What Is Customer Training? + Benefits, Challenges, Tips
Customers are loyal to the solutions they feel are the most comfortable and provide the best value.
With a well-planned customer training framework, it can be easier for users to achieve that level of familiarity — even more so if your solution is complex enterprise software.
Now, think about your favorite tool or application.
Do you remember the “aha” moment that hooked you? For most solutions, these moments spark when an action is taken. It could be the first time you complete a business transaction or the first report you successfully share with a teammate.
In this blog, we explore how training sets an ideal path for customers to uncover their “aha” moment and take action with your solution.
What Is Customer Training?
Customer training helps customers maximize ROI and meet business goals with a software solution or professional service. It also helps customer success teams prepare users to adopt a solution into day-to-day workflows successfully.
Some common goals of customer training are boosting customer satisfaction, customer retention, upsells, and renewals. Since every customer learns differently and at their own pace, customer training programs tend to take different shapes and forms. Ultimately, the most successful programs are measurable, flexible, and customizable.
4 Types of Customer Training
There isn’t a single tried and true formula for customer training. The strategies and tactics you put into play must be tailored toward your solution, customer lifecycles, activation milestones, and KPIs.
Let’s dive into a few types of customer training programs and their qualities.
1. Product training
Helps customers familiarize themselves with the features and capabilities of consumer products, software systems, and apps. Training content should help users across different use cases familiarize themselves with product features, troubleshoot basic problems, and apply their product expertise to real-world applications. This training content can be in the form of in-app guidance, end-user documentation, and more.
2. Service training
Helps customers make the most out of a service by following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and utilizing any resources that have been provided. Service training content can include guidelines on communicating and collaborating with service providers, using self-service portals, or adopting recommended best practices.
3. Onboarding training
Helps customers ramp up and build affinity with a product or service at the start of the user journey. Customer onboarding training content guides customers through their first interactions with a product or service, like how to submit your first customer support ticket on Zendesk or how to create attribution reports in Hubspot.
4. Continuous training
Helps new and existing customers adopt your latest features and familiarize themselves with new workflows or habits. It’s also a great way to activate customers who have returned to your solution after not using it for a certain period of time. Continuous training and ongoing end-user support may take the form of routine in-app tutorials, customer help centers, knowledge base, and more.
5 Benefits of Customer Training
Customers are happier when they can become experts at the products and services they use. Here are five ways you can reap the benefits of customer training to build a community of users who can advocate for your brand.
1. Improved customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an important indicator of successful customer training. In fact, more than half of organizations surveyed by Skilljar looked to Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores as a key business metric for their training programs. Higher CSAT scores also indicate healthy customer relationships that can lead to more retention, renewals, and revenue.
Salesforce is an example of very complex software with a steep learning curve. The company prioritizes customer training in certification programs, community-driven support, and integrations with digital adoption platforms (DAPs) to reduce the time customers take to ramp up.
2. Increased customer loyalty
In the early days of Meta, the platform decided that the most impactful “Aha” moment could come as long as users had seven friends in their first ten days. They believed this milestone was enough to give users a taste of their product value and make them stay.
Not all platforms are as easy to use as Meta. There are many “Aha” moments in complex enterprise software depending on the customer use case, industry, or company size. Without customer training, you won’t be able to nudge users toward key actions and milestones that will make your solution memorable and valuable to them.
3. Higher product adoption rates
Customers who don’t know how to use a solution are most likely to churn because they cannot reap the benefits they were looking for. Whatfix’s 2023 digital adoption survey discovered that 84% of respondents don’t know how to use a core feature or process of software in their technology stack. With most teams using 40 to 60 business apps regularly, it’s safe to say that customer adoption will be low for tools with weak training programs and bigger skill gaps.
4. Greater efficiency and productivity
With more apps come more distractions. A 2022 survey by Asana found that workers could save over 250 hours each year by improving their processes. A strong customer training program ensures that your digital transformation efforts are a time-saver, not a time-sucker.
