In Skilljar’s 2018 customer success industry survey, customer success leaders cited a lack of product adoption as their top customer journey challenge. You can address this challenge and ensure that your customers onboard seamlessly by providing value to them early and often through engaging customer training.

While the concept of product training and onboarding is not new, there is now a greater understanding of the strong correlations among effective training, product adoption and customer health, especially at SaaS companies. The strongest customer training programs enable your customers to effectively engage with your product over the long term. They include both new customers starting out with your technology as well as existing users, who may need training on new product features and integrations or refresher materials.

Depending on the size of your organization, your customer success team may be able to offer personalized, on-site training for each of your customers. However, as your company grows and your product evolves, this investment becomes impractical. Not only will the customer success team struggle to keep up with the required travel and time, but you will also need to create new training content as your product evolves. Developing this content takes time and resources and will continue to stretch your team.

With the risk of churn that can accompany poor customer onboarding and education, it’s important to create a program that is built to scale and deliver consistent value. Consider the following four options to make it happen.

1. Transition to Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT)

Many companies start their training journey by onboarding customers through in-person sessions. However, as your customer base grows, this type of training can become costly and inefficient. Travel expenses and time aside, there is a high opportunity cost in terms of what trainers could be doing at the office if they weren’t traveling so frequently. Instead of in-person training, consider hosting virtual instructor-led training (VILT).

Using video platforms, you can hold VILT sessions one on one with a single customer or a group session with multiple users who need similar training. It’s also important to remember that virtual training can still be interactive using tools like chat, polls and questions.

Companies low on time or resources can also consider prerecording virtual training, enabling users to take coursework on demand and at their own pace (see below). If you don’t have the capacity to record a course for the purposes of an on-demand offering, a great starting place is to record an in-person training. There are a variety of free or low-cost video editing software options that you can then use to edit the content and make it ready for sharing.

2. Offer On-demand Training Opportunities

Another challenge of on-site training is that it does not always provide support at the customer’s time of need. Modern customers want resources they can access when, where and how they want. With no restrictions on time zones, locations, room capacity or instructor availability, the on-demand training model fits this need. Offering product education content on demand is also a great way to reduce customers’ reliance on customer support and success teams.

While creating an archive of content can seem daunting, companies can take a “crawl, walk, run” approach and develop the program at their own pace. Start with content like recorded videos of in-person training as well as documentation and reference materials that customers can easily download. Other examples of on-demand content include:

  • Recorded webinars are great for providing a walk-through of a product’s interface or for when it is helpful to have a person explain a complex topic.
  • Recorded screen-captures are ideal for sharing step-by-step instructions for complex configurations or processes.
  • Infographics (PDF) are an opportunity to recycle existing marketing content for high-level overviews or “fast facts.”
  • Slideshows are another great way to repurpose content, such as materials used during in-person training.

3. Use FAQs as a Source of Training Content Ideas

According to Zendesk’s recent benchmark report, companies can see upward of 20,000 support tickets per month. In addition, the Technology Services Industry Association reports that 48% of customer support inquiries are “how-to” questions. These inquiries create a significant time-consuming burden on your company’s support team as it fields repetitive questions. Given this burden, an effective way to scale your training efforts is to identify some of those commonly-asked questions and use them as the basis for developing new coursework.

For example, if you’re seeing a high volume of support questions about a particular product feature or update, consider creating content that walks customers through the details of that feature and how to use it. This content will help your support team reduce the time (and related costs) that it spends addressing questions about the feature. It will also ensure that courses are relevant to users and their experiences.

4. Repurpose Existing Marketing and Product Content

Developing impactful content is no easy task. It can also be time- and resource-intensive, particularly if you are in the early stages of your training program. However, your company likely already has content that you can modify and repurpose to serve your training audience. Content used during in-person training, such as slideshows, videos or worksheets, can often be reconfigured into on-demand resources. Similarly, marketing collateral from conferences and event booths can provide a great foundation for one-pagers.

Flexibility is important to keep in mind as you create content. As you plan, think about how you could reuse the resources in the future. For example, if you’re creating a full-length video walkthrough, consider how you could divide the video into shorter snippets to include in a “how-to” library of resources or integrate into other on-demand materials. Remember, length does not necessarily equal value: Just because a video is long or a quiz has 100 questions does not mean it’s doing its job. A five-minute explanation may have higher completion rates and be more effective than an hour-long video.

Scaling customer training often seems like a daunting task for companies that are accustomed to delivering one-on-one training. Fortunately, there are incremental steps you can take to start scaling while maintaining a high level of quality and customer satisfaction. In particular, providing access to on-demand training ultimately enables you to support more customers and create a faster onboarding process. By supplying your customers with the right content exactly when they are seeking it, you help build the customer relationship and lay the groundwork for long-term success.