Companies in industries as advanced as software and as traditional as finance are finally starting to see the value of training customers online. Why? Because it’s proven to be more effective than traditional training methods: According to a study by WR Hambrecht + Co, online learning improves retention by 25 to 60 percent over classroom learning.
The key to realizing the benefits of online customer training – among them increased retention, improved customer satisfaction, and decreased support costs – is to make your training content accessible, useful, measurable, and compelling. Follow the five steps below to develop (and maintain) an impactful online learning center without breaking your budget.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
What exactly do you want to accomplish through customer training? Are you aiming to accelerate user acceptance of your product? Reduce the time or cost of implementation? Lessen the demands on your onboarding or customer service teams?
Outline your objectives before talking to software providers or crafting your content – the more tangible and specific your goals, the better. Knowing what you intend to achieve will empower you throughout the learning center development process.
Step 2: Find Your Partner
There are a wealth of learning management systems on the market, but they’re not all created equal. Approach the vendor selection process as thoughtfully as you would any software decision, considering more than just the costs involved.
Talk to customers and colleagues about the tools and features they consider most valuable in an LMS. After that, make a list of the capabilities that are most pertinent to your business’ needs and find a technology partner that checks as many of your boxes as possible. Keep in mind that no matter your industry or sector, always-on accessibility and flexibility are crucial to success: If your customers can’t access your training content at their own pace, on their own schedules, they’re unlikely to use it – period.
Step 3: Create Your Content
If your business has long relied on an outdated approach to training (heavy on in-person coursework, hundred-plus page manuals, and one-off online resources), then creating a new online customer learning center provides you with an overdue opportunity for improvement. It’s kind of like moving: you take a look at what you have and decide what’s worth keeping, what to toss, and what needs a little TLC before it migrates to a new location.
As you consider what stays, what goes, what to update, and what to create from scratch, take advantage of the tools and features of your new LMS. Incorporating video, audio, quizzes, social interaction tools, and escalating coursework are just a few ways to make sure customers stay engaged with your material.
Step 4: Monitor Your Results
Launching your new learning center doesn’t mark the end of the process. If you don’t monitor customers’ interaction with your training material, the effort you put into creating great content is all for naught. After deploying your online learning center, track learners as they progress through your courses to help you assess the ROI of your training investment.
Analytics is one area where some LMS providers stand out from others. If your new vendor offers the latest top-notch tools and features, such as data exports and incorporation with Google Analytics, measuring use and engagement should be a breeze.
Step 5: Improve Your Efficacy
Monitoring customer use of your content also allows you to spot the locations where your users are struggling to absorb information or dropping off from the coursework. Use that knowledge as power!
The on-demand nature of an online learning center enables you to keep it consistently up-to-date and useful. Revisit your training content regularly and use customer surveys – ideally ones built into your learning center – to see where you should cut ineffective coursework or deploy new material. Perfecting your content as you go is the number one way to realize the goals you set in Step 1.