Published On: October 16, 2014By
Why educated your customers about your products and services? Learn about customer learning ROI from independent analyst John Leh

If our previous post on The Business Case for Customer Learning piqued your interest in the benefits of educating customers, this post will show you how to build a rationale to obtain funding for customer learning initiatives.

Organizations that manage customer education as a business are likely to be training their customers effectively.  Content is developed and delivered ONLY when it is designed to strengthen customer relationships, drive specific customer behaviors or solve known customer experience problems.

Performance metrics and success criteria are defined before programs begin.  If content does not achieve the organization’s ROI standards, it will be modified until results improve.  Otherwise, the content will be retired or replaced.  In other words, you can’t be in the business of customer learning unless you are willing to Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Measurable Training.

Once you embrace the process of developing, tracking and analyzing ROI, it’s much easier to communicate with your executive team.  And once these sponsors are on board, you’ll gain support for larger and larger budgets.  Although some people think of ROI analysis as a complex process that only an MBA should pursue, it doesn’t need to be that difficult.  I recommend starting with a much simpler approach to proving customer learning ROI. Here’s how:

3 Easy Steps to Measure Customer Training ROI

1) Find Existing Business Metrics

Customer behavior is easy to observe and measure.  Why?  Because businesses already care about and are measuring whether their customers buy more, buy less, buy again or never again.  Here are some other common monitored metrics:

  • Repeat purchases
  • Support renewals
  • Incremental purchases
  • Complementary or cross-product purchases
  • Number of support calls or tickets
  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Mentions on social media

If you take the time to interview your organization’s leaders in sales, marketing, channel and accounting you will find that preexisting reports are distributed regularly that measure the above behavior changes.  The format of the data may not be exactly what you want but you can always manipulate that.  Once you have access to the data though you are ready for the next step.

2) Compare Trained vs. Untrained Customers

Every LMS can easily provide training completion reports for learners or groups of learners.  If you do not have an LMS, use any available reporting that you can scrape together.  Either way, identify customers who have and who have not taken learning events.  Now go back to your available business reports and compare the performance of the two groups in sales, support calls and every metric you have.

You will be able to determine if the customers that were trained performed better or worse than the untrained customers – and by how much in each metric.  I have never heard of a case where trained customers performed worse than untrained customers in any desired metric.

3) Make Customer Learning ROI Predictions

Now you have some proof, and it didn’t cost you anything but a little elbow grease.  The next step is to look forward, make predictions and measure the degree to which those predictions are achieved.  For example, with your next software product upgrade, try tracking which customers complete the complimentary elearning module vs. who don’t — then after each group upgrades, compare the difference in time to purchase or the volume of support tickets in each group.

From there, it is easy to extrapolate the predicted ROI if you were able to get 50% or 75% or 100% of customers to consume the content within 30 or 60 or 90 days.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

Then What?

With these measurable ROI data points, you can request additional funds for customer learning programs with increasing confidence. As you pursue each new program, you can predict and then demonstrate actual improvements in customer experience, loyalty, revenues and/or profitability.  Want to expand your budget so you can try cool things like adding gamification, video and social learning to your programs?  Keep making more and more money for your organization with the funds they allocate to you today.  Over time, those incremental efforts can add up to a world-class customer training program that differentiates your business and adds sustainable value to your brand.

Thanks for reading!

Want more insights? Replay this free webinar:

Customer Education Meets Customer Success

How can you create strategic value with LMS-Salesforce integration? The world’s most strategic organizations do exactly this. But if your organization isn’t there yet, it’s not too late. How can you catch up and gain a competitive edge?

Join John Leh, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, and Sandi Lin, CEO and Co-Founder at Skilljar, as they explain why and how you can realize measurable results by combining the power of a modern customer-focused learning platform with Salesforce.

In this dynamic one-hour session you’ll learn all the essentials:

  • What the Salesforce platform is and why it is vital to so many organizations
  • What Salesforce-LMS “integration” means
  • How to decide if you should use Salesforce-approved apps
  • Top ways to apply Salesforce-LMS integrations, illustrated with real-world examples
  • How to prove customer learning success from your integration efforts


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Looking for a learning platform that truly fits your organization’s needs?  We’re here to help!  Submit the form below to schedule a free preliminary consultation at your convenience.

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About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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