Step-by-Step Guide to Building an eLearning Program For Customers & Partners

Step-by-Step Guide to Building an eLearning Program For Customers & Partners

June 17, 2024
Training Strategy
Customer Onboarding
Training Tips

Customer and Partner education bridges the gap between product purchase and value realization. An eLearning program gives customers and partners the knowledge to get the full potential of your offering, which in return, fosters product adoption, reduces support costs, and creates a community of satisfied brand advocates

This guide outlines seven key steps for building a customer eLearning program that delivers real business results.

Step 1: Identify the target audience

Always start by figuring out who your audience is. Think about different types of people who need to understand your product. Could they be:

  • Customer or prospect: Are you targeting prospects unfamiliar with your product or existing customers ready for deeper dives? Newcomers need foundational content (theory, best practices), while existing users benefit from advanced features and success stories (case studies).
  • Seniority: Executives crave big-picture content (trends, strategic impact), while day-to-day users need practical guides (how-tos, specific recommendations).
  • Level of involvement: How often do they use your product? Power users need frequent, in-depth content (advanced features, optimizations), while occasional users benefit from concise, infrequent content (basic functionalities, quick guides).

Once you know your target groups, set out to understand their unique needs. Ask questions—surveys and interviews are great ways to gather information directly from your audience. Talk to the customer support and customer success teams to understand the conversations they are having most often. This will help you see the challenges of your various audiences and what their unique pain points are. 

Next, analyze the feedback you receive through customer support queries, product reviews, and other channels. Are there any recurring themes or common issues? By looking for patterns, you can identify knowledge gaps—areas where people need extra information or training. This will give you a clear picture of what to focus on so your eLearning program is most effective.

Step 2: Define goals and objectives

What do you want your learners to achieve? Think about the specific skills or knowledge they should gain. Consider the challenges you identified earlier, and focus on what will benefit your customers the most. Make the goals clear and measurable, so you can track progress and determine whether your program hits the mark.

Here’s one example. Imagine your goal is to equip your sales team with the tools to increase conversion rates by 15% within 3 months. Your eLearning program can become the launchpad for achieving this target. By incorporating modules on effective objection-handling techniques, your salespeople will be better prepared to navigate customer concerns and close more deals.

Remember: your eLearning program exists to serve the needs of the business. Think about how it fits into your company's overall goals. Is there a need to increase customer satisfaction? Reduce support costs? Scale customer success? Decrease churn? Drive product adoption? Align your program goals with these broader objectives to ensure your program contributes to the company's success.

Step 3: Plan your eLearning content

The next step is to outline the key topics and objectives for your eLearning program. Think about the logical order. For example, a customer service training course might start with product knowledge modules before tackling how to handle complaints. Similarly, a software training program could introduce core functionalities before explaining advanced features like customization via coding. This allows learners to build their understanding in a logical sequence and progress to more complex areas in an intuitive way.

Define the structure of your eLearning courses and create a roadmap. Think about how modules and lessons will be arranged, including any prerequisites or dependencies between topics. This creates a clear learning path, guiding customers through the learning process from start to finish.  Provide a syllabus or overview at the beginning, so learners know what to expect.

Consider the formats for course content that best suit the online learning objectives and preferences of your audience. Offer a variety of formats that cater to different learning styles. Find the right balance between text-based content, visuals like infographics, and multimedia elements to keep learners engaged, foster deeper comprehension, and increase retention.

Don’t worry about having everything ready for the launch of your program. You can always start with a few basic courses in one content format and build from there.

Step 4: Select the right eLearning platform

Choosing the right eLearning platform for your content may be just as important as the content itself.

  • Is the platform easy to use? 
  • Can users find what they’re looking for intuitively through the navigation?
  • Does it provide a seamless experience including a brand look and feel, that aligns with your website?
  • Does the platform offer a personalized learning experience? 
  • Can learners choose their learning path or get recommendations based on their training needs?
  • Does it offer built-in analytics to help you track and measure the success of your efforts?

The best eLearning platforms offer a wide variety of third-party integrations so the platform's functionality can align with the systems you’re already using, such as the Salesforce CRM. If you’re planning to monetize your courses, look for platforms with payment gateway integrations like Stripe and PayPal to make selling your online courses hassle-free.

When considering an eLearning platform, never overlook the importance of support resources. Platforms should enable you to create or connect with your help center or knowledge base—including tools and templates, webinars, FAQs, and a glossary—in addition to courses, so users can find the assistance they need without burdening support or customer success teams. 

Step 5: Start developing content

Consider what content you already have that can be repurposed for online courses. Consult onboarding kits, sales materials, call scripts, existing videos, podcasts, etc. Break down complex topics into smaller, easy-to-understand chunks to help learners grasp information to make learning less overwhelming.

Interactive elements make learning even more engaging. Incorporate quizzes, polls, and discussions throughout your content. Quizzes and assessments check learners' understanding, and then give them immediate feedback on their progress.

For an extra dose of fun and motivation, consider including gamification elements. Think badges, points, and leaderboards—these add a playful twist and incentivize learners to actively participate.

Always include course recommendations and signals for what to do next upon course completion to keep learners engaged. 

Step 6: Launch your eLearning program

You’ve worked hard on developing your learning content, now you need to pay as much attention to creating awareness of it and driving engagement. Plan a flawless rollout—make sure everything is optimized for a smooth user experience. Test your platform out on internal users first and consider enlisting a community of beta testers before opening your platform to customers.

Work on a detailed launch plan that outlines key milestones, responsibilities, and timelines. Consider how you'll communicate with potential learners: social media posts, blog posts, webinars, email campaigns, targeted ads. Then, fuel excitement by sharing sneak peeks of upcoming features, highlighting the program's benefits, and showcasing how it will solve learners' problems.

And remember, you don’t need to launch a full platform, especially in beta. Try out a few courses while you continue to work on executing your roadmap.

Step 7: Monitor, evaluate, and continuously improve

Once your platform is launched, you’ll want to gauge success to help define what content is working and where you may need to make improvements. Are learners logging in to courses and completing them? High rates in both areas are a great sign that your content is hitting the mark. But if completion rates are low, it might be a clue that the content is either too challenging or not engaging enough. The learning experience can always be refined to be even more effective.

Search for patterns in how learners are progressing. Do specific topics seem to cause them trouble? Conversely, are there sections that learners find particularly helpful? Use this information to refine your content and make it even more impactful. If your platform offers built-in analytics, you’ll see firsthand the impact your program is having and where improvements can be made.

Actively look for ways to update your content and make it more relevant. For example, if a new product feature was recently rolled out, make sure to mention it in your online training materials.

Skilljar is the best platform for creating customer and partner  eLearning programs

Skilljar is a learning management system focused on training external audiences. Skilljar prioritizes features that create a seamless learning experience for your customers, including tools for building engaging courses with different content formats (e.g., videos, quizzes, downloadable resources) to cater to different learning styles. Skilljar also allows you to design personalized learning paths that address the specific needs of different customer segments.

Get a Skilljar demo to learn how our platform can help you build partner and customer eLearning programs that deliver real business results.

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