In corporate America, we have been training our customers for decades. Buy a new piece of construction machinery and the manufacturer will send out a trainer. Buy an old school LMS and they will send a trainer out for 3-days to train your administrators. Want to learn how to grout tile? Head to Lowe’s on a Saturday morning.
Over the last few years though customer learning has evolved into the digital and away from live trainers. The learning management system (LMS) is used as the backbone of the customer learning system delivering eLearning, tutorials, videos and social learning that can be created once and reused countless times. The LMS also has one thing that no other method of training customers has–reporting. Knowing if your customers have been trained or not gives you the power to measure the return on your investment.
How? Have trained customers purchased more or less than untrained? Have they called into support more frequently or infrequently? Have they renewed their subscriptions at a higher or lower rate?
In every industry smart organizations invest in providing their customers learning opportunities. Does yours? If not, you’re missing out on at least five compelling measurable reasons to build your business case for customer learning:
#1: Increased Sales and Profit
The easiest, most cost-effective place to get a new sale is from an existing customer – not finding a new one. Happy, educated customers who see the value you promised will buy more of the same and related products. Customers don’t want to find new solutions. They just want the solution they purchased to work as expected — or better. If you can help make that happen through training they will keep buying.
Additionally, many organizations sell customer content as value-added service. The more complicated your core product or solution, the more opportunities you have to sell training to customers and turn your content into profitable revenue streams.
#2: Decreased Sales Cycles
Customer learning helps organizations accelerate the sales cycle by letting customers do most of the sales work. Many companies also cross-sell by engaging active customers as learners. They provide a free library of training content for a purchased product as well as complimentary products. As customers educate themselves they voluntarily absorb knowledge about other products and services (features, benefits and unique value proposition) without costly active involvement from the sales force or channel.
#3: Decreased Customer Support Costs
Every time a customer contacts your customer support — live, virtual or email it costs you. You may not be able to avoid all support calls, however, you can minimize the volume of basic support incidents by designing targeted learning that gives customers all the tools they need to get started with your product or service. Decreased support calls and trouble tickets translate directly into higher profits.
#4: Increased Customer Satisfaction
Even if you have the best call center and online support in your industry, in the moment when customers seek support they’ve exhausted other options – and they’re probably annoyed by the inconvenience. Delivering learning opportunities for your customers gives them a self-service method of getting answers and implementing strategy. Recently, I transitioned to Quick Books and chose not to watch all the video tutorials on how to avoid mistakes and start off correctly. More recently, I re-installed Quick Books, watched the recommended tutorials and now I’m up and running and much happier.
#5: Increased Brand Reach
Even small companies can have a global footprint. However, it’s not feasible to travel around the world and train customers face-to-face. Using a LMS organizations can support mobile users, virtual classrooms, game dynamics, real-time social interaction and more. This gives you more flexibility to engage customers in learning, no matter where they’re located or what their preferences may be.
You can create communities of interest and encourage participants to develop skills, share their success stories and help answer others’ questions. You can wrap contests and awards around your learning programs to engage and motivate participants. The possibilities are endless. Ideally, you can build a growing global community of customers who are committed to your brand and help others learn about it too.
Smart companies encourage their customer to learn. When thoughtfully designed and delivered customer training is measurable, scalable and profitable. What’s more, customers love it. It’s really that simple. You shouldn’t wait. Your competition won’t and neither will your customers.
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Thanks for reading!
This post is adapted from content that I originally guest authored for the Expertus blog, Learning in the Cloud.