Customer Training Your Clients Will Love

If you’ve ever been to the Apple store, you know that it’s kind of an experience: you can buy products there, you can get your devices fixed there, and there are scheduled Today at Apple classes. Like photography? You can learn how to take portraits. Music? There’s a class for that too. Podcasting? There’s a session you can take. Today at Apple may seem, at first glance, like a free Apple-themed summer camp where you get to sign up for fun classes (and the less-exciting how to use your device courses).

But look again: the offerings are actually slickly-packaged customer training modules. Today at Apple is the very public facet of Apple’s customer training operation, and their customers love it.

Since the very first event in 2017, Today at Apple has been a draw for customers.

Apple has mastered something many companies could stand to learn: they’ve found a way to make customers want to sign up for training.

Customer training may seem like something a business needs to do as part of a sales or marketing push, but some companies have created demand for their customer training. In some cases, it’s a commodity people get excited about.

Why train your customers?

There are several very good reasons you should be educating the people who’ve already invested in your company. For one thing, it pays to keep existing customers happy. Bain & Company found that improving customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%. Pair that with the fact that it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one (between 5 and 25 times more expensive, according to the Harvard Business Review) and training becomes a no-brainer.

There’s evidence that customer education contributes to retention. A recent report found that revenue generated by customer training is rising year over year, slowly but steadily. Even more interesting, that report found that customer education resulted in a 263% increase in brand champions. Why? Studies find that consumers want to be engaged; a good experience makes them want to stay with a company.

Customer education is the epitome of engagement. It allows you to:

Customer training helps head off common questions and customer issues by packaging up information you have already— usually in FAQs, tutorials, user guides, and Terms of Service — and serving it up to customers in an engaging learning module.

Very few people read manuals and release notes for fun.

That’s where this article comes in. Apple — and several  other companies — have made tutorials exciting. You can too.

How can you build more engaging customer education?

  1. Teach them something they can use right now
    One way to engage your customers is by giving them a quick win, teaching them something they can immediately put into practice to improve their use of your product.Quick wins are important for customers because they build confidence with your product for new users and improve proficiency for more seasoned users. In both cases, there’s a sense of immediate gratification because after a short lesson, the customer will be able to do something they couldn’t before they took the module.

    How can you do this? Go to your FAQ and pick one or two frequently asked customer questions that you can plan a quick, practical module around.

    IKEA is a good example of a company that has done this. IKEA is famous for its furniture… and also for how difficult it is to assemble its furniture. The company has embraced this pain point, releasing customer education videos that show how its furniture should be assembled. These videos are quick, helpful, and address a common concern.

  2. Make sure your training meets your customers where they are
    Food companies probably have it easiest when it comes to engaging training, because who doesn’t like to eat? For years, food companies — particularly companies that sell things like sauces, condiments, and other sides — have used recipes to show how their products can be used in a meal.Traditionally, those recipes were printed in ads and on packaging, but now the internet allows companies like Cabot and Philadelphia to create videos — basically miniature cooking shows that live online. Cabot is particularly smart about this. The company knows that foodies and family cooks spend a lot of time on Pinterest, so that’s where Cabot’s recipes live. The company maintains an extensive Pinterest presence linking back to their own customer education site and recipes. It’s effective, and meets users where they are.

    How can you do this? Find out where your customers congregate online (if you’re providing B2B services, it could be LinkedIn, for example) and make sure you’ve got a strong presence there and are linking your training.

  3. Give your customers something they can’t get anywhere else
    No one knows your product like you do. Part of Apple’s training appeal is that its tips, tricks, and hacks are being offered by experts who can make customers better at using their products. What shortcuts don’t your customers know about? How can they “hack” your product?Insider information on your product or service is something only you can provide, and your customers will be thrilled to have it.

    How can you do this? Talk to the people who’ve designed your product and ask them questions. What shortcuts don’t customers typically know when using your product, or what new features are coming out, and how should they be used? Then choose an answer and build a module around that.

Fun customer training is something all companies should be doing

Not every organization is Apple. Most companies don’t have a fanatical customer base, and most companies aren’t going to be able to get Lady Gaga help them create training, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be taken from big companies’ approach to customer training and engagement.

No matter what your product, service, or budget is, you can still create customer training that’s fun, useful, and makes your customers better users of your product.