Customer Training: Why Does Learning Experience Change Everything?

Customer Training: Why Does Learning Experience Change Everything?
Summary: Your employees and your customers: The internal individuals who serve your company and the external individuals you serve. But it's not a one-sided relationship; to encourage your employees to contribute their skills, talent, and work ethic to the company vision, you need to invest in employee learning and development, course training, and more.

Why Learning Experience Changes Everything In Customer Training

Well, consider the fact that your customers are simply your employees — but on the outside, looking in. Yes, your product or service serves their needs. In turn, they literally and figuratively buy into your business brand.

But what if you could do with your customers what you do with your employees? Train them to greater levels of empowerment and autonomy so they gain value from these initiatives and interactions and end up, in turn, giving back, through avenues such as purchasing, continuing brand loyalty, referrals, and more?

When it comes to customer training, learning experience is changing everything, not only because it can, but because we're at a critical stage of digital maturation where it must.

Learning Experience Platforms Could Be The New Netflix

Consider the way that Netflix has evolved in a few short years. The app's user interface is forever changing. Its most recent iteration: play "Previews" using a UX design and interaction flow that is quite familiar - trailers that mimic Instagram stories, set to autoplay, and accessibility through little circle icons.

And this is only the latest version. Previous versions of the app have featured their functionality that itself mimicked the "Newsfeed" style scrolling of Facebook.

Netflix does two things well:

  1. From a massive catalogue of seemingly never-ending titles, it presents only the most relevant to the viewer (based on behaviors, additions to 'My List', actual watches, when the viewer left halfway through a show or movie, and more).
  2. It presents these curated 'lists' of 'Trending Now's and 'Because You Watched's in a very thematically cohesive and well-sorted way. The algorithms do their complex crunching and suggesting. Netflix translates this into comprehensible, casual language free of jargon to entice a click — something like, 'Movies based on real life' or 'Because you added X to your list'.

Now consider massive online course hubs like Udemy and Skillshare. Re-framing and re-positioning these huge compendiums of online courses in just about every topic imaginable (including the amusing meta ones of 'How to create a profitable Skillshare course' and 'How to use Udemy for list-building') into a learning experience can change the way customers view a brand and the company.

Instead of throwing thousands of courses at a user's fingertips and making this the 'competitive advantage', designing learning experiences that are curated and based on their past interactions and behaviours offers customers the ability to tailor their learning in a way that seems to make narrative and logical sense.

It's not just about throwing training and courses at the customer. It's about creating meaning within that experience.

Learning Experiences Power A Better, Long-Term Customer Relationship Through Empowerment

Designing a learning experience that harnesses a familiar design is a perfect way to spur learning and encourage it to continue.

But what about the larger principle of customer empowerment? Studies show that 32% of customers will absolutely leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. Think about the sheer gravity of those numbers. All it takes is one time.

In designing learning experiences, through courses, communication and LMS platforms, companies will have to design for greater customer empowerment. The learning experience changes the entire paradigm of the business-customer relationship because it feels even more generous than a sales one.

There is no apparent quid pro quo to learning experiences. At least, not in the concrete way that making a sale or making a purchase requires a transactional exchange of money. Here, a well-crafted experience on the part of the company for the customer seems to be solely for the customer's benefit.

Empowerment is not about the customer never returning because they can 'do it themselves'. Rather, customer training designed well will convince the customer as to the efficacy of the product or service they're being trained on.

Suddenly, the decision to stay with their purchase feels to them to be one they made on their own — and the right one, at that.

Learning experiences are about empowering the customer to take responsibility for that decision.

How Should Designers Create Learning Experiences?

If learning experiences can be crafted to be such game changers, are there standards in place that make them this powerful? Yes. Not every learning experience is created equal and the superior (read effective) ones are those that incorporate these 4 crucial aspects.

1. Learners First

Always, always, always begin by putting your learners' (their objectives, goals, hopes, learning styles, priorities, etc.) first.

Crafting learner-centric learning experiences means getting to the heart of what your course provides (Where are those moments of 'Eureka, I've got it!'?) and then syncing this to tangible, actionable outcomes your customers can hope to benefit from when they take the training.

2. "Choose" Your Own Experience

Like the Netflix for learning experiences example above, a learning experience for a game-changing customer training should give the user (the learner) a choice, not only in courses or lessons to take, but in the styles of learning.

Incorporating different formats of lessons (video, text, audio, downloads, printables, interactive quizzes, etc.) are a very important part of creating that choice of learning style.

3. Speak In Your User's Language

Don't waste your time with jargon.

Speak in clear, informal, and casual language.

Even the most technically-complex products and services can be boiled down to their constituent parts. Again, instead of saying, 'Our algorithm shows us you have a penchant for romance movies', Netflix gives the audience language they use every day: 'Because you watched Bridget Jones's Diary'.

4. Build In Mistakes To Drive Learning Moments

This is a very powerful concept that is tied into both gamification and virtual reality environments. If you can design learning experiences that actually force the user to make a mistake, their next attempt will not only be successful, it will actually be sticky.

In Virtual Reality environments, mistake-based learning happens when testing the boundaries and the limits of the actual physical environment, before actually interacting with the main subject of the task in the environment.

By making mistakes, learners can understand what they can and can't do. Gamification comes in as an acceleration to learning, rewarding rapidly made-and-corrected mistakes and inspiring a feeling of accomplishment in a very memorable way for the customer.

Design Environments, Assignments, Or Experiences That Call For Questioning Standard Assumptions

Speaking of designing environments and mistake-based learning, the transformative potential of well-designed learning experiences in customer training is all about helping them form new expectations and standards.

Some parts of the product/service/software design will be elegantly familiar, operating on conventions like News Feeds or Stories, or even icons like the '+' symbol. But others will need to be taught, like when a user that is new to the Adobe suite learns about 'Masking' in Photoshop.

That's an entirely new workflow and, to address it, learning experiences can create components within the training that asks the user to defy what they think they know, questioning the assumptions of what a function is supposed to do. Once again, this kind of design is intuitive but powerful. It makes the experience of learning stick.

Learning experience is the game-changer in today's digitally-soaked (to the point of saturation) world for the same reason that writing is the starting point for any other creative endeavour (except perhaps music).

It's not so much leaping to a new mode as it is returning to our roots. Writing, for example, is the beginning of all creative endeavours because creativity is about the expression of ideas, be it in the visual, film, design form, etc. And, in the same way, learning is an age-old human tendency. It's how we evolved into our Homo Sapien classifications of selves.

Perhaps it's fitting, then, that the linchpin and the key advantage that will help businesses gain a leg up with their customers, customers gain a leg up on their projects through software and all of us generally facing a digital-centric landscape able to express what makes us fundamentally human is something uniquely human.

The experience of learning.