The Advantages of Customer Training
Customer training has many benefits, and with the rise of the availability of e-Learning and learning management systems, it’s more affordable, efficient and simple to deliver training. Customer training can be of particular importance as it pertains to companies selling software solutions.
When your software company backs its products with comprehensive and quality customer training you’re going to improve your profitability because not only will your customers find it easier to use your products, but they’re also likely to be a more loyal customer and return in the future. Your customers will feel as if you’re truly dedicated to helping them maximize their use of your product, which can a long way in creating reliable customers.
You’re also going to reduce the time and resources dedicated to troubleshooting when you offer training as part of software purchases. A significant amount of many companies’ resources go toward troubleshooting and walking customers through processes that could have been learned during training. Startups often don’t have the resources needed to dedicate to a high level of troubleshooting, but with training delivered through e-Learning you can avoid many of these issues.
Training also adds value to your product. The more value you create, the higher price customers are likely to pay for that product, as well as continuing to buy from you in the future. If you want to demonstrate a return on investment for offering customer training as part of your software product availability, consider conducting a Value Chain Analysis. This looks at three stages of creating value, starting with Activity Analysis, then moving to Value Analysis, and then to the final phase, which is where you evaluate and plan how to make the changes that will create more customer value.
Some signs your customers need training include a constant request for it. Many customers may even express their willingness to pay for software training programs that become available. If all of your main competitors offer training, there’s likely a demand for it, and another red flag it’s time for training is when there’s a lack of consistency on how your software is implemented.
Creating Customer Training
The first thing to realize as a software company considering the implementation of a comprehensive customer training program is that it’s not something that should only be done at the point of purchase. To cultivate and maintain strong client relationships, these training programs should be available throughout the customer lifecycle.
What’s also very important to understand is the high failure rate of first-time software implementations. Research shows almost 50 percent of software implementations fail, but this is something largely avoidable with superior customer training. Just because your clients need training doesn’t mean your software product isn’t well-designed is user-friendly, but that misconception is one of the many reasons companies may not rely on the use of training. Rather, what training should strive to achieve is delivery of the tools and resources customers need to maximize your software. They need to learn how to use it in the most efficient-yet-effective ways possible to reach their goals.
Videos can make an excellent software training tool, but that doesn’t have to be the only thing you rely on. E-Learning offers unique opportunities to vary the types of media you use and the way you deliver training, so take advantage of these opportunities to create customer training that feels relevant and enjoyable.
Software training needs to cover the basics: what, why and how. Show your customers what this software is, why it’s useful and how it’s going to be implemented in their workplace. It’s also good to design this type of training in a features-benefits format, as well as outlining the technical how-to’s. Frame customer software training and your entire product as something invaluable to the user.
Consider training options for global clients as well. Most software companies have international buyers, which is why e-Learning is ultimately the best way to create these training programs. You can translate them into different languages quickly, and make small changes that will reflect the culture and requirements of the countries of your buyers.
Keeping Software Training Current
Once companies have decided training is a good fit for their product, there’s often another concern that arises: how do you keep training current when your software is always training?
One way to keep training current, even in the face of what seems like daily or weekly product changes, is to focus more on task and workflow and less on features. You can always introduce your clients to new features pretty easily, but the basic principles, tasks, and workflow design your software are unlikely to change drastically. Your customers can explore features on their own, as long as their core competencies and understanding of your software is substantial.
Reduce your dependency on screenshots as well. Screenshots seem to be one of those go-to software training tools, but unfortunately, they’re also one of the first design elements that can make training seem obsolete. Instead of screenshots, you may consider linking pages that show customers the actual interface, or perhaps using text to explain overall concepts, rather than just showing screen pictures.
When you do make changes, rather than trying to overhaul training completely, instead let customers know the updates that have been made, and then show them in direct ways how this impacts their use of the software.
Finally, using e-Learning will alleviate much of your concern over training being updated. With the use of a learning management system, you can go in, make small changes to customer training as they’re needed, and it requires no downtime or significant expense. Learning management systems are designed to deliver training that’s always changing and evolving, so they’re a perfect fit with the very nature of customer software training.
We’d love you to share your thoughts – do you offer your customers software training and if so, how does it create value for your company?
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