Experience Investigators
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What makes a great online CX training course - and what are the best free/cheap ones?

Stuck at home with time on your hands? Why not hone your customer experience skills with some online training.

26th Mar 2020
Experience Investigators
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Online CX training
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You're here because you're looking for a great CX training course, and I've got eight to share with you.

But before we dive into the courses, I want to take a moment to share with you what I look for in an online training programme. My goal isn't just to throw a list of courses at you and leave you to figure it out, but to help you think critically about what kind of course is going to serve you and your organisation the best.

Let's dive in, shall we?

Rule #1: A good course meets you where you are.

Some courses are designed for complete beginners. Some are designed for experts and assume you've got years of knowledge.

Bad programmes aren't sure what level of expertise they're designed for. Maybe you've experienced this before: One minute you'll be thinking "I already know this" and the next you'll be saying "what does that acronym mean, and why didn't they explain it?"

A great online course knows its audience and makes it clear who it's for from the get-go, so you can make an informed decision about whether it's right for you.

Rule #2: A good course doesn't try to be everything to everyone.

I know the course-creator's dilemma firsthand: We have so much information we want to share, and we're so enthusiastic about it, we don't know where to edit. So an instructor starts off creating a course about topic A, goes off on a tangent about topic B, realises that the student really would benefit from some supplemental information about topic C...

And before you know it, you've got an unfocused series of lessons in which the whole is worth less than the sum of its parts.

A great course is focused on a single topic and a single outcome: "By the end of this course, you will be able to do this one thing better than you could before."

Rule #3: A good online training isn't any longer than it needs to be.

We've all read 200-page business books and thought "this could've been summed up in two pages." We might be excited about the two pages worth of gems we uncovered, but usually that's obscured by our frustration over having just wasted our precious time reading 198 pages of fluff.

Online training is no different. There are many reasons a course creator might create an epically long programme - maybe they think having 100 anecdotal example stories is helpful, maybe they think if their course is 60-hours long they can charge more - but there's rarely a good reason.

Any good course is basically a fast-track to a result, like those moving walkways in the airport. It's not enough to get you where you want to be - a good training should also get you there faster than you could without it.

Now, in the spirit of getting you where you want to go fast... let's get to the courses!

My favourite free customer experience courses:

Free Customer Service Training by LiveChat

Free | Email Course (5 emails total) | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • Email format makes it easy to digest, review, and share.

  • 5 emails total makes this a quick and focused training.

  • Their landing page does a great job of telling you exactly what you'll learn in the course.

I think that this course is a wonderful primer for those just getting into the world of Customer Experience. In just five emails, you'll learn about a customer-first approach to customer service.

The messages include some promos for LiveChat as you might expect, but it never feels pushy or obnoxious, and there's value in each email.

VISIT THE COURSE

The 21-Day CX Challenge by Experience Investigators

Free | Email Course (21 emails total) | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • Email format makes it easy to digest, review, and share.

  • Emails come with actionable missions.

  • By the time you're done, you'll feel ready to begin advocating for culture-changing growth in your organisation.

I've gone and done it: I'm promoting my own email series. Technically, it's not a traditional course, but a broad series of challenges that will help you take action and get results. 

Admittedly, this is both broader and deeper than the LiveChat 5-day course, so if you're just getting started the LiveChat course may be better for you. But if you're ready to take some time each day to take action in making your organisation more customer-focused for everyone's benefit, this is a great free resource.

VISIT THE COURSE

My favourite sort-of-free customer experience courses:

What the heck does Sort-of-Free mean? Well, the following cohort of programmes are all offered through Linkedin Learning. That normally means paying for each course individually or as part of a Linkedin Learning subscription... but you can get a month free with this link.

Every one of these courses is relatively short and sweet (remember Rule #3!), so you can take in any or all of them within your free month.

(Also, full disclosure: as a Linkedin Learning instructor, the links I've included in this section are affiliate links -- but the courses I'm recommending are solely based on merit.)

Customer Service Foundations by Jeff Toister

$24.99 / Free with subscription or 1-month trial | 84 minutes | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • It's focused, detailing 3 crucial customer service skill sets.

  • It comes with supporting exercise files to help you retain what you learn.

  • The course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs).

This course does exactly what the course description promises, offering a wonderful foundation to customer service. If you've followed me for any amount of time you know how much I value listening to the the customer - good and bad alike - and using their feedback to improve. Jeff does a terrific job of introducing those concepts in this course.

VISIT THE COURSE

Writing Customer Service Emails by Leslie O’Flahavan

$19.99 / Free with subscription or 1-month trial | 66 minutes | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • Leslie is a writing instructor and has great insights into email communication.

