The design and implementation of a bona-fide certification program requires a strong organizational commitment at senior levels; a financial investment to launch and maintain the program; and the expertise of many highly experienced individuals to help develop the program, exam and possibly the training.
Launching a certification program consumes valuable association and company resources. It may take several years for test revenues to cover annual costs.
Still, a successful certification program provides the following benefits whose value, while substantial, may not always be easy to quantify.
1. Certification creates brand loyalty
Having already earned a certification from your association or business, a certificant will be primed to pursue subsequent certifications, certificate programs and micro-credentials that you may create.
For businesses specifically, a certification program builds client/partner confidence in the use the product or service. Certificants feel empowered as they move in the direction of mastering its application.
Certification, once achieved, makes customers more loyal to the sponsor’s brand, especially when it provides the rewards of internal benefits like enhanced self-esteem and/or external benefits like a new title, promotion, raise or employment perks.
2. Certification communicates authority and leadership
Your certification program demonstrates a high level of advocacy for your target market. Candidates associate the sponsor with the professionalism and prestige that the certification confers. There’s a halo effect that creates an expanded presence for the sponsor in the minds of the target audience.
Certificants themselves also project authority because of their enhanced skills and competencies evidenced by passing the certification exam.
3. Certification differentiates your association or business from that of your competition
As a certification sponsor, you have competition—whether you see it or not—from universities, community colleges, other professional associations and companies. Not all of them offer certifications. The fact that you do is a prime point of differentiation for your target audience, which sees you as different than (often better than) the competition. Differentiation is the essence of positioning. Certification positions you as the professional alternative.
4. Certification creates brand ambassadors
Your certificants have a financial, emotional and temporal (time) investment in your certification and can become powerful ambassadors for your association or company. They can share their expertise with peers and showcase the best features of the product or service.
Your certification program creates an entire sub-group of users who, based on their proficiency and competence, can represent your product well. Everyone who interacts with your unofficial ambassadors will get a glimpse of the benefits of your product.
5. Certification can be a powerful customer-retention strategy
This is especially true for software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses where client-contract renewals are essential for growth. If customer success is ultimately about loyalty, certification is ultimately about empowerment and a deep connection to the sponsor’s product or service. A symbiotic relationship emerges that favors client loyalty, contract renewals and growing ROI.
The Kryterion Psychometrics Team has worked with dozens of clients in multiple industries improving the performance of new and existing credentialing programs. A valid, reliable and legally defensible certification exam that follows test-development best practices is a key factor in ultimately attaining the five benefits listed above.
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