits of customer education 
    • The best customer education tools
    • Answers to all your burning questions about customer education in our handy FAQs.

    Now, let’s get started!

     

    What is customer education?

    Customer education is any learning content aimed at onboarding, retaining, or engaging your prospective or current customers. 

    Trainers deliver this type of content in person or by using digital learning in the form of online courses, webinars, quizzes, and other interactive learning experiences

    Informal learning content, such as blogs and social media posts, counts too. 

    Customer education (also called customer training) is not just an activity but also a business function.

    Your customer education strategy should have the goal of making your customers understand the product better and find value in it.

    You might be thinking that your customer education program should only target existing customers, but you’d be wrong. 

    Customer education should target both your current and potential customers. For potential customers, customer education serves to educate influencers and buyers about the product and the market. For your existing customers, customer training teaches them how to use the product, providing them with the most value over time.  

    Consider a customer education program if you offer:

    • A complicated product that customers have to learn how to use before getting value from it
    • Any product that requires users to change their behavior or workflow 
    • A product with frequent updates and new features 
    • A product that needs a lot of customer support 

    Customer education achieves powerful results for companies that practice it. 

     

    Take Wrike, a collaborative work management platform. It delivered customer training through an LMS—resulting in 102% more active users and a threefold increase in conversion rates.  

    All that’s just from flexible self-service training. 

    Not bad, huh? 

    If that doesn’t convince you, here’s another case study. 

    Acoustic, a cloud-based marketing solutions provider, also invested in improving the customer experience with a flexible corporate LMS. Their customer satisfaction numbers jumped by a sizable 16%

    These are awesome benefits, indeed.

    Keep reading for more examples of how customer training could drive customer success in your organization.

     

    The top 7 benefits of customer education

    A successful customer education program yields many benefits. And the best thing? They’re for both your company and your user base.

    For the company, you can expect faster onboarding and more customer satisfaction and loyalty, among other benefits. 

    For your customer base, the main benefit is the reduced “time to first value”, which means they can address their pain points faster and start fully enjoying your product sooner

     

    Benefit #1: Faster and more effective customer onboarding

    The onboarding process is a critical time in the customer journey. It’s the main driver of overall customer success and satisfaction.

    Onboarding is a chance for customer success teams to set expectations high from the get-go. 

    All the educational content delivered during this time should empower your new customer to understand how your product works and how it can benefit them. 

    Customer onboarding can take many forms, including tutorials and product walkthroughs, on-demand online classes, and knowledge bases. 

    Self-service resources are especially useful as they can reduce support costs and take a burden off your support team. Better onboarding equals fewer support tickets, essentially. 

    This is because your customer base will have enough product knowledge to be able to understand the functionality of your product and even solve some common issues themselves. 

    Upselling down the line becomes easier with a high degree of product knowledge among the user base. Your upselling to a better tier of service or a new set of functionality can come organically through your educational content in a way that will make the customer understand the benefits. 

    An effective customer education program begins with a solid onboarding for first-time customers. This is the basis for all other educational content you’ll be offering your customers.

     

    Benefit #2: Customer satisfaction

    Following a good onboarding, your customers should already have a good baseline of satisfaction. 

    Keeping up with customer training past onboarding is a good way to drive that satisfaction even higher. 

    Why does customer satisfaction come from customer education? 

    Well, it’s quite simple. A customer that has a lot of product knowledge is a customer that can take full advantage of the product. With more knowledge comes fewer complaints, and with fewer complaints comes more satisfaction.

    A strong customer education program is also part of a good user experience. 

    If you just bought a new piece of software and you had to call customer support every time you didn’t understand a certain functionality, you’d be pretty frustrated, right? 

    It would be much better if you had access to on-demand learning content where you could learn in an engaging way what does what. 

    Cold hard statistics support this conclusion. A report by Intellum-Forrester found that customer education increased customer satisfaction by a whopping 11.6%.

     

    Benefit #3: Customer retention

    Customer retention is mostly connected to the concept of customer maturity. Different companies define the metrics around customer maturity in different ways. 

    In general, a mature customer is a customer that has started to use your product or service at a level past basic product adoption.

    These customers have a lot of product knowledge and are using it in an advanced way. 

    But how does a user get to this level in the customer lifecycle? 

    Perhaps you’re already connecting the dots. 

