Software is eating the world. Today, there is a software solution for almost any process – not only one, but a wide choice for every industry, use-case and niche application. And with software moving to the cloud and increasingly adapting the classical SaaS subscription-based payment model, switching vendor has become easier than ever.
To create a healthy, long-lasting and sustainable customer relationship, training and educating your customer on how to get the most value from using your software is critical.
We both know that your product delivers great value. But do you properly educate your users about the different features and functionalities you offer, and how to actually use and best implement them into their existing processes?
Customer training is one of the easiest ways to improve your customer satisfaction. That’s why it’s really important that you have a reliable customer training program in place.
In this blog post, we’ll provide you with:
- The impact of customer training on customer satisfaction.
- A guideline on how to set up a great Customer Training Program.
- Insights on how to build great relationships with your customers.
Customer Satisfaction Is Key to a Successful Business
As a SaaS company, you are constantly looking to acquire new customers. But what a lot of SaaS companies forget, especially in the early stages, is the importance of keeping your existing customers happy. This means keeping them updated, providing them with value, and always going above and beyond to improve the user experience.
Gregory Ciotti from Buffer talked about this at length. In his eyes, if your customer is not satisfied with the value that your software or service delivers for their personal use case, then they are highly likely to churn. In contrast, the happier your customers are, the higher the likelihood you will maintain a long-term relationship and a high customer lifetime value from that customer.
Competition is fierce in the world of SaaS. Your customer will only use your software as long as their expectations are not only met, but exceeded as well.
Amy Gallo previously mentioned in the Harvard Business Review that a lot of the research that has been completed often leads to the same result: Getting a new customer to sign up for your service is much more expensive than keeping an existing customer!
Additional research conducted by Bain & Company’s Frederick Reichheld found that a 5% increase in customer retention resulted in at least 25% profit increase.
It’s clear that focusing on your existing customer is extremely important if you want to build a healthy and profitable business. A low churn rate is a key indicator of success, especially when it comes to SaaS companies.
Customer Training Leads to Customer Satisfaction
Here’s the honest truth. Your customer probably knows how to use your software at the most basic level, but in most cases, they don’t get as much value out of it as they should.
You need to demonstrate to them how to get the most value out of your software. These answers may seem easy to you, but that’s only because you’ve been working with your software for a long time.
A great Customer Training Program can show them the steps they need to take to get the results they want.
And while most companies publish some form of customer training, they usually fall short. Whether you are educating your customers through product demos, blog posts, or through a video series, you need to provide them with the information they need.
By taking the time to educate your customers and help them get additional value out of your software, they will be increasingly satisfied and achieve their desired results. Keeping your customers satisfied is one of the easiest ways to keep them stay and happy.
How Do You Set up Your Customer Training Program?
In order to create a successful customer training program, you need to structure the whole program so that you can accomplish your goals and measure that success.
Here are the steps that you’ll need to follow in order to create a viable customer training program.
1) Get to know your customer
If you’ve ever encountered complicated user guides or manuals – you already know how frustrating that experience is. In cases like this, your customers have no idea how to use your software and how to troubleshoot their problems. Why? Because the manuals for your software were written by people with a deep understanding of the subject matter. Your manuals need to be written for your customers, and at a level that they will understand based on their experience with your software.
You need to avoid creating situations like this.
That means taking the time to:
- Discover more about your customers
- Who they are
- How much they know about your product
- How much they have information overall in your field
And in order to do that, you need to speak in their language.
That means catering your content to them, nothing too advanced or simple, only what they need. If your target audience includes beginners and professionals, you may need to consider building multiple specialized training programs for your different types of customers.
2) Specify the goals of your program
Before you can develop your training program, you need to decide what your goals are for it.
Start by asking this question:
“What problems can my software solve?”
Once you answer this, you’ll have an idea of the different processes that you should outline in a training program. And if you like examples, accounting SaaS may have tutorials showing you how to create individual invoices, add new clients, and how to book sales.
The most important thing to remember is not to create broad targets. You need to focus on smaller, more obtainable goals and have the purpose of educating your customer about a specific feature of your software. Something small like that is more realistic and something that you can actually accomplish.
You will quickly see that setting and accomplishing narrower goals through your training program will make the evaluation process much easier.
3) Decide where you are in the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model
Service Rocket’s Training Maturity Model is adopted from Bersin by Deloitte´s Learning Organization Maturity Model and it helps software companies see where their training programs are positioned.
Let’s take a look.
