After 18+ years of training clients in person, COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing have turned Proficientz into an online only business in the short-term. It has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Quick background…our online product management training and certification program was released in late 2018. It’s completely self-serve. Customers register, pay, go through the training lessons, complete the exercises and take the certification exam without any interaction from Proficientz.

The significant uptick in volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been our best stress test yet. The most fun part has been dealing with people from a host of other countries – India, Serbia, Ukraine, South Africa, etc. They’re awesome!

Here are my three big takeaways.

1. User Experience and Brand Perception Are One and the Same

I always knew user experience and brand perception were joined at the hip but didn’t fully realize how it plays out when there’s no human interaction with customers. Your brand is whatever your customers experience, before, during and after they buy.

The volume of unsolicited compliments and multiple enrollees from the same organization tell me we passed the test with flying colors. Serious relief on my part! But nothing is perfect and we’re no exception. Our clients have uncovered some easy opportunities to make their experience better. The enhancement list is now official!

2. It’s the Little Things That Make a Huge Difference

I responded to a simple question about our certification exam and the customer replied with, “Thank you. Throughly impressed with your quick responses.” This was just one of many regarding fast responses to email questions.

Responsiveness, especially for customers 5-15 time zones away is a big deal. Whether it’s a simple question, a login issue or a personal email asking someone how they like the training, customers feel valued when their success is your top priority.

3. You Still Need To Be Personable

You’ve surely received one of these impersonal emails from a company you bought something from. Copy that read like it was written by a robot and signed by “the management,” with a no-reply email address. Real personable!

Even though so many things are easier to do online, our customers still want to feel like they’re dealing with real people. We all have opportunities here. From the way we label fields on a form to the subject lines and copy in automated communications, to the ease of contacting a real human being.

The tone of our communication plays an enormous role in how we further endear customers or push them away.

I think the bottom line is this when becoming an online only business. We should treat customers with the same care, priority and respect whether we’re interacting with them in person or not. We just have to work a little harder to give them the same or better experience when humans aren’t involved.


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