    The answer is training programs that offer product knowledge as part of a customer education strategy. 

    Remember, a user cannot progress to the next level in their customer journey without knowledge. 

    Implementing various customer education initiatives gives the customer base more knowledge about the product. When they have it, they eventually become mature customers used to your product and your way of doing things. 

    This means the barrier to switching to a competitor is higher with reduced churn rates. 

    Now, it’s not about trapping your customer, of course. It’s about empowering customers to take advantage of the full value of your product. 

    You’re probably wondering if we have any stats to back this up. We do. The same case study we cited above also discovered that investing in customer education boosts customer retention by 7.4%.

     

    Benefit #4: Customer loyalty

    The customer’s intention to remain with an organization and keep using its products or services is typically considered customer loyalty. 

    But it goes even deeper than that. 

    Loyal customers are often your brand’s biggest advocates (more on that later), and they’re very unlikely to switch to a competitor. The more loyal customers you have, the less churn you’ll experience. 

    For a customer to become and stay loyal, it’s all about the perceived value of your product. 

    The perceived value increases the more customers know about your product. When a customer has all the information to use your product well, they can address more pain points and integrate it better into their workflows. 

    So, your product becomes an important part of their work, and its perceived value goes through the roof.

     

    Benefit #5: Happy customers become brand advocates

    Satisfaction, retention, loyalty. What are they good for again? 

    Well, if everything above hasn’t convinced you, consider that happy customers (that is to say, customers that are satisfied and loyal) are also your brand’s biggest advocates. 

    These are the people who will generate word-of-mouth recommendations, which in marketing and sales is considered the Holy Grail of brand advocacy. 

    Why? We’ll let the stats speak for themselves. 

    Word-of-mouth generates $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and accounts for 13% of sales. Marketing impressions from word-of-mouth generate five times more sales than paid media impressions, and people are 90% more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation. 

    Whew! 

    With metrics like that, you’d be a fool not to try to get a slice of that pie. 

    A sense of community is what enables customer engagement and leads to brand advocacy. 

    Giants like Google and Apple have discussion forums where the user base can share tips and ask each other for help. That’s not just about making the lives of the customer support team easier. 

    It’s about fostering connection. Luckily, you don’t have to be Google or Apple to do this yourself and enable collaborative learning for your customers. A powerful Learning Management System makes it easy to set up your own forums and discussion groups.

     

    Benefit #6: Increased product awareness and adoption

    Companies spend a lot of money trying to build product awareness. Should you perhaps divert some of your advertising budget to your Customer Education team?

    We think so. 

    Using a customer education program, you can position yourself as an education leader in your niche. 

    Your webinars, online courses, tutorials, and other learning materials help to convince prospective customers of your authority in the market and the quality of your product or service.

    Being a thought leader through offering educational materials creates awareness about your company and its products.

    Further customer education is a powerful driver of engagement and product adoption. A successful customer education program leads to customer loyalty, retention, and happiness. Finally, it leads to advocacy, where a satisfied user base promotes your product for free. 

    So you can see how customer education throughout the customer lifecycle helps create positive business outcomes every step of the way.

     

    Benefit #7: Drive lead generation

    Another important benefit of producing educational content is that it drives lead generation. 

    When a customer needs a solution, especially when we are talking about complex SaaS offerings, they tend to do research. 

    What they find while doing their research should come from you. 

    When you share industry-specific knowledge in the form of blogs, whitepapers, or ebooks, you position yourself as an industry leader. This makes your brand more powerful, creates awareness, and creates the impression that you really know what you’re talking about.

    In other words, you’re an expert in the field who’s offering high-quality products. 

    From there, you can convert visitors who find your customer education content into customers. 

    Up next, we’ll take a look at what tools you’ll need to craft an effective customer education program.

     

    The 4 best customer education tools

    By now, you know all there is to know about the benefits of customer education. 

    So, let’s look at what you’ll need to design an effective customer education program.

    These are the four classes of tools your customer success managers (and others in the organization who own customer education) will be using to get the program off the ground and start reaping the benefits.

     

    1. Learning management system (LMS)

    We’re not just saying this because we offer one, but a robust LMS is the backbone of any learning program in an organization. 

    This goes for customer education too. Conducting in-person customer training is a logistical nightmare (not to mention costly and time-consuming). That’s precisely why most companies opt to deliver customer education online, via an LMS.