The efficiency of digital processes is especially critical for companies that have scaled their workforce and operations. AbleTo is a mental health care provider that grew its network of providers by 10x in two years. All providers must be trained to use AbleTo’s software platform for digital mental health services.
AbleTo used Whatfix to deliver in-app customer training content like product walkthroughs, smart tips, and a self-service help center. Before investing in DAPs for customer training, 80% of AbleTo’s clinical team meeting calls were devoted to training and support. Now their team is able to dedicate 100% of their calls to the enhancement of clinical programs.
5. Enhanced reputation
Hubspot. Notion. Figma. Gong.
These companies aren’t just known for building great products — they’re known for prioritizing customer education and training. Many industry giants build their reputations from video tutorials to templates, certifications, and course academies because they have engaged customers who advocate for them within industry communities.
You don’t always need to build academies and courses to impress your customers. Instead, you need an engaging and frictionless user experience that pulls customers toward the actions and features that are most important to them.
For example, Figma’s smart tips and beacons make it easy for you to take note of important workflows and Figma-specific tools that can elevate the design process. Without these interactive elements, their tool-rich editors can overwhelm first-time users and designers.
5 Customer Training Challenges
Any strategy with the goal of influencing user behavior comes with challenges. In our noisy and saturated digital ecosystems, the winners are the ones that can foresee challenges and act on them fast. Let’s look at a few things you should look out for when building training initiatives.
1. Determining specific training needs
Your team will burn itself out by creating a library of content answering questions that users don’t care about. Before investing your time and energy into developing content, ask yourself if you’re equipped with tools that provide granular visibility into your customer’s pain points — like a button that is difficult to locate or confusion regarding a sequence of actions within your product. This could range from a simple email campaign to your user base or digital analytics on your website or app.
2. Developing and delivering effective training
Customer training should be a core part of your growth strategy. In fact, you can approach developing your customer training program like how you would manage a product. Here are seven product management principles from RevenueCat’s Head of Product that you can use to kickstart your planning process:
- Start with the why: Why will your solution benefit from well-trained customers?
- Understand the problem: What’s holding your customers back from adopting your solution?
- Focus relentlessly: What must you invest in to scale your training content and meet your goals?
- Empower the team: How can you put your team and customer first throughout the process?
- Embrace uncertainty: How can you be smart and strategic about change?
- Balance inputs, outputs, outcomes, and learning: What data can you collect as the foundation for your training program?
- Iterate, iterate, iterate: How will you build a flexible program that can be improved consistently?
3. Ensuring consistency in training
If you want to see customer satisfaction across the board, you need to deliver consistent training and support to your customers. This is harder to control with in-person sessions or training done via video conferences. In both these training methods, you may be relying on customers to sign up for training and make themself available to attend. Internally, you would also depend on available training representatives’ energy levels and expertise.
4. Providing ongoing support
Another obstacle with having meeting-based training is that you’re limited by the schedules of your customer support representatives. Having customers spread out across different time zones could introduce more administrative hassle. There’s also the fact that your customers interact with your solution at their own time, which could include early mornings, late nights, weekends, and public holidays.
5. Measuring training effectiveness
Organizations may decide not to invest in customer training because it is difficult to measure how training impacts efficiency, productivity, and revenue. Surveys are a common method used to measure qualitative data, but teams can also use digital solutions to track quantitative data on how customers are engaging with training content.
9 Tips for Effective Customer Training
Now that you know what the challenges are, let’s review a few tips for overcoming them as you plan and execute customer training.
1. Identify specific training goals
If your goal is to significantly increase product adoption within the first 30 days of a customer signing up, you’ll want to focus on delivering impactful training within that period. But your training program would look different if your primary KPI is increasing customer renewals.
Sit down with stakeholders and ensure your team is aligned on a metric that moves the needle. You can leverage a CRM to dive into account data and spot areas of improvement.
You should also have a system to track and measure how customers behave when using your solution. User experience tools like heatmaps and DAPs help companies zoom in on user data to show where customers drop off and experience frustration. This helps you deliver impactful content at the right moments.
2. Use a variety of training methods
Some people like working in an office, some like working remotely, while others like a little bit of both. People have unique preferences depending on their daily responsibilities or how they stay focused and engaged. The same goes for training.
