Product certifications can be a powerful tool for software companies and other product and service providers to build loyalty, optimize full value of their product, lower support costs, and continue to adapt to meet user needs and preferences. Users that take the time to certify their proficiency are more likely to continue to use your product to the fullest extent, become evangelists and provide critical feedback on new features, functionality, and experience that can be funneled back into the development process.
However, human nature dictates that users need motivation. Simply educating them on the benefits of certification isn’t enough. Empowering people to take the initiative requires a little more guidance and encouragement.
Digital Credentials Provide Incentive
Everyone likes to be recognized, and digital badges can serve as a point of pride and accomplishment for friends, family, colleagues, customers, and prospects. Badges can be shared on social media, email signatures, and marketing materials–serving as verifiable proof that a developer, technician, or other user has mastered a skill and is qualified to do a job or provide a service.
But building a digital credentialing program can be fraught with roadblocks, pushback, and false starts–especially if the program takes too long to be rolled out or requires too much effort from the learner. Users may decide the effort isn’t worth the reward and simply lose interest–allowing the digital credentialing program to lose value before it gains the necessary momentum to be successful.
Here are five tips to help you create and roll out a successful digital credentialing program for your organization:
1. Achieve quick wins that deliver immediate value
People have short attention spans. This helped our species evolve into dynamic creatures that could adapt quickly and master many tasks at once, but today, it makes it difficult to get people to understand and appreciate long-term value. Building a digital credentialing program requires patience, but that doesn’t mean that you have to make people wait to see the value that badging brings to the organization. Build momentum by rolling out digital credentials for existing certification programs rather than try to launch new courses and badging at the same time.
These quick wins will show people the potential value of a full-scale program while feeding them the all-too-critical endorphins that get people excited about something. It also gives you a low-stakes way to work out the kinks and build processes and best practices for rolling out future programs.
2. Tie badging to business objectives
Some of the most difficult stakeholders to convince will come from inside your organization, but getting these people on board can make or break your digital credentialing program. One way to prove the program’s value is to tie badging to business outcomes. The development team wants to improve engagement on the company’s new software? Educate them on how incorporating digital badges for users can help them achieve that goal. The marketing team is struggling with brand awareness and brand loyalty? Draw parallels between badging and repeat business.
3. Build proficiency into your badges
People love being recognized, but the joy they get from a badge can quickly dissipate over time or as more people are recognized. Use human psychology to encourage users to continue to advance along the certification journey by building different levels of proficiency into your digital credentialing program. Basic, intermediate and expert level badges help differentiate expertise on a granular level, encouraging proficiency while building additional incentives for continuing to engage with your brand.
4. Make outreach a priority
Communicating badging opportunities is critical for making your digital credentialing program a success. People can’t take certifications and earn digital credentials if they don’t know they exist. Having a single credentialing hub can centralize all the information stakeholders need–providing details, value and incentives all in one place. You can also get the word out through published case studies, product newsletters, and blogs while a creative PR campaign in the media and on social media help build credibility. Surveys can also spread the word and provide valuable feedback for improving the program.
5. Don’t go it alone
Designing a bunch of badges and issuing them to certified users may seem straightforward, but a successful program needs to be more than that. Building and maintaining momentum, tying digital credentials to business and user value, and communicating with learners requires nuance. Credentialing experts can provide you with the research, guidance, and expertise to create a badge recognition strategy, develop a competency framework, and build out governance and communication processes.
Get Started with Credly Today
Our team of credentialing experts work with leading brands to set certification providers up for success by designing a credentialing program that meets objectives, aligns to a business case, and drives positive outcomes. From best practices and onboarding support to a range of professional services, Credly offers a variety of support to start their credentialing journey. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more.
Jim Daniels is an accomplished education and credentialing program professional. Before joining Credly as the Director of Professional Services, Jim spent 16 years with IBM leading the design, implementation, and business strategy for the company's award-winning digital credentialing program.