  • The course includes real customer service emails to give your team a head start.

  • Its goal is to teach you how to communicate with clarity and sincerity to help customers feel heard and ensure your responses provide the help they need.

A jack of all trades can teach you a little bit about a lot of things, but I've always been a big fan of targeted, focused expertise. If you're looking to improve your customer service emails - your own, and those from your customer service team - why not learn from a writing instructor?

This course can help your organisation deliver customer-focused communication without losing efficiency or effectiveness.

VISIT THE COURSE

A Design Thinking Approach to Putting the Customer First by Big Think

Free with subscription or 1-month trial | 27 minutes | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • You can watch this in a single lunch break, but it's packed with info.

  • Eliminate a common blind spot in CX: product development.

  • It includes contributions from leaders at companies like Procter & Gamble, Spanx, Netflix, and more.

Too often, I hear leaders mistakenly express that Customer Experience is something to consider as an afterthought, proverbial icing on the cake. But CX can and should begin at the earliest stages of product development to serve as a foundation.

This course addresses how to begin putting the customer first from the product development stage by taking a design thinking approach to the work, with the potential to offer you or leaders on your team a "lightbulb moment" in about the time it would take to watch an episode of Seinfeld on Netflix.

VISIT THE COURSE

Creating a Positive Customer Experience by Jeannie Walters

$29.99 / Free with subscription or 1-month trial | 46 minutes | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • It's a great intermediate-level course - not oversimplified, but not full of jargon.

  • Learn how to create a customer journey map.

  • Discover how to add value and provide exceptional customer service through each phase of the customer journey.

Yep, it's another one of my courses -- and while I'm sure I'm a little biased, there's a huge amount of value packed into these 46 minutes. Come with me and let's create a customer journey map, identifying touchpoints and processes that need improvement along the way.

Plus, I share tips and strategies for setting the right expectations with marketing, signage, and in-store experience; building trust before the sale; retooling your sales process to thank and celebrate your customers; and more.

Looking for something else? I've got two other Linkedin Learning courses as well on the topics of Customer Service Blueprinting and Customer Journey Mapping.

VISIT THE COURSE

My favourite inexpensive CX courses:

I'm reluctant to say cheap because there's nothing substandard about them. The two courses I've chosen to feature here are both incredibly low-priced for what they offer though, and that makes them some of my favourite inexpensive CX courses.

Know Your Customer (and Reap the Rewards) by Christopher S. Penn

$95 or Free with MarketingProfs subscription | 60-90 minutes | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • Use data to gather insights without forgetting that your customers are human.

  • Uncover the questions to ask to get more ideal customers and keep them loyal.

  • Learn how to identify your ideal customer using data from Google, social media, marketing automation platforms, ad metrics, and more.

I have a love-hate relationship with data, key performance indicators (KPIs), and the like. So often I see leaders get so bogged down in setting and meeting their quantitative goals that they forget their customers are human, and that some results can't be quantified.

In this training, Christopher does a lovely job of gathering and interpreting the right kind of data without letting numbers impede success. This is definitely a marketing-focused course, but valuable for anyone who wants to learn various ways to leverage tools in order to understand customers better.

VISIT THE COURSE

7 Service Triggers by Adam Toporek

$47 | 10 modules / 5 weeks | Link to Course

What makes this course great:

  • Lessons are dripped over 5 weeks, making them easy to digest.

  • Learn how to use the 7 service triggers to prevent customer issues from occurring.

  • Associated worksheets (not workbooks!) are designed to help you work through concepts without feeling like extra busywork.

Last but certainly not least, Adam's course focuses more on the customer service side of CX. Do you have people at your organisation who think that customer service is all about resolving customer conflict?

In this 5-week course, Adam challenges that assumption and teaches how to use the 7 service triggers to keep customer service issues from happening in the first place.

VISIT THE COURSE

Wrapping up:

Which CX course should you take? It's easy to get overwhelmed. There are 8 great options on this page alone and if you're reading this, there's a good chance you've got a few other tabs open with other recommendations.

So how do you keep from taking the wrong course?

If you'll allow me to dust off an old cliche: The only wrong decision is to not make a decision.

The great thing about free courses (and those that offer free trials) is that you don't have to be sure they're the perfect course for you before you get started. There's no shame in starting a training, realising by module three that it's not what you expected, and moving on to another.

Linkedin Learning alone offers 131 courses (and counting!) related to CX, so even if none of the ones I've recommended here are a perfect fit for you, there are bound to be some that are.

You share our mission to Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers™, and that's incredibly admirable. Now get out there and take action by learning something new!

This article adapted from an original post on Jeannie's blog. Republished with kind permission. 

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