3 Fundamentals To Creating A Successful Customer Training Program

Building A Successful Customer Training Program

Introduction: Training customers and partners is fundamentally different than training internal employees. When external audiences take training, their engagement with the material is entirely voluntary, whereas internal audiences are required to complete training for the purposes of HR compliance or receiving academic credit. In addition, a customer training program usually involves creating brand-new content, since there aren’t off-the-shelf options that exist for training on a particular product or service.

Consequently, a successful customer training program requires a multi-faceted approach. In addition to creating new content that’s designed for customers and partners, training leaders must create a comprehensive strategy for launching, delivering, and engaging their intended audience. Read on to learn more about the 3 fundamental building blocks to creating a successful customer training program.

1. Training Content – Create Content That’s Easily Consumed By Students

The first building block is training content. Whether your audience is internal or external, great content and Instructional Design is critical to successfully achieving the learning objectives. Nevertheless, there are some differences to keep in mind when creating training for customers and partners.

1. Keep The Course Short. 

Our data at Skilljar shows that the ideal course length for external audiences is 30 minutes in total. Beyond that, completion rates fall dramatically. If you have a more complex topic that requires more than 30 minutes, consider breaking the topic into a series of shorter courses in a sequential learning path.

2. Experiment With Microlearning. 

Many external learners prefer to consume bite-sized content at various points throughout the day, rather than sitting and taking a full compliance course. Keep individual modules to 2 minutes or less to ensure that learners can easily pick up where they left off.

3. Try Video, Not SCORM. 

In today’s modern era, students are very used to consuming instructional video with high speeds across phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. Tools like Camtasia are even capable of adding interactive components like in-video quizzes. Skilljar’s data shows that in general, video content leads to significantly higher completion rates than SCORM.

2. LMS Technology - Select A Platform That Optimizes Student Experience And Data

The second building block to creating a successful customer training program is to choose the right Learning Management System (LMS) technology platform. If you are incorporating our best practice content recommendations above regarding microlearning and video, know that many Learning Management Systems are actually not capable of supporting this functionality. Make sure your Learning Management System isn't just SCORM-only.

Beyond the basic content format requirements, student experience is critical to engaging the external learners. Web product managers know that every single click required of a user can reduce conversion by an additional 20-30%. This is a good rule of thumb to consider when reviewing your student experience. Creating an intuitive, mobile-friendly, and seamless student experience will increase your training engagement and completion rates. Some Learning Management System features to consider:

  • Single Sign On so your users don’t have to create yet another account.
  • Custom CSS to ensure a seamless look and feel with your corporate brand.
  • Minimal number of clicks to access training.

In addition to helping you create an optimal student experience, the right Learning Management System technology platform will also provide the data needed to support content and program decisions. Make sure your Learning Management System provides the key metrics that you use to report program health and success. These metrics might include registrations, completions, certifications, session time, assessment scores, and more. The ideal Learning Management System will also provide this data into other systems, such as Salesforce or your internal Data Warehouse, to enable your team to analyze the impact of training on other areas of the business.

3. Business Process - Develop A Marketing Training Strategy That Engages And Unifies Company Stakeholders

The final building block is the marketing training strategy. The best content and Learning Management System platform in the world are useless without incorporating training into multiple touch points along the customer journey. Too often, we see training teams forget this critical part of developing a successful customer training program until just before launch. We recommend working closely with your marketing, customer success, and support teams from the very beginning to promote training across the company. Tactics include:

1. Marketing. 

Provide training launch support through emails, field events, and user conferences. Nurture trainees using marketing automation systems that are integrated with your Learning Management System. Consider paid ads to promote your training portal. Use training as marketing by offering Continuing Education courses and social certifications.

2. Customer Success. 

Promote on-demand training as part of the structured customer onboarding program. Include links in email signatures. Suggest refresher training to customers who bring on new end users.

3. Support. 

Identify top content areas for support tickets and proactively address through developing training. Promote training in responses to customers who have yet to take training. Correlate training usage with deflected support tickets as part of calculating ROI.

Conclusion

Launching a successful customer training program requires broader planning than delivering compliance training designed for internal employees. Because customer training is usually voluntary on the part of the learner, program leaders must address a wider range of needs in order to be successful. Based on Skilljar’s proprietary data, training content should be short modules no more than 30 minutes in total. The Learning Management System platform you choose should be optimized for user experience and data reporting. Finally, the marketing training strategy is crucial for engaging your internal marketing, customer success, and support teams to successfully promote training to your customer and partner audience.

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