How do customers learn to use your product? And how do potential customers know that your product is the right one for them? The answer is customer education.
Customer education is the process of giving your customers the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to be successful. Many different teams are involved in creating and distributing educational materials from marketing to customer support to sales and each team has a different purpose and drives different results through customer education. In this article, we’ll show you how these teams can work together to create super-powered customers that are loyal to your brand.
Who should invest in customer education?
Customer education is particularly important for companies that offer something new or complex. This is because customers won’t intuitively know how (or why) to use it. Investing in customer education will reduce the barrier to entry and make it easier for customers to find value in your product right away. Consider a customer education strategy if you offer:
- A complex product that requires set-up or unique skills to use well.
- A product that has multiple use cases.
- A product that requires users to change their existing behavior.
- Products that are frequently updated with new features.
- Products that need a lot of support or training.
The 4 big benefits of customer education
Reduces customer support inquiries
For many businesses, self-service customer education is their entry point. For complex products that solve big problems, customer support teams often end up spending time coaching customers through setting up their products. Not only does this take up your customer support team’s time, but it’s also not efficient for customers. Self-service education can help customers find the answers they need when they want them. It decreases your support costs, and it also decreases your customers’ frustration.
When customers approach customer support for help, agents can provide the assistance they need, and then direct them to the educational materials available so they can help themselves in the future.
Reduces Time to Value
Time to Value is a critical metric for customer success. When customers start using your product, how quickly do they see a return on their investment? How fast are they able to realize the value of your product? The faster customers get that “aha” moment where they see the pay-off, the more likely they are to stick with it and recommend you to family and friends.
Adam Avramescu, in his book Customer Education, explains that “a Customer Education function strategically accelerates account and user growth by changing behaviors, reducing barriers to value, and improving the way people work.”
By providing customers with the knowledge and skills to use your product, you’re making it easier for them to become power users and recover value more quickly.
Builds trust and authority
Customer education can also benefit your company before the sale is even made. When you create content that is generally helpful to your target market (rather than just helpful to existing customers), you earn the title of an “education leader” in your category. Your brand becomes the expert on a subject, and prospective customers will find your content before they buy.
This is especially important today because up to 70% of prospective customers will search for their own information before they talk to your sales team. You want to be the company with the information they need to make an informed decision.
Secondly, customers have higher levels of trust in companies that educate them, according to recent consumer research from MIT. When a brand is seen as an expert, customers trust what the brand and its employees say. This also increased how appreciative customers were of the good customer service provided by the brand. So, take the time to educate your customers and your prospects and they’ll listen to what you have to say.
Creates value and drives loyalty
Customer education is about more than just passing on information. It’s about creating value. Customers that know how to use your product effectively will be able to see the value and this will keep them coming back for more.
As HubSpot explains, “customers choose to frequently return to your company, [when] the value they’re getting out of the relationship outweighs the potential benefits they’d get from one of your competitor.” By showing customers exactly how to succeed using your product – in ways they may not even have thought about – you’ll make sure they keep coming back.
How to build an education program
Customer education doesn’t need to take a lot of time and money to set up. In many ways, educating your customers is more of a mindset than a one-off project. These three steps will help you develop an ongoing customer education program that will bring value to your customers.
Define your niche and target audience
First of all, decide what you want to be educating your audience about. This should be a topic relevant to your customers’ success, and something that your company is well-positioned to educate on. Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What problems do your customers and prospects have?
- What are the goals of your users?
- How does your product or service provide value?
- What topic does your company have (or could acquire) unique knowledge of?
Secondly, create educational content that will inspire and inform your audience. You likely already have a lot of this content created for other purposes. Pull from your knowledge base, your TextExpander snippets, training manuals, and sales demos to repurpose content for an educational program.
Educational material can (and should!) come in so many different forms:
- Blog posts
- Email series
- Case studies
- Video tutorials
- Community Forums
- Personalized workshops or onboarding
Help your customers find your educational resources by promoting it across different channels. While customers love self-service information, they don’t always know it’s available, so making it easy to find is essential to your program’s success. Here are a few ways you can include educational content in your marketing strategy:
- Create onboarding emails for new customers that include links to content
- Include links in the signatures of front-line reps
- Publish your content on social media
- Gather all of your content in one place so customers can browse for what they need
3 examples of brands excelling at it
HubSpot changed the way companies thought about marketing. Instead of talking solely about your product and reaching out to prospective customers to sell to them, HubSpot convinced marketers that they needed to attract customers to come to them. And so, the term “inbound marketing” was coined. HubSpot created detailed, free training that all marketers could take, regardless of whether they used HubSpot or not.
This investment in educating their customers has paid off enormously. Customers see value when using HubSpot more quickly, and they trust what HubSpot says.
A Canadian financial company, Wealthsimple is on a mission to help you get rich, slowly. That’s right, there are no gimmicks here. Just sound, simple financial and investing advice. While their main products are managed investment funds and bank accounts, they offer tons of valuable information to people just starting their financial journey. This means that when it comes time to invest, these newbie investors will think about Wealthsimple first.
A fitness and supplement brand, Onnit wants to optimize humans for the best possible physical and mental performance. And that doesn’t stop with just their supplements. They’ve created the Onnit Tribe: a community of people who want to get fitter, faster, and stronger together. They support this community with valuable tips and tricks that help their clients achieve success. Combining the advice with their supplements leads to great results, so clients are more loyal to the brand.
Educate your customers to develop trust and customer loyalty
Are you marketing to your customers? Or are you educating them? By putting the lens of customer education on everything you create, you’ll develop an army of knowledgable customers who know how to get the most out of your product. It’s a win for you, and a win for them too!
Want more tips to improve your customer loyalty? Check out these 5 creative tips for customer retention.