We've been training customers since we've had products that required training, but recently, the idea of onboarding training has been getting more and more attention. So today, I'm providing a summary of the webinar hosted by Skilljar and presented by Adam Avramescu and Linda Schwaber-Cohen from January 2019 called "New Formula for Customer Onboarding."
With the rise of subscription-based businesses, companies need to make sure their products are effectively adopted by their customers. Customer onboarding is such a critical investment, because if customers don't adopt the product, they don't renew and can end up costing more to acquire and support than the revenue they generated.
Adam and Linda started the webinar with a few observations about what some companies are doing wrong when it comes to onboarding.
For example, you wouldn't want to give end users and administrative users the same kind of training. Either the end users will be overwhelmed with too much detail about setting things up, or your admins will not be getting enough training for their jobs.
The second mistake is equating account onboarding and user onboarding. Yes, there are tasks that need to be done when you obtain a new account. But these are not the same as the more frequent new user onboarding every time a new person joins a team that uses your product.
The third mistake Adam and Linda discussed is that onboarding should be owned by one team. The truth is that onboarding is a journey for the customer, and you'll have team members supporting different parts of that journey from marketing, sales, and customer success.
Of course, your onboarding strategy won't be perfect overnight. Adam and Linda recommend defining which onboarding archetypes you have in your company, and which are the highest priority for optimizing. They also recommend shadowing a customer onboarding to see if you are using the wrong approach or the wrong archetype. Get started with the most impactful thing and lay the foundation for measuring your success.
For those who didn't get a chance to view the webinar live, you can access the recording here. If you get the chance, it's an hour well-spent if you are thinking about improving your customer onboarding strategy.
Let me know if you need help building content for your on-demand onboarding strategy.
In a previous article, I mentioned Learndot, ServiceRocket, and Donna Weber of Springboard Solutions as providing some helpful resources as you start thinking about creating your customer education strategy. They've teamed up together and recently launched the first run of Customer Education University (CEU).
They plan to run this Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) several times a year, and today I'd like to present it from two different perspectives.
It is a great resource for customer success professionals who want to focus on customer education and need to learn the vast amount of details to consider in training customers online. I learned quite a bit in the course, some of which I will share throughout the article.
However, what I find even more valuable is how we can learn from it as an example. There is value in providing self-serve education on product features - and the return for an investment in that kind of content can easily be measured in reduced support costs, easier customer onboarding, and more renewals and upsells. But the value of also educating potential users within the industry on how to do their jobs better goes well beyond reduced support costs and into a realm of marketing and scaling in an exponential way.
Many of the CEU lessons spend time discussing why it is worthwhile to invest time and resources into customer education. But the course also has a nice mix of 101-style high-level conceptual overview along with specific tactics you can implement as you move through the process of educating your customers in a scalable way.
The course runs for six weeks and consists of a live one-to-many webinar each week, plus additional assignments of reading and watching related recorded webinars. I'll give a high level overview of what the course covers.
Getting Started - Week One
The Getting Started week presented learning and best practices that ServiceRocket has gained through their partnership with Gainsight, their integration with SalesForce, and their work with their customers as they measure the value around customer education. Their experience consistently shows that better educated customers make better, more informed buying decisions and have higher conversions. When customers are more successful at achieving their business outcomes from increased product utilization, they have an increased Net Promoter Score® (NPS) and ultimately provide greater revenue for the company. Donna Weber's addition to what ServiceRocket has learned comes from her years of building and managing successful customer education programs for companies. (Donna ran the webinars starting in week two for this first cohort of the course.)
Defining Your Strategy - Week Two
Week two was all about defining your strategy. Where is your company on the maturity model? What types of courses would best link what your customers most need with what will best support the company goals and is actually something you can do, given current skills and resources? I had seen before many times the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model, with its phases of reacting, performing, scaling and optimizing, but during this week, I had one of those "aha" moments that goes hand in hand with an agile methodology of course development. Get something your customers can use out there, even if it's rough around the edges, and iterate and improve from there. It's good to have a strategy for where you'd like to be, but don't let that ideal version keep you from starting wherever you are with what you can provide right now.
