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The Essential Guide to Customer Training
Introduction to Customer Training
If you’re reading this chances are you’re familiar with customer training, but you’re probably hoping to dig in a little deeper. You want the what, why, and how this type of eLearning program can help your company. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place!
As an educational hub, we designed this guide to answer fundamental questions about customer training. It will provide some resources you can use to start planning a customer education program for your business.
If you have a question about any of the information we encourage you to join our Customer Training Network on LinkedIn. There you can connect with training experts, customer success managers, and course designers. You can ask questions and gain insight from a community of experts.
Table of Contents
The Rise of Customer Training
What is Customer Training?
The Benefits of a Customer Training Program
5 Ways Training can Improve Your Customer Onboarding Program
Leveraging Training as an Engagement and Retention Tool
How to Build a Customer Learning Platform
How to Promote Your Training Program
How to Measure the Impact of Your Training Program
Customer Training in Action: A Case Study
The Rise of Customer Training
Companies in every industry are in a state of disruption. This is especially true for software, technology, and subscription-based businesses. They must now deliver value at every stage of the customer lifecycle in order to fend off competition and ensure sustainable recurring revenue.
The 3 Major Disruptors Impacting the Modern Day Sales Process
Customers Have More Choices
Customers Have More Power
Companies Have More Competition
To attract and keep customers, forward-thinking companies like HubSpot, Salesforce and Onshape have developed training and certificate programs. This helps their customers accomplish business objectives. This approach to customer advocacy is having a positive impact.
According to Technology Industries Services Association (TSIA), companies with trained customers experience a 92% renewal rate. Compare that to the renewal rate for companies (80%) who have untrained customers and you can quickly understand why you can’t have customer success without customer training.
One cannot underestimate the importance of training in the customer success lifecycle, and starts as early as the presale period. But, what exactly is customer training? What types of problems can it help you solve? And what does a good customer training program look like?
In the following section, we define “customer training” and start you down the path of how you can develop a program for your company.
What is Customer Training?
If you asked ten different people to define what customer training means to them, you’d undoubtedly receive ten different answers. No one actually has time to ask ten people, so we asked Samma Hafeez, Vice President of Customer Success at Thought Industries (TI) to help us out.
Samma knows a lot about customer training and support. Prior to joining TI, she helped brands like CareCloud, and BrightEdge build and strengthen their customer communities. When Samma described customer training as, “the process of educating your customer on how to successfully use your product or service to help them meet their business goals,” she convinced us. We had our answer.

At its core, customer training is
the process of educating your customers on how to successfully use your product or service to help them meet their business goals.”
Samma Hafeez
In addition to providing a very concise definition, Samma was quick to point out that customer training is an ongoing process that should help companies attract and retain customers at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This is particularly true during onboarding when training is critical for helping a customer use your product to accomplish quick wins.
We encourage you to check out 7 Steps to the Perfect Onboarding Program if you’re looking to get some tips your customer success team can use to ace their next onboarding. We cover onboarding in more depth later in this guide if you’d like to keep reading.
Now that we have a better understanding of what Customer Training is, we’ll dive into how developing a program can help your company.
What are the Benefits of Customer Training?
Customer training is often considered a “value-add” that can help you differentiate your company. Besides giving your company a leg up over your competition, customer training can help you achieve the following results.

