Using online learning for customer onboarding

John Sherman

Onboarding is an incredibly important task to ensure that customers are retained. Without onboarding, a customer may feel adrift in their new service, not knowing how to take full advantage of the service – or they might feel neglected entirely. This is a huge error, with a recent Harvard Business Review study pointing out that 85% of executives said successful customer onboarding is vital for long-term customer loyalty.

But it’s important to remember that although the end goal is to generate and retain customers to increase profitability, this shouldn’t be your primary aim when organizing your onboarding process. It should be clear what you can offer the client in return for their custom, that they can achieve the desired outcome. This is where retention comes from.


Online learning is a great part of this, and in this article we’ll address why.

What is onboarding?

Before we get to the meat of the subject, let us first take a few moments to ensure we understand its main term. So, what do we mean by onboarding?

Onboarding is the name given to a process of familiarizing and integrating employees, or in this case clients or customers, with the products or services that your company provides.

The onboarding process can be seen in two main ways.

Employees – New employees can be taught, via online learning or other means, the rules, regulations and expectations of a company. They can be informed of the steps that they should take in carrying out the tasks of their job. Their progress can be checked, and appraisals are given to give them clarity on their position.

Clients and customers – This is very different. Onboarding with customers means that a company is able to exhibit its value to a customer in such a way that the customer considers their service or product worthwhile enough to continue using and ideally, to build a long term relationship with.

Why online learning is so useful in gaining more customers

Now the concept of onboarding is understood, we can look at the reasons as to why online learning is so effective in gaining more customers. While it is only one of many ways to attract clients to a business, online learning is perhaps the best method. There are many uses of online learning and multimedia in the onboarding process.

Use of “dead time”

Time is becoming expensive and this means that people want to gain a lot by only sacrificing a small amount of their time.

Consider the recent crazes in physical fitness training. High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Microworkouts are both examples of gaining the maximum result in the minimum amount of time.

Online learning, being mobile and broken down into manageable chunks, is the educational equivalent. Customers can learn on-the-go and whenever they want, making use of their “dead time”. In turn, this leads to greater long-term use of learning resources and better retention of customers.

Goal setting ability

The easy use of goal setting abilities is another feature that makes online learning a huge boon in onboarding more customers. Facebook’s use of likes or Twitters re-tweets system makes use of human biology by rewarding us for using the product. Likes and retweets are effectively awards that we desire.

Likewise, the goals that eLearning offers (think of DuoLingo’s Ingots system) drive our desire to reach them. We want to achieve the next badge by finising the course. In this way, customers can be tempted to continue using the service.

This is useful for educational tools as it allows students to really learn, but it is also a fantastic way to retain customers after onboarding.

eLearning is easily digestible

Colorful videos full of concise information that clearly tell a user exactly what they need is a very appealing offer. Rather than sift through mountains of text or FAQs, videos and exercises offer a way to learn and then test that learning, in a simple and unfussy style.

Potential customers do not want to have to work to access a service or find information. eLearning services serve it straight to the customer.

Accelerates time to value

Online learning has a clear and immediate impact on customers because it provides value to them. Clients are more likely to pay for services if they believe it improves them in some way, as eLearning does.

Online learning courses minimize time to value for a business, a very precious benefit.

Take away

So there you have it. Because of the nature of learning courses, a small amount – for example, free access to the first video of a course – can be offered to whet the whistle of potential customers. You’ve demonstrated your product and customers are happier to pay for a product they know works.

To make sure that online learning becomes the force for onboarding that it can, it is necessary that your resources are varied and high in quality.

Another important point to remember in the onboarding process is to continue communication even after a customer has onboarded successfully. With online learning, this could mean suggesting similarly themed eLearning courses or send occasional quizzes to test a customer’s knowledge. It is vital that customers do not feel forgotten about.

Finally, asking for feedback from successfully onboarded customers is a good way to learn about the successes and failures of your online learning process. What did they enjoy? What did they find too easy, or not related to the product?

Only by asking these questions will you be able to perfect the onboarding process and see the value of online learning in onboarding and retaining customers.

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