Building Your Offering - Week Three
The third week of CEU focused on defining and building your offering based on what your customers need and balancing that with the reality checks on build ratios. Instructor-led training (classroom, even if it's online) can take between 20 and 60 hours to develop and deliver the content for 1 hour of learning. The ratio for eLearning is even larger, depending on the quality of the visual media and complexity of the interactions. This week's webinar included lots of practical tips including recommendations to talk to your customers, create a minimally viable product, using a phased approach, communicating with stakeholders, repurposing content in different formats, curating content and scheduling update cycles.
Go To Market Plan - Week Four
The Go to Market Plan module of the course stressed strategies for pricing, marketing and selling your customer education offering. Even if you plan to make your training available to customers for free, you can position your efforts within the company so that the value of those offerings are identified. Otherwise, you won't get the resources needed to be effective or the program is vulnerable to being cut altogether. The business model of your customer education team generally aligns with the company maturity model. Wherever you are, it's important to track the costs of development and delivery and if possible, the money coming in not just as sales for the training itself, but the savings and sales indirectly associated with the training.
Metrics and Technology - Week Five
Week five - metrics and technology - discussed technology categories, like the learning management system (LMS), course development and authoring tools and other needs for training your customers. That week's webinar also addressed measuring the impact of learning as well as the impact of business. While Excel can be a good tool for tracking in the beginning, you'll quickly want something a little more sophisticated. Don't build your own system - there are plenty of tools out there (including Learndot, and I was impressed that this week didn't turn into a sales pitch).
Moving to the Next Level - Week Six
I'm proud to share my certificate from the first cohort of students, and will refer to the lessons when I come across different scenarios with different clients.
And that's what I mean by a good example. It wasn't a course about how to use Learndot. But it didn't have to be. I'm sure they will iterate and make the course better each time they run it. And for companies who are a good fit, Learndot can use this course to generate some well-qualified potential customers.
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!
I'm super exited that I have another guest post to share to help in your journey for creating educational content for your customers, brought to you via blog post exchange. This time, the Nozbe team members share with us how Nozbe turns a passion for productivity into different ways to educate customers of their to-do, task, project and time management application.
I started using Nozbe in Jan 2016, and now I absolutely couldn't live without it. It helps me manage multiple client engagements, as well as my volunteer, family, and personal projects. If you'd like to give Nozbe a try, please tell them I sent you by signing up with my affiliate link.
You can read my contribution to the Nozbe blog at https://nozbe.com/blog/michele-wiedemer-adding-to-nozbe/.
Productivity as the Passion for Educating Customers
Ask Michael YouTube Series
Another teaching vehicle we use is YouTube. Apart from traditional tutorials explaining entire Nozbe interface and all its options translated to all the languages we work in, we regularly record and publish episodes of Ask Michael series. It's hosted by our CEO, Michael Sliwinski, who answers the most frequently asked and the most interesting questions we get from Nozbe community. He tackles questions about general productivity-related issues, as well as specific Nozbe features.
Michael feels good in front of the cameras and speaks several languages :-) He also loves sharing his knowledge and experiences related to motivation, efficiency, personal-development, etc. Perhaps that's why he recorded this free of charge, professional productivity course a few years ago. It consists of an intro and 10 short parts in which he explains the crucial productivity rules followed by Nozbe-based examples. The course was recorded in English, German, Polish, Spanish and Japanese.
The Nozbe CEO also writes books. His first one (co-written with A. Pinaud) is #iPadOnly. The second one ("It's all about Passion!") shows how seven types of passion helped him achieve success with his productivity startup. The third book tackles the idea of working remotely and explains which tools are the best for it ("No Office Apps"). Recently, Michael has written another book - a super-handy guide based on his video course. Currently it is available only in Polish. We are in course of translating it into other languages (https://productivitycourse.com/).
As you see, we really like sharing everything we have and know about productivity. Another way to do it is a podcast. It is not strictly Nozbe-related show but it definitely educates the listeners. The Podcast is a weekly conversation between Michael, (our CEO) and Radek, (Nozbe VP Apple) about the things they're interested in. They talk about books, insights, business, productivity, technology, and whatever else comes to mind, really.
