Published on January 17, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 10 min. read
Read this guide on customer onboarding and get tips to prevent churn.
Customer education is, arguably, the most underrated determiner of business success.
So much time, money, and effort are spent on developing an amazing product or service and marketing it to as many people as possible. And while those things are all critically important, it's just as important that your customers know how to use and benefit from your product or service.
If you want your customers to stick around for any length of time, you need to have a strong customer education process in place.
Onboard your customers successfully with this in-depth guide and turn them into product champions.
Customer education is providing your customers with the knowledge to help them use and understand your product better. Knowing how to effectively use your product will improve the customer's experience, as well as help them achieve the results they hoped for when they initially purchased from you.
A better user experience leads to greater customer loyalty, lifetime value, and customer retention. Simply put, customer education is an effective strategy for reducing churn rates.
Numerous benefits result from a strategic customer education process, including:
A strong customer education process creates a faster, more efficient customer onboarding process. Teaching your customers about your product and the best ways to use it ensures they experience its value early in the onboarding process.
The quicker your customers see the value of your product, the more likely they will continue using it. A faster, smoother onboarding process increases your chances of retaining customers, and also boosts your free-to-paid conversion rate (if you use a freemium or free trial pricing strategy).
Customers who better understand how to use your product will, in turn, experience greater satisfaction in using it. They will be able to achieve success and overcome problems because of your product, which significantly improves the overall user experience.
Additionally, customers who experience the value of your product are also more likely to keep using it and exploring additional ways that it can help them. A repeat, satisfied customer is much harder to lose than a new customer who is frustrated because they can't get the results they want from your product.
Providing your customers with the knowledge to properly use your product will also lead to increased adoption and engagement. When users are well-versed in how best to use your product, they're much more likely to explore all the ways they can use it. The more a user engages with your product, the more likely they are to adopt it for the long term.
Customer education is important for reducing churn rates. Churn is almost always the result of a customer not getting sufficient value from a product compared to what it costs. And while there are times when a product truly doesn't justify the cost, in most cases, the problem is that the customer has not been sufficiently educated on how to get the most value from the product.
A well-developed customer education strategy helps customers overcome challenges they encounter and allows them to experience the value of your product. A customer who has personally experienced the value of your product and uses it regularly is much less likely to churn.
Customer education is a strategic investment that positions you as a market leader in your field. You've already invested both time and finances in creating a powerful, effective product that offers significant value. Investing in customer education helps you build a loyal fanbase of users who use your product and regularly tell others about it.
As your loyal user base grows, so does the word of mouth marketing done by them, which brings in more users, and so on. It's a virtuous circle driven by customers who love your product and want to generate buzz around it.
A powerful customer education process also reduces your support ticket volume. Users are able to solve smaller issues on their own, which then frees up your support staff to deal with more difficult customer support problems.
Better customer support results in happier customers who feel like they actually matter to your company and aren't just a number on a spreadsheet.
Ultimately, educating customers leads to increased revenue. Increased adoption and engagement rates, combined with lower churn, create a higher Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). Being positioned as a market leader and having customers who are product ambassadors drives down Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). The end result is that you get more revenue from your existing customers while also generating new revenue through customer acquisition.
Onboard your customers successfully with this in-depth guide and turn them into product champions.
Now that you know the benefits of customer education, let's talk about how to create an effective education strategy.
First, you need to audit your current customer education strategy and the results it is producing. You can't improve something without knowing what is working and what isn't.
Your audit needs to include:
As you go through the audit, look for any gaps in the education process. Some will be easy to spot, simply due to a lack of content around a particular topic. Identifying other gaps will be more challenging to find, requiring you to dig into the behavior of your users.
Examine customer support logs for any trends. Are there questions or issues that come up again and again? Those may point you to areas where more education is needed. Also, look for any areas in the customer journey that have a higher churn rate. This may be due to the need for more education about a specific topic or product feature.
For example, if you sell email marketing software and notice that customers tend to churn when they create their first opt-in form, it indicates that either more education is needed about the process or that the process itself is too complicated. Either way, it's an opportunity to improve the user experience.
One other thing to check as part of your audit is engagement rates for the existing content in your education process. Any content with especially low or high engagement rates should be given a second look.
Low engagement content isn't accomplishing its purpose, and you need to determine whether the problem is with the content itself or how it's delivered. High engagement content obviously resonates with your customers and should be scrutinized to determine what makes it so effective. Then you can create more of that type of content.
After identifying gaps in the customer education process, you need to gather the resources necessary to fill those gaps. You'll need to consider:
The biggest cost you'll need to account for is time. Content can be created and delivered using a number of relatively inexpensive software and tools. But it takes time to create that content and you need to ensure that you get buy-in from all the relevant stakeholders before you begin the process.