Whatfix’s 2022 Digital Adoption Survey shows that software users have many preferred learning methods, from meetings with customer service representatives to in-app guidance and discussions with colleagues. Your training program should engage as much of your user base as possible by having the agility to support different content types. Give your customers the option to select a training method that works for them, whether it’s a video tutorial, step-by-step guide, or pop-ups within the software.
3. Make training materials easily accessible and user-friendly
Training content is no longer limited to dense slide decks and multi-page booklets. With the number of apps and services competing for a customer’s attention, you want to ensure your content can be easily surfaced whenever your customer needs it most. This means leveraging interactive and dynamic modules to make your content more engaging and integrated within a software workflow.
For example, you can use a self-help widget that your customers can use to easily locate and refer to support articles while they’re exploring the platform.
4. Provide ongoing support and resources
Beyond accessibility, you’ll also want to prioritize continuity. Your customers should feel supported throughout the customer lifecycle, not only when onboarding. Every time you release a new feature or improvement to your platform, allow your customers to learn how to elevate their product or service experience further.
Beacons, smart tips, and pop-ups are a great way to seamlessly highlight and educate customers about changes in your solution. Not only does it increase adoption rates for your new features, but it also increases brand loyalty by showing customers you care enough to support them in achieving more with your solution.
5. Create contextual, role-based training experiences
More than half of respondents in Whatfix’s 2022 Digital Adoption Trends survey said that their company does not offer role-based training when new software is implemented. Role-based training is extremely effective because it helps customers reduce noise and focus on product applications that tie into their goals and KPIs.
Personalize your program by breaking your solution into its core use cases and developing unique content for each. For example, Salesforce training for a digital marketer shouldn’t be the same as training for an account executive. During the onboarding process, you can give each role its product tour highlighting different workflows and “aha” moments.
6. Use real-life examples and scenarios
Some products and workflows are too complex to describe using just text and images. Instead of having your customers read through a wall of text and tech jargon, you can show them exactly what you want them to do.
With DAPs, you can easily integrate step-by-step interactive guidance into your solution. These clickable bite-sized pieces of content will lead customers through a hierarchical series of actions right on their screen. This reduces misinterpretation and can significantly reduce friction in the adoption process.
7. Foster a collaborative learning environment
Training is much more effective if customers feel they can work with you to solve problems and progress toward outcomes together. Equip your program with multi-channel communication and shared spaces where your community of users can collaborate with your team and even each other. Collaborative learning makes training more interesting and boosts customer satisfaction by making them feel heard and acknowledged.
8. Measure training effectiveness
With the right digital solutions in place, you’ll be able to track and measure all your training efforts and tie them back to business and productivity metrics. This will help you build a business case for stakeholders to prioritize even better training initiatives in the future.
For example, AbleTo could track that their smart tips were viewed over 500,000 times. They were also able to project an estimated $71,000 in cost savings in three months because of faster content development and reduced content search time.
9. Follow up with post-training support
The best thing you can do for your customer relationships is to nurture them every step of the way — even after they’ve successfully completed a training program. The benefit of tracking your training efforts is that you can reach out to these customers with more helpful resources and occasional check-ins to keep them active and engaged. Customers who hear from you and feel supported are more likely to trust you over your competitors.
You play an essential role in guaranteeing customers’ success with your solution. By investing in agile and multi-channel training methods, you can set yourself apart from customers by prioritizing the time, user experience, and convenience of your users.
Training courses, sessions, and articles are beneficial but don’t always provide the real-world contextual support your customers need to familiarize themselves with your solution. The outcomes of these methods are also more difficult to measure and visualize in terms of core business metrics like user activation, adoption, and retention.
Digital adoption platforms like Whatfix empower product and customer-facing teams to deploy targeted training content at the most critical points of the user journey. With user behavior and interactions data, your team can strategically deploy interactive training content like smart tips, in-app product flows, task lists, and self-help resources.
See how to use Whatfix to boost product adoption and brand loyalty today.