Apart from announcing new releases and promotions, we use email to inform our community members about all the resources we prepare. Every month we send a newsletter with a list of all the blogposts, The Podcast and Ask Michael episodes, and any other materials that Nozbe users may find helpful.
One of Nozbe features that we frequently use to pass on our knowledge are shareable project templates called Nozbe.how. The Nozbe team creates practical templates, like a packing list, recipes, various checklist and guides. We then generate a public link to the template and post it on our blog or in social media. This way everyone can access what we prepare, eg. https://nozbe.com/blog/nozbehow-april/
Up to last month (April 2017), we regularly published a free productivity-related magazine. Each issue came with an interview with a person we admire, as well as a bunch of timeless and practical articles written by the best experts in the field of productivity, teamwork, personal development, coaching, psychology, etc. Although we stopped publishing it, all the archived issues are still available for free online.
Social Media Channels
We regularly post productivity-related resources on our Facebook wall and on Twitter. These are either links to blogposts, Productive! Magazine articles/interviews or external articles and guides that our team finds online. Our social media manager frequently answers questions people ask via social media.
According to our observations, the top educational channel at the moment are webinars. People love them - perhaps due to the direct contact with the webinar hosts and the possibility to ask them questions.
We've also noticed that despite all the materials we offer, users very often don't see or understand basic features and options that we find crucial and impossible to miss. It clearly means that what is obvious for us can be sheer magic to others. To find out the reasons of such discrepancies a lot of research, surveys, conversations and testing is required. We are working on it :-)
We would also love to make our blog much more popular. It is the same with Nozbe Help Page. It is a fantastic source of information and somehow people seem to give it a wide berth sometimes.
We know we need to improve the in-app communication with our customers. Although we have an introductory tour for first-time users, we know it isn't as good as it could be. We definitely will be working on it. This is extremely important aspect of educating the app users - without a well-designed welcome tour, they won't learn about many of the fantastic features and options we have to offer.
Once Upon A Time...
At the beginning Nozbe was just a one-man-shop run by Michael. He recorded simple video tutorials and screencast at the time and just replied to emails people were sending to gain any information needed.
After a while, he hired a programmer and one customer support person who continued replying to emails with all kind of questions the clients had.
There was a time when a Nozbe forum existed. It was not popular amongst the community though. People preferred to write to customer support than post their queries online and wait for other users to advise.
Educating pays off
There definitely is a correlation between more "educated" Nozbe users and their renewal rates or tendency to upgrade from the trial version to a paid subscription. The more you learn about cool features Nozbe has to offer, and see how to employ them to optimize your workflow, the more you appreciate the tool. People who are aware of how our software can make their lives easier are more willing to pay for it. Time is money and we should look for a solution that works for us. That makes us more productive. That saves us time. An educated and aware person isn't afraid to pay for these things.
Adam is head of the Customer Education program at Optimizely, the world's leading experimentation platform. The Optimizely Customer Education program is called Optiverse, where customers learn about more than how to use the Optimizely product features, and includes a knowledge base, academy, academy live, community, and certification. I met Adam at the Learning DevCamp 2016, happy to meet someone in a conference full of training professionals who also focused on training customers vs. employees.
My background is in instructional design, so this theme really spoke to me. It was time to get to work on our first Optimizely Academy.
In many ways, this felt like the situation that Geoffrey Moore describes in Crossing the Chasm, where technology companies and products move from a user base of self-motivated early adopters to a more risk-averse majority. Users in the majority group are less willing to assume the risk of adoption technology sight unseen, are less tolerant of bugs, and prefer both social proof and more detailed training or instructions.
The Big Dig: Training Content Excavation
Before we even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, anyway) on a concept document for our academy, we wanted to get a sense of the core path to value for new Optimizely users. We knew there were different roles at Optimizely delivering different training sessions, but there were a few problems:
- The “trainings” weren’t actually trainings. In many cases, they were knowledge dumps with no interactivity, no chance for the participants to test their skills, and pretty poor retention after the fact.