Now it's time to start creating and delivering customer education content that fills the educational gaps you identified. Focus on the most important gaps first, the ones that have the biggest impact.
For example, you may have identified a step in your onboarding process where a significant number of those who have signed up for a free trial simply don't come back anymore. By focusing on the educational gap causing that problem, you could significantly increase your free-to-paid conversion rate, which also increases your revenue.
Once you've addressed the most important customer education gaps, you can move on to less critical ones.
Finally, you need to measure the results of your improved customer education strategy. You need to evaluate whether the content you created and delivered sufficiently addresses the education gaps you identified.
The metrics you measure will depend on the problem the customer education gap was causing. Continuing with our previous example, you would measure the user abandonment rate at the specified point in the onboarding process. If the abandonment rate dropped by a meaningful amount, then your efforts were successful.
To effectively educate your customers, you need tools that will enable you to both create and distribute content. Thankfully, there are many tools out there that make the process much simpler.
Ideally, you'll use a Learning Management System (LMS) to connect all your educational resources together in one central location. An LMS allows you to upload your existing educational content, such as videos, e-books, and documents, and then deliver it to your customers in a variety of ways.
A good LMS also lets you track customer progress through the educational process, ensuring no one slips through the cracks. Additionally, it should also integrate with other tools you use, like your CRM, webinar platform, etc.
Examples of popular LMS:
Videos are one of the most effective ways to train customers. They allow you to quickly convey a significant amount of information in easily digestible ways. And the good news is that it's easier than ever to create educational videos. You no longer need expensive cameras or video editing software.
Here are some of the best video creation tools:
Documents will make up a large portion of your knowledge base, including things like FAQs, support documents, ebooks, blog posts, and more. Here are some of the best document creation tools that allow you to easily collaborate with teammates:
Staying on top of all the moving parts in the customer education process can be tricky, and project management tools can help you ensure everything gets done. Your team may already have a project management system in place, but if they don't, here are a few tools that work particularly well for managing content creation and delivery:
Obviously, your customer education team will be unique to your business, shaped by available personnel, budget, experience, etc. That said, most successful education programs include at least three roles. Depending on the size of your company, one person could fill multiple roles or multiple people might fill a single role.
The design team is responsible for creating the educational content. They design the process as well as create the content that drives the process. The members of this team should have deep knowledge of your product or service, as well as the ability to create clear, compelling, easy-to-understand content.
The delivery team is responsible for actually delivering the content to customers. The members of this team should have strong technical skills that enable them to easily work with the various pieces of technology involved.
The measurement team is responsible for tracking customer progress through the education process. This includes tracking whether users hit key milestones, evaluating engagement levels with different types of content, and working with the delivery team and content team to optimize the entire process.
Given all the customer behavior data available to you, what customer education metrics should you be measuring on a regular basis?
Core learning metrics are the skills and abilities necessary to effectively use and benefit from your product. Without these skills, your product won't be as valuable to your customers, which increases the risk of churn.
You need to measure how quickly users are able to learn the initial skills to get their first win, as well as more advanced skills that unlock greater product benefits and make churn even less likely.
Satisfaction metrics help you gauge how satisfied your customers are, both with the learning process and the product itself. For example, you might measure how many training modules users complete compared to their usage of your product. A large discrepancy between the two indicates that the training modules don't sufficiently teach how to use the product, causing customers to get stuck and unable to progress further.
The number and nature of support tickets filed can also provide clarity regarding customer satisfaction. A high number of support tickets around a specific product feature tell you that more education about that feature is needed to keep customers happy.
Learning engagement metrics allow you to see how your customers are engaging with the educational process. Analyzing what content is engaging and which isn't can help you determine why users might be dropping out of training, as well as the types of content they value most. High engagement with content about a particular feature or use-case can also provide insight into which elements of your product customers value most.
Usage metrics indicate how much and how effectively customers are using your product. They can include things like time spent using the product, specific actions taken, etc. These numbers give you an unfiltered picture of whether your users value your product.
If usage numbers are low, that's a red flag signaling either an education problem or a product problem. Your customers aren't using your product either because they don't know how or it doesn't help them achieve success. Customer feedback, support tickets, user progress through the education process can help you narrow down the cause
Impact metrics track the impact your education process has on the overall health and success of your business. The goal is to determine whether customer education benefits the bottom line in meaningful ways.
Some of these metrics include:
If your customer education strategy is working effectively, these numbers should improve over time. You should also see a measurable connection between the amount of education a user experiences and how they score according to impact metrics.
The value of customer education can't be overstated. Educated customers are satisfied customers, and satisfaction leads to loyalty. More loyalty equals less churn, higher LTV, reduced support requests, and more revenue.
If you don't have a well-defined customer education process in place, now is the time to do it. If you do have one, now may be the time to audit it to ensure that it's helping you achieve your business goals.