A business is often its own worst enemy. This is especially true when a startup launches a new product that’s completely foreign to the market. Since members of the team have spent weeks, months, or years developing the product, they know it well. What they forget to remember, though, is that consumers know nothing about it. In these instances, customer education is supremely important, and without it a product will fail to live up to its potential.
What Customer Education Is
Customer education refers to a company’s role in providing consumers with the information, skills, and abilities needed to become a more informed buyer. While it can take on many different forms, customer education is most effective when used to engage online shoppers and in-store customers. However, while the intended message is still the same, these two areas of customer education can vary quite drastically.
What Customer Education Is Not
Customer education is not advertising or marketing. While components may tie in with an advertising or marketing element, they are certainly not the same. Whereas advertising and marketing attempt to persuade on an emotional level, customer education tries to give the consumer all relevant information regarding the product or service at hand.
Why Customer Education Matters
Historically, companies have been hesitant to educate customers for many reasons. Many believe that the more knowledgeable a consumer is, the more likely they are to shop around and choose an alternative. For years, conventional wisdom has said teaching customers too much about a product or service gives them added leverage. However, according to research, there are actually “considerable advantages that result from improving customers’ service knowledge.”
Specifically, the research suggests effort to enhance customer knowledge is tied directly to trust in the product. When coupled with a positive attitude and outgoing personality from the educating employee, the results are magnified even more.
Despite these revelations, many companies with average or middle-of-the-pack product offerings are worried that customer education will drive potential customers away. But in the confines of the study, clients “appeared to be less concerned if education initiatives revealed to them the lack of differentiation on service outcomes…” Better yet, they “were more likely to trust the company as a result of a customer education initiative.”
The truth is that, in industries where marketing ploys and advertisements are continuously pushed on consumers, customers are looking for genuine insights. In most cases, a well-developed customer education strategy can be enough to influence buying decisions.
Tips and Strategies for Better Educating Customers
When you look at how to practically implement education, it’s important to understand who your customers are. One of the best customer-education companies is Apple, and over the past decade, they’ve released a handful of completely new products. Things nobody had ever seen before; what was their key to success? You guessed it, customer education.
Apple offers dozens of different workshops and programs – some paid and some free – to help individuals learn about the features and capabilities of their products. As a result, they’re able to attract a large segment of people they wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. While you may not be Apple, you can certainly implement a solid customer education program with some of the following tips:
Start with the customer. Before you can dream up a strategy, you must understand your customer. What are their strengths? What do they lack? Why are they looking to buy your product? It’s only after uncovering these facts that you can begin to effectively educate them.
Invest in content. For internet shoppers, content is king. Developing a content-rich blog and intuitive website can help you inform consumers. Cheap-Phones.com is particularly efficient at providing quality content that compares and contrasts various products. They, like many other companies, understand that effective education requires accurate and concise information.
Become hands-on. For retail stores, your best friends are POS displays. Learn to implement hands-on features that show people the benefits of using the product or service. Consumers enjoy being able to touch and feel, and will resonate better with your offering.
Putting it All Together
In the end, it’s about informing your customers so that they can make calculated purchase decisions. While it can seem intimidating and counterintuitive to give away all the details, it’s proven to be an effective sales tactic for many companies. How do you plan on educating customers in the future?