The Benefits of Customer Education and How eLearning Can Help
Post launch of a new product or concept, begins the vicious cycle of customer acquisition followed by a tutorial to get the customer familiar with the product. This is a major challenge for every organization, failing which, the consequences could be dire leading towards inefficient usage, poor user experience, frustrated consumers, and falling adoption rate, among others. A study by a professor from MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts showed that among the 9,000 new products that achieved broad national level distribution, about 60% were discontinued within three years and a few suffered negative perception of utility. This is an indicator that uneven usage is among the major reasons for their failure. This issue is a matter of concern for enterprises and start-ups alike in terms of when a new technology with lack of precedent is launched. It would be a tragedy if the product fails to generate critical mass, not because the product lacked the necessary features but because the features and their correct usage was not conveyed to the end user.
Traditionally, businesses have relied on lengthy manuals, brochures, and other marketing material to educate their customers about the product – but it is fair to say that these methods have challenges. Such content is lacks interactivity and engagement for the user, resulting in the adoption of eLearning. Without bombarding the users with sugar-coated marketing material or technical jargon, eLearning allows users to familiarize themselves with the product concepts and working. Additionally, eLearning offers a great value addition by educating the user and making them familiar with not just the product but the brand as well. Following are some benefits of customer education and the use of eLearning for this.
Make an Easier Learning Curve
The learning curve of a new product for a novice customer base is quite steep during the initial stages until the product reaches critical mass and establishes in the market. This is a critical phase as a negative user rating, undesirable customer experience, and/or product abandonment may be a major issue owing to lack of product information for understanding the product intricacies. eLearning helps alleviate this issue by letting the customer indulge in interactive and visual modules to gain familiarity with the product. Customer videos, “How-to” guides and FAQs available for the consumer to access at their own discretion can go a long way to making learning easier.
Improving Product Adoption and Customer Buy-in
When customers are presented with an innovative product or feature, they typically try to link it with some familiar concept that they already know. The challenge of using a product has a direct correlation with how quickly customers will adapt and accept it. As indicated in the MIT Sloan study quoted earlier, there are several products which would have benefited the customers, had they learned to efficiently utilize the product, understand its nuances, and accepted its functioning. eLearning helps users unlock the value a product can offer, which otherwise might potentially be neglected due to a lack of understanding of how things work. Products are using innovative approaches including adding simulations and an element of gamification to help customers learn faster. There are examples of airline and systems maker Dassault Systems offering software-based simulations that operators of their systems can use to train themselves. There are similar examples in the consumer space as well—Garmin GPS receivers have been popularly quoted as offering simulated “rides” enabling their customers to get familiar with their GPS receivers.
Improved Customer Self-Service
Apart from facilitating product adoption, another major benefit of customer education is lesser customer enquiries, troubleshooting, and service requests as customers are able to solve their own problems. This goes a long way in reducing operation and maintenance costs for the company as they can pass the onus of troubleshooting certain kinds of problems to the customers. Companies are refreshing their product tutorials with the inclusion of graphical depictions and simulation videos to improve the product knowledge of the customer. Companies are also taking to user forums and social media to answer questions posted by the users. Points are rewards motivate customers to self-troubleshoot and assist others in solving common issues. This element of greater engagement helps to improve customer experience as they do not have to go through the hassle of requesting and obtaining customer service.
eLearning provides visually appealing educational value addition to end users, and is a welcome deviation from conventional marketing material and mundane user guides and manuals. That apart, a big positive is the opening of a communication channel between the user and the company. This is the best way to create a feedback loop that the company can leverage as a rich source of information on the needs, problems and usage patterns of the user. It is thus no surprise that a lot of businesses are now opting for rich content driven eLearning for customer education in a bid to enrich the customer experience, improve product usability, and strengthen brand image and recognition.