What Is a Customer Academy?

What Is a Customer Academy?

March 1, 2024
Customer Experience
Learning Technologies

Imagine that customers master your product quickly, solve problems independently, and become passionate brand advocates. This is the reality for companies that have customer academies to train and engage their user base. A customer academy directly impacts your bottom line—it can lead to reduced churn, increased customer lifetime value, and product adoption, all while boosting the overall customer experience.

What is a Customer Education academy?

A Customer Education academy is a centralized repository of structured learning materials created to help users master your product. It typically involves developing resources like online courses, videos, tutorials, webinars, FAQs, quizzes, recorded screen captures, slideshows, and other materials to educate customers on how to use a product’s features to address their pain points.

The goal is to make your customers understand your product’s full potential. This means going beyond basic functionality, allowing users to explore advanced features and discover different use cases.

What are the benefits of a customer academy?

Building a customer education academy has several benefits:

  • Faster customer onboarding and increased adoption: New customers will be able to derive value from your product faster with a Customer Education academy. Customer Education academies provide focused learning paths based on role or level of knowledge, reducing time-to-value and accelerating the customer onboarding process.
  • Reduced support burden: Support teams tend to respond to repetitive requests for log-in information and other basic product-related questions, leaving them less time to help customers with more complex issues. Think of your academy as a self-service solution for customers. By providing users with resources, you empower them to find solutions independently, alleviating some pressure on your customer support team.
  • Enhanced marketing and sales enablement: You can also leverage your academy in your marketing efforts. Highlight the wealth of learning resources and emphasize your commitment to customer success. This tells prospects you’re committed to helping them get the full value of your product.
  • Monetization: Customer academies transform from cost centers to profit generators by empowering users to become certified or up their knowledge level by paying for certain courses Further, increased product mastery through the academy translates to happier customers, potentially driving up renewals and upgrades. By offering tiered access to advanced content and paid certifications within the academy, you create a new revenue stream directly linked to delivering customer value.

What are some examples of successful customer academies?

Asana Academy, powered by Skilljar, is one great example of a successful customer academy. Users can explore courses by role (team leader, member, IT/admin) or by use case (centralized operations, marketing, product), ensuring everyone finds relevant content. Asana Academy also offers live training in multiple languages, including Japanese, German, French, and Spanish, for a truly inclusive experience.

Another customer education platform powered by Skilljar is Planet University. Planet University empowers researchers and students to tap into the potential of high-resolution satellite imagery. The platform offers courses for different sectors (e.g., forestry, agriculture) and categorizes training programs by products (e.g., Google Earth Engine, SkySat, GIS Tools). Similar to Asana Academy, they offer courses in German, expanding their reach and inclusivity to researchers across the globe.

If you want to learn more about how Skilljar helped Planet build a successful customer education program, check out this success story.

What to look for in a customer academy LMS

When building a customer academy, consider features that enhance usability, engagement, and effectiveness. Here are the top features to prioritize:

  • Support for multiple content types: Customer academies allow you to offer instructor-led courses (live and virtual), alongside PDF guides, engaging video tutorials, interactive quizzes, and more. We all learn differently, so providing options like articles, videos, podcasts, and even infographics ensures everyone finds their preferred format.
  • Multiple learning pathways based on user role: Learning paths are organized journeys through related courses. They’re like roadmaps, providing learners with courses connected by theme, level of difficulty, or product. This simplifies learning by leading learners through an organized path that they can access on their own time, leave and continue where they left off, and track their progress instead of searching through individual courses.
  • Gamification elements: Introducing gamification elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can make learning more engaging and enjoyable. Gamification can motivate users to complete courses and participate more actively in the learning process. Using gamification in training can actually increase learner motivation by 44%.
  • Analytics and reporting: You might have created impressive learning content, but without insights into what resonates, you’re flying blind—this is exactly why you need analytics features. Robust analytics and reporting tools help you track user engagement and completion rates and identify areas for improvement.

Tips for launching your customer academy

Here’s your roadmap to developing a customer academy to centralize training efforts.

1. Understand your “why”

Start with your business goals before developing any courses. This could be increasing product adoption or retention, reducing churn, expanding customer base, or driving advocacy. Identify where customer success and support teams continually face customer pain points and start addressing these. Don’t just assume teaching product features is the best content to launch your customer academy. Take a step back and put yourself in the mind of the user.

Then, think big, but start small. Identify your desired long-term impact (e.g., brand loyalty, community building) and design your academy as a strategic platform, not a one-off initiative. You can always introduce more courses later on, in fact, most of our customers launch and then iterate based on initial usage.

2. Design for differentiation

Don’t treat all customers the same. Create personalized learning paths based on customer needs and product usage stages. Use micro-learning modules, interactive formats, and gamification to keep engagement high.

Focus on creating high-quality, in-depth content that solves specific customer problems rather than offering a shallow overview of everything. Also, consider partnering with subject matter experts and leveraging internal success stories.

3. Build community, not just curriculum

Beyond tutorials, slideshows, and pre-recorded videos, integrate live Q&A sessions and peer-to-peer forums to facilitate meaningful discussions. That way, you can build a supportive community of learners. Integrations such as inSided help your customer academy do more to build or strengthen user communities.

Skilljar helps companies build best-in-class customer academies

A successful customer academy is more than just a knowledge repository. It’s a strategic platform that fosters deeper customer relationships and drives business outcomes. Skilljar is a leading Customer Education platform designed to help businesses educate and empower their customers at scale.

Unlike many learning management systems, Skilljar is specifically designed for the needs of external audiences like your customers. Skilljar allows you to build interactive online courses, deliver self-paced remote training courses, manage user groups, track progress, and measure the impact of your education efforts.

Get a Skilljar demo to learn how our solutions can improve your Customer Education efforts by building a customer academy that delivers business results.

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