In my last two blog posts, I discussed the importance of having a cohesive, overarching strategy and the establishment of a content development process in building a Customer Education Program. With this foundation in place, the third element of a successful Customer Education Program comes into play: technology. As our colleagues at TSIA Research explain, “With new learning approaches being introduced at a rapid rate, technology is a critical investment area for education services teams hoping to meet and exceed customer expectations.”
As traditional classroom training becomes less common, new tools and applications are necessary to achieve several goals. First and foremost, the tools that you select must prepare customers for the successful adoption of new technology. Secondly, the new technologies must help you develop online learning content that is easily digestible. And lastly, the technology should be able to monitor the use and absorption of educational content by your customers.
The right technology platform can help you scale your learning programs while bringing down costs and operational complexity. Leveraging a virtual, instructor-led platform minimizes travel expenses and by extension, improves trainer productivity as they are relieved of days spent in transit. Additionally, facilities and equipment needs are reduced as classroom space and related devices, such as computers and A/V systems are not needed.
Selecting the right technology to fit your company’s needs can often be an overwhelming and complex process. What follows is a framework that can help you prioritize your needs and address key areas of functionality.
LMS Capabilities: What to Look for
When exploring technology platforms to support your customer training program, there are four requirements to keep in mind:
- Technically scalable: Can the platform reliably scale as your company grows and evolves?
- Friendly user-experience: Can users easily navigate the platform and access what they need?
- Interoperability: Does the learning platform integrate with other customer-facing systems?
- Analytics: Does the platform make it easy to monitor user performance and engagement?
Let’s delve into each of these areas further.
1. Technical Scalability: As your business grows and evolves, your LMS needs to be able to support this growth without sacrificing functionality or reliability. When exploring technology offerings, the following questions can be helpful:
- User volume: How many users can the platform support concurrently? Can the platform maintain that level of support if your user population doubles? Triples?
- Content: Does the platform have the capacity to support multiple learning paths? Can content be easily added and/or refreshed? Is there a maximum amount of content that the CTP can host?
- Security: If your user base expands significantly, can the platform support single-sign-on (SSO) or other safeguards?
Whether you need a platform that caters to a large volume of users, requires multiple training audiences, or has a particularly complicated use case, an effective Customer Training Platform will be advantageous.
2. User-Experience: This is particularly relevant since learners typically engage with content voluntarily. Customers are more likely to both complete coursework and come back for more depending on how intuitive and user-friendly your LMS happens to be. Consider the following features in the evaluation process:
- Intuitive Learning Pathways: Less is more when it comes to the number of clicks users must take to get to their desired piece of content. The user should be able to get from Point A to Point B in the most direct manner.
- Customization: Homepages that reflect an individual user’s coursework and learning path ensure they remain focused, while in-product offerings like feature tips and tricks keep the user engaged.
- Searchability: Users need a resource that is easily searchable so they can find what they need when they need it.
- Content agnostic: Not all users learn in the same way so the platform should be capable of disseminating information through multiple forms – whether through infographics, slideshows or recorded webinars – hosting different formats best serves various users’ needs.
- Self-registration: Are users able to sign up for coursework on their own and based on their own schedule? In some cases, such as if training is a required part of a role, this feature may not be as essential, but as your Customer Training Program grows, your content offerings will likely change as well.
3. Integrations: Customer education teams do not exist in a vacuum – they often also report into sales, customer success, finance, and other departments. Therefore, an effective CTP is one that integrates with your other systems of record, spanning teams and departments.
Incorporating customer onboarding, training, and certification data into your other business systems will enable you to track the impact of education on customer health and engagement, not to mention allowing education teams to evaluate how their program is contributing to the bottom line.
Common integrations for customer education data include:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce
- Marketing automation platforms like Marketo, HubSpot, and Pardot
- Customer success software like Gainsight and Totango
- Data and analytics platforms (further detail in the next section)
4. Analytics: Advanced analytics capabilities enable you to see the complete customer training path. Whether you are measuring user engagement, product adoption rates, or looking into commonly asked questions, data analyses help demonstrate the impact of training on customer adoption, retention, and renewals. Robust analytics can also elucidate the strengths and weaknesses of your training content and drive business insights.
For me, the best part of running Skilljar (besides our team), is the feeling of creating something and adding value for our customers. Over the course of just a few years, I’ve seen successful education programs that span a variety of industries – from construction management software, to security applications and human resources tools. Regardless of the vertical, customer education is a critical facet of any business. Keeping these three characteristics in mind – strategy, content, and technology – it’s possible for any company to build a Customer Training Platform that both encourages product adoption and supports customer renewal and lead generation opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Skilljar can help your company, request a demo below and we will reach out!