How to Use an LMS for Customer Onboarding Emma O'Neill Published on May 10, 2018 Customer onboarding is a strategy every growing organization needs to think about. It’s one of the most critical parts of your customer journey. An effective customer onboarding strategy gives your customer a better chance of success and improves your business’s retention rate. One tried and tested method is onboarding through customer training. Done with the help of a learning management system (LMS), it’s a dynamic way to teach customers about your product. It welcomes them, shows them how to use your product effectively and converts them into advocates. Throughout this holistic guide, I’m going to explain: What is customer onboarding How training can help with your customer onboarding And a step by step plan that shows you how to use an LMS to onboard your customers. What is customer onboarding? Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s examine what customer onboarding is and why it’s an essential strategy for your business. Here’s a succinct, yet spot-on definition from User Onboarding: Onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product. Name Chiefly, it’s about delivering the value promised – a common term used when talking about onboarding. It’s when your business delivers on the benefits promised to your customers that made them want to invest in your product or service. Why is a customer onboarding process important? A poor onboarding process can leave your customers lost. They can encounter barriers, become confused, and leave without seeing the value promised. In simple terms, they won’t be your customer for very long. On the other hand, great onboarding has a tangible impact on your business. When customers see the value of your product, they’re more likely to stick around and buy more. It fuels your business’s growth. What customer onboarding tools should I use? There are many onboarding tools – email, in-app messaging, customer success reps, etc. Implementing training with a learning management system (LMS) is a strategy more and more businesses now use. It’s seen as an effective and measurable tool. It not only enables you to deliver training content, it also helps with onboarding automation. And most importantly, you can track the impact of delivering that content. It helps you get better results for your business. Delivering courses acts as a perfect tool to guide each customer through your product or service and its features. It nurtures and helps them overcome barriers that prevent them from seeing the value promised. Rolled out as your main onboarding process or part of a larger strategy mixed with other customer onboarding tools, delivering training with an LMS helps you and your customers achieve mutual benefits. How to develop a customer onboarding strategy with an LMS 1. Start by planning customer onboarding training that shows value Successful onboarding should lead your customers to see how valuable your product is for them. With training, you can do this in an incremental way. Therefore, when planning your training, start by identifying the point where you consider your customer to be fully onboarded. You can then plan training that leads your customers to this important point. Commonly, many businesses consider customers onboarded when they’re able to perform a number of functions that show your product’s value. Or when customers have completed specific actions and begin to realize the value of your product for them. Different businesses choose differing points. It’s up to you to decide when you consider your customers happy and confident using your product. Next, it’s time to decide when and what training you should use to onboard your new customers. We begin planning this by asking one question: After signup, what is the most important training that needs to be delivered first? Then choose that as the topic of your first course. From here, you can add more training that guides your customers gradually to the fully onboarded goal. To make these steps more impactful, add training at barrier points also. These are points where you’ve noticed customers frequently get clogged. Or common areas where they become distracted. This helps overcome any issues they’re experiencing and re-engages them. It’s important to consider the information you’re planning to provide at each step too and how long it takes to absorb. Smaller steps are more learner friendly. They will keep your customers’ attention. So it’s better to break down your training into bite-sized sections. It’s also advisable not to draw out the onboarding process. Be ruthless with your steps and only include what’s important for your customer to know. No one wants to be training for months and months on end! 2. Create your onboarding training With your steps planned, you can now create the training you will be delivering to your new customers. The type of training you choose to deliver is up to you and your audience. Some find product walkthroughs engage their audience. Others find that explicitly outlining the benefit first, then working towards how it’s achieved hits the mark. It’s down to you to discover what works best for your business. Content types are another decision that is dependent on the resources available to you. You can choose to use video, presentations and/or images to make your points come to life. Quizzes help with information retention, simple text-based guides are effective for this too. All these are easy to use options within a good LMS. You can even plan live webinars for a group of customers as part of your onboarding. It’s a good idea to survey customers during the onboarding process. It gathers invaluable feedback on the effectiveness of your training. Play around with your options, see what resources are available to you and build from there. 