According to a report by Training Industry, Inc., B2B companies that invest in customer training programs have 24% higher profit margins than those that don’t. This shows that customer training is not just a nice-to-have, but a critical element in driving business success.
A well-designed and executed training program can lead to increased customer satisfaction, improved product adoption and reduced support costs. However, despite its importance, many businesses struggle to create effective customer training programs that engage their customers and deliver results.
In this blog, we will explore the concept of customer training in B2B businesses, its benefits, and how to create an effective training program. We will also discuss the challenges businesses face when implementing customer training programs and how to overcome them, providing you with insights and strategies to create impactful customer training programs that drive business success.
What is Customer Training?
Customer training is the process of educating business customers who have purchased a product or service from another business. The primary objective of customer training is to help customers promote, market and sell the product or service effectively and to help them reach their business goals. Customer training can cover a range of topics, including product features and functionality, best practices, troubleshooting, and support.
By investing in this type of training, businesses can provide a valuable service to their customers and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Customer training can be used to:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Reduce support costs
- Drive product adoption
- Improve customer retention
- Advance business growth
Types of Customer Training
Customer training can take many forms, but it generally falls into three categories:
Generally focusing on specific features and functionality, product training ensures partners understand the entirety of the product, allowing them to convey the benefits successfully to their end-users.
Product training can take the form of online tutorials, webinars, a combination of both, or in-person training sessions.
The goal of sales training is to help customers become more knowledgeable and confident. It helps improve selling skills, from lead generation and prospecting to negotiation and closing deals. It’s aimed at aiding partners to become more effective at driving revenue, removing friction from sales scenarios and closing deals.
Industry training focuses on educating on broader industry trends and best practices. The objective is to help customers stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their industry. Often included in industry training is localised training based on the particular area or market the customer is selling into.
These types of training are delivered throughout the customer lifecycle and can also be classified into onboarding, ongoing and advanced.
Onboarding training is focused on teaching customers the basics of using the product or service, ongoing training is designed to keep customers up-to-date with new features and best practices, and advanced training offers further training to customers who are already experienced and are looking to deepen their knowledge.
The Importance of Customer Training
Customer training is critical as it enables customers to use products and services effectively. When customers lack proper training, they may struggle to understand how to use the product, resulting in decreased satisfaction and revenue.
Offering structured training can increase sales and revenue by enabling customers to sell products and services more effectively. Added benefits include increased brand advocacy, reduced support costs and enhanced product adoption.
When businesses don’t invest in customer training, losing customers due to decreased satisfaction and lack of adoption of their products or services is a risk. You could find yourself with increased support costs as customers and end users struggle to understand how to use the product. In extreme cases, this can lead to reputational damage and loss of market share.
The Benefits of Customer Training
Effective customer training programs offer several benefits, including:
When customers understand how to use products and services effectively, they are more likely to sell the product effectively and champion your brand against others. This leads to increased sales revenue and a higher return on investment (ROI).
Decreased support costs
Poorly trained customers are more likely to require support and may submit more support tickets, leading to increased costs for the business. By providing effective customer training, you can reduce support costs by enabling them to solve their problems and end-user issues themselves.
Training builds familiarity and customers that are familiar with your products are more likely to engage with your brand. Engaged customers are more likely to become advocates for a business and will naturally help promote it to others.
Improved retention and loyalty
By using training to address pain points, customer training programs will help build trust and lead to long-term relationships and loyalty. It also opens up a direct line of communication and support which help support broader engagement objectives.
In addition, training offers an opportunity to reward and incentivise partners, making them feel supported and encouraging them to feel like part of your business.
Building brand advocacy
Giving your customers what they need to understand your products and brand will build a powerful, strong and knowledgeable network of brand advocates. These valuable resources will champion your brand to the masses, building trust and helping to build further brand awareness.
How to Create an Effective Customer Training Program
To create an effective customer training program, follow a structured approach considering business and customer needs. Here are some key steps to follow:
Understanding the Target Audience
The first step in creating a customer training program is understanding the target audience. This includes their demographics, job roles and their familiarity level with the product or service. This understanding will help create targeted training programs that meet customers’ needs.
Identifying the Key Learning Objectives
The next step is to identify the key learning objectives for the training program. This involves determining what your customers need to learn throughout the program to achieve the desired outcomes.
Choosing the Right Format for Training
There are a variety of training formats available, including online courses, webinars, in-person workshops, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Most of the time, a combination of each is needed for the program to be effective. The best format for training also depends on the target audience, the complexity of the product or service and the resources available.
Developing Engaging Content
Customer training requires engaging and informative content that helps them achieve their learning objectives. This content can include videos, interactive quizzes, case studies, and other types of multimedia.
Establish KPIs Measuring the Effectiveness of the Training
Establishing KPIs in the planning phase of your program is key to enabling effective measurement. Some examples of KPIs to measure include engagement, retention, satisfaction or customer spend.
Reviewing this data gives an insight into the program’s effectiveness, allows knowledge gaps to be spotted and enables businesses to pivot the program when needed. Without clearly defined objectives, success can’t be tracked and data-driven improvements can’t be made.
As well as the benefits to your business, it’s also important to consider the advantages training brings to your customers. They include:
- Faster, more efficient onboarding – allowing them to get up to speed and start selling more effectively.
- Improved understanding and utilisation of products and services – enabling them to differentiate your product from your competitors.
- Reduced frustration and support requests – having the ability to access in-depth knowledge that helps them to quickly solve their customer’s issues.
- Increased confidence in your brand – feeling supported, involved and part of mutual success.
- Access to valuable resources – with a focus on solving their challenges and delivering the best service to their customers.
Challenges in Customer Training and How to Overcome Them
While customer training programs can provide numerous benefits, several challenges can hinder their success. Here are three common challenges in customer training and strategies for overcoming them:
Lack of Engagement from Customers
One of the biggest challenges in customer training is getting customers to engage with the training program. This can be especially difficult if the training program is mandatory or if customers perceive the training as irrelevant to their needs.
Strategy for overcoming this challenge
To overcome the lack of engagement from customers, use a variety of strategies, such as gamification, personalisation and incentives. Gamification involves incorporating game-like elements, such as rewards or badges, into the training program to make it more engaging. Personalisation involves tailoring the training program to the individual needs of the customer. Incentives can include rewards or recognition for completing the training program.
Resistance to Change
Another challenge in customer training is resistance to change. Customers may be comfortable with their current processes or tools and may be hesitant to adopt new methods or technologies.
Strategy for overcoming this challenge
Resistance to change can be overcome by providing a clear value proposition for the training program. This can include demonstrating the benefits of the new processes or tools and highlighting the potential risks of not adopting them. Businesses can also provide ongoing support to customers during the transition period to ensure a smooth adoption process.
A common challenge in customer training is limited resources, such as time or budget. Businesses may struggle to allocate sufficient resources to develop and deliver high-quality training programs.
Strategy for overcoming this challenge
To overcome limited resources, prioritise training efforts based on the needs of their customers and their business goals. This can involve developing targeted training programs for high-priority customer segments or leveraging existing resources. Another option is to outsource the administration, support and management of your program to a third-party provider.
By prioritising customer training and continuously improving training programs, businesses can set themselves apart from competitors and create long-lasting relationships with their customers.
Now you know the basics of customer training, learn how to avoid common pitfalls in designing your program. Check out our blog ‘4 Common Problems You May Encounter When Designing a Customer Training Program‘ for expert tips and strategies.