Why companies need customer tutorials [+ how to create them]
Leverage customer tutorials to educate your audience, create trust, and attract new buyers. SweetHawk’s co-founder weighs in with his own tips and insights.
Published September 7, 2021
Last updated March 24, 2022
There’s nothing more frustrating than making a purchase and discovering you don’t know how to use the item you just bought. The situation can be equally upsetting for the business selling a product or service. If a customer doesn’t know how to use it, they won’t see its value—a recipe for churn.
This is why customer tutorials are a valuable tool in your company's mix of marketing and customer support content. You can use them to educate buyers about your product or service, no matter where they are in the customer journey.
Customer tutorials are a crucial component of your company’s customer service. They’ll help your customers solve any stumbling blocks, and also feel supported by your brand.
What is a customer tutorial?
Customer tutorials are videos, webinars, infographics, or articles that teach customers about your company’s products or services. Often the backbone of your company’s knowledge base, tutorials demonstrate product features, how to use them, and what makes those features valuable.
How customer tutorials benefit businesses
Your company can benefit from customer tutorials in a variety of ways, especially because they can provide increased visibility to your brand. People often search for an easy how-to video or straightforward article when they need to learn how to do something. According to Wyzowl, 69 percent of people prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video. Meanwhile, 18 percent would rather read a text-based article or blog post.
By providing these types of self-service resources for consumers, you can boost traffic to your company’s website and potentially attract new customers while also establishing trust with existing ones. Customer tutorials help to establish you as an expert within your field, and by proactively answering common questions, you also reduce your support team’s workload.
Build trust and confidence
Customer tutorials show that your company is committed to customer success, helping to create trust and customer loyalty by ensuring that your buyers know how to use your product optimally. When customers can get the most out of your product, they’re more likely to stick around and continue using it.
SweetHawk, a company that provides workflow apps that integrate with Zendesk, proactively uses customer tutorials to build trust with potential customers.
“When customers look at our product, they value that they can also check out our knowledge base and see that it’s well documented,” says Peter Godden, a SweetHawk co-founder. “That gives them confidence when purchasing.”
In fact, Godden narrates some of the tutorials, and when he speaks with SweetHawk’s clients, they often recognize his voice from the tutorials. As a result, customers already feel a sense of familiarity with both Godden and the brand.
“Having videos allows someone to make a decision about buying our apps with more confidence because they aren’t going into it alone—they have a partner,” he says.
Save time and money
Customer tutorials also make it easier for your team to answer customer questions, saving time and resources they would have otherwise spent on support or outreach.
While it takes some up-front effort to create tutorials, they benefit the business in the long run because they make the customer experience and purchasing decision easier for the customer. Tutorials are a great self-service support option that customers can reference at any time.
Godden believes SweetHawk’s investment in customer tutorials has also led to fewer repetitive questions for his support team. Without tutorials, he estimates that his company would need a support team three times the size of the one it has now.
“By the time I’ve written the same response in a support ticket for the third time, I realize we need an article to address it,” he says. “Giving customers an ability to self-serve is pivotal to our success.”
TL;DR? The three hours spent making a customer tutorial may feel like time away from your support queue, but consider how that tutorial may save 30 hours of agents answering the same questions over time.
How to create and share customer tutorials
You don’t need to employ web developers or a programming language to make customer tutorials. Instead, you can use numerous tools and platforms that don’t require advanced or specialty skills and that make the process easy. Here are some tips for getting started.
Due diligence: see how other companies create tutorials
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel to make great tutorials. These companies offer examples for what works.
Video marketing company Wistia created a tutorial to show users how to create their first video on the platform. The instructor in the video makes everything extremely concise and clear by laying out the individual steps the viewer must take to use the tool.
Productivity software company Notion also has dozens of tutorials on its website to guide users in the right direction. Some of these guides include text and screenshots that explain how to join Notion and create objectives and key results (OKRs) through the app. The company also has short videos on how to share its Notion workspace and how product managers can use the application. This combination of video and text-based instructions caters to different types of learning styles, making the content more approachable for any customer.
When it comes to tools, Godden often uses ScreenFlow to record his screen and then uses Final Cut Pro for editing. He also uses Keynote for animating the customer tutorials. Thanks to this combination, SweetHawk has been able to make professional-looking customer tutorials with ease and host them in a Zendesk help center.
With Zendesk, you can use out-of-the-box tools like Explore to measure the success of articles in your help center and see if your videos are garnering attention.
Provide clear instructions
Presenting straightforward directions for the customer to follow is vital to avoid confusing your audience. Map out the steps in advance and practice reading the script out loud to help identify areas that could become stumbling blocks.
The more complex the subject, the more challenging it is to create a crisp and simple tutorial. Think about the best way to discuss and present your topic, then write a concise script that feels consistent with your brand voice and tone and that clearly outlines the steps.
Godden recommends listing each step as its own section so viewers can easily jump to the step they’re looking for. “Give people a clear path to get to what they want,” he says.
Keep it short
If your customer tutorial is unnecessarily long, overly detailed, or too complex, customers won’t finish watching it. The trick is to ensure that you don’t attempt to cover too many topics in a single tutorial. For complicated tasks, consider breaking down the tutorial into a series of videos, articles, or guides. Each piece can address a certain product feature or element and guide the user to the next step. That way, your audience won’t feel overwhelmed.
“When you’re writing a knowledge base article, it’s tempting to explain what else you can do in the software, but I try to keep a clear vision of what people expect to get from the article,” Godden says. It’s important to identify the question and then to provide the answer.
Make tutorials easy to find online
Tutorials offer a great way to engage customers or attract new ones based on the quality of the content. They provide the added benefit of being something that you can (and should) optimize for search engines—and also make it easy to find on your own website.
To make your tutorials easily searchable, use keywords and other search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. It’s important that your content actually matches search intent, however.
Oftentimes, search engines will recognize a combination of text and video (or some other visual representation of the information). The text will help people find your customer tutorial, while the video or graphic will show them how to use your product or service.
Share tutorials on social media
Some buyers may follow your brand but aren’t necessarily asking any questions about your products or services. Social media offers a good opportunity to proactively serve up a how-to article or video that may inspire them to make a purchase.
YouTube is one of the most popular places to share customer tutorials. Zendesk, for example, includes product-oriented tutorials, as well as other brand and marketing videos, on its YouTube channel. This brief video, for example, gives users practical tips for optimizing a Zendesk account to improve their customer experience.
You can also share tutorials on social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) or blogging platforms like Medium. The key is consistency—companies that regularly share content tend to develop a larger following and a more engaged audience.
Use customer tutorials to connect with consumers
Don’t forget to have a little fun when creating customer tutorials. While writing or recording, think about how you would explain the product or process to a friend. You’ll feel more relaxed and confident, and your audience will feel more comfortable and engaged as well. We’re all just one person trying to help another out.
Also, taking a final example from SweetHawk and Godden, seize the opportunity (when possible) to introduce or include leaders within your company. This will make customers feel as though they know or can recognize the people they’re doing business with.
Zendesk can help you adopt a holistic approach to a stellar customer experience. In addition to managing all your customer conversations, you can create a help center to serve as a customer-facing hub for your tutorials. This also makes it easy for agents to discover and link to company videos and other resources when assisting customers.