Crowded markets filled with competitors offering similar solutions and services force business owners and managers to search for new ways to differentiate their organization and the products and services that are being sold.
Because of the speed of change throughout the world, finding new ways to do this can be challenging. Often organizations focus all of their effort on new sales, new features, new widgets, new everything, instead of focusing on ways to improve their current customers’ lives and their experience with products.
Now, many organizations take a “user” or customer-centered approach on the design of their products, but we think this approach should extend to every branch of an organization. One of the best ways to keep organizations customer focused and improve revenues may often be hidden in an organization's customer education and training experience.
After all, the more knowledgeable someone feels about your products and services, the more likely they are to recommend it to others, right?
The biggest impact we’ve seen are organizations who focus their energy on educating customers on their product (not just selling them on features.) Truly successful organizations go even further than this by extending their offerings into training industries as a whole.
By going above and beyond your own product to teaching the "why" behind your solutions and the industry at large, you can begin firmly positioning your product and organization as an industry-leader who goes beyond the available features to ensure a customer's success with your product and their career.
By providing training resources for your customers, you enable them to perform their jobs better, and to improve their lives at work. By improving their daily life, customers will typically reward you as a business and brand by recommending your product, increasing licenses, or convincing their organization to purchase higher tiers of service from you.
Educational offerings can be a key ingredient when looking for ways to increasing revenue, so we will be doing a three-part series on the topic, talking about: why you should educate your customers; how you start the process; and what platforms, tools, and options we recommend.
There’s a lot to say about the “why,” so let’s get started.
1. Improve customer centricity. Training can be an essential part of improving customer centricity within your organization and improving their success with your products. Some great examples of companies that do this well are Hubspot, Cellebrite, Salesforce, and Facebook and Instagram.
Hubspot stands out as a total training success because they have gone above and beyond the features of their platform, and instead asked the question – "What would make you successful at your job?" They then build training to address issues surrounding that question. To read more about the Hubspot training approach, read more here.
Cellebrite is another great example of building customer education into your core business functions. While primarily they build and create industry-leading software and hardware solutions for law enforcement and military organizations, they have also grown to become an industry-leader in training law enforcement professionals on the digital extraction process and digital evidence collection methods. Again, by focusing on, “What makes our customers more successful” they have built an entire certification track that not only supports users on their products and platforms, but also supports them throughout every phase of the investigation process.
A recent white paper released by Salesforce also discusses how organizations using their CRM platform can achieve significant ROI by attending user training on their software. Their survey results have shown that clients trained on its system’s capabilities experience a significant improvement in key business metrics by focusing on role-based training offerings above and beyond the platform.
As more and more businesses leverage the enormous power of Facebook advertising, the organization has recently filled a very big need of their customers. Their training solution is focused on the specific goals of a customer and helps them accomplish those goals using Facebook and Instagram advertising services.
2. Reduce support requests. Training can reduce customer or technical support requests. Gallup data shows that one in five B2B customers have experienced a problem with a company or product, with only 40% of customers believing the B2B company resolved their problem. And only 5% of those customers say they are “very satisfied” with the way the company handled their problem.
With 20% of customers reporting problems, B2B companies are playing more defense than offense. Instead of putting time and energy into growing their businesses, they are constantly trying to fix problems with quality and service. By focusing on problems, they are damaging themselves and their customer relationships, often leaving money on the table as a result.
3. Knowledge is power...and recommendations. The more knowledgeable your customers or client organizations have about your product and its capabilities, the more likely and comfortable they will feel recommending it to others. For example, consultants that are certified experts for a tool or type of software are more likely to recommend those products than products they are not certified in or confident with.
This article from Linkedin talks about the growing trend of Training as a Service (TaaS) which is a highly valuable way that an organization can sustain product value over time. By enabling customers with self-paced and/or instructor-led training offerings throughout the life cycle of a customer, organizations can improve their products’ value and ensure that customers are more likely to renew software (and purchase two to four times more software, products, and services!)
4. Build community among users. Some of the most successful software organizations and businesses have a strong, loyal fan base and community of users. This relationship often starts with foundational product or industry certifications that have brought customers together to learn, grow, network, and advance their career. Developing certifications that are unique for your organization (and industry) takes time, but if it becomes an acknowledged cornerstone of expertise, you have the opportunity to develop a large, committed fan base.
While some people may question the importance of certifications these days, this article says that a certification can make all the difference is landing a job or not being considered at all. They can even make a big difference in boosting your salary at a job you already have, according to this Monster article.
5. Reduce proof of concept or adoption time. For enterprise software and larger technology products, developing an effective customer training program may speed the time to licensing agreements. Often organizations will perform a proof of concept which inevitably involves familiarizing key stakeholders with the functionality, features, and integrating the solution into the organization's’ specific workflows.
By developing strategic, industry-specific training offerings, you can speed the evaluation and adoption rates for your product without hiring another sales engineer to go on-site for every client demonstration. Depending on your product, this article says that the first 30 to 90 days of your customer lifecycle are critical for ensuring that customers are successful and renew.
These are five solid reasons WHY you should consider educating your customers to increase your revenue. But it’s not always that simple to get started, which is what we’ll talk about in our next post.