Trainers who focus on customer and partner education understand that their audience consists of busy professionals who are on-the-go. Unlike mandatory compliance training where employees are captive at their desks, customer training is an optional, yet critical activity that leads to faster product adoption and long-term success.
Creating compelling training content in bite-size, self-paced pieces is the first step to encouraging knowledge mastery. When course completion is an important goal (and it may not be in all contexts), we've identified four incentives that are successfully used to encourage customers and partners to complete training. Read on for the details.
Social Certificates and Badges
In modern times, adult learners are rarely excited by a printable certificate of completion that is tacked to their cubicle wall. Learners are much more interested in obtaining credentials that demonstrate real value to existing and future employers.
An LMS like Skilljar enables learners to share their achievements on social networks, specifically posting their certificates on their LinkedIn profiles. For extra credit, work with your marketing team to run a promotion with a prize for eligible certified users. Social certificates and badges are also effective for training channel partners, system integrators, and other third parties that benefit from being publicly and officially linked to your organization.
Continuing Education Credit
Licensed professionals, from medical doctors to real estate agents to bartenders, require ongoing professional development hours to maintain good standing in their respective industries. Many informational webinars and on-demand training courses are eligible for continuing education credit if your organization goes through the process of becoming accredited (the process varies from industry to industry).
Offering industry-recognized credentials is a fantastic way to draw students to your organization, especially when students are required to meet a certain threshold of hours anyway. Licensing bodies often have directories of accredited providers which can refer students to your site. An LMS like Skilljar can track the actual time spent in the course as well as assessment scores for reporting and compliance purposes.
Rewards and Points
Many organizations give customers loyalty points, rewards, and other intangible incentives for completing a variety of actions. Software like Influitive, Big Door, and Bunchball power customer rewards for attending events, purchasing items, completing surveys, answering discussion threads, and more.
Training and certification are excellent activities to integrate into existing rewards programs. Students have another reason to complete training and add points to their existing accounts. Organizations have a holistic view of customer engagement actions and can build integrated campaigns between training and other customer activities.
A monetary incentive for completing training can be a discount, free offer, or other promotional credit that's only available upon course completion. For example, a consumer financial institution might offer a coupon off closing costs at the end of a First Time Homebuyer course. A software company might offer a discount off of additional seats, a certification exam, or a premium version of the product. In our experience, these promotions have worked best when designed to encourage a highly desired behavior while still making economic sense.
A note about gamification
Gamification is a hot topic in the learning and training industry. At Skilljar, we've found that most of our customers prefer to integrate rewards with a broader customer advocacy program as described above. We believe gamification works best in environments where there are a high number of end users (tens of thousands), an existing and engaged community, and reasons for users to come back on a daily basis for at least several weeks at a time. Otherwise, gamifying training completion is unlikely to have significant impact in our experience.
It's always nice to be rewarded for a job well done. If you're encouraging your customers to complete training, consider offering social certifications and badges, continuing education credit, points and rewards, and promotions. For more information on creating compelling training content, read our blog post 5 Best Practices for Creating Compelling Training Content.