- Content was different from person to person. There was no guarantee that a customer would learn the same thing from one CSM or Technical Account Manager to the next. Not great for the customer, especially if their account team ever changed hands.
- There was no way to get back to the content after that initial training, aside from watching the recording of your session (if we even did a recording). Not great if a new member of your team came on-board months later.
We decided to do a trial run of the content by hosting three different training webinars, pointed at the core skills that we taught customers as they onboarded with Optimizely. We gave them value-oriented titles and had subject matter experts on our Customer Success team deliver the content. We called this series “Optimizely Launchpad,” and the three courses offered bi-weekly were:
- Setting Up Your First Experiment: The 5 Steps in Every Test
- Using the Optimizely Editor: Best Practices for Editing Like a Pro
- Making an Impact: Testing Strategy, Methodology, and Hypotheses
Note that, at the very least, we tried to make our content more about workflows and best practices -- not just product training, but some focus on how you can more effectively use our product to do your job.
We didn’t market these sessions to our entire customer base, so attendance was low, but we also used the webinars as an opportunity to refine the content so we could record it and post it online. Now, our Customer Success team at least had something to point customers to as a learning resource.
Minimum Viable Academy
Sometimes when I speak to Customer Education leaders who are tasked with building a program from scratch, they say, “I really want to build an academy for my users, but I can’t get the budget for an LMS approved.” Good news -- you don’t need to, as long as you understand the tradeoffs.
We designed and built the first iteration of our Academy on a second Zendesk Help Center instance over the course of four months. With those two restrictions (no new software, and four months to get to release), we made some deliberate decisions about what we would and wouldn’t include. Here’s what made the list (and, maybe more importantly, what didn’t).
We said YES to:
- Content tracks. We created paths spanning four different skill levels, and covering four different subjects (Platform skills, Strategy skills, Implementation, and Results interpretation). Each path featured a combination of text-based lessons, videos, and activities.
- Video. Many, but not all, lessons had corresponding videos. This was a good reason for us to produce more new video content that we could also repurpose in our Knowledge Base. Originally we wanted to add live-action “bumpers” to the beginning and end of the courses where you could see a real person from Optimizely introducing the video, but we cut this from the scope.
- Bright, sharp copy. With time in short supply for us to produce engaging, interactive content, we instead tried to engage users through the power of the copy. Each lesson was written with a strong voice -- friendly, helpful, sometimes a little quirky or funny. We received positive feedback on this, and it ended up being a good way to engage customers and make the content feel more human.
- The “Why”/WIIFM: Instructional Designers are taught to focus on the “WIIFM”: What’s In It For Me? We tried to lead each piece of content with explicit focus on how this would help customers do their jobs better, or why the skill we were teaching is actually important.
- Callout boxes. One of the biggest design changes we made for our Academy was custom-designed callout boxes for notes, tips, warnings, and examples. This added visual contrast and helped to highlight and chunk information. We repurposed these callout boxes back into our Knowledge Base as well, since both the Knowledge Base and Academy were hosted on Zendesk instances.
- Stories and examples. Customers responded well to stories of other companies who were in their position, and other people who were going through the same situations they were. So we created three fictional companies with their own fictional optimization teams, who were learning the same lessons as our actual learners. Each of these fictional companies represented one of our key customer verticals at the time (e-commerce, media, and B2B). If I had to re-do this, I would have used more actual customer stories, but the simulated stories were quicker to produce because it took less sourcing, and we didn’t have to clear them through Marketing.
- Self-assessment. At the very beginning of our Academy, we designed a quick self-assessment that pointed you toward the skill level that was most appropriate for you. This was not interactive or dynamic in any way -- just an HTML document -- but this was effective in giving customers a sense of where to start, and setting expectations correctly.
