Customer education, or the broader segment of extended enterprise training, is a growing arm of the learning and development community. With more and more vendors providing solutions for customer education and enablement, it’s important to understand what technology can help you take your program to the next level. Moreover, training departments can leverage these tools to create a holistic training ecosystem, where students are driven to learn more at various times and contexts. This article identifies the key technologies in the customer education space, why they’re important and how they can help your business.
The learning management system (LMS) is an essential component of any customer training program. An LMS will help scale your training efforts, cut costs and improve customer engagement. It should also provide you with detailed analytics around customer learning behavior and preferences and give you the tools to demonstrate the impact of on-demand training on the business.
For customer education, choose an LMS that focuses on student experience, integrates with the business systems you have in place, and includes detailed data and analytics on the student level. When your students are your customers, your system needs to put your best foot forward, which includes simple registration and purchasing processes and a high degree of content discoverability.
If a course hosted on an LMS is a three-course meal, a knowledge base article is a snack. We usually schedule meals, while we eat snacks when we feel a pang of hunger. Similarly, knowledge base articles are a reactive approach to customer education. When customers have a problem or realize that they want to learn something specific, they search the knowledge base for help.
A great knowledge base for customer education provides recommendations and article ratings to customers and data around search activity and usage to the organization. Consider how it can work with your LMS to fuel continued learning by funneling students into a more extensive learning experience.
A customer community brings your customers together to learn, share ideas, and ask and answer questions. Communities can fuel advocacy and referrals, reduce inbound support tickets, and provide a forum for customers to learn from each other’s successes and failures. While features vary across products, communities usually provide some aspect of gamification (like a leader board) and offer a multitude of social engagement tools. Detailed analytics can help you tie community engagement to product adoption or customer referrals.
While in-app learning is fairly specific to software training, this just-in-time solution is a great addition to a well-rounded program. An app can provide a walk-through wizard for your customers, showing them exactly what to click and when, or pop-up messages that link to performance support. Your customers will benefit from learning in context when they are about to perform the related task, and you can link to more extensive coursework in your LMS when it makes sense.
Any one-to-many program needs a reliable webinar provider. A good provider should have some degree of audience interaction. If you’re teaching complete virtual instructor-led training courses, you can opt in to the more robust virtual training platforms that allow for peer interaction.
For customer training, it’s helpful to look for solutions that can be well branded, including integrations with marketing automation. Some systems even allow students to submit questions while viewing a recording, which can extend the benefits of your sessions. It’s also helpful to integrate the platform with your LMS to provide a unified student experience and maintain attendance data in one system.
While there are many other categories under the umbrella of customer enablement, this spread offers a recipe for a comprehensive program that supports the needs of a wide range of learners. Customers have different needs than other training audiences; therefore, customer training professionals should seek products that are designed to support these needs.