top 5 customer training best practicesEven if you’re experienced at developing training plans for your employees, developing a plan for customer education can be a whole new ball game. As a part of your larger extended enterprise training plan, educating your customers on your product or service can lead to new opportunities for continue growth and new opportunities for your business.

With these top five customer training best practices, you will discover how to design, implement and maintain a successful training program for your customers.

Customer Education Best Practice Tip #1: Respect Customer’s Time

When you’re designing training for the extended enterprise, it’s crucial to bear in mind that your customers are completely different from your employees. They will have different learning priorities and will be fitting your training in around their normal roles and responsibilities. They could be spread across the country or even around the world. Depending on your customers, they may not even have consistent access to a computer, so your training must be designed with this in mind.

You should take care to keep customer training short, sharp and snappy to make it as customer-friendly as possible. This might mean opting for shorter instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training sessions spread out over non-consecutive days, bite-sized videos, quick-reference guides or five-minute eLearning modules, rather than an overwhelming five-hour-long course. Making training mobile accessible will also enable customers to access your training on their cell phone or tablet during their downtime, ensuring they fit your program into their busy, varied schedules.

Customer Education Best Practice Tip #2: Offer incentives for customer training

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A common question from those expected to engage in customer training is “What’s in it for me?”. Customer training best practice suggests that you incentivize your customers to participate in your program above and beyond simply “gaining a better understanding of your products and services.”

For instance, you might offer certification in your product, Open Badges, continuing education credits or even tangible rewards and prizes. 87% of millennials rate professional development as important in a job, showing that there is a clear appetite for training and skills development, so facilitating certification or the earning of badges will help customers prove their competence back in their own workplace. Offering certification for completing your training is a powerful incentive, and gives you another metric for measuring the impact of your program.

Customer Education Best Practice Tip #3: Embrace blended learning

Whether your customers are based locally or spread across the globe, blended learning will ensure your customer training has the desired impact. For global audiences, this will most likely take place entirely online whether that be via live online events or eLearning, while more local customers may benefit from offline, face-to-face events.

Your Learning Management System (LMS) or customer portal can be used to host your customer onboarding program and related eLearning resources – for instance, eLearning modules to train your customers to use your products or to explain complex features and functionality.

A Training Management System (TMS) that integrates with your LMS will help you deliver a comprehensive synchronous and asynchronous customer training program. With your TMS, you can set up and manage in-person and live online training events, such as workshops, conferences and webinars with internal subject matter experts (SMEs) and guest speakers. A TMS such as Training Orchestra streamlines the whole process, allowing you to create even the most complex training schedules with ease, to run alongside your self-service eLearning.

Customer Education Best Practice Tip #4: Measure the impact of your program

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If you’re not measuring the impact of your customer training program, you’ll never understand if the instruction you’re providing to your customers is working or not. Most businesses who offer a particular product or service are only concerned about “winning metrics” like the number of sales closed. This won’t be efficient for your business in the long run. Measuring training effectiveness has long been a challenge for businesses in every industry because they’re not focused how the customer as the learner is making progress. When you train your customers you want to focus on how you’re providing value for them when they use their product. Using a dedicated reporting and analytics tool within your customer training software is critical so you can measure and understand if your training is having an effect.

Important metrics we suggest to look for when you conduct training courses for your customers are product usage rates, course completion rates, session time, signups and inquiries. Of course, you can modify and customize what you’d like to see as your winning metric as well.

If you are following the customer training best practices and these metrics are traveling in the right direction, this is a good indicator that your program is working.

Customer Education Best Practice #5: Involve your customers

Customers love to show off their own successes, and leveraging this is a hugely effective way to inspire and motivate the rest of your customer base. Liaise with your account managers to identify any particular success stories among your customer organizations, and use your customer training program to highlight their success.

For instance, you could invite customers to speak at your training events (managed effortlessly with your TMS), create and share case studies or even gather testimonials from these happy customers. Sharing the knowledge, tips and experiences of your successful customers will help inform your wider customer base, and acts as “social proof” that will reassure your other customers that they have made the right choice in selecting your product. These customer stories are a great addition to your customer training marketing as well.

These customer training best practices will not only help your customers get the most out of your products, but will also give you the power and confidence to offer high-impact, results-driven customer training for many years to come.

Want to find out how to better manage your customer training with a TMS and see these customer training best practices in action?

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For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has provided training software for 600+ organizations worldwide to help them automate and optimize their ILT and vILT customer training operations, addressing the complexities often found in: session scheduling, resource management, instructor collaboration, cost tracking and reporting. As a complement to your LMS, LXP and learning technologies, Training Orchestra’s Training Resource Management System can replace all XLS spreadsheets and manual tasks, so you can better manage training as a business.