By guest expert, John Leh
Have you ever sharpened your DIY skills by attending a Home Depot “Hands on Workshop” or watching one of their “How To” videos online? Or, after purchasing a software application like QuickBooks, have you ever used a companion tutorial or online discussion forum to understand key features? Or late on Christmas Eve, have you ever squinted your way through poorly translated print instructions, while trying to assemble your child’s new bicycle?
As customers, we’ve all encountered many forms of training. Some are much more effective than others. But in every industry, smart organizations invest in training that enhances the customer experience. Does yours? If not, you’re missing out on at least five compelling business benefits:
1) Reduced Support Call Volume
On average, responding to customer support calls costs $1 per minute. That means a single 15-minute call to resolve a simple new user issue is likely to cost your organization $15. You may not be able to avoid complex support issues. However, you can minimize the volume of basic support incidents by designing targeted learning that gives customers all the tools they need to get started with your product or service.
Decreased support calls and trouble tickets translate directly into higher profits. This frees cash flow for additional investment in product improvement and innovation. Plus, the cost of developing effective, reusable customer training content pales in comparison to opening a new call center.
2) Increased Customer Satisfaction
Even if you have the best call center and online support in your industry, in the moment when customers seek support, they’ve exhausted other options – and they’re probably already annoyed by the inconvenience.
Recently when installing new phone service, I endured three frustrating one-hour phone calls, where I was stereotypically bounced around from one clueless agent to another. Is my issue resolved? Yes. Will I recommend this landline monopoly to my friends? No.
If, instead, they would have directed me upfront to a new customer portal with a “24-Step Interactive Guide to Our 3-Week Phone Implementation Process” we both could have those three hours back.
My point? Educated happy customers buy more and tell their friends. Unhappy customers just tell their friends.
3) Global Brand Reach
In the digital era, even small companies can have a global footprint. However, it’s not feasible to travel around the world and train customers face-to-face. What is feasible? You can offer online training through a Learning Management System (LMS). LMS solutions come in all price points, from free to ridiculous, so it’s easy to find one that fits your budget and business needs.
Why rely on an LMS? New feature sets support mobile users, virtual classrooms, game dynamics, real-time social interaction, and more. This gives you more flexibility to engage customers in learning, no matter where they’re located or what their preferences may be. You can create communities of interest, and encourage participants to develop skills, share their success stories, and help answer others’ questions. You can wrap contests and awards around your learning programs to engage and motivate participants. The possibilities are endless.
Ideally, you can build a growing global community of customers who are committed to your brand, and help others learn about it, too. Money can’t buy that. Well it can — just not all of it.
4) Shorter Sales Cycles
This is a powerful business benefit – yet it’s often overlooked. Customer learning helps organizations accelerate the sales cycle by letting customers do most of the work.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say I’d like to buy a new telescope. I’ll try to learn everything I can online, independently, before talking to a salesperson. Why? Because knowledge is power. The more I know in advance, the less likely I’ll be snowed by a smooth-talking sales representative. Smart telescope manufacturers will offer me ample product information before I purchase.
Many companies also cross-sell by engaging active customers as learners. They provide a free library of training content for a purchased product, as well as complimentary products. As customers educate themselves, they voluntarily absorb knowledge about other products and services (features, benefits and unique value proposition), without active involvement from the salesforce or channel.
By using intelligence from LMS reports, companies can create targeted marketing campaigns based on customers’ previous buying and learning habits. When customers are ready to buy, these organizations are rewarded with a higher-margin, self-educated order. Powerful and profitable.
5) More Revenues
Let’s face it, we’re all in business to make money. Training customers will help you boost revenues in two ways:
- The easiest, most cost-effective place to get a new sale is from an existing customer – not finding a new one. Happy, educated customers who see the value you promised will buy more of the same and related products. Customers don’t want to find new solutions. They just want the solution they purchased to work as expected — or better. If you can help make that happen through training, you’ll win them forever.
- Many organizations sell customer training as a premium value-added service. The more complicated your core product or solution, the more opportunities you have to sell training to customers, and turn your content into profitable revenue streams.
Smart companies train their customers because it works. When thoughtfully designed and delivered, customer training is measurable, scalable, and profitable. What’s more, customers love it. It’s really that simple. You shouldn’t wait. Your competition won’t, and neither will your customers.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about this topic from John Leh, replay the webinar, “How to Select the Right LMS for Your Customer Training.” Also, follow along with the event slides at Slideshare.net.
About The Author: Thanks to our guest contributor, John Leh, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC. John is an LMS selection consultant and training industry blogger focused on helping organizations plan and implement technology strategies that support extended enterprise learning. He has almost 20 years of experience in the eLearning and LMS industry, having served as a trusted advisor to more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $50 million. John helps organizations define their business case, identify use case scenarios and requirements, develop a vendor short list, write and manage RFP documents and negotiate a great deal. You can connect with John on LinkedIn on Twitter or by email.