If your goal is to create great users of your products and services, i.e. more successful customers, augmenting traditional training with online courses will keep your customers happy and connected with your company.
When you find yourself spending more and more of your time giving the same talks and training, online courses may be the next logical step. Creating great courses requires an upfront investment of your time, but it will save you a far larger proportion of time and money in the long run.
According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Management and Administration (IOMA), companies save 50–70% when they replace instructor-based training with online learning, where courses are generally 25–60% shorter. Best of all, incorporating online learning doesn’t mean getting rid of the training materials your company has already created. It simply adds an effective, measurable channel for keeping your customers happy, connected, and successful.
Augmenting traditional training with online courses introduces new sets of tools and capabilities to customer training. Customer success teams can create multimedia courses that learners complete at their own pace, build out thought-provoking assignments, see what customers have completed coursework to pinpoint where bottlenecks occur, and discover what topics are most often consumed.
This is why Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, Moderator at Product Hunt, GrowthHackers.com, and Zest thinks online training is the future of education: “It lets you teach the group but look at the analytics on an individual basis to make sure everybody is learning.”
The goal is to find commonalities in that data to make your training courses relevant and effective for the majority of your users, who may have different learning styles and preferences. This means experimenting with rich text, video, audio, different kinds of assignments, and other entertaining ways to convey learning. Luckily, there are best practices for creating engaging, useful online classes.
Lynn Hunsaker is a Customer Experience ROI Strategist at ClearAction, a company that provides training and consulting for customer experience. She used to be a college professor, so she has significant experience creating effective curriculum. Now she creates online classes, because she feels the future of customer training lies in interactive, online learning content that students can review at their own pace. She offers the following suggestions for increasing the ROI your online customer training courses:
3 Tips For Creating An Effective Online Customer Training Course
1. Structure It Correctly
“Adults learn by connecting something new to something they already know about, so analogies are important,” Hunsaker says. She recommends taking whatever topic you’re trying to teach and breaking it down into a nugget of information, an analogy, and an example. This allows the student to internalize the topic, see how it relates to them, and then see how it’s applied in the outside world.
2. Make It Interactive
Good online courses should be interactive. The days of sitting passively in a lecture hall all day are gone. When she creates classes, she incorporates video, quizzes, images, text, and exercises. “Only about 10% of learning is verbal,” she says, which may explain why long lectures are often ineffective. Adding tactile, interactive elements compels learners to absorb information.
3. Keep It Short
The best classes should also only be about 5 minutes long. Hunsaker explains that the most effective training is delivered in short, 5-minute nuggets that can be viewed separately but still build on each other. By chunking courses into small lessons or activities, it allows customers to take classes at their leisure, when they’re ready to learn, and it encourages them to revisit concepts they didn’t understand fully the first time.
More Best Practices
Caty Kobe, Head of Community Manager Training at FeverBee, agrees that keeping videos short is an effective tactic when creating classes to teach her clients how to be better community managers. “I put everything through my ‘squirrel!’ test,” she says. It’s important to keep lessons short so that clients don’t get bored and distracted. When she joined FeverBee, she distilled the 6-week community manager training course into 5 hours of on-demand training, delivered in chunks of 8–10 minutes per session, in order to get clients up and running significantly faster.
When Dave Willson, CEO and founder of Zenkeep (a full service managerial accounting and digital bookkeeping company for small businesses), struggled to train his new employees to, in turn, train customers on Zenkeep’s accounting software, he decided it was time for a more formal training program. He took the employee training and broke it apart into “belt levels” that employees could earn through taking online classes. The whitebelt level was then turned into a series of online classes, which lets Willson track his employees’ progress to ensure they’re adopting the concepts.
When creating online courses, it’s important to recognize that while each of your customers may have slightly different needs, there will be some shared material that everybody needs to understand. Being able to engage learners via online training to deliver that material will let you spend more time with customers on their unique issues, and that will help scale your customer training efforts. “We can’t just keep hiring people,” Sam Mallikarjunan, Head of Growth at HubSpot (a leader in inbound marketing and sales software), explains: “If we want to scale, we can’t keep providing all the training one-to-one.”
Online learning is incredibly useful in augmenting your current training efforts, and ensuring your customers gain the knowledge they need to succeed. According to a study by WR Hambrecht+ Co, online learning improves retention by 25% to 60% over classroom learners. This is because online training allows customers to learn on their own schedules, reinforce topics until they’re fully understood, and come up to speed quickly on the exact concepts they need to know.
Without online learning, scaling traditional customer training will become more of a challenge as your company grows. You can make it a smoother transition by incorporating new, smarter educational technology into your training programs as early as possible. So, if you’re concerned about reducing customer churn, increasing customer satisfaction, and making the most of both your training budget and existing training content, online customer education is the most viable option.
Whether used alone or in conjunction with other training methods, online customer education can help you create engaged, well-trained users who meet their product goals. It provides more effective, personalized education for your users by letting them work at their own pace, from any device, anywhere in the world.
If you want to know more about delivering effective customer training, download the free eBook Building Effective Customer Education Programs!