A survey of online consumer product research habits states that when manufacturers post detailed product information on their website, they experience an increase in sales conversions. Another survey states that Video Product Tours result in 35% increase in Online Sales Conversions.
Organizations have always practiced some form of customer education and training in the form of traditional classroom, or on-site training programs. Off late, exclusive seminars and webinars are being used for customer education.
Here is a snap shot of their features:
On-site training is usually limited to one or two days, and is organized for customers after product purchase. A core group of individuals is first trained, who then transfer their knowledge to a broader group within the organization. Many organizations such as Electrolux and Xerox offer on-site training for their products. They also have training centers where regular programs for customers are organized. On-site training is time and location bound, and hence limits the number of participants. An on-site training program can be reinforced with an eLearning program for lasting benefits.
Some organizations conduct seminars to educate customers on industry trends, solutions or product usage. Typically, a training manager or product specialist travels from one city to the other conducting seminars for the customers. This is a planned event of the organization, and customers do not have any say in its scheduling. Attendance depends on individual time and work constraints. Seminars too are time and location bound, and therefore cater to only a limited number of customers.
Webinars are powerful tools for reaching out to existing as well as prospective customers. More number of customers can be reached with minimal resources and effort. There are no travelling costs involved and webinars can be organized with relative ease as per the needs of the market. Live Webinars can be converted to on-demand format and uploaded on to the website for online access, for those who have missed them. This practice overcomes the limitations of seminars or on-site training programs, which are time and location bound. Though webinars are excellent for information dissemination, they do not offer any instant interactive experience that an on-site training program or a seminar might offer.
Organizations such as CISCO, Microsoft and IBM have well-structured online training programs for customers. eLearning provides the freedom and opportunity for customers to access training at their convenience. It helps organizations to focus on developing effective training content and hosting it at a centrally accessible location, without having to worry about travel and logistical arrangements required for on-site or face-to-face training programs.
While none of the older methods of training have lost their relevance, organizations need to take a re-look at the way they are organized and managed, when dealing with the increasingly online customers. Relying on a single method is not effective; Organizations need to have multiple platforms for customer education.