Once you’ve decided to develop an online customer success program and hired the key personnel, the next step is creating the actual content. This task needn’t be as daunting as it appears. Here are easy-to-follow guidelines to make your online customer training shine.
Build content by understanding your audience
Building engaging content begins by understanding the needs of your target audience. Therefore, reach out to customers first to get a read on what they want to obtain from the online learning program.
Conceptualize the software in terms of how it streamlines the customer’s workflow. Base the instruction on the basic skills every user needs to know. Then, decide what courses to offer and standardize the instruction.
When creating the training content for a software company for example, concentrate on the software’s capability to simplify everyday work tasks rather than giving pointers on every feature of the product. Product features change over time, and not every user is taking advantage of every one.
Incorporate industry specific instruction as well. For example, if the software gathers data for inbound marketing initiatives, then include general education on how to be a great inbound marketer.
Present content in a variety of formats
An effective online customer training program features a variety of formats, from videos and quizzes to case studies and even games. A diversity of formats better engages users in an interactive e-learning setting.
While videos are great instructional tools, the prospect of making one intimidates many novices. Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert filmmaker. As we explored in a previous post, many tools are available in the marketplace today to help the company shoot and record videos, whatever the skill level of team members.
Structure text with concise bullet points that follow a logical progression. That way, the learner can quickly grasp how each step leads to the next. Don’t simply transfer old PowerPoint presentations to an online training course. While such lists can inform the online course development, learners quickly lose interest simply reading long, text-heavy lists or documents that require frequent scrolling.
Images are great teaching tools, but they shouldn’t detract from the instruction. Don’t insert an image just for the sake of having an image. The image should support the lesson whether or not the learner reads any accompanying text.
Embed assessments throughout the program
Never assume the learner has learned everything simply because they completed the course. Assess learning outcomes throughout the program. In fact, the ability to do this is an advantage that online learning has over traditional classroom instruction where the teacher wouldn’t have the bandwidth to frequently check on comprehension for every student before proceeding.
As learners progress through the curriculum, test them with frequent quizzes and hands-on practice. A good method is through the “Tell Them, Show Them, Let Them Do It Approach.” In other words, after a brief instruction, guide the learner through the steps needed to simulate how the software works, and let them try it on their own.
Pick an LMS
After the course content and formats are finalized, you can choose a learning management system (LMS) on which to mount the program. Numerous learning management systems populate the market today, which makes selecting the right one difficult. In addition to the normal due diligence with any vendor (reputation, comparison shop for price, backup and security capabilities, support service, etc.), the LMS must:
- Easily upload a variety of files and formats, including videos, web pages, photos and other course content.
- Offer reporting, testing and analytic tools so you can track learners as they progress through the program
- Scale up as the training program expands and evolves as technology changes.
- Enable mobile learning by adapting to tablets and smartphones.
Get feedback from learners
Once the customer training program is up and running, solicit feedback from customers to assess whether the instruction truly aids in their adoption or application of your product or service. The Kirkpatrick Model developed by Dr. Donald L. Kirkpatrick in the 1950s details four levels of learning assessment:
Level 1 — Reaction: Did the learner react favorably to the instruction? One caveat on this point: Satisfaction with the training does not indicate whether the learner actually learned and retained the course content. However, as we explored previously, some experts contend net promoter score (NPS), which essentially measures whether the student was satisfied enough with the program to recommend it to another person, is a good stand-in for learner comprehension.
Level 2 — Learning: Did the learner acquire the skills the instruction intended to impart? Testing throughout the training program provides insight into the learner’s acquisition of new knowledge.
Level 3 — Behavior: Did the learner apply those skills on the job? This relates to why the customer undertook the training. If the purpose is to speed up specific tasks by using the example of software, then learners, after progressing through the training, should demonstrate that in real-life situations.
Level 4 — Results: Did the training result in measurable outcomes? Training must be tied back to an actual goal, such as increased productivity or higher sales, for the customer.
Measure the ROI
Just as the customer demands results, companies need to document the ROI of the training program to its C-suite. Indeed, as discussed here, the entire customer success management team must prove its revenue-generating potential to upper management.
A customer training program is an important component of the entire customer success journey. Yet it is sometimes viewed as an added “nice-to-have” service, but not one that generates revenue. By optimizing a customer’s utilization of your product or service, an online training program amps up customer loyalty, renewals and, consequently, revenues.