It is well-said that the customer is the king of a business. It is very important that we engage our customers effectively and make them aware of our products and the benefits of using them.
A survey, conducted by the famous management consulting firm Gallup, clearly brought out the need for healthy customer engagement with the company and its products for its successful performance. The survey also revealed that full engagement of customers with the company resulted in an average of 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and customer growth while there is a fall of an average of 13% in these aspects where there is disengagement of customers with the organization.
So, how can you see that your customers are educated on your products and their advantages? Well, the online medium can be harnessed effectively to engage your customers.
For years, on-site training and seminars were used to provide customer education. However, these media cannot play an effective role in current times, where the relationship between organizations and customers has undergone a sea change.
On-site trainings are usually held at the premises of the customer or at a centralized training facility of the company. These trainings are expensive and follow rigid schedules, which are not always convenient to the customers. In most cases, they are limited to a day or two. The most important disadvantage of on-site trainings is that they are not available on demand. Moreover, the knowledge gained cannot be reinforced and this may result in its loss if not applied immediately.
Seminars are also widely used by companies to promote their products and create awareness about the happenings in the industry. Often, the training specialist or the product expert move from one place to another, holding seminars for educating customers. The major drawback of using seminars is that only a limited number of participants can attend them and they are not flexible in terms of place and time.
Hence, companies had to develop new strategies for educating customers. The use of the online medium helps overcome the drawbacks of the traditional methods of delivering customer education.
You can provide highly effective customer education online, at low cost. Most companies provide customer education through these media.
Let us now look at each in detail.
Several firms have developed online courses for their customers. The eLearning medium helps impart customer education in a flexible manner, breaking the shackles of time and location as the customers can access the courses whenever and wherever they want. Furthermore, eLearning courses enable companies to impart effective customer education without worrying about the logistical aspects as digital courses can be hosted from a convenient location. It is easy and cost-effective to develop and update the content of online courses thanks to the advent of rapid authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.
Webinars are a very efficient means of educating customers about your product and its benefits. For instance, if you are dealing with automotive spare parts, you can speak about the ways by which the wear and tear of these products can be reduced. You can also use webinars to learn about the common issues faced by your customers and how your products help resolve them. They go a long way in helping you project your thought leadership of the industry. Webinars hold the attention of learners for longer periods of time and can be used to reach customers cutting across geographies, unlike their “offline counterparts» – seminars. Furthermore, a webinar can be recorded and made available on-demand to as many customers as needed.
Videos can be used very effectively to train our customers. They are perfect tools to explain the functioning of products. They come in handy in situations where the working of the products cannot be demonstrated live. Videos can be used to educate customers about the features of the product, its advantages, its handling and any precautionary measures that need to be followed while using it.
We live in an era of mobile devices. These incredible handheld gadgets can be used to engage with customers in a very effective way. One of the popular ways of using mobile devices for customer education is delivering information about our products through mobile apps. Mobile apps are the ideal means to inform the customer of new product launches. We can also use these to provide tips about using our existing products. They help us remain “in touch” with the customer wherever he is.
Social-networking and micro-blogging sites go a long way in spreading word about our products. They can also be used to develop build “deeper relationships” with existing customers. Twitter is widely used to scout for sales opportunities and LinkedIn helps find out details of potential customers. Other social networking sites such as Facebook and blogs have also proved to be invaluable in engaging customers. However, organizations do not have much “control over” social media.
We have seen the various forms of imparting customer education. But now comes the big question - How do you manage and coordinate various customer training programs? You can use an online university for this purpose. There are many benefits of using an online university. We will now look at some of them.
Comprehensive training platform: Online university provides a comprehensive platform for imparting online solutions and delivering effective training to customers in hassle-free manner. It greatly helps to reduce the burden on training managers as it provides automated solutions for customer education, and this enables them to focus more on meeting organizational learning needs more effectively. All training formats including classroom training sessions can be monitored and coordinated. It also helps customers to find training resources at a single place.
Easy to scale: While it is true that setting up an online university entails expenditure initially, it is very beneficial in the long run. As you grow, so does the number of your customers. You can easily scale up your training, according to your needs.
Simple to update content: It is very easy to update your courses and provide the latest information on your products using an online university. Furthermore, as all information is available online, refresher programs or workshops are not needed.
Continuous engagement with learners: An online university is very useful to be in constant touch with the customer. It provides a "bank" of resources for your customers and can be used by them to obtain the latest information about your company and products.
Anytime anywhere access: Companies update information at frequent intervals and online universities are the ideal means to provide information at any time, at any place. Firms can also track and analyze user data and get invaluable inputs to chalk out future course of action.
Ideal for revenue generation: A number of organizations including Microsoft and IBM use online universities, where customers are charged for the trainings. Thus, providing courses online could be a source of revenue to organizations.
Valuable customer knowledge can be obtained: It is very important to have a good idea of the latest customer preferences and buying patterns. Online universities are ideal tools for tracking customer behavior. By providing login details to customers to access the resources in the online university, the customer interactions can be tracked and this information can be used to develop better customer education programs.
Online universities are useful for both B2B and B2C companies. However, they are more relevant to the B2B organizations. This is because the products of these companies tend to be more complex and involve multiple decision makers and users.
Thus, you can impart high quality training to your customers, online. How do you impart training to your customers? We’d love to hear your experiences.