We said NO to:
- True interactivity. That’s right -- no Articulate or Captivate for this first version. It was painful not to have actual interactivities where users could test their skills and receive meaningful feedback, but e-learning modules would have added too much production time, and we weren’t going to have these SCORM files reporting into an LMS anyways. Instead, we came up with written instructions for activities where customers could go into the Optimizely products, follow the instructions, and apply their knowledge that way. Although we did go back and create more rapid-dev e-learning content; the demise of Flash, limitations of SCORM, and general performance issues make me think that we shouldn’t have gone down that path at all.
- User-based tracking. This was one of the bigger sacrifices we ended up making. User-based tracking seemed essential for us to (1) be able to report on individual users’ progress through the Academy, and (2) flag content as done vs not done, so a user would know what content they had or hadn’t completed. But we launched without this, opting instead to look at aggregate metrics in Google Analytics and get qualitative feedback from our customers. The point of this first Academy was to validate the flow of the content, and once we validated that, we were ready to invest in a system that could support user-based tracking.
- “Next” buttons. Ouch -- this was a miss. That’s the #1 thing that our customers said was missing. Turns out that people want to know where to go next!
- Sandboxes. Having sandbox environments to make the experience truly interactive is what makes platforms like Salesforce Trailhead so powerful. We opted not to do this for our first version of Academy due to the technical complexity.
- Live sessions. Although we had been doing our Launchpad webinars on a recurring basis, we opted not to include these in this Academy -- and, in fact, to discontinue the Launchpad sessions due to low attendance. We wouldn’t bring this back until we launched our Academy Live program in 2016. The biggest lesson we learned here is that just because something seems like a good idea (training webinars seemed to be tried and true when we first built them), it doesn’t mean it will work perfectly for you. You might not be ready for it yet. But the live sessions were a great way to validate new content, and we currently use our Academy Live program to introduce new content as well.
After we released this first version of Academy, we saw engagement steadily grow as CSMs referred customers to it during onboarding, and from in-product promotion. Within the first few months of launch, our Academy was receiving roughly 500 unique visitors per month, representing roughly 10% of Optimizely’s customer base at the time. Considering that Academy was designed primarily for onboarding users -- not mature customers -- we considered that a healthy number for our first version. But more importantly, we learned from the feedback they gave us, as well as which lessons they tended to engage with most and least.
Today’s Academy is hosted on a real LMS called Docebo, and the interface and UX is much different from that first version. We’re also offering multiple avenues for training, including live sessions and custom, private trainings, but our Academy continues to be the most scalable platform for customers to learn at their own pace.
How were we able to justify continued investment? Well, in addition to the adoption metrics I mentioned above, our Academy was a piece of a bigger launch -- our combined customer portal, Optiverse. Optiverse made a meaningful impact to our business when it first launched, and has continued to mature since then. I’ll get more into those details in a future article.
Before Optimizely had a dedicated Customer Education role, most help content was written ad hoc by various roles in the organization. The “no frills” Zendesk Help Center wasn’t parallel in terms of scope or tone.
What started as a “fix the Knowledge Base” task force quickly matured into a dedicated Customer Education headcount.
End Content Poverty
Perhaps no surprise for a 3-year-old, 50-person company, our documentation was far from feature complete. The early Customer Education task force did some analysis of the product features and wrote basic documentation to fill in the gaps. This wasn’t necessarily every minor feature or setting, but the major components of the product.
The feature documentation also wasn’t in the greatest detail. Taking a lightweight approach here allowed us to avoid documentation bloat and add content based on questions that actual customers were asking, not every edge case we could imagine.
This approach evolved into our “80/20” principle of documentation: document the common features, issues, and practices that 80% of your customers will find relevant, and leave the 20% edge cases and specifics out.
were solving the
same issues repeatedly..."
The original documentation had different tone based on which agent wrote the article -- great for personality, bad for consistency. The “FAQ” didn’t have the most frequently asked questions, but just random questions that people had asked (personal pet peeve).
We found the support team members were solving the same issues repeatedly, so we prioritized making the most common support questions and best practices easy to find. We asked our Strategy Consultants and Technical Account Managers what best practices they shared over and over, or what they found themselves teaching customers most often. We turned these issues into FAQs and articles.
At this point, we had an article for each major feature, and special articles for the most common questions, issues, and techniques.
