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How to use customer education to accelerate customer time to value

Let’s say you decide to buy a kitchen cabinet from a ready-to-assemble furniture store. You rip open the layered packaging and find 25 wooden planks, 100 screws, and 15 hinges of different sizes. The thrill of your purchase is slowly fading. You’re five hours in and you realize the exteriors of the kitchen cabinet are facing inwards.

To be fair, the furniture company has provided instructions on how to assemble their furniture. But if, along with those instructions, you also had access to step-by-step videos and interactive guided learning paths, you’d have your cabinet assembled far sooner.

Your customers also look forward to enjoying your product and reaping benefits from their investment sooner than later. And while drawing in new customers can be challenging, keeping them interested can be even more difficult. Educating your customers about your product proactively is the first step towards ensuring they derive immediate value from what you offer.

Onboarding and training assets like self-help guides, webinars, tailored product tutorials, and demos help customers understand your product quickly and encourage them to engage with the product. And the more they engage, the more loyalty you foster.

Why is customer education important?

When you notice your customers frequently reaching out to you for help and support on common issues, providing targeted education can empower them to overcome these issues for good. It’s possible that to new users your product feels overwhelming to use. Maybe they find it difficult to set up their accounts or navigate your application on their mobile devices. A study by Forrester found that customer education could improve product adoption, shorten sales cycles, lower support costs, reduce resolution time, and increase customer retention.

Improved customer onboarding

According to this 2022 Forrester blog on effective customer onboarding, a customer decides to renew their subscription within the first 90 days of their post-sale purchase. This means your relationship with your customer is significantly dependent on their onboarding experience. Training in the onboarding phase shows customers how your product works and the solutions it provides beyond the obvious ones to reduce time to value.

Shortened sales cycles

Aligning your education program with your customer journey allows you to create personalized messaging that illustrates how your product can help customers. For example, your education assets can reassure customers at the decision stage that they’re making the right choice in choosing your brand.

Increased customer loyalty and referral rates

When you help your customers realize the value of your product, customer loyalty improves by up to 20% — and loyal customers are more likely to deliver word-of-mouth referrals. IDC found that increased referrals were one of the top three reported benefits of customer education programs. Loyal customers are also up to 70% more likely to make repeat purchases, and nurturing customer loyalty leads to up to 20% growth.

How to create an impactful customer education program

Creating effective customer education programs requires an understanding of your customer’s needs and pain points. These inform the narrative and sequence of your customer education assets as well as the goals you set for your program.

1. Set goals to measure revenue impact

Setting goals for your customer education programs not only helps you monitor the performance of your education program but also helps you gain and keep stakeholder buy-in. A 2024 Forrester report found that stakeholders want to see direct revenue impacts, with 83% looking for increased upselling and cross-selling opportunities and 77% monitoring product adoption.

Additionally, tracking metrics such as engagement, customer satisfaction, and product adoption can feed decisions on new product feature ideas, marketing campaigns, and more.

These five metrics were some of the top measurements by businesses surveyed by Forrester in 2023 for its thought leadership report, Level Up Customer Experience (CX) with Customer Education Programs:

  1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT): Survey customers about their satisfaction with your education program. Start by establishing a benchmark, then compare future data to monitor satisfaction as you expand your customer education program.

  2. Net promoter score (NPS): Ask customers to rate how likely they are to recommend your brand. Don’t forget to follow up for details on why they answered a certain way.

  3. Customer retention: Successful customer education leads to higher retention rates. A lower rate may hint at a need to reassess your strategy. The paper also states that 58% of respondents agree that customer education leads to increased retention or decreased churn.

  4. Resolution time: An effective customer education program not only empowers your customers with self-help knowledge, but it can also significantly reduce your overall resolution time. Nearly two-thirds of leaders agree (63%) that their customer learning strategy has reduced their resolution times.

  5. Cross-sell conversion rate: Customer education demystifies the product and leads to enhanced product understanding. As a result, it reduces the customer’s perceived risk associated with signing up for an upgrade or trying out other products in your lineup. In fact, 58% of respondents agreed that customer education has contributed to a higher wallet share from upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Forrester, 2024

2. Select your delivery format and channels

A mix of learning methods and channels is ideal for meeting a variety of customer learning preferences. These five formats are most commonly used to deliver customer education:

  1. Training aids and manuals

  2. Product demonstrations

  3. Videos

  4. PowerPoint tutorials

  5. Self-paced eLearning

A headless learning management system (LMS) like Adobe Learning Manager can transform the customer’s eLearning experience by displaying all your educational content on channels of your choice. This means customers don’t need to leave their branded experience to watch a video or sign up for courses. By personalizing content with AI recommendations and certifications, your customers can easily find valuable and educational content and use it to their advantage.

3. Choose a customer education learning management system (LMS)

According to an Adobe report, 66% of businesses use a learning management system to deliver customer training. Here’s what to look for when choosing an LMS:

  • Customization: Your customer education LMS should allow you to do more than add your logo and brand colors. Look for customizable dashboards that influence experience, including course discovery, progress tracking, and gamification elements. The headless feature in Adobe’s LMS automatically allows course recommendations to your front end without any extra effort.

