Using customer education to ensure successful customer onboarding

Marketing Team
February 17, 2022
 min read
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You’ve closed a new customer and now it’s time to get them going with your product. To you, this process may seem simple. After all, you know your product will be of great value to any customer who comes aboard. But what seems obvious to you is far less obvious to those who are new to your platform.

This is where customer onboarding comes into play. When a customer buys your product they want to feel taken care of. Chances are they’ll stick around if they understand your product and feel that it’s providing significant value for their specific use case and is therefore worth what they’re paying for it. If not, there’s a good chance they’ll feel that your product is a waste of their time and money and you’ll be cut from the budget sooner or later.

A critical part of ensuring that your customers stick around for the long term is making customer education an integral part of your onboarding process.

What is customer education?

Customer education is how you teach your customers about your product offering either right before or right after they’ve purchased it. This includes teaching them everything from the theoretical whys - big picture, use cases, best practices, etc. - to the practical whys - features, functionality, hands-on practice , and much more.

Companies differ in their approach to customer education. Some prefer hosting in-person training sessions while others rely on manuals, webinars, videos, and articles. The use of virtual sessions has gained popularity in recent years as has the idea of using on-demand learning, which gives the learner the opportunity to study the product at their own pace. Not to mention, freeing up the trainer to work on other things instead of repetitively teaching the same material again and again.

Customer education is a key factor in improving customer satisfaction through successful onboarding. If customers are sent to learn the product without assistance, they will most likely miss out on important information, which may cause them to become frustrated and abandon the product.

How to integrate customer education into your customer onboarding process

First of all, it’s best to start out with a strategy. Just like you didn’t develop your product overnight without a plan, you can’t expect to onboard customers without knowing where you (and they) are and where you’re going.

We won’t dive into the obvious parts of the customer onboarding process such as welcoming your customer, sending them the login and licensing information, working out payments, etc. We’re here to do a deep dive into the customer education part of the plan.

In many cases, customer education needs to begin even before the customer decides to purchase the product. Your main goal in the customer education part of the onboarding process is to provide value to your customer from the get go, making them “fall in love” with using your product.

This includes teaching your customer how and when to use the product, answering their questions if and when they arise, explaining new features and overall, helping them gain the most value possible from the product considering their specific use case. The process should also allow new customers to take your software for a hands-on “trial-run” before they actually start using it in their day-to-day processes. Essentially, you are their close partner in learning their way through the product.

Think about it this way: when you buy a new product, be it an electronic item that you’ve been wanting to get your hands on for ages, a new appliance, or even a computer game, how do you like to dive into the process of learning how to use it? Do you like to figure things out on your own, often resulting in frustration? Probably not. You want easy access to the information you’re looking for that makes  starting to use the product as easy as possible. Essentially, you want to be onboarded, no matter what the product is.

The same goes for learning a new software or SaaS product. Integrating customer education best practices will take your onboarding process to a new level, leaving your customers confident and prepared to start using your product.

Using on-demand learning in customer onboarding

One of the most frustrating situations for new (and returning!) customers is having their questions go unanswered. On-demand training solves this problem by giving learners access to a wide range of training sessions on a regular basis, with the ability to choose when (and where!) they view the content. Not only that, they can go back and review the content again and again whenever necessary. This is critical during the onboarding process. Let learners take their time and get to know the product as they see fit so they can feel confident in how they use it.

The most successful onboarding strategies today combine a wide range of methods and techniques. These include combining on-demand methods, in-person in certain cases, written materials, videos, hands-on challenges, etc. The combination provides learners with all the options they need so they can learn in the way they feel most comfortable with at each stage of their journey, and gives new customers that are going through the onboarding process the feeling that they’ll always have answers when needed.

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