Ensuring that your customers are well-educated and well-trained on how to use that awesome software they just purchased is key to ensuring that they actually use it. According to TSIA, 87% of software users are able to work more independently after taking training. Since independence in utilizing a new tool is critical to making it part of your regular routine, we can deduce that customers that are educated become customers that adopt, and eventually, customers that renew. Of course, this is an over-simplification of the customer lifecycle, but for the purposes of this article, let’s assume it to be true.
Whether you have an entire Education Services team dedicated to training customers or your training is more informal (perhaps owned by Professional Services or Customer Success during onboarding and throughout the various stages of the customer lifecycle), it’s important to recognize the importance of training in your overall Customer Success strategy.
It should be no surprise that as the subscription economy takes over the world (okay, maybe just the business world, but sometimes it feels like the whole world!), that subscriptions have become overwhelmingly popular in Customer Education as well. Incorporating multiple training modalities into ‘all-you-can-eat’ annual Learning Subscriptions is quickly becoming the gold standard in today’s marketplace. Acknowledging that customers’ learning styles can vary, offering various training modalities ensures that you’re meeting their range of needs.
Learning subscriptions not only meet evolving consumer expectations, but because their revenue is typically recognized as one-twelfth of the annual subscription revenue per month, they also provide a predictable revenue stream and reliable revenue forecasting. However, much like their Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription counterparts, renewal is critical to the long-term success of Learning Subscriptions. And since we know that tracking and reporting consumption or usage is critical to renewal in SaaS, the same key concepts must apply here as well.
Learning Subscriptions can be sold and issued to a single, named user, or to a single company for their entire team. They can also be included in license subscriptions or bundled with implementation or other post-sale service offerings within an organization. If you don’t offer Learning Subscriptions today, take a look at the resources from TSIA to get started.
Popular Training Modalities
The most popular modalities to include in Learning Subscriptions and to sell a la carte as needed include:
- Instructor Led Training (ILT) – The traditional classroom training method facilitates direct access to instructors and encourages the dynamic of “give and take” between student and instructor. Various elements of teaching can be easily incorporated, such as demonstrations, white boarding, and lab exercises. While some students still prefer this in-person learning style, many are opting for its virtual counterpart instead.
- Virtual Instructor Lead Training (VILT) – A sub-segment of the ILT category where a class is hosted by an instructor, live on the web. This provides similar benefits to the live classroom version but can save time and expenses related to travel and is quickly becoming one of the most popular training delivery methods.
- Onsite Training – A sub-segment of the ILT category that is held as a private session at a customer’s preferred location (typically their office). This offers the same benefits as traditional ILT, plus has the added benefit of training an entire company or team together, so they can support each other through the process and refresh each other’s memories after the training is complete. Onsite training is not typically included in Learning Subscriptions but can be a valuable add-on a la carte option for customers with larger budgets.
- eLearning/onDemand Training – A convenient option that offers a high level of flexibility for students, this method of web-based, pre-recorded training is typically self-paced with no direct instructor interaction. Education assets can be centrally located making them easy to access, update, and maintain. Although the initial cost of producing videos like this can be significant, the price per student is relatively low due to the large audience size this style of training can attract. This technique can give a similar classroom feel even though the instructor is not teaching a live course (think DVR for training).
- Microlearning: One of the biggest education trends of the last decade, microlearning content is delivered in short, specific chunks. Think a five-minute video on one very specific task or topic. Microlearning is a sub-segment of eLearning and is typically available onDemand. It can be utilized in succession for more comprehensive learning, or individually to reference back or quickly learn a new skill.
- Workflow-Integrated Learning: Your Customer Success or product organization may already be doing this without even knowing it, with quick walk-throughs or tutorials directly inside your software. This does take some extensive back end work but provides a seamless customer experience.
Other Trends in Customer Education
Training modalities aren’t the only things evolving in the Customer Education world. Particularly as Education Services and Customer Success become more intertwined, we’re also noticing these trends in the customer experience side of Education:
- Gamification: Incorporating badges, points, and leaderboards into the learning experience can capture the attention of learners, boost productivity, and stimulate the brain in an entirely different manner. By incentivizing rewards and friendly competition, learners can easily track their process and advance with training.
- Customization and Content Curation: Match content to learners’ specific stage of the customer journey, or customize it based on their role. By presenting customers with a learning path that meets their specific needs, they’re much more likely to engage in training, leading to the benefits I covered earlier.
- Student Communities: Online forums for students to connect, share best practices and ideas, and ask questions of your experts. Pro tip: make sure you have a designated person on your team to manage the community, answer questions, and engage with students.
- Education Marketing: Many companies are realizing ‘our customers can’t take training if they don’t know about it’ – so in come marketing campaigns to your install-base of customers to inform and educate them (pun intended) about their training options. Additionally, if training is a revenue source for you, marketing can provide qualified leads to your sales team.
Trends in training are ever-changing and require evolving skillsets and approaches to coincide with industry trends. Improving your education and training delivery processes requires a focus on creating offerings that change as technology and information consumption changes. Outsourced Education Sales, Marketing & Operations can be an effective way to manage talent and headcount in this area without sacrificing revenue.