Lights, Camera, Action
Written content is great, but video works better in many cases -- especially for visual workflows that users can replicate. We created short video content for the most common and most valuable in-product workflows. Video content has a higher production cost, but articles with video tended to receive higher ratings, and were easier to understand than stepwise instructions. Some of those videos endured for years after they were first created, especially the ones that were more conceptual vs. describing specific UI components.
A few things that I think made our videos particularly successful in the early going:
- The videos were short and sweet. None of the original videos passed 2-3 minutes in length, which also forced us to focus on the most important information.
- We invested in the production quality, using a professional-quality microphone and editing to take out unnecessary clicks and movements.
- We also used a more friendly, inviting tone for the voiceover, while still keeping the videos tight and scripted. For example, we started the videos with, “I’m going to show you how to…” and ended with, “Happy Testing!”
- We only made videos for content that needed videos. No abstract feature tours for their own sake; we kept videos focused on workflows and practices that weren’t intuitive in the product UI.
A Little Something Special
You can’t do everything well. (We didn’t, and still don’t.) But my strong opinion is that you should find at least one way to differentiate yourself, measure it, and invest in it as a differentiator. For us, there were two: videos and “This Article Will Help You” sections.
“This Article Will Help You” is a concept similar to learning objectives in the instructional design world. Learning objectives entice the learner to commit to a learning experience by telling what they’ll be able to do. For example, “create an Audience in Optimizely using targeting conditions” is a good, practical learning objective, because it describes something that a customer can actually do. “Understand how audiences work” is a bad learning objective because no one needs to understand this for its own sake.
We still use the “This Article Will Help You” section today, and receive good feedback from customers that it helps orient them within articles.
The final thing we did in the early days: define success metrics based on discoverability and value, but that is a story for another day.
This week, I'm excited to bring a guest post from Adam Avramescu, who is head of the Customer Education program at Optimizely, the world's leading experimentation platform. The Optimizely Customer Education program is called Optiverse, where customers learn about more than how to use the Optimizely product features, and includes a knowledge base, academy, academy live, community, and certification. I met Adam at the Learning DevCamp 2016, happy to meet someone in a conference full of training professionals who also focused on training customers vs. employees.
"Customer Education is a competitive
Why You Should Invest in Customer Education in 2017 (And Your Customers Will Thank You)*
Many early-stage Customer Success teams haven't begun to use Customer Education as a key to scale. Customer Success teams who make a true investment in Customer Education will see a positive change in the way their team's tribal knowledge scales out to have an impact on Sales, Marketing, and even Product.
If your CSMs are doing trainings, and your support agents are writing articles, with no centralized guidance, then you have a recipe for linear growth in your customer success team. Your individuals are likely spending a lot of time creating duplicate content, and it probably takes them longer to do it because you didn't hire them to create scalable content, so they don't have the competency and they're task-switching to do it. Even one professional dedicated to capturing the expertise of your Customer Success heads will help you create reusable, scalable content.
"The most successful customers with the highest LTV are the ones who are educated...about key workflows, best practices, and maturity in the broader industry."
Beyond that, Customer Education is a competitive differentiator for your business if you're in an industry that requires your customers to change the way they do their work. You can see great examples of this not only at Optiverse, but with resources like the Asana Guide, Salesforce Trailhead, and Hubspot Academy. Each of these go beyond the basic question of "how do I use this product?" to something more fundamental: "How can I do my job more effectively, and how does this product help me do that?" Because we help customers understand the strategy behind optimization, not just how to fix problems as they use our product, our customers are more successful.
What direct impact does your Customer Education program have on your business?
- Number of 1:1 training sessions that CSMs deliver should decrease as education content consumption increases
- Support customer contact rate should decrease as education content consumption increases
- If you measure NPS, CES, or other CSAT metrics, make sure to measure that for your educational content. If you have existing content, those metrics should improve as you invest.
Beyond that, if you have the ability to measure attribution, determine how education consumption drives increased adoption of key features, or average speed to first value.
*This article is an excerpt of the article Adam Avramescu published on Linked In on January 6, 2017.