Customer Onboarding, Retention & Training in the Age of Hybrid Workforces

Customer Onboarding, Retention & Training in the Age of Hybrid Workforces

Jami Kelmenson
July 28, 2021
Customer Onboarding
Training Strategy

At the end of 2020, Forbes declared that “the future of work [is] the hybrid workforce.” The article stated that “many organizations are looking to a new hybrid model that combines remote work and office collaboration” – and that this brings “surprising benefits.”

Six months later, Forbes reports: “Now that many workers are continuing to stay home even as restrictions get lifted, businesses need to adapt to this changing landscape. Implementing education and training via LMS (Learning Management Systems) allows companies to reach their entire audience, no matter where they are based.”

It’s no secret that many people prefer working remotely and more companies, led by Google, Facebook and Twitter, are finding benefits to their bottom line stemming from increased productivity, happier employees, and less money spent on office space.

But while a hybrid workforce means rethinking strategy for employees, it also requires new measures for how companies will interact with their customers.

For one thing, your customers will likely be operating within a hybrid environment as well. And while many post-pandemic workers have mastered basic Zoom functions for meetings, real customer education in a virtual environment requires more than learning how to share your screen.

Here are the biggest considerations we at Skilljar feel will emerge as the hybrid workforce continues to take shape throughout 2021 and beyond:

Customer Onboarding

There’s only so much a customer can learn about your company through Zoom calls. With in-person training sessions, workshops, and conferences still being curtailed, the need for a self-paced, on-demand system for learning becomes essential. Even during “normal times,” customer success managers (CSMs) have to spend an increasing amount of time on basic activities, while customers clamor for more resources while they’re onboarding.

Skilljar defines customer onboarding as:

Training and educational activities that enable your customers to effectively engage with your product over the long term. This includes new customers just starting out with your technology, as well as existing users who may need training on new product features, integrations, or refresher material they can refer back to as needed.

At Skilljar, we believe customer onboarding is the foundation for customer success, whether your customers are at arm’s length, or halfway across the world. And it doesn’t stop with new customers; onboarding is a continuous process. Customer education platforms facilitate sharing data, voice, and video to support remote learning and teaching. This simplifies the customer onboarding process by allowing mobility, interaction, and real-time engagement.

Related: Why Customer Education Is Key To Increasing SaaS Adoption

Customer Retention

Customers can be fickle at any time, but with less face-to-face interaction in a hybrid world, it’s easy for them to feel they’re not getting the attention they deserve. And this could lead to — you guessed it — churn.

The Customer Success software company Gainsight (a Skilljar customer) defines customer retention as:

The strategies used to keep customers from spending their money elsewhere. When a customer leaves, it’s known as churn. A successful customer retention strategy will build symbiotic business relationships, drive brand equity, and encourage customer loyalty amongst your customer base.

For truly impactful, long-term adoption and engagement, especially with hybrid workforces, organizations must empower their customers with the most relevant information to help them understand how they can derive value from their product.

Through the creation and dissemination of tailored, on-demand resources and other training methods, organizations can equip customers with the information and skills to achieve their business goals, and in turn, improve customer retention and promote expansion.

Customer Training

It’s hard to train a customer on your platform from a distance. Customers can grow frustrated and simply choose to not take the time involved to master your features on their own. That’s where various training channels may come in.

Here’s a summary of the three basic types of customer training:

In-person: You can always send an instructor onsite to the company’s headquarters to conduct a one or several day training session, much like a traditional classroom environment. Needless to say, these have taken a hit with COVID-19, and are not likely to re-emerge as more organizations have shifted to alternative training methods.

Virtual, Instructor-Led Training (VILT): VILT is led by an experienced instructor who delivers the course content, answers questions, and encourages discussion. VILT is often delivered in a webinar format, taking advantage of chat functionality, breakout sessions, polls, games, and other interactive elements.

On-Demand: On-demand training — education that’s available to customers anywhere, anytime — can include a mix of content types such as video, interactive simulations, downloadable guides, recorded webinars, infographics, slideshows, and blog posts. Available on both desktop and mobile devices, its ease of access means that geography or the lack of face-to-face interaction do not present barriers to knowledge acquisition.

Many organizations are seeking out a blended approach to their training programs, but one thing that’s become clear in the post-pandemic environment is that some type of customer education platform is necessary to reach customers during the shift to hybrid workforces. Today’s “learning management system” should do much more than deliver annual compulsory trainings to internal employees.

To best reach customers for the purposes of onboarding, retention, and training in an environment of hybrid workforces, a customer education platform should provide:

  • Powerful integrations with all of your business systems, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot, and more
  • An accessible admin experience that’s easy to learn and manage
  • A built-in certification engine
  • Comprehensive detailed reporting (data and analytics)
  • Secure, reliable, and scalable performance
  • Strong Implementation and Support services
  • Strategic partnership and success planning to help you get the most from the platform

As the workforce continues to evolve in a post-pandemic world, the “future of work” encompasses far more than automation and the gig economy. Customer onboarding, retention, and training need to be reimagined for a hybrid workforce, and luckily, there are already existing systems to ensure a streamlined, scalable experience for organizations of all sizes.

Are you interested in maximizing the benefits of customer onboarding, training, and retention as your company shifts to a hybrid workforce? Talk to a Skilljar representative, or…

Request a demo.

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