- Start by checking the indicators to see what stage you are in.
- When you know what stage you are in, you’ll have a better understanding in regards to what actions you should take.
- Using this model, you’ll better understand how important your software is to your customers, how complex it is to use, and all of this translates into new features and content that will help you build an effective training program.
4) Decide the Technology You Will Use in Your Training Program
Not every business owner is going to be motivated to deal with every aspect of their training programs. And that’s fine – we get it.
If you don’t have enough time to micromanage your program, you’ll want to look into some of the different training and planning software that exists on the market.
Here are a few examples:
- Content creation tools: These types of tools will help your training program during the design stages.
Elucidat discussed this topic on their official blog, noting that there are specific criteria to consider:
- If it is easy to use.
- If it is flexible.
- If you can create the content mobile-ready.
- Looking at how long it takes to publish and maintain the courses.
It makes it easy for you to choose the right training program software when you consider these components.
And if you can’t seem to find the right tool, you can also do it on your own.
- Learning Management System (LMS): LMS is essentially a platform where your training content is explored by your customers. Using an LMS is very important and brings several organizational advantages to your training program implementation.
Your customer can log in to a platform and access the training materials on their own. LMS helps you maintain a structured customer training database and allows you to follow the development of your customers as they interact with your training materials.
5) Design educational content
In order to run a training program, you will need engaging training content.
Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.
- What kind of issues are they facing?
- What features are complicated?
- Which features need a thorough explanation?
- Which features do you receive complaints about?
By understanding their struggles, it’ll be easy for you to identify problem areas and write engaging content that will solve them.
Here are a few examples of popular formats found in training programs:
- Documentation & Walkthrough Guidelines: Documentation and guidelines are two of the most common training materials. This method has long been used by most companies and the majority of your customers will be familiar with it. It’s almost always a good idea to include the type of material that your customers have come to expect.
Preparing your documentation can take a lot of time because they need to include a wealth of information that is easy-to-read and organized. Your customers should be able to understand the information without any hassle. This means your documentation needs to be clear, to-the-point, and thoroughly explain your product or service.
But remember, your documentation is there to help, but needs to be designed in such a way that it only takes one read to properly understand how to use your product or service.
- Videos: Some of your customers may be visual learners. They may find it difficult to read through a boring manual. And there’s nothing wrong with that. For these types of customers, videos may be easier for them to relate to.
With videos, you can prepare short “tips” videos, or focus on one of your very cool features. In most cases, your customers will like this because they can search for videos about their specific problem instead of scouring through hundreds of pages of manuals.
This option is very practical and something that is becoming increasingly popular in the digital era.
- Presentations: Presentations are still one of the most common training materials when it is time for person-to-person training. While you are training your customer in a seminar, you need to keep their attention on what you say, while still enabling them to remember what you taught them after the presentation is over.
Visual content can help with is. If you have your presentation demonstrating your key features in a visual way, your customers will remember your presentation, your features, how you used them, and other important details about your software.
If you prepare your presentations with a clear style and provide relevant information, you can provide them to your customers after the seminar for self-study. This will make your presentations even more valuable for your customers as they will have a document outlining the key points and features of your software. Your customer can easily check the slides for additional information on their own terms.
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): FAQs display common questions and answers to them. The types of questions usually revolve around specific problems, different tricks or features of your software, and other common occurrences.
Having a well-organized FAQ section as a part of your customer training program is really useful because your customers almost always look for an FAQ to solve common problems.
Those questions are the ones that your customers usually ask. When they can find the solution with minimal effort, they will feel satisfied and happy. This creates trust because they’ll feel like they can easily find the solutions to their problems.
6) Deliver your content efficiently
Once you have identified and created engaging content, you need to figure out how to get it into the hands of your customers.
Even the best content loses its value if you aren’t able to distribute it properly. Standard manuals are expected, but not always the most effective way to interact with your customers. It’s more important that you keep this material structured and accessible.
And digital materials like videos, presentations, and other multimedia are equally important and need to be just as accessible. You can deliver your content in-person, over an online platform, or follow a strategy that taps into both.
Check out these examples:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your customers learn better in an interactive setting. In these scenarios, your customers are involved, can ask direct questions, and receive answers in real-time.
Seminars are the traditional way to do it. As was the case for documentation, seminars are the method that your customers are used to when it comes to training.
While seminars come with the benefit of face-to-face interaction, they also come with additional costs. You need to rent book a venue to hold the event, pay your employees who will be presenting, pay for accommodations for employees and guests, and all the other costs that pop up.