Provide smoother customer onboarding

Increase engagement with your product

Strengthen customer retention

Reduce support costs

Improve upsell opportunities

Create brand advocates
5 Training Tips That Will Improve Your Customer Onboarding
Onboarding is a critical time in the lifecycle of a customer. According to ChurnZero, 40% to 60% of software users only open an app once, then never log in again. With so much at stake, companies are now leveraging training to attract and keep customers during this crucial period.
In a recent Thought Industries article titled, “Why Smooth Onboarding is the key to Customer Success”, we outline two important points that impact the success or failure of an onboarding program. These points are:
the moment when a customer purchases a product, and
the moment when the new customer achieves their first success with a product.
Shortening the timeline between these two events will greatly improve your company’s chances of keeping a customer over the long haul.
To help you shorten the distance between initial purchase and win, your onboarding team should:
Understand Your Customers’ Needs – It’s important to realize that your customer chose you to help them solve a problem. As their business coach or trainer, you need to make sure that your onboarding team maps out and prioritizes what business challenges they want to solve during the early phases of your partnership.
Focus on the Right Tools – Once you’ve identified, and confirmed, what really matters to your customer, you should start to weigh out what products or tools will be most relevant to helping them accomplish their goals.(Example: If your customer has identified that they’d like to use training to improve customer onboarding, you might want to find a customer learning platform that offers these features.)
Offer the Right Mix of Learning – Sending an email is much different than knowing how to craft and design an email message that delivers a 50% open rate. What we’re talking about here is the difference between Application and Contextual Learning. To ensure that your customer appreciates the value of your software, you will need to provide them with training. That training helps that not only helps them use your platform and inspires them to find new ways to improve their business performance.
Use Self-Paced Learning to Scale Your Training – Finding the right combination of hands-on and self-paced training can give your customers the best chance of success while managing critical internal. As you establish a baseline, you’ll be able to layer in new trainings, loop in subject matter experts and expand the scope of your training program.
Measure What Matters (Time to Value) – Embracing good, predictive metrics habits can give your business a competitive advantage. In order to measure your onboarding training and fine-tune for success, you will want to make sure that you are monitoring two KPIs which are Time-to-Value and Training engagement.
By following these training tips, your customer onboarding team will be better prepared to help the customer understand the value of your software as it relates to helping them solve their real-life business challenges.
In the next section, we outline ways your customer success team can use training to improve customer engagement and retention.
Leveraging Customer Training as an
Engagement and Retention Tool
Once you have successfully completed the onboarding process, it’s important that you continue to find opportunities to engage with your customer. Help them find new ways to meet their business goals. This ongoing engagement between you and your customer should create a win-win scenario. The more you can help your customer solve problems with product training, the more they will come to value your partnership. They will see your company as a trusted partner.
As John Leh, a technology consultant, explains, “the investment in engagement has ‘measurable value’ because it feeds into keeping that customer. And the cost of keeping a customer is far less than it is to find a new one, he points out.”
These points are reinforced in the article, Customer Engagement, Retention, and Beyond. Written by Pat Durante, the President of the Customer Education Management Association (CEdMA) and a Senior Director at Talend, the feature outlines the role training plays as part of an effective customer engagement strategy. It helps companies improve their customer retention efforts.
PRO TIP 1: Use “Blended Learning” to Increase Engagement
Investing in customer-valued learning generates brand loyalty, greater spend, lower support calls, a closer vendor/customer relationship, and higher renewal rates. A surefire way to increase the success of your customer education program is to increase customer engagement through blended learning.
By offering different learning modalities like on-demand or self-paced learning, microlearning, and video streaming, your customers will engage with your content. This helps them advance their knowledge and use of your product. If you’d like to learn more we’d encourage you to check out, Design the Perfect Learning Blend for Customer Success.
PRO TIP 2: Use a Certificate Program to Build Retention
Certification can be a very important component in assuring that your customers experience success with your products. In practice, certification can occur at different stages across the customer lifecycle, depending on how your organization decides to approach it.
Managing certifications—and the delivery of them—can become a complex proposition for any organization. From building completion rules and award criteria to managing recertifications and submittals, certificate management is no easy task to scale. To drill into this idea, we suggest you check out How to get the Most Out of Certification in the Customer Success lifecycle.

One of the challenges of bringing a new product to market after 25 years is that we face a very entrenched market. So, one of the big obstacles we need to address is onboarding, or bringing people up the learning curve as fast as possible so that they can use our software effectively.”

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– The Thought Industries Customer Learning Maturity Model
– The Essential Guide to Customer Training
– The Ultimate Guide to Customer Onboarding
– 2022 State of Customer Education Report
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