Blog Post

Practical Approaches to Overcome Customer Education Challenges

Dr. Michelle Ellis
April 4, 2024
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A recent Forrester study, commissioned by Adobe, uncovered a pretty unpleasant finding: Customer education programs today fail to meet expectations.

While the same report touted the benefits of customer education, it revealed practical shortcomings of current customer education efforts.

In this blog, we highlight some of those challenges—along with ways to overcome them. 

Focus on Driving Behavior Change

40% Ineffective customer education on how to use our products and/or services to derive value

The ultimate goal of any education initiative is to drive behavior change. This is what makes education content different from, say, content marketing.

But to drive that behavior change, we first need to answer: What are the business outcomes we’re driving toward? For example, customer retention or customer satisfaction.

From there, we need to answer another question: What behaviors do successful customers engage in? So if our goal is to retain customers, what do retained customers do differently from customers that churn? Once you’ve identified these behaviors, you can develop education content to create these behavior changes—ultimately driving toward your business outcomes. 

Personalize Content Based on Segment

35% Inability to deliver segment-specific engagement programs that increase customer value

It’s no secret that personalized learning programs experience higher engagement and success. So why do so few develop and deliver personalized content? It likely comes down to two reasons: bandwidth for development and delivery mechanisms.

Our 2023 report found that many teams experienced a reduction in headcount—but many retained the same expectations. One of the best ways to “do more with less” is through the use of AI tools built for customer education. These tools can help you speed up content development, regardless of the size of your team.

Delivery often comes down to your learning management system (LMS). Does your LMS support the hyper-segmentation needed to deliver more personalized learning? This could look like assigning a user to more than one group or segment. In the case of employee learning, that could look like department or job level (individual contributor, manager, director, VP/exec). When it comes to customer education, it might depend on what stage the customer is in (onboarding, adoption, renewal, etc.). Personalization for customer education can also focus on modules the customer has access to or a specific learner persona or profile.

(Get more tips on practical ways to increase efficiency in this blog.)

Offer On-Demand Content

32% Lack of an on-demand learning resource of our products and services

Research from ATD found that it takes far less time to develop live instructor-led training (ILT) than to offer on-demand eLearning. When you’re starting your customer education program and trying to find what works, ILT can be a great place to start.

But people are increasingly looking for more self-serve resources. So much so that the 2024 CS Trends Report found creating self-serve resources is a top investment area for customer success leaders.

Expand your education program by blending ILT with more on-demand content, such as help videos, help articles, or eLearning allows your customers to get access to the help they need, when they need it.

Give Customers a Way to Provide Feedback

25% Lack of a customer feedback mechanism to improve our customer education program

Most education program managers are looking at several metrics to determine program health: views, enrollments, completions, satisfaction ratings, etc.. 

And while these numbers are important to understand learning effectiveness, they don’t tell the full story. Ideally, you’re connecting qualitative data to the quantitative data you’re collecting to understand why the numbers appear as they do. 

Give customers a way to provide feedback about your customer education efforts. This could take the form of post-ILT surveys or allowing open responses to content and ratings in your LMS. This open-ended insight can provide context for the numerical ratings you see on content.

Customer Education Plays a Key Role in Customer Experience

The Forrester Report commissioned by Adobe found that customer education is tightly woven into the customer experience (CX).

The study stated “CE programs are an integral part of organizations’ overall CX strategy as they have a direct positive impact on the post-sale customer lifecycle.”

It’s clear customer education has the potential to drive powerful business impact. We just need to make sure we’re building customer education based on learning science—and being intentional about removing obstacles to CE success.

About the Author

Dr. Michelle Ellis Speaker Headshot
Dr. Michelle Ellis
Director of Learning & Development
Michelle Ellis has over 25 years of experience in instructional design, including nearly 20 years at Disney, and a PhD in Training and Performance Improvement.. Her experience ranges from teaching in the academic setting to designing, developing, and facilitating education to teach technical, soft, and leadership skills. Michelle came to Intellum as a practitioner to share her experiences with learning and how to build a learning strategy.