  • Personalization: Artificial intelligence, like Adobe Sensei, helps you further personalize recommendations. By analyzing the content users engage with along with learner data, it recommends the next steps. This makes it effortless for customers to get the most value out of your product — and for you to upsell or cross-sell.

  • Advanced reporting: An LMS should provide in-depth analytics to measure current customer engagement and discover future customer education needs. This will help you continue to improve your strategy over time.

  • Integrations: Your LMS should grow with your business, and integrations can make or break its scalability. Look for software that integrates with other tools you commonly use. For example, Adobe Learning Manager integrates with Adobe Marketo Engage to help drive marketing campaigns based on learning data.

  • Flexibility: Customers shouldn’t need to jump through hoops to engage with your content. Adobe Learning Manager offers a fluidic player that can let you seamlessly view your course content across nine different formats in one window. Additionally, Adobe Learning Manager supports flexible learning options, such as mobile and offline modules, webinars, in-person courses, and microlearning.

4. Create feedback loops

Remember that one episode from Friends when Rachel prepared the Thanksgiving trifle recipe using beef sauteed with peas and onions? To spare her feelings, her friends pretended to like the layered disaster. Nobody wanted to pop her bubble of blissful ignorance and tell her that she accidentally combined two recipes in one.

This iconic scene wonderfully illustrates the need for open and honest feedback from your customers. Their valuable insights act as an indicator for whether your course content truly made it easier for them to use your product.

Encourage customers to share feedback. Ask them how helpful and engaging your educational content is, as well as whether it’s offered at the right touchpoints. Their shared reviews can help you create content that is tailored to the needs of your audience.

5. Personalize learning paths

Everyone learns differently. Some need personal guidance from their driving instructors to learn how to drive a car. Others may need to go through simulations multiple times before they can even think of sitting inside a real one.

Personalized learning can be delivered through different formats based on the individual’s preferences. To create personalized learning paths, organize relevant, related content in a sequence — ideally including multiple formats such as videos, webinars, and written guides.

Imagine taking a new user through a personalized onboarding path that introduces them to the features best suited to their unique needs. The sequence shows where to find each feature, how to set them up, and the benefits they can expect to enjoy. A progress bar shows how much time they’ll need to complete the onboarding. Written guides are made available when they need to revisit what they learned — no need to rewatch the onboarding video. And, when a new feature is released, they receive a recommendation based on their role, business size, and interests. Lastly, when they leave a course unfinished, they get a friendly reminder a few days later.

A robust LMS like Adobe Learning Manager allows you to include elements such as progress indicators, personalized recommendations, gamification, and notifications to keep customers motivated and engaged.

6. Build a community of advocates

Your relationship with your customer is built on trust. If you breach that trust, you create critics, but if you take efforts to build it, you create brand ambassadors. Using customer education to create meaningful experiences with social learning and gamification can help you build a community that proactively advocates for your product or service in your domain.

Social learning elements, like Adobe Learning Manager’s discussion forums and public progression updates, show other customers the value your eLearning content provides. In this way, engaged customers advocate for others to engage as well — like a virtual domino effect.

Gamification elements like shareable badges and public leaderboards also foster a sense of community. Moreover, badges can be used to highlight your most engaged brand advocates and indicate subject matter expertise. Equipped with credentials and confidence, these customers are more likely to recommend your brand and assist other customers.

Five Customer Education Best Practices

Identifying your customer education goals is the first step toward implementing a customer education program. Offering targeted eLearning content is critical for positively impacting those goals.

Additionally, these best practices keep your customer education program operating at maximum efficiency:

  1. Match content to the customer journey. Understand where customers are in their journey and what educational content is most relevant at that stage.

  2. Keep content updated. Show your dedication to providing the most valuable and relevant education for the customer’s benefit by keeping your knowledge base updated.

  3. Mix up content and pacing. Not everyone prefers to read a blog post, and not everyone wants to sign up for a video course. Provide multiple avenues for customers to learn about your business at a pace that works best for them.

  4. Encourage community. Discussion forums and chats are customer lifelines. When your support team isn’t available, these options ease frustration.

  5. Monitor success. Keep tabs on your customer education program’s success to make continuous, data-driven improvements. Qualitative feedback is also essential for understanding the cause of bottlenecks and discontentment.

Streamline your customer education program with Adobe Learning Manager

The previously mentioned saga of the kitchen cabinet creates an example of what happens when a customer is barely equipped with the right educational materials. Instead of an illustrated instructional booklet, what would have been more helpful is a series of tutorials on “how not to mess this up.”

Fortunately, a robust LMS like Adobe Learning Manager helps you deliver helpful and essential content for customer education and speed up product adoption. It offers a unified learning platform that acts as a single destination for self-paced and instructor-led training.

Moreover, thanks to its headless feature, it effortlessly fits into your existing CMS or front-end online presence. Now your customers don’t need to visit multiple websites or apps to get value from your brand.

And because your customer base includes a variety of needs and preferences, Adobe Learning Manager’s interactive, personalized learning paths allow you to tailor education to each customer. No more one-size-fits-all approaches allowed.

Discover all the ways Adobe Learning Manager’s customer education features help you accelerate product adoption, foster a satisfied community of brand advocates, and boost customer time to value.

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