The new school season is almost upon us, and it doesn’t stop after high school or even college. Your customers can benefit greatly from a learning program that educates and empowers them in the coming year to get more from your product or service.
We’re all familiar with the benefits of onboarding new employees, but have you considered the advantages of onboarding new customers? In the age of content marketing, where brands are spending budget and resources on content for customer acquisition, we mustn’t forget that a brand’s content doesn’t stop after the sale.
Regardless of whether you have a product or a service, learning curves often exist to get customers up to speed with how to use a product or best understand the concepts behind that service, so customers can get the most from it.
The consequences of not having a learning system around your product or service includes everything from misuse and inactivity to misunderstandings or worse: disengagement from your brand entirely.
Here at BrightEdge, we’ve implemented a multitouch learning program that gets our clients up to speed quickly, while maximizing usage of our S3 SEO platform. In this post, I’ll share what it takes to create a comprehensive onboarding program for clients that can be applied to many different types of businesses.
If you want to make your product or service a seamless part of your client’s daily workflow, read on.
1. Make Learning Flexible
You want your customers to enjoy – not dread – the learning process from your company. No doubt your customer base has varying degrees of knowledge around the product or service, and differences in availability and resources. That’s why customers need choices in their learning.
Create some flexibility when considering the following components of a program:
A. Types of learning: Some customers want to learn via video at their leisure, some need one-on-one support, and others like a sense of community. At BrightEdge, we have several options for learning and engaging with the S3 platform and the people who use it. Here are a few keys to our success:
- Our “Ignite” onboarding program: This helps jump-start the customer engagement and ensure they are getting the most from the product.
- Online training and certification: These self-paced training modules help customers learn at their own pace, and better retain information.
- Ongoing continuing education: Product training webinars happen 10 times a year whenever new features are added.
- Networking community: Beyond the classroom, we let our customers connect with one another to trade ideas and solve challenges together.
B. Program features: Offer clients a tiered approach to learning that gives them more or less features, depending on needs. At BrightEdge, our customer success program offers varying levels of access and account management. That way, customers can choose how much one-on-one support they want.
But don’t just stop there. Explore the types of people who use your product or service, and cater your learning to them. At BrightEdge, we have two distinct customers (agencies and direct), all of which have varying degrees of marketing knowledge.
That’s why we have traditional and accelerated learning for each type of customer we obtain. Our standard onboarding program is 60 days, but clients can go faster if they want to. Tailoring the pace of the program and using different tools to cater to the client’s knowledge is key to keeping customers engaged, long after they have completed onboarding.
2. Spend Time Onboarding
Onboarding customers is the single most important way for them to be set up for success when using your product (and even when engaging in a service). At BrightEdge, we take a multiphase approach to our customer onboarding program that pairs the customer with a dedicated professional and comprehensive learning course.
The program is set up in such a way that there is accountability on both sides; each phase has next steps for the customer, and tasks that must be completed on our end.
Every product and service is different, but we’ve perfected a six-phase approach that kicks off with an introduction to the program, and then helps customers navigate through the features, and how they can apply to individual goals and marketing strategy.
We also help customers find new opportunities for marketing through our tools, prioritize projects and tasks with the most ROI, and much more.
At the end of the onboarding program, consider a wrap-up with the client to go over what’s been implemented, and the ROI they’ve been able to see since the program started.
This can be especially helpful for those who aren’t hands-on with the project, like the C-Suite, who need to get a snapshot of progress. We call this the “executive check-in.”
What opportunities exist at your company to create an onboarding process?
3. Create a Certification Program
What better way to ensure your customers understand the inner workings of your product than a certification program? This type of approach can translate to service-type businesses, too, where clients can be certified in a skill or area of knowledge.
Certification has benefits beyond your business, with advantages extending to both the people being certified and the community they serve. At BrightEdge, just some of the benefits of our certification program include the following:
The benefits to the certified professionals:
- Certification of our tool is an official designation that professionals can include in their lists of skills.
- Customers have access to a community of like-minded, certified professionals to share ideas with and solve challenges.
The benefits to the business community:
- Businesses can seek out certified professionals with this specialized skill set.
- Customers can have more thoughtful, meaningful experiences using the product or service.
Putting together a comprehensive learning program takes planning and time, but there may be small steps you can take right away to help onboard new clients, and get them learning fast.
Think about the touch points that occur when a new customer comes on – how can those be improved? What documentation or conversations can you have that will have an immediate impact on getting your customer up to speed?
Lastly, make sure there’s a feedback loop throughout the entire process. Have customers demonstrate what they’ve learned, and ask for commentary often — not just at the end with a survey. This will not only help you tailor the program on the fly, but also help ensure that when that final survey goes out, your team will get a 10/10 every time.
The time you invest in creating a meaningful onboarding program will pay off long-term – we know first hand. Customers will get the most from your product or service and engage with it more often, making it a part of their daily workflow, and renewals will be a “no-brainer.”
As we inch closer to a new school season, consider how you’ll educate your customers in the coming year. And the best part for them? No new wardrobe or dorm supplies required!
[Originally Posted on BrightIdeas Blog, BrightEdge Blog, On 5 August 2015]