I said last week that one-to-one training was too inefficient, and you could get rid of it. And then I read this blog post by Alex Direnzo on the value of one-to-one customer support for SAAS. I actually agree with much of what Mr. Direnzo says.
However, I want to clarify the difference between customer training and customer support. One-to-one is a great support model if you have the staff for it. It's a terrific way to build relationships with your customers that can have lasting results.
But as a method for training, it is inefficient, when you can develop effective procedures to help customers learn what they need to know to be successful. These procedures can be shared in an easy-to-access, engaging way for a relatively small investment compared to the ROI to be gained. Procedures can be provided via knowledge base articles, FAQs, context-sensitive online help and other documentation, tutorial videos, and online learning. It's best to have a mix of these, as different ways will be more useful for different customers, and depend on the complexity of the software you are providing.
Providing online education in a variety of formats helps customers be successful with your product so they don't leave. According to Help Scout, 91% of unhappy customers leave without complaining. (Reported in Customer Engagement in a Digital Age, a presentation by Cynthia Clay of NetSpeed Learning Solutions.)
While providing training could be ONE component of your efforts to build relationships with your customers, it shouldn't be the only method of relationship-building, nor should it be the only way you provide training.
By providing your procedural education for customers (up front, as part of your product, or as part of your support offerings), you save your important one-on-one time for building relationships and solving more unique or difficult problems. So make sure you are working toward a customer education program. It will improve your customer relationships in the long run.