For SaaS companies, customer education happens throughout the customer lifecycle. Increasingly, SaaS companies are looking to improve and scale their customer education and training programs, and acknowledge this is as a critical driver of business growth.

Here, we talk about six ways SaaS companies can improve customer education:

1. Apply the ‘as -a-service’ mindset to the design of customer education and training

A recent McKinsey article recommends SaaS companies apply the approach used for product to provide a streamlined, customer-friendly experience across business functions. Designing a customer training program with this mindset creates a seamless, intuitive customer training experience that meets evolving customer expectations and builds a sticky and satisfied customer base.

2. Keep SaaS customers informed

SaaS products are changing all the time. For this reason, it’s imperative that customers stay abreast of changes and updates. One way to make customers aware of these changes is by regularly communicating with them. For example, product updates about new features or iterative enhancements can be delivered in a variety of formats – email, website, or in app – and are often a starting point to improve customer education on an ongoing basis.

3. Educate in app

A common and effective way to provide ongoing education to customers is within the application itself. Again, different methods can be used to suit different learning styles and at different moments in the user experience. Contextual short form help can both support and educate at key points in the journey, while a knowledge base can serve as a complete guide to the product’s capability. SaaS companies who do this well typically observe a reduction in customer support enquiries.

4. Offer a variety of customer training options

To support different learning needs and styles requires a variety of different training modalities. One way to improve customer education is by providing flexible training options in a variety of formats at the right time in the customer lifecycle. At certain points, a short video or article will suffice. For more involved training, an on-demand course where learners can work through at their own pace might be more suitable. In our experience, instructor-led training is the most effective way to give customers hands-on experience in the use of complex software.

5.Monitor progress

To understand how your SaaS training is performing, it’s essential to have visibility of how customers are working through training content. The best training modality to directly interact with customers is physical or virtual instructor-led training, where instructors have live visibility of participant experiences and can offer assistance during the session. Seeking regular feedback from training participants allows for the identification of areas to be improved.

6. Make training material as relevant as possible

Too often there’s a tendency for training material to be oversimplified so it can be re-used. However, it’s important to strike a balance between being efficient, and creating relevant content. Customers have a far greater chance of success if training can cover real world applications of the software.

 

SaaS products are typically not built to support training objectives, making it really hard for training teams to improve the quality of their customer education program. A specialised platform for SaaS customer training can help improve items 4-6 above.

Next in our Customer Education series, we’ll share what to look for when choosing a training platform for your SaaS company.

For SaaS companies, customer education is an essential component throughout the SaaS customer lifecycle. Through customer education, SaaS companies can ensure their customers realise the value of their product. This in turn drives sales, increases adoption, and leads to higher retention rates.

Customer education is needed throughout the SaaS customer lifecycle

Customer education starts the very moment a prospect becomes interested in your product. However different methods to educate are used throughout the customer lifecycle.

Providing hands-on access to your SaaS product early in the sales process – at a marketing event or during a product demo – is a proven way to drive greater conversion through the sales funnel. This is because often the feature set is too extensive to describe. This way, prospects can also play around with the features that are most relevant to them, deepening their engagement. SaaS companies who are able to provide prospects with a fully-featured version of software to trial typically also see greater conversion success.

Once the deal is done, it’s not a case of set and forget. Ongoing customer education is a key component of customer success. At this stage of the customer lifecycle, customer education can again take various forms, the most prominent being customer training.

High quality training with hands-on practice is essential for customers of SaaS

High quality training is one of the primary ways to ensure high adoption and give users of SaaS applications enough experience and understanding so they can get full value from their SaaS subscription.

Even then, there are a variety of ways to provide training. With most SaaS applications, hands-on experience is the best method of training to ensure understanding. In our experience, hands-on training is best delivered by an instructor in a virtual or physical classroom environment.

Another, more flexible training option to consider is self-paced training. Many SaaS companies have chosen to create a training curriculum that can be completed on demand. This provides an immersive and safe learning environment for learners to have hands-on practice with their software.

Regardless of how the training is delivered, hands-on practice with real world scenarios should be the cornerstone of any SaaS training program. And in the ever-changing world of SaaS, ensuring customers say up to date and educated is of utmost importance.

Effective customer education improves adoption and retention rates

As you can see, for SaaS companies, a customer education program with different training options across the customer lifecycle provides numerous opportunities to develop strong relationships with employees across their customer organisations. An impactful customer training program increases user adoption, with employees using the product more often, using more features, and working more independently[1]. When done well, it can also reduce customer support interactions and costs.

SaaS companies who focus on making their customer training great see an increase in customer success as measured by high retention rates, which is a key driver of growth[2].

How could your SaaS company’s customer education program be improved?

SaaS companies should be working to ensure their customers have what they need for the software to help them achieve their business goals. This includes regularly looking at ways to improve the quality of their customer education across the SaaS customer lifecycle.

In the next blog post in our Customer Education series, we’ll share six ways SaaS companies can improve customer education.

[1] https://www.tsia.com/blog/3-ways-education-services-can-advance-the-customer-journey

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/grow-fast-or-die-slow-focusing-on-customer-success-to-drive-growth