    With a high-quality LMS, you can deploy your customer training program with ease. 

    Features such as gamification, webinars, videos, and interactive training materials will drive customer engagement. Because online courses are easy to update, you can make sure your customers always have access to the most up-to-date product information.

    We don’t need to tell you how busy your customers are. They need answers to their questions right away with zero fuss. Top LMSs, such as Docebo, offer a native mobile app so you can deliver customer training when it matters most. 

    For a seamless user experience, you can customize the look and feel of the platform to be in line with your brand identity. 

    With the backing of an LMS, you can craft exactly the kind of customer education program you need. Thanks to the tracking and reporting features, you can gauge the effectiveness of your training and optimize it.

     

    2. Video creation tool

    The verdict is in—video is more engaging than practically all other forms of content. 

    In a 2018 survey, 92% of educators said video increases learner engagement. 

    Your customer education program should feature a lot of videos. 

    There are many software suites on the market for video creation. From simple smartphone apps that turn pictures, videos, and text into engaging bite-sized video collages to cutting-edge video authoring tools such as Adobe Premiere. 

    Screen recorders like Movavi, Camtasia, and Loom are also very popular ways to create video training content, especially tutorials. 

    Those who need a really powerful yet free solution should consider Open Broadcast Studio (OBS) but be warned—the learning curve is steep for this one. 

    Author’s Note: Docebo also offers the AI-powered tool Shape, which can incorporate video content into microlearning modules called pills.

     

    3. Collaboration and communication tool 

    While an LMS does come with built-in capabilities for communication and collaboration, sometimes you need to take it a step further. 

    Luckily, there’s no shortage of different software for project management, collaboration, and communication. 

    Microsoft 365 for Business is a popular choice due to the fact it combines project tracking, communication, and a suite for cloud-enabled office apps. 

    Instructional design and other education professionals track their training program progress using tools such as Asana, AirTable, JIRA, etc. 

    The choice of tools for collaboration and communication will depend on the needs of your organization, but in general, there is a lot of variety out there to consider.

    In an ideal world, collaboration and communication tools should integrate with your LMS. This streamlines workflows and gives you more data to work with. For example, Docebo integrates with most leading collaboration and communication tools, including Microsoft Office 365, Jira, Slack, and Trello.

     

    4. Video conferencing tool

    There’s nothing like a good webinar to drive engagement. It’s a great idea to organize a webinar for your customers to introduce a new upgrade, a set of features, or a whole new product. 

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom emerged as one of the most popular platforms for video conferencing in general. 

    Many organizations use it to power online courses, webinars, and other events that require video interaction. 

    Of course, there are other tools, such as Hopin, GoToWebinar, etc. 

    The best thing is, a lot of learning management systems can integrate with these platforms to offer webinars and video conferences without needing learners to leave the LMS environment. 

    Up next, a quick recap and some FAQs on customer education. 

     

    Next steps

    Customer education drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. It turns your customers into brand ambassadors. 

    When done right, at least. 

    Luckily, with learning management systems and advanced e-learning tools, doing it right has never been easier. 

    Investing in customer education pays off in important ways and can help you establish your organization as the market leader in your niche. 

    Want to know more about how learning benefits organizations of all shapes and sizes?  Take a look at our glossary of all the key terms, tools, and insights in the world of L&D. 

     

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

     Q1. Why is customer education important?

    Customer education is important for a number of reasons, including:

    • Giving your customers the information they need to make the most out of your product and service 
    • Making onboarding easy and reducing “time to first value”
    • Driving customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention
    • Positioning your company as the educational leader in the market

    Q2. How can you improve customer education?

    To improve customer education, you need to create engaging and informative educational content in the form of blogs, webinars, tutorials, FAQs, and online courses. To unify all these activities under one umbrella, it’s best to use a Learning Management System. 

     Q3. What is the main goal of customer education?

    The main goal of customer education is to foster a long-term relationship with prospective and existing customers. With an effective customer education program, you can build trust and loyalty in your user base.

    Q4. What is the best way to educate customers?

    The best way to educate customers is through an engaging customer education program. These programs use various learning content such as online courses, tutorials, and webinars to deliver all the information your customers need to get value out of your product or service and become loyal and satisfied.