One of the most significant challenges for any eCommerce business is analyzing the customer behavior and understanding the influences that lead to customer’s buying decisions. It is essential because it will lead to a higher return on investment and increased customer satisfaction. One of the ways of impacting customer satisfaction and experience is customer training. Customer training is defined as providing critical tools to the customer to enhance his/her understanding of company’s products.
Training clients is a lot different than training employees within an organization. While creating a successful customer training program, one needs to keep in mind that it is for an external audience who are taking the training on a voluntary basis. It is therefore imperative that a multi-faceted approach must be adopted to design successful training programs for the customers.
There may be multiple ways to conduct training, however, popular methods of training may be online customer training, online manuals, online training modules or physical manuals as per the organization’s strategy. Customer training has an impact on customer experience and influences customer loyalty which in turn could potentially change the bottom line. When all of the customer’s queries and concerns are answered, it directly leads to the customer’s satisfaction with the organization and its product – and that is what customer training hopes to achieve.
Importance of Customer Training Program
The importance of customer training program cannot be undermined as it has the potential to make or break the business. According to Harvard Business Review, customers who have a positive experience with a company are likely to spend 140% more and are bound to remain a customer up to six times longer than those who have had a negative experience from the company.
Well-designed customer training programs
- Increase customer confidence to use a product well through manuals or handbooks
- Promote communication/discussions/engagement between customer and organization through updates on the usage of a product, conducting certified training programs (especially for software products), or newsletters
- Highlight customer training areas and product improvement areas through customer feedback post-training, if required
A company will be able to retain customers if it is able to resolve customer related issues and design substantial content for them.
Customer experience is the perception that customers have after using the product of a brand. It is defined as an outcome of the interaction between a customer, the product and customer success teams/service teams of the organization. Customer experience will be good when the customer’s experience matches her/his expectations with the product or interaction with the organization. Every event that occurs during and after the purchase of a product adds to the customer experience.
Organizations like Google and Ikea are focused towards creating a superior customer experience. These organizations focus first on the pain points of a customer with regards to their experience and then alter product to ensure that these lead to a gratifying experience for the customer.
Customer experience is considered as a brand differentiator. By investing in customer experience strategies and product development, organizations ensure
- Improved in customer retention by 42%
- Increased customer satisfaction by 33%
- Increase cross-selling and upselling by 32%
Customer Training Impacts Customer Experience
It is a challenge to establish a successful customer experience as to create an incomparable customer experience; companies must realize that a series of mutual interactions between the organization and the customers are responsible for maintaining a positive experience. Training programs have moved from generic to personalized and contextual to create memorable experiences for customers. Companies can
- Provide customized training opportunities
- Launch a video of how to use the purchased product
- Make it easier for customers to access content with regards to the product
- Employ the kind of strategies that are used by sites like Amazon – hosting customer forums, 24×7 customer service, Mayday button (for Amazon Fire customers) and other initiatives
Customers now are making purchasing decisions based on their experiences with the companies. A Walker report (Customers 2020: The Future of B to B Customer Experience) states that customer experience will be one of the critical differentiators for organizations.
Thus, innovative companies are investing in their training programs to assist in the overall growth of their business and help their organization to maintain a competitive edge in the market by contributing towards creating a better customer experience.
Taking the example of Google and Ikea again, they take care to keep their customers in the know-how of their product. For example, Ikea has simple DIY videos to help customers set-up furniture themselves. They even offer the option of sending in a team to set furniture for customers. Google on the other hand, has training or certification courses to help customers/users become experts in their product. Google certification is widely accepted by organizations and such prospective employees who are Google certified are preferred over those who are not.
Both these organizations, don’t just offer value with their product or services but also with their training. This really completes the loop for an end-to-end customer experience.
The terms- customer experience and customer loyalty are inter-related. Only a positive customer experience will make an individual loyal to the brand that she/he uses. A loyal customer is someone who purchases from the brand for a long time. The physical, emotional and value-based elements of customer experience are substantial in building customer loyalty. It is proved by a report that was published by the American express in 2011 which stated that 3 out of 5 customers were willing to give up a former favorite brand due to adverse customer experience.
Customer Training Impacts Customer Loyalty
Another aspect that is to be taken into consideration while designing an effective training program for the clients is customer loyalty. One of the most critical points to achieve customer loyalty is by developing relationships with the existing clients. According to a research done by Kaliym Islam, customer loyalty surged when customers
- Perceived that educational programs offer useful information.
- Concluded that the programs were professional – in ways of how the program is being conducted and how professional the trainers have been.
- Observed that programs offered information that was more manageable— receiving bite-sized content that is easy to assimilate and learn.
Thus, the responsibility of customer loyalty is owned by everyone involved in the interaction with the end user of a product or service.
Companies like Google and Ikea thrive because the customers are convinced that these organizations do the following:
- Listen and Respond: Google’s product updates have a clear focus on customer experience.
- Get Great Reviews: Independent of their own blogs, Google products and Ikea products and services are reviewed by customers. These influence other customers to purchase their products or reinforce other customer’s intentions to stick with Google or Ikea.
Both Google and Ikea have seen profits rise and both these organizations are on top of the popularity chart among their market segment. As far as profits and popularity are concerned, Google is in the race to become 1 trillion-dollar company— its 2017 valuation being 101.8 billion dollars.
Ikea is among the three furnishing businesses which has seen an increase in its profits to 15% from 2012-2016. It has 373 stores worldwide and apparently has managed to retain customers because of its famous “Ikea Effect.” Psychologists explain the phenomenon as the experience where one falls in love with what he/she has accomplished – assembling their Ikea furniture even if it’s crooked. Building stuff on your own boosts ‘feeling of pride and competence.’ Ikea’s global revenue for the year 36.3 billion Euros for the year 2017. Additionally, Ikea has a loyalty program, that keeps customers coming back for more.
Good training programs are a guaranteed way of building reputation, increasing customer base and expanding business. Therefore, managers who create training content must ensure that they adopt a comprehensive strategy for engaging with their intended audience. Customer training thus, is the harbinger of positive customer experience and continued customer loyalty.
 https://www.walkerinfo.com/Portals/0/Documents/Knowledge Center/Featured Reports/WALKER-Customers2020.pdf