3. Add and enroll your customers with onboarding automation With all your prep work done, it’s now time to enroll customers in your training. You can do this quickly with a good LMS. And you can even automate many of the tasks. This means your training is being delivered with minimal effort from you. There are a few ways to add customers to your LMS. Ideally, they click a link in your product and go directly to their relevant training. This is achieved using SSO (Single Sign-On). Or have customers browse courses online and self-register for those of relevance. Most straightforward (albeit manual) is to have a CSV file containing your customers’ information. You then upload this to your LMS with the click of a button. A final option is to integrate your existing customer management system with your LMS. This means that when a new customer signs up, they’re automatically added to your LMS and enrolled in the relevant onboarding training. It saves you time and means they can start training faster. To add another level of sophistication to your training, you can divide your customers into automatically assigned groups based on certain criteria in your LMS. For example, if you have different price plans and features available to different customers, you can segment them into groups. Then they are only enrolled in training that is applicable to them making your onboarding more targeted and impactful. When added, you can automate email notifications to customers alerting them to their training. These email notifications can be added throughout the onboarding process so when a new course becomes available or your customer hasn’t completed their training, they’ll get sent a friendly reminder email. 4. Schedule your training Now onto planning when your customers should take your training. Timing is important! Some businesses choose to enroll their customers in all of the courses available to them all at once. Their customer logs into their LMS and can take the training whenever they want to. This gives your customer more control over their own training experience and they can learn at their own pace. But this also means they pick and choose what to learn and could miss out on vital information that throws them off their onboarding track. A more structured approach which is ideal for onboarding is learning paths. This powerful LMS feature gives you the ability to control the order and timeframe in which your courses get assigned and become available to your customer. You simply set the path up in advance outlining when you want your customers to be enrolled in a set selection of courses. For example, when customers are added to your LMS they are immediately enrolled in the introductory course. On completion of that course, they are then automatically enrolled in the next relevant course and so on. This drip feed approach works well in terms of keeping the customer engaged whilst not overloading them with too much information. For businesses, you know your customers are taking each course required to become active with your product. You’re also not micro-managing their training schedule. You simply plan and schedule the learning path and the rest is automated. 5. Increase the chances of success Great content, good planning, and a solid goal are all essential to good onboarding. But there are extra details you can add to motivate your customers to successfully complete their training and increase retention. As mentioned above, learning paths are effective as they’re working towards an overall goal. When enrolled in a path, the learner can see their progression (through a progress bar) creating a sense of advancement that makes them much more likely to complete all of their training. Learning paths also help them keep on track and engaged with your course content. And with a drip feed delivery of courses, they focus on them one by one without being overwhelmed. Rewards, such as learning credits or gamification badges are great motivators to get your customers through their onboarding. Certification can also lead to more confident and competent users of your product. Don’t forget to make your training and documents accessible for refresher training for your customers too. Learners get distracted, skip parts, or don’t always remember all of the information after one viewing. Having easily accessible training documents helps to reduce confusion for your customers and boost the impact of your training. 6. Review and revise Onboarding training, or any training for that matter, isn’t a set it up and leave it task. The best training adapts and improves over time. It makes the onboarding experience better for your customers and more effective for your business. Continuous improvement is really important. Use a mix of your LMS reports and customer feedback loops through automated surveys to identify areas to improve. It’s a great way to understand where customers are struggling, find knowledge gaps and pinpoint what is impacting retention. From here, you can enhance your training and ensure it positively influences your retention rate. An analysis of your product’s support tickets is a great source for future content inspiration. Through your LMS reports, you'll also be able to measure the ROI (return on investment) of your training. For example, compare the retention rate of customers that have taken training against those that haven't. Make your first customer onboarding strategy step today Onboarding training can begin with a single course. One that brings your customers closer to discovering the true value your product has for them. Start by planning even the smallest training step. It will help your customers reach success. And it’s sure to have a positive impact on your retention rate. Let us know if you have any questions about onboarding with an LMS in the comments below! We’d be happy to answer them.