Customer Education: A Guide To Maximizing Product Value

Attracting new users and motivating them to download your app is only the first step toward long-term success.

Frank L.
Frank L.
Published September 12, 2022

It won't matter how many users download your app if they don't understand how it works or how they can maximize its benefits. And since half of all mobile apps get deleted within one month of downloading, you won't have long to win users over and earn their loyalty.

The fastest way to help your users see the value of your product is with robust customer education. And the easier it is for your customers to get what they need from your product, the better its user adoption and retention will be.

What Is Customer Education and Why Does It Matter?

Customer education is how software companies help new and existing users understand how to use their software or app's functions. It includes everything from built-in tutorials that explain how individual features work to advanced guides that explain things like how to use shortcuts or advanced system capabilities.

But when product managers and developers fail to take charge as experts and develop an education strategy, they leave users to explore software and app features on their own. And if the interface isn't intuitive or users run into problems, they'll have to conduct their own research to learn how it works and troubleshoot errors. 

Except, most users don't want to spend time looking for additional resources that explain how to use a product. And even if users are willing to search for answers, they'll have to rely on resources like online discussion forums, which might not be reliable. This lack of education results in frustrated users who don't understand the benefit of the product, which means they'll be quick to abandon it.

Education Helps Customers Understand All of a Product's Features and Benefits

According to Thought Industries, customer education can increase customer lifetime value by almost 20%. That's because teaching customers how to use an app's features makes it easier for them to get more value from it, which means they have better experiences. And as a result, they're more likely to remain loyal than casual users with no training.

Customer education increases product adoption and retention rates by improving user onboarding. Guiding new users through essential processes like setting up an account and teaching them how to use core features helps them understand how the app works faster than forcing them to navigate the system on their own. And since different users will have different goals for using the system, understanding how all of its various functionalities work is vital for helping users identify which features are most valuable to them.

For instance, one of the ways the project management platform Asana educates its customers is with a library of video tutorials that cover everything from how to use basic features to tips on how to integrate an email account. Users can search for tutorials in the app through the help sidebar, and the app will automatically open a web browser to show them all of the tutorials that match their search. And since in-app tutorials can help drive user adoption, Asana could make its customer education even better by integrating its videos and offering learning to users directly through the platform. 

Educating customers helps them grow from curious app downloaders into expert users that understand how to maximize value. It also shows a commitment to an excellent customer experience by giving customers everything they need to succeed. This helps them grow into power users, who access advanced features, get the most benefits out of their app use, and typically spend the most time actively logged into the system.

And once new customers grow into power users, they will be more likely to pay for add-on features or subscription-based services. They're also more likely to recommend it to their friends because they understand the app's benefits better than any other user. And since almost 90% of consumers surveyed by Nielsen have the most trust in their friends' shopping advice, their recommendations are powerful sales drivers.

3 Tactics for a Successful Customer Education Strategy

A good customer education strategy considers potential problems if customers don't understand the product and identifies what education users will need to mitigate those risks. It acts as a roadmap that outlines what app users need to know and how you'll teach them throughout every stage of the customer life cycle. And since speed and convenience are a priority for 70% of customers, the key to a good strategy is using tactics that make it quick and easy for users to maximize a product's benefits.

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1. Plan Training for Users of Every Skill Level

According to a survey of more than 2,000 people, one of the top reasons users uninstall apps is because they don't understand how to use them. And because individual customers have different skill sets, there isn't a one-size-fits-all education strategy you can implement to ensure your entire user base has a good grasp of how to use your app. But planning training that corresponds to different skill sets ensures that every user can learn how to improve their own experience by accessing resources that cater to their needs.

Adobe offers a wide variety of software solutions designed for an even wider audience of users. And it offers robust customer education to support users at all levels. Here are four ways that Adobe differentiates its assistance to cater to its users:

  • Non-tech savvy users need thorough onboarding that guides them through their account setup and offers step-by-step guidance on how to use each feature. They may also need resources like video tutorials to demonstrate creative uses for a feature, like this video from Adobe that explains how Photoshop users can distort the text.

  • Casual users with proficient skills likely won't seek education regularly, but they can still benefit from learning ways to improve how they use an app. For instance, Adobe offers advice to photographers on how they can use Photoshop to help improve their product photography.

  • Power users care about advanced functionalities like integrations and may seek opportunities to enhance their skill sets. One way Adobe addresses this need for its dedicated users is through Adobe MAX, a series of educational sessions designed to help users grow their digital design skills.

  • Professional users and system administrators often need to use specific system features and want to demonstrate that they are able to do so in order to compete for jobs. To support this type of user, Adobe offers a variety of training and certifications designed to help professionals prove their proficiency with its software.

2. Empower Your Employees To Become Educators

Truly successful education plans don't leave customers on their own to teach themselves how the product works. Thorough customer training begins as soon as potential customers become aware of the new product, which means sales and marketing teams play a vital role. Marketers can help educate customers by promoting how a product's capabilities provide value. And while marketers help promote broad benefits, sales representatives support customer learning by helping potential buyers understand the specific ways a product helps them. But for either team to educate customers, they need to understand how the system works, which means they'll need demonstrations and tutorials to help them become product experts.

All software and app companies should already have a healthy tech support team that supports users by helping them troubleshoot system errors and answering technical questions. And to help them do their job, tech support will need access to resources like developer guides. Along with resolving issues, they can help educate customers by offering advice on how they can troubleshoot future problems. And to make sure technical experts can explain complex problems to novice users, they'll also need training on how to interact with customers.

3. Rely on Interactive Learning Tools

According to research collected by Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute, AI-enhanced technologies and interactive activities improve student performance. For example, using an AI-assisted virtual assistant to guide learners through lessons and prompt them with questions increased student learning. The research showed that engaging learners with this kind of interactivity made the learning more active, which helped students pick up concepts faster and retain the knowledge better. And the same tactics will help your customers get more out of your education plan too.

Look at Microsoft, which introduced software users to one of the earliest and most famous chatbot teachers: Clippy. While Clippy's basic functionality is outdated, the friendly chatbot remains an excellent example of interactive customer education. Clippy regularly appeared on screen in Microsoft Word to ask if users needed help, and then users could employ the bot to complete tasks within the application, like adding footnotes to a page. 

Clippy's assistance made learning the software's capabilities easy, which helped many novice computer users quickly create documents using advanced features. And as users became more confident in using the application's different features, they needed the bot's help less frequently.

Empower Customers To Get the Most Out of Your Product

If you want new users to become loyal brand advocates, you need a customer education plan that excites and continues to engage them long after they've completed onboarding. And the best way to engage users in their continued learning is by building interactive features into the platform. For example, AI-enhanced chat can help improve the onboarding experience by helping users learn how to interact with the app by engaging with it directly.

But it can also improve the overall experience by helping connect users and offering more meaningful interactions. For example, offering live chat support allows users to connect directly with an expert when they need help. And building live chat directly into the app means users can quickly and easily access the support they need when encountering a problem.

Learn more about how in-app chat improves the user experience, or start a free trial to see how Stream can help enhance your app's user experience.

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