There are many things that you learn as you go as a course creator. The process of designing the course or choosing the best marketing strategy is sure to keep you on your toes.
However, this entire job is incomplete without a third aspect: managing client relationships, or better said, offering customer support to learners. You see, most self-paced online courses lack the socializing aspect and people still miss that guidance from an instructor. Opening up a help channel of sorts has several benefits for you as well.
Which brings us to the question:
Why do you need customer support for learners?
Well, there are at least three answers:
It’s no secret that online-only courses have a problem and that is big dropout rates. For some, it might not be a huge deal, but I want you to consider the following: the success of your course depends on completion rates or at least depends on learner activity in the course. For example, maybe they’re completed at least 70% of the course so that is in itself a success.
Most people that drop out of the course will do so at the beginning, so technically some of them won’t even click “start course”. You can lower the chances of this happening by making the navigation of your course as smooth as possible and have a support system in place.
Learners need it
If you haven’t dealt with this already, imagine getting hundreds of messages in one day, on multiple channels or platforms. The effort to provide good support can be considerable, especially as you gain new learners, which only strengthens the idea that you should have a manageable support system from the get-go.
5 Customer support tricks for course creators
Here are five ideas on creating a customer support system that is convenient for you and at the same time, helpful to learners.
Setting up a help desk
Learners have many questions and often the same ones. If they don’t know where to address them, they’ll find the most convenient option for them: chat, email, social media, etc.
That’s why the Help Desk is a learning management system must-have feature. It only takes a few clicks to get to the Help menu and then post a question, which you can answer later. Not only is everything in one place, but other users can also go through the Qs and As, which saves them the hassle of asking the same thing again. You can direct them to a specific Help Desk topic by simply sending them links when appropriate.
Opening a support forum
If you don’t want to use the Help Desk option, there are other tricks that you can find in a platform. For example, use the group or forum features and ask learners to post there. The forum is closest to what you need as you can easily copy-paste links to specific threads.
A group is more appropriate for discussions, so you might find it useful if a few rules are set in place. In groups, people are more likely to start off-topic conversations so you’ll need to choose the right name and rules for a support discussion group.
Writing the Welcome Page FAQ
The welcome page of a course isn’t just for well, welcoming learners. It’s a space for you to set up a Q&A so things will go smoothly from there. In the beginning, you can anticipate what would be some common questions and add them there. As the course progresses, add questions from actual learners, but no more than 10-15 items.
Be careful when you edit this page as you don’t want to end up with hundreds of questions. You get to choose what is more important for them to know. Don’t use splash pages as those are pages that learners only see once per course or course overview pages, which are designed with visitors in mind.
Investing in a chatbot
Chatbots are the future. Well, not really the future as they soared in popularity in recent years. All in all, automating the customer support process can clear your to-do list much faster. There is one caveat though: people are getting used to the convenience of chatbots, but also demand to speak to a person if their problem is much harder to solve.
So setting up a chatbot on your website can be of real help for routine questions, as long as they’re trained to answer effectively. They can also be customized according to different categories, so you can set up a section for visitors and another one for already existing customers.
Creating your site policy
This isn’t really a part of support, but it can function as a support feature when you factor in handling customer complaints. For example, a learner has a problem and has opened a Help Desk thread. How much should they wait for an answer? One hour? One day? These are the kinds of things that you can clarify in your policies section so they’ll know from the beginning what to expect.
This also helps you deal with more serious issues such as online harassment, which does happen and shouldn’t be swept under the rug. If learners don’t comply with basic online etiquette, this gives you the right as a site owner to send a warning message or suspend their accounts.
Offering customer support for learners can be an unexpected challenge for entrepreneurs. The bottom line is that you can do it yourself as long as you use your learning platform to the max, automate the process if you can, and manage your time wisely.
Ioana believes that learning doesn’t stop when school stops. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.