Evernote had 11 million users by July 2011, so there's a good chance you've heard of the popular note-taking cross-platform app. Like me (at first), maybe you've added a few notes and thought that was cool, but didn't really do anything else with it. Or maybe you use it more like I do now - to manage any and every piece of digital information that comes your way. Or maybe you fall somewhere in between, knowing that it has some powerful capabilities, but not having learned how to really put it to work for you.
Because of my interest in how different software companies approach the problem of educating their customers (and helping them develop the documentation and tutorials to do so), when I found out about the Evernote Certified Consultant training program, I was intrigued. I completed the program in May, 2017. As a recent graduate of the program, I got the chance to interview Joshua Zerkel, who is Director of Global Customer Education and Community at Evernote (and a Certified Professional Organizer). We talked about Evernote's approach to educating their users on getting the most value from the product.
In the early days, the original CEO, Phil Libin made some low budget/low tech video walk-throughs of the product and posted them on YouTube. The company didn't have a strategy for training customers at first, but along the way, the offerings evolved as a combination of different perspectives among the company, such as addressing frequent support tickets through additional instructional information and providing more professional how-to videos.
Although Evernote now has approximately 350 employees, Josh's team for managing the Global Customer Education and Community functionality is very small. He and one other full-time person manage all of the content, education and community activities. When we spoke in late May, he was also looking to add an instructional designer position. (How I would love to be magically transplanted to Redwood City, CA to join his team!)
Though Evernote doesn't currently "connect the dots" between customers who have consumed a certain kind of educational content and their usage of the product (especially renewals and upgrades), Josh mentioned that it's something they may add in the future. They do know anecdotally that people who consume certain kinds of content, like reading the blog or using templates, tend to do better with the product.
But along with the challenges of having such a diverse user population, one of the educational challenges is that Evernote is a flexible product that is used in almost as many different ways as there are users. Josh believes that "the company doesn't have to be the only one delivering the message." So he designed the Evernote Certified Consultant training program, which has existed in its current version for about a year (and existed in a different version for about a year before that). There are now approximately 800 Evernote Certified Consultants, as well as approximately another 800 Evernote Community Leaders, all of whom are helping Evernote users learn more about the product.
The program that potential consultants must go through is fairly rigorous (and must be done in English). Candidates who meet the requirements must plan on spending 20-30 hours with just about two weeks to complete several modules designed to help consultants learn detailed information about Evernote's brand, standards, and procedures. The program offers lots of practical experience working with Evernote, as well as access to other students' work to share and collaborate on different ways of approaching different problems. But the percentage that make it through the program every month adds to Evernote's ability to train a global audience. Josh personally reviews every single assignment, so you can imagine the amount of time he spends grading assignments. My graduating "class" included 30 new Evernote Certified Consultants, but Josh says he's had as many as 300 students in one month. Josh and I talked quite a bit about the benefits of charging for this training to offset some of the costs, as well as weeding out some of the folks who never finish the program.
Evernote will keep evolving it's educational offerings as the team is able to make improvements. But if you need help starting out with Evernote or optimizing your use of the app, there are so many options and people available to help. Just ask!