7 Learning Styles and Why They Matter to Customer Success

different ways people learn

It’s not exactly news that everyone learns differently, but most organizations are failing to make use of this information. Whether it’s a customer learning a new product feature or a customer success manager mastering a best practice, each person will have a better chance of retaining the information by following a learning style best suited to them.

There are several different learning styles and ways of processing information, from visual learners to solitary students. If you are familiar with your preferred learning style, you’ll be able to maximize your customer success training and professional development to accelerate your career growth. If you can recognize the learning methods of your customers and colleagues, you can deliver new material to them in a way that makes the most impact.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • Seven different learning styles and how each group best takes in information

  • Different learning techniques you can use for each style

  • Practical use cases for each learning style

Visual

A visual learner thrives when there are visual aids involved, such as pictures, diagrams, infographics, and graphs. They want to literally see the relationship between different ideas and how everything connects.

Learning techniques to try: Take notes and mark up your materials with different colored pens and highlighters. The visual impact of bright colors helps key information stand out on paper and in your head.

When explaining product features to your customers, send them screen captures or videos so they can see what you’re talking about in addition to sending them written instructions. One tool for doing marked up screen captures, Jing, was featured in our Apps for Success series.

Auditory

People who are auditory learners prefer using sound to learn, like voiceover videos, audio recordings, and even rhythm and rhymes. Since they process new material through listening, this group learns very well from audiobooks and podcasts.

Learning techniques to try: If the situation will allow it, record the learning session you’re in so you can replay it at your leisure. You can also take advantage of clever tricks like creating word associations and mnemonic devices to remember important information.

Your customers who are auditory learners would benefit from having videos of you explaining product features or showing them how to troubleshoot problems. We featured Loom in our Apps for Success series because it allows you to take video screen captures with a video of you at the same time, and is great for these types of learners.

Verbal

While verbal learners obviously process information by speaking out loud, they also benefit from reading and writing because they enjoy language in general. Reading out loud, participating in group discussions, repeating things back are common ways this group loves to learn.

Learning techniques to try: Try partnering up with another verbal learner so you can take turns reading material out loud, and then take breaks for discussion throughout. Like auditory learners, you can also create word associations and mnemonic devices for key parts of training.

Kinesthetic

As you can imagine, kinesthetic learners learn best by doing and taking action. They are constantly in motion and often quite animated. This group learns on the job, enjoys role plays, and finds that fidgeting actually helps them concentrate.

Learning techniques to try: When reviewing your learning material, try getting active at the same time by going for a walk or riding a stationary bike. In a training session, a discreet way to stay physically involved is to trace words or re-write key statements with your fingers.

When possible, set up screen sharing time with your customers and let them take the wheel when showing them how to complete tasks or set up features in your product. By actually doing the task, they’re going to have that muscle memory and understand better how to do it.

Logical

Logical learners love to understand the big picture behind every concept. They’ll happily ask multiple questions until they fully understand a particular concept and how it relates to other ideas. A logical learner also enjoys ranking ideas, sorting steps into a sequence, and making agendas to follow.

Learning techniques to try: Spend time organizing and categorizing the information you’re learning into your own list, chart, graph, or outline. When taking notes, paraphrase and focus on just the key points instead of writing every word down verbatim.

When sharing meeting notes with your customers, explaining next steps, or during a QBR, having the information laid out logically into a concise list, timeline, or sequence will help relay the information in an easily-digestible format. Success Plans are an excellent way to distill all important information for a client relationship into one page in a logical format.

Social

Social learners are good communicators and enjoy interpersonal interaction. They thrive in partner work and group projects because they prefer working with others and bouncing ideas around.

Learning techniques to try: When working with others, try setting up a system where each person teaches one section of material to everyone else. You can also set up debriefing or review sessions, where everyone gathers together to discuss the latest training. The social interaction in both of these techniques will help you retain more information.

If you’re in a situation where you have a group of users at a single client, set up trainings (over the phone or in person) that are interactive. If one of the users is already well-versed in any of the features, have them explain it to their colleagues.

Solitary

Solitary learners prefer having quiet time to take in what they’ve learned and reflect on how they’re feeling about new information. Having a set routine with the same quiet place to learn is helpful to solitary learners. They prefer self-study and easily motivate themselves to continue training.

Learning techniques to try: Because solitary learners enjoy self-analysis, journaling is an effective learning method. Try freewriting about the new topic and how it relates to your daily work life as a customer success manager. Relating to what you learn is also very effective, so try imagining how new scenarios would play out with customers or fellow CSMs.

Do’s & Don’ts

  • DO figure out what your preferred learning style is and brainstorm how you can take advantage of that style in your training as a customer success manager.

  • DON’T feel like you have to stick to just one learning style. While you will lean towards one style more than the others, there are learning techniques from other styles that will still benefit you.

  • DO take notice of the learning styles of people around you. Whether it’s your customers, colleagues, or team members, being able to tailor the information delivery to the people you’re working with will come in handy.

  • DON’T overlook the importance of understanding how all seven of these learning styles work. Knowing the basics of each style will make you a stronger customer success manager.

Robyn Petrik

SuccessCOACHING contributor Robyn Petrik is a freelance copywriter originally from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in blogging, website copy, and social media content. While she happily spends most of her time writing, you’ll also find her reading, hiking, and eating too much peanut butter.