Churn is the enemy of any software company’s growth rate. The percentage of subscribed users who stop using your service, churn is a measure of the revenue you once had and have now lost.
Fighting churn is hard for any company. Successful customer training is one of the best ways to prevent it. Here’s how to get started with a customer training program for your software to reduce your churn.
How Does Customer Training Impact Churn?
Onboarding as Customer Training
Awful onboarding is the first thing that can break your customer relationship. Most software, no matter how user-friendly, is somewhat complex to use. You need your customer to understand those complexities in order to get the product’s full value. They have made an investment, and you need good onboarding to make sure they see the return on that investment.
Onboarding should be owned by one department within your company. Most organizations choose either their training team or solutions engineers. There are benefits to both: solutions engineers are a great choice if the software is complicated for new users. Meanwhile, the training team is a great choice for a more partnership-oriented product.
Whichever department is chosen, it’s important that they have the bandwidth and customer knowledge to ensure the onboarding process goes smoothly.
The next step is to identify the skills or behaviors a customer should have at the end of onboarding. This allows your organization to work backwards to design activities and supporting materials to train the customer on those behaviors.
For example, if the goal is to have ease-of-use with the software, the onboarding training should include a lot of practice using the different features and functions. This could come in many different formats, from gamification to webinars.
The format of onboarding training that you choose depends on the customer’s organization size. If they’re part of a large enterprise, for example, it may make sense to offer in-person training sessions throughout the onboarding process. For smaller companies, offering live virtual classes like webinars or putting together asynchronous training that the customer can go through at their convenience is more useful.
Other software companies that are more consumer-focused choose to use a help article library, some tutorial videos, and even a service like WalkMe or Chameleon to give in-app guidance. Whichever format you choose, it’s important that it helps your customers achieve the skills or behaviors that you set as your goal.
Above all, the most important goal of a successful onboarding process is that the client understands the value of your company’s product. Having a great client experience isn’t too bad, either!
Keeping the above in mind, the four basic steps to starting a customer training program are as follows:
- Define business outcomes
- Identify learning objectives
- Create Content
- Plan Content Distribution
Ongoing Customer Training for SaaS
Training doesn’t stop after onboarding. Continuous training throughout the relationship is important to prevent churn. It helps clients understand important product updates, successfully onboard new hires, remind them of the value of your company’s software, and more.
Just like with onboarding, ongoing training can come in a variety of forms. When choosing a training format, it’s important to not only consider the customer’s organization size but also the level of bandwidth that it will take to sustain. For example, in-person ongoing training is more time-consuming than updating a help library.
There also needs to be continuous communication across departments. In particular, when considering product update training, the training team must be in line with the product team to predict the releases and develop training to support customers as soon as those major updates happen.
There are many different ways to provide ongoing training. Cvent’s certification courses are a great example in-person training. Cvent provides event management certifications for current customers to become more comfortable with their service. Since the certification expires every two years, it encourages current customers to keep their product knowledge up-to-date.
Another form of ongoing training is Marketo’s Marketo Nation. Marketo Nation enables current customers to engage in discussions, read posts on their Support page, read the Marketo blog for more information about the platform and product updates, and register for training classes. Unlike Cvent’s certification courses, Marketo Nation is an informal learning method. Customers interact with each other to continue to learn about how to use the platform and ask questions. An informal learning method such as this one supports on-the-job learning with forums where customers can quickly look up an answer.
There’s no right or wrong way to create a community for ongoing training. Each option is a form of ongoing training for customers to continue to improve their expertise with the software. Training teams should choose the format that works best for meeting their learning objectives.
For more information on how to start your own company’s learning community, read about the first 4 steps you should take here.
Customer organization size, training ownership, and more are all important considerations when putting together a successful customer training program. Most importantly, successful customer training ensures that your customers understand the ROI of your product and prevents deadly churn.