In the past, only the largest companies could afford to create and maintain a customer training program; and this has been a big problem for marketing departments at smaller or mid-sized businesses. Marketers, often tasked with improving customer retention rates, understand better than anyone that having high product-use rates is important to having high retention rates. And yet in the past, it was so difficult for marketers to oversee or help build customer training courses.
Thanks to modern technology and tools, the process of creating online courses has become much easier. Today, it’s fairly simple to set up your own customer training department and create engaging courses that keep customers coming back for more. In this article, you’ll learn how you can create courses that draw new customers, increase revenue and improve client retention.
Planning useful content for your customers
You may not immediately see where you could integrate a customer training course into your company’s offerings; but chances are, if you look more closely, you’ll see some weak spots that could benefit from the added support of a training course.
Existing content, expanded – Start by reviewing the technical specifications or instruction manuals for your products. These documents are often excellent starting points for useful training courses. For example, let’s suppose that your company manufactures outdoor equipment, such as camping supplies. A how-to guide for setting up your campsite using various company products could be a useful course. Or perhaps you sell a specific piece of software to people who run a home business; you could create a course that shows how to use the software to the best advantage.
Content ideas from customers – Talk to your customer service team about the feedback that they are getting from customers. Do they receive a lot of calls about a specific issue? Perhaps a course addressing that problem would be helpful. Take a look at your company FAQ page: There may be questions and answers there that could be expanded into valuable course content. Read the comments on the company Facebook page or blog. If you find a point of pain that your customers keep mentioning, endeavor to address it with applicable customer training.
Reducing your customer churn rate
You’ve probably heard the term “churn rate” used to reference declining customer interest. Customers who discontinue your company’s services or end their subscriptions are part of that churn rate statistic, also called the “rate of attrition.” In order to stay viable in the marketplace, you have to pull in new customers faster than they leave — your growth rate must be greater than the churn rate. However, you don’t simply want to draw in new customers all the time; you want to retain the ones you have as much as possible. That’s where a good customer training course can help you.
According to a report from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it costs 6-7 times more to gain a new customer than it does to hold onto current customers. Customer retention is always cheaper than new client acquisition; so it makes sense for your business to focus on holding onto the clients you currently have.
Generating fresh revenue with training
Did you know that offering customer training can boost your business’s revenue? At first, it may feel like you’re spending more time and money than you should on setting up the training program. However, a study by Aberdeen Group revealed that companies who offer training to their customers experience a huge leap (800%!!) in year-over-year revenue per FTE compared to companies who provide no courses. It’s also notable that repeat customers typically spend 33% more than new ones — another revenue boost related to customer retention.
Your customer without training – Imagine that a current customer is struggling to understand how to use the piece of software that your company produces. He really wants it to work for his business, but he can’t figure out how to use certain features. He may go to your company website or blog looking for information, but he soon realizes that he could spend hours browsing user forums and sifting through FAQs without ever finding concrete answers to his questions. He gives up and decides to quit using your company’s software.
The chain reaction – What would happen if this customer had been able to locate a short, helpful customer training course about the software? It may be something he could watch for 10-15 minutes, or it could be an ongoing course with longer sessions. Suddenly, the mental roadblock is gone, and he can understand how to use the product. He gets excited about implementing it for his business. After seeing positive results, he may decide to upgrade the product he is using. Then he tells a friend of his, also an entrepreneur, about your company’s software and how it’s helping him, and the friend decides to purchase it, too.
That’s the kind of scenario that customer training can enable for your business — a “light-bulb moment” for the customer, resulting in a positive chain reaction that increases revenue and customer loyalty at the same time.
Closing new contracts
Perhaps you have discovered that the sales force for your company is having difficulty closing with new clients. All signs are positive, pointing toward a decision, and then the potential client backs down. How can you improve your chances of gaining that commitment? By offering your new clients an extra level of support with customer training.
In many cases, clients are most interested in things that will save them time and money. They also like items and services that are free! When you visit a clothing store, you may be more likely to buy a particular shirt if another will be included for free. Electronics retailers selling game consoles often throw in a game or two for free along with the system. People like “buy-one-get-one” deals, package deals, and special offers. Once you have a sizable body of customer training courses in place, you can use those courses as a freebie, a special deal, or a bundled service.
When clients are sitting on the proverbial fence, the offer of free customer training is another incentive to get them to step down on your side. It could be the final bonus that prompts a commitment and ensures the closing of a new contract. Once again, that means more money for your business and a higher likelihood of customer retention.
Taking the first steps
As you proceed with creating the courses, stay connected to the customer service, product management, IT, and finance departments of your business; they will provide valuable input and guidance along the way. With the right strategy, goals and curriculum design, you can create a customer training program that will improve client acquisition, enhance customer retention, and boost income for your company.
To get started with content creation, check out some of the available marketing technology tools that are designed for building courses. There are dozens of excellent options, and you’re sure to find one that suits your purpose and your company’s products. That said, making heads or tails of all the features of online learning management systems can be tough. That’s why, in next week’s post, we’re going to give you a deep dive into one of the most popular marketing technology stacks for online courses.
Also Ben Beck’s DIY guide on building your own customer retention online course for under $400.