And then there is the time factor. Your customers and employees will have to spend a certain amount of time traveling to and from the event. Still, the face-to-face aspects of seminars often make them worth it.
Now I’m going to tell you about a better option.
One that doesn’t require you to travel anywhere and is easy to use.
Web-Based Training (Remote Screen Sharing & Webinars):
Yes, webinars! You can still make your training interactive without leaving your desk.
There’s a new trend that has come to dominate SaaS and SaaS customer training. You can present key features, tricks, and other aspects of your software to your customers through web-based training. And like seminars, if your customers have questions, they can ask them during the webinar.
Its a win-win for everyone. You save time and money and get to provide your customers with the same level of interaction as a seminar. But even better, you never need to worry about technical problems because platforms like Demodesk are hosted in the cloud and 100% reliable.
SaaS companies can heavily benefit by implementing web-based training strategy because they allow you to train your customers, save you time, are capable of delivering engaging content in an interactive setting, and allow you to troubleshoot problems live.
This term is growing in popularity in the field of customer training. Blended training refers to any training program that mixes traditional face-to-face training with online training.
By mixing the two, you can still provide a traditional training experience that taps into some of the modern benefits of online training. However, this does come with increased costs. You will need to pay your instructors and they will still need to travel to events.
One of the most challenging parts of running a blended training program is deciding which parts of the training should be seminar-based, and which parts of it should be online. Remember, your training program needs to be effective at identifying customer problems and solving them.
In the end, if your training program is well structured, you can still build a cost-effective training program. The hardest part is finding the right balance between face-to-face and online training.
7) Measure the results and improve
Measuring results of your training programs and its overall effects on your customers and your company is not easy. Yet, it’s important to measure them because they will help you measure the impact of your training programs and will show you if they are working or not.
Kirkpatrick´s Training Evaluation Model is commonly used for measuring training performance. This model is based on four major steps: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results.
Let’s take a look at what they mean:
- Reaction: What did the trainees think about the training?
- Learning: What information and skills did they gain about your software after the training?
- Behavior: How did they improve their behavior with your software after the training?
- Results: How did their completion of this training affect your business?
Using The Kirkpatrick´s Training Evaluation Model, you would have an understanding of your customer training’s performance. In addition, you can integrate analytics into your training systems to see where your customers are getting stuck, or the areas where they tend to spend more time.
This useful information helps you understand which parts of your software are challenging for your customer, as well as which parts of your training are too complicated. Because your analytics provide you with actionable data, you can tweak your software and training programs to overcome these bottlenecks.
LMS is a very useful way to measure the performance of the training program because you can follow every step your customers make. And by including a report function, your customers will often leave detailed reports about problems, bugs, and other unforeseen outcomes.
As for measuring results, we still recommend talking to your customers and getting their feedback. They can tell you where they had difficulties, which parts of your training didn’t work for them, and they can tell you which parts of your content were difficult. After all, they are the people who are in the process, so they are the best source of information for product improvement.
Conclusion – Customer Training Comes with Multiple Benefits
When you take the time to educate your customers with a high-quality training package, you will see improved customer satisfaction and retention. But the benefits go far beyond just that:
- When your potential customers are searching for you, and they realize that you have a strong customer training program, there’s a great chance that they will feel secure and comfortable with your product. This often leads to a simplified onboarding process for new customers.
- Customer training will provide you with more engaged customers. Increased knowledge of your products and services will make them feel comfortable and as if they are receiving the benefits that they expect. This makes them far more likely to ignore your competitors. “Trained customers are 50% more likely to renew a subscription and spend 31% more than new customers.” (Airteach)
- You reduce your customer support costs because your customers understand your software, how to use it, and how to troubleshoot issues.
- Long-term customers who are familiar and comfortable with your software will be more willing to add new features and upgrade to premium plans.
- As marketing expert Neil Patel suggests, happy customers are a great marketing tool. A successful training plan helps you create customers that will boost your Net Promoter Score (NPS), and those customers will advertise your software through you on the Internet, through word-of-mouth marketing, and other referral channels. And what does this mean for you? It means they will bring new customers to you. A survey conducted by Verizon found that 85% of new small business customers come from word-of-mouth marketing.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that satisfied customers bring a lot more value to the table than you originally thought. In some ways, they are the most effective method of marketing out there. Now that we’ve established the importance of satisfying your customers, there’s yet another important question we must consider: