Let’s lay it out, right away: Customer education, through thoughtful and deliberately-structured learning experiences, is the investment that keeps on giving.
It gives back in both tangible — revenue-driven — ways and long-term, intangible benefits — such as brand loyalty, competitive edge, market share and just a better overall customer experience.
LX & the SaaS Model: Natural Partners
First off, SaaS models naturally soften the learning curve because customers are on-boarded in incremental interactions. These increments mimic the progressive stages of the buyer’s journey and so getting a customer to adopt, commit to and find value from its use is a very scalable mountain.
The potential for success that ‘LX’ or learning experience in SaaS companies has is connected to the fact that SaaS models rely on MRR or monthly recurring revenue. This, in turn, is connected to the number of users both retained, regained and captured anew.
Customer training is the best way to make sure these goals are fulfilled in a way that doesn’t call for extra marketing dollars.
What is a ‘Customer Training’ Program?
Customer training is a kind of eLearning where people external to the business – including partners, resellers and customers — are users of the software and, as part of their use, are asked to learn their way around the software.
The solution sets up this learning through digestible training or micro-courses. These courses are used to help customers use your product, get acclimated and guiding the user to master the software successfully.
Customer training, through specific learning experiences, helps raise the entire customer experience, training and empowering the customer to take charge of their tasks.
Why Does LX in the Context of SaaS work?
But here’s the clincher: Customer training — your users’ tailored learning experience — not only helps your user/customer help themselves, it contributes to a greater likelihood that your target user will understand the software well enough that they end up adopting it as their go-to solution.
There’s less of a chance of churn if they understand the software and have learned to use it well. And a well-structured training program makes onboarding and learning the software a seamless part of actually using the software to get the desired tasks complete — so your user is productive while learning.
Let’s take a look at five ways in which Learning Experience is enhancing the SaaS model’s ability to grow through a focus on customer success.
1) Structure Training as Problem-Solving
Depending on how complicated or extensive the software is, as well as the various user profiles you’ve created in the development of this software, the best way to help navigate customer education is to re-frame the narrative.
Rather than making the experience about mastering the SaaS platform, why not give users a sense of value and instant gratification? The onboarding and learning experience should anticipate the simplest but also the most useful ‘first’ stage functionalities users will need to learn and master, before they can move on to more complex functions, building on their previous knowledge.
It’s wise, then, to structure the initial training as bite-sized lessons that give a clear, tangible and valuable outcome. Once the user logs on to the learning dashboard, for example, the learning experience can structure these lessons as problems that need to be solved.
Here, not only does the user receive a productive result, but they’re also unconsciously connecting the utility of the software to their desired outcome.
2) Nurture the Conversion
They’re called ‘Aha!’ Moments — those instances when, after a certain amount of use and time on a platform, a user subtly converts to the next stage. It’s a moment when they realise the power of the software or its use in their day-to-day functions in a very tangible and actionable way.
To make LX an essential part of your customer success growth strategy, you want to make sure that there is a convergence between your customer success, marketing, sales and UX teams.
Why a convergence? Having multi-functional teams dedicated to a goal, rather than siloed in their specific disciplines, does more for the entire customer experience. It allows the business to tackle the issue of customer success, education and experience through a multi-pronged approach.
This also means that customer success team members will be working with marketers to tailor granular but important creative decisions on copy, positioning, offers and lessons. When you nurture the conversion, it takes time, and it acknowledges that no user will adopt the SaaS all at once — especially on a subscription model, even if you have a per-month pricing option.
Again, the nature of the SaaS model calls for a gradual conversion, which works to both your users’ and the company’s advantage.
So if you can build communication and support through communicative emails, tailored to the user, alongside their growth in the training, you’re more likely to form a connection with the user.
On the flip side, this also allows you to track when and where in training users are dropping off, allowing you to re-think your learning experience strategy for greater overall retention.
All these aspects can only happen through an incremental approach.
3) Use Feedback for Agile Development
While customers are within courses, the feedback they provide — through questions posed in a discussion forum, module completion rates, troubleshooting queries, assignment marks and even searches logged on a knowledge base — provide learning experience developers invaluable feedback and information.
And while course developers use this information to improve the learning experience continually, they can also share this information with the developers of the software, so that newer, more streamlined versions of features can be built.
If software developers are using the agile methodology of development, this is even more important and can be applied to cost-effective methods of developing software without having to throw out the entire version.
4) Go for Stickiness, Not Substitution
By creating learning experiences that serve users by allowing them to complete a task; By tracking their use and success rate with completing learning materials related to the on-boarding of the software; By regularly communicating about further modules and ‘trainings’ that might be relevant through email marketing, what a SaaS platform is actually doing is making their software ‘sticky’.
This is instead of a mere ‘substitution’. What’s the difference? Well, ‘sticky’ software is, in this definition, software that is unique and that the user simply cannot do without.
It’s not only about competitive edge — it’s about allowing the user, through the software training, to build their own workflows.
These are specific approaches to the software’s functionality that, while other software might similarly demonstrate, a user becomes familiar and comfortable with doing things in a particular way within the SaaS platform.
In other words, a mere substitution won’t do because the user has now built a specific habit. And that habit least preferring one software solution over the other. In other words, your software solution is now stuck with them.
5) Make Support (Nearly) Redundant
All these aspects of learning experience make your support team — almost – redundant. And that should be the aim here.
Cohesive and well-structured learning experiences — especially ones with goals to enhance customer success through teaching how to use and master the platform — means that companies have to spend less time troubleshooting, and less money hiring customer support staff.
At the end of the day, that’s what learning experiences in SaaS companies come down to. It’s not only looking for actual topics that can be taught, as part of the training, or nurturing a conversion by having customers learn the platform and then become reliant on it. These are certainly the side-effects of a well-developed learning experience.
But the aim is empowerment — and, as you can see, empowerment is not a one-step process, but, when done right, leads to higher customer retention and more efficient conversions. It is the investment that keeps on giving back because it asks you to give something in exchange
Darlo Group CEO