Teach your customers with online classes.

Photo1HP announced a series of changes to their online support offerings earlier today and one of those updates was the expansion of the free online classes they offer.

HP’s offering is interesting because they don’t limit the classes to HP products exclusively, but instead offer instructor-led classes on a variety of subjects, ranging from digital photography to creating business cards. The instructors are experts in their particular subject areas and the “students” can ask the instructor questions as the classes are going on.

I like what HP has done with these classes. A lot of companies will offer webinars that teach customers about their products specifically, but very few expand the scope beyond that. HP is smart for offering to teach its customers how to get the most out of their PCs and technology in general. If customers know how to get the most out of their PCs, they are going to be a lot more interested in upgrades for their existing PCs or in the mood to buy more powerful PCs (hopefully from HP) when they are looking for a new computer.

There are lots of companies that could benefit from similar views. Web hosting companies could have classes on web design, clothing retailers could have classes on fashion, supermarkets could hold cooking classes, and so on. All of these classes complement the core product or service and still help to improve the company’s brand (assuming the classes are good, of course).

Setting this up for your own company would not be overly complicated. You likely have someone with the expertise (and hopefully, the attitude) to design and run such a class in your support team. After that, it is matter of getting the technology in place and promoting it among your customers. Try it with one or two classes and survey your customers to see how much they like it.

HP has had good luck with their classes to date; 93% of students surveyed responded saying they would take another class and 92% of students surveyed said they would recommend the class to a friend. Hopefully your implementation will have similar (or even better) results.