While employees have to complete mandatory compliance training, customers don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do. Often, busy customers aren’t interested in adding more work to their plates; your customer training program, great as it may be, simply isn’t a priority. This is why many companies incentivize their customers to complete training.
- 6.2% increase in organizational bottom-line revenue
- 7.4% increase in customer retention
- 6.1% decrease in support costs
There are many incentives you can offer to get customers to complete training. Common incentives include social certificates and badges, gamification, rewards, and continuing education credits.
Dozens of articles cover these incentives, but nobody addresses the elephant in the room: content’s impact on the performance of education initiatives. If you don’t get content right, incentives are a moot point. Customers will go through the motions to claim the incentive versus learning because they find real value in the content. At the end of the day, you’re training customers to evoke behavior change: that’s what causes measurable business growth.
In this article, you’ll learn about the following customer training incentives:
- Content quality
- Content freshness
- Social certificates and badges
- Continuing education credits
- Learner experience
Without further ado …
Content is the ultimate customer training incentive
Creating content that’s so good it’s an incentive requires nailing two aspects of content: quality and freshness.
Platforms like Intellum allow companies to present a wide range of training content to customers. You can upload any file type and link—copy, formal eLearning, video, PDF files, Word Docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc. But the medium doesn’t determine content quality; the curriculum itself does. How valuable is the information?
- First, a course or a certification is a fairly significant time investment, so customers must see value in completing training. Look at Meta Blueprint. Customers who complete the training will become better at Facebook and Instagram advertising; therefore, they will bemore valuable in the marketplace.
- Second, customer training must be rooted in science to change user behavior, increase product adoption rates, and drive long-term success. A marketer might communicate information using a long-form blog to persuade the reader. But an instructional designer has more to consider since they must make the content “sticky” enough so that the learner retains and implements their new knowledge. For example, instructional designers might prevent cognitive overload by segmenting content into chunks or allowing time to pause for reflection.
Before you add traditional incentives (or “bells and whistles”) to your customer education initiative, first ask the following questions to determine content quality:
- Is our information creating behavior change?
- Is our information helping individual learners achieve their goals?
- How valuable does our audience perceive our information to be?
There’s a reason Netflix is constantly adding new content to its library: to give users a reason to come back to the platform.
The most critical engagement tactic in an educator’s toolbox is the consistent addition of new content. People need a compelling reason to return to the learning platform. Many companies stand up a catalog and call it a day. Then they get disappointed, four months later, when people aren’t returning.
Additional ways to incentivize your customers to complete training
Social certificates and badges
Humans will seemingly jump through a ring of fire to share a small digital badge on LinkedIn. The bigger the brand, the more this is true. While Pavlov first discovered Classical Conditioning, brands have taken full advantage of the theory. We’ve been conditioned, by companies like Fitbit and HubSpot, to value badges even though they have no monetary value. Never underestimate the power of perceived social standing and belonging.
Most forms of gamification are about earning XP (experience points). When a learner completes a course or training activity, they earn points, and those points accumulate over time. Learners might earn a top spot on the leader board, but what do those points really mean? Not much.
At Intellum, we believe that gamification is about building your reputation in certain skills. (This aligns better with what we mentioned in the previous section: humans care about social standing. Reputation-based gamification allows learners to tell their LinkedIn network “I can demonstrate competency in x skill.”
Points and rewards go hand-in-hand. Some customer education platforms integrate system data (points earned) with third-party reward platforms so customers can exchange their points for merchandise such as gift cards or physical products like travel mugs.
Allowing learners to earn points and redeem rewards is a simple way to increase content consumption and training completions. However, gamification and rewards aren’t a magic bullet; customers must also have intrinsic motivation to learn because they view the content as valuable. Otherwise, you’re incentivizing people to play, not to learn.
Continuing education credits
Continuing education credits are one of the most valuable incentives because many professionals must earn credits to maintain employment or professional certification. For example, if your customers are human resource professionals, you might offer professional development credits toward SHRM recertification after a learner completes a certification.
Finally, accessing the content must be an easy and enjoyable experience for learners.
- Personalization: When customers log in, does the system present content that interests them?
- Search results: Can your customers quickly find what they need? Or might you need to employ a third-party search tool?
- Navigation: Do you display content by topic in rows on the home page so customers can easily explore topics that interest them?
- Topic following: Does your learning management system (LMS) or customer education platform allow learners to follow topics of interest? If so, does the learner’s home page change to become more personalized?
The more choice you give a learner, the more likely they’ll be to come back and complete training!
Want to learn more about customer training?
Check out the following articles:
- The secret to customer education success
- 7 book recommendations for customer education professionals
- 5 ways to measure customer training ROI