You need to train your employees; to foster their talents and help them thrive. That’s all good and well, but what if I told you that you should also train your customers. Weird, right?
Well, in this post, we’ll be focused on how a company can use eLearning to train their customers, and evaluate its benefits compared to traditional training. But wait…
Training customers? Is that even a thing?
It very much is.
It’s not even a new development; companies have been training their customers since the Stone Age. Do you think the early cavemen buying those new-fangled “stone wheels” knew how to use them? Nope, they needed some customer training too. Heck, even Prometheus had to train humans on the use of use fire.
Joking aside, customer training is indeed both an old and essential part of enterprise activity, though its importance can vary by industry. Companies like IBM or Salesforce, for example, selling complicated enterprise software, have dedicated programs to train their customers on how to use them. Some of those training programs are offered for free with the product or service being sold, while others can themselves be profit centers.
When do you need to offer customer training?
The most obvious case is when your customers need it.
With the small caveat that they might not even know that they need it. Don’t expect them to always come to you demanding that you start a training program for them. Sometimes, you’ll have to offer it first for them to realize that it’s something they should take advantage of.
We’ve already mentioned companies like IBM selling enterprise solutions so complicated that having training programs for their customers is kind of mandatory. If your product or service is complex enough to warrant a hefty manual, consider offering your customers a training program to go along with it. And if you have customers all around the world (as modern-day business have), making it an online program is pretty much a given — but we’ll get to that later in this post.
Now, there’s also a second, less obvious case, where it makes sense to offer a customer training program.
It’s when your customers don’t really need training, but having such a program will help increase their engagement with the product, and even bring lots of publicity and SEO to your company. If you ever saw, for example, a company making blenders or similar kitchen appliances, that has tutorials on how to use their products to make various recipes, you’ve seen an example of this latter case for client training.
It’s good for business (even though most customers won’t follow all of those tutorials, they’ll appreciate them being there), it’s good for publicity (those tutorials will be reposted to various websites, linking back to you), and it helps you make a point about the utility and capabilities of your products in a much cheaper and more useful way that an ad would.
Why use eLearning to train your customers?
Because it’s 2016.
Businesses, including local ones and corner shops, are not constrained geographically anymore. Through their webpages and widespread internet availability they can have customers from all over the world.
Having classroom-based training sessions in different cities across the globe is just not practical.
Yes, large companies still do it (Apple will offer training sessions in their Applestores, Adobe has seminars across several large cities like New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo, etc.), but those are mostly for attracting press and a few very loyal customers than about really training their customer base (that ranges in the millions for Adobe to hundreds of millions for Apple). Plus, even those companies that have the scale, and international presence to do such a thing, also invest heavily in online client training programs.
But even more important is the fact that your customers would prefer the convenience of logging on a website over dragging themselves to some real-world seminar.
Heck, in an era when even MIT and Stanford offer through-the-net degrees, you expect your customers to bother to come and sit through a series of lectures just to learn how to use your products? Even if they wanted to, it will be hard for them to just take time off work or sacrifice their weekend with the family.
With eLearning they won’t have to sacrifice anything: they can study at their own pace, and from the convenience of their own house.
Benefits of eLearning for customer training
We have already covered two major benefits of eLearning in the previous section, but it might be worth it to recap here, and even go through some additional benefits:
1) With eLearning it is practical and affordable to cater to millions of customers, scattered all around the world, from a single LMS platform installation.
2) Customers can study at their own pace, move faster or slower through the course, repeat selected lesson units, and do all that from their own home, and in their free time, instead of a predetermined schedule and location.
3) eLearning is more affordable, and has much simpler logistics than arranging for classroom-based seminars, booking or renting teaching spaces, and managing learner attendance.
4) Modern eLearning can leverage all kinds of multimedia assets, from presentations and images, to video, sound and interactive widgets, to increase learner engagement and knowledge retention.
5) If your customer training is not complimentary (as if often the case with more advanced custom training), with eLearning you can easily monetize it. With eFront, for example, you can connect your learning portal with the most popular payment processors, and accept payments for your courses.
6) eLearning is great for creating your content, managing your courses and checking learner progress. One of these is the ability to have in-depth reports on all aspects of your learning program.
Customer training is a necessity in some industries, and a good way to attract customer goodwill and SEO in others. Just as with regular employee training, eLearning-based custom training has many advantages over traditional classroom-based training. And with a truly powerful LMS like eFront, these benefits are all at your grasp.
Improve your employee, partner and customer training with our enterprise-ready learning management system. Book a demo now and see why our diverse portfolio of customers consistently give us 5 stars (out of 5!)