Why You Should Invest in Customer Education in 2017 (And Your Customers Will Thank You)*
For many companies, the most successful customers with the highest LTV are the ones who are educated - not just about product features, but also about key workflows, best practices, and maturity in the broader industry.
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.
Key Performance Indicators of an Education Program
What direct impact does your Customer Education program have on your business?
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.
I said last week that one-to-one training was too inefficient, and you could get rid of it. And then I read this blog post by Alex Direnzo on the value of one-to-one customer support for SAAS. I actually agree with much of what Mr. Direnzo says.
However, I want to clarify the difference between customer training and customer support. One-to-one is a great support model if you have the staff for it. It's a terrific way to build relationships with your customers that can have lasting results.
But as a method for training, it is inefficient, when you can develop effective procedures to help customers learn what they need to know to be successful. These procedures can be shared in an easy-to-access, engaging way for a relatively small investment compared to the ROI to be gained. Procedures can be provided via knowledge base articles, FAQs, context-sensitive online help and other documentation, tutorial videos, and online learning. It's best to have a mix of these, as different ways will be more useful for different customers, and depend on the complexity of the software you are providing.
Providing online education in a variety of formats helps customers be successful with your product so they don't leave. According to Help Scout, 91% of unhappy customers leave without complaining. (Reported in Customer Engagement in a Digital Age, a presentation by Cynthia Clay of NetSpeed Learning Solutions.)
While providing training could be ONE component of your efforts to build relationships with your customers, it shouldn't be the only method of relationship-building, nor should it be the only way you provide training.
By providing your procedural education for customers (up front, as part of your product, or as part of your support offerings), you save your important one-on-one time for building relationships and solving more unique or difficult problems. So make sure you are working toward a customer education program. It will improve your customer relationships in the long run.
To answer the question of why develop eLearning targeted for your customers, I'll ask another question:
How did one company get a 380% increase in upgrades?
Wishbone developed an on-demand training hub designed for customers and prospective customers to learn how to use the product. "The majority of SaaS companies have gotten customer success all wrong" reports on Thinkific's research into Saas companies like Wishbone that are using customer on-demand learning to reduce churn and grow revenue.
It's all about providing an online experience to "every single new customer - hundreds and even thousands of times over, without the need for 1 on 1 resources." (Miranda Lievers, Thinkific)
Customer-focused eLearning takes customer success activities like knowledge base, forums, and help desk activities that are reactively pulled by customers when they hit a wall or have a problem and goes a step further to proactively push learning to customers to help with their success. This kind of content can turn customers into loyal advocates for your program.
The investment in this type of eLearning may be less than you think. Compare that cost to the potential savings in time and money spent wooing and training customers, and the question isn't why eLearning for customers; it's why not?
This week I attended a session of the Virtual Summit on Advanced Practices in Technical Communication, well-timed in relation to this topic. The session was “How to Start Small with Video and Get Big Improvements in Customer Support,” presented by Martin Ceisel, technical writer for ESET North America. For Martin’s team at ESET, videos enhance their knowledge base and product-specific online help, as well as providing “customers another way to troubleshoot on their own.” You can view his presentation here.
Technology and internet speeds have made videos more accessible than ever. In the Cisco® Visual Networking Index™ (Cisco VNI™) forecast from June 2016, the prediction is that global IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020, increasing threefold from 2015 to 2020.
On their TechSmith® Blog, the makers of Camtasia (my preferred tool for creating tutorial videos) provide several reasons your company needs video on their blog, including:
Of course, you can do one-on-one or larger group webinars to demo your products and offerings and teach your customers how to perform the tasks they need to get the most out of your product. But having a video to demonstrate a task allows customers to view it whenever they want. It also frees the time of one person (or a few people) repeating demonstrations multiple times.
The short answer to the question of when to use tutorial videos: anytime that viewing a task in action is better than (or an important supplement to) reading about it.
There’s no need to be overwhelmed by the thought of the task of developing a video library. Videos of an ideal length of 1 ½ to 3 minutes each can usually be done in just 2-3 hours. And I love the ESET strategy of releasing 1-2 new videos a week, growing their audience and their subscribers.
Let me know in the comments how your organization uses tutorial videos!