In this episode of the CELab Podcast, we’re joined by Maria Manning-Chapman, the VP, Education Services Research at TSIA where we expand upon the TSIA’s “State of Education Services 2020” report – which we covered in Episode 38 of this podcast.  

Here, we’re diving deeper into monetization strategies which our listeners and the network that we’re in as Customer Education Professionals are interested in getting more help with.  Customer Education tends to “niche down” from where we end up in much larger, mature organizations where we often have true Educational Services teams.

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You’ve invested in Customer Education — now what? Every Customer Education professional asks the question at some point: “What format should I use to create educational programs?” It’s often the first question many Customer Education leaders ask. But it’s not actually the most important one. Aim to have a Customer Education strategy — even a rough one — in place before you choose your individual programs and formats.

Use a mix of Customer Education formats based on the business goals you’re trying to achieve. It also matters what type of product they support. For example, simple B2C products probably don’t need extensive premium training services. On the other hand, open-source software companies may offer bespoke training services. Meanwhile, products that have many freemium users will likely want to emphasize tactics and programs that support adoption and time to value, converting those users from free to paid. 

As you’ll see, there is no “best” format for Customer Education. That said, we’ll outline some of the Customer Education formats at your disposal, and how they can support your strategy.

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In this episode we talk with Chip Ramsey – Founder and CEO of Intellum and one of the early pioneers in our field with the first ever platform for Customer Education.  We talk about the transition to creating a great platform and how Chip says to “start with science” to make amazing material that helps both your customers and your business.

Many Customer Education Professionals may know Intellum as the platform that powers incredible customer and partner education and customer experience programs such as Facebook Blueprint, Google Academy for Ads, Google Retail Training, Twitter Flight School and most recently have acquired Appitierre, who make the Evolve rapid-dev content tool.

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Your guide to what Customer Education is, and why it matters for your business.

Customer Education is the discipline of teaching customers how to use and find value from products. As a business function, it benefits customers in many stages of their journey. 

Before a sale, Customer Education educates buyers and influencers about the market and the product. After the sale, Customer Education educates users about how to use the product. This helps them get the most value over time.

Customer Education isn’t about the specific actions you take to educate the customer; it’s not about running webinars or delivering trainings or writing articles. Yes, it usually involves all of those. But what defines a Customer Education program is the role it plays in your business.

What is Customer Education and why does it matter for your business?

In the book, Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter, CELab co-host Adam Avramescu defines Customer Education and what it does for a business.

A Customer Education function strategically accelerates account and user growth by changing behaviors, reducing barriers to value, and improving the way people work.

Adam Avramescu, Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter
Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter by Adam Avramescu
Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter by Adam Avramescu

This definition doesn’t include which programs are included in your portfolio — and that’s intentional. Customer Education departments can use different programs and strategies to achieve the end goal, and no two are exactly alike. We’ll get into some common formats and programs later in this guide.

To learn why Customer Education is important, let’s break down the definition that we provided.

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Part 2 of our Customer Education Mailbag episode continues the conversation with our listeners.  How do Content Developers become more self-sufficient with their LMS? How many people can we expect to join a new program? Where does Customer Education Belong? Listen in to find out!

This podcast and website are not about our opinions and perspectives.  We focus on our community of Customer Education professionals.  All of us are learning and growing from the experiences we have helping learners understand our products, particularly for Software-as-a-Services companies where that product is – quite literally – changing under our feet.

If you have a question, email us at learn@customer.education!

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This article is a deeper dive into the Customer Education Manifesto, our short and sweet summary of six principles that modern Customer Education professionals follow as we build our programs. If you haven’t read it yet, check that article out and sign it if you agree! We’ll be here waiting for you.

How many thousands, or millions, of dollars has your company spent trying to get customers to adopt your product? To use it in a meaningful way? Renew? Expand?

How much time and effort have you thrown at marketing activities to entice them? At ad-hoc training sessions to “enable” them?

How many people have you hired to bombard them with emails, with drip campaigns, with requests for their time that go unbidden because the customer just doesn’t have the time?

Unfortunately, many companies raise millions in funding and hire hundreds of employees before they realize this central tenet: Your customers don’t succeed if they don’t learn.

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Early listeners will remember that we used to do a segment on the show called “Customer Education Mailbag” where we would answer a quick question at the end of the episode, usually unrelated to the main topic. 

Customer Education Mailbox

We’re finally brushing the dust off all those envelopes and open some of the letters that have been coming in. We actually asked our listeners to record their questions, so listen into this episode to hear it in their own voices!

We hope to do this periodically, so if you want to send in your questions you can contact us in our Slack Community or send us an email at learn@customer.education!

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Our next “State of the Industry” report review comes from Forrester and Intellum with their 2019 paper: “Increase Revenue and Improve Customer Retention Through Customer Education Programs”. This report differs from previous ones in that it focuses on how Customer Education programs can contribute to revenue and customer retention. Customer Education is growing, driving a measurable impact in bottom-line revenue, customer retention, and support costs.

In this episode we look at Skilljar’s 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends report. This report is one of the most comprehensive to-date featuring insights from over 250 customer and partner education teams.  Come listen to our response to this report’s insights related to COVID-19 impacts, budgets, target audiences, training formats and engagement, completion rates, monetization strategies, and more!

In this episode we react as we discover that “only 14% of respondents believed that their customers were adequately trained.” Join us as we break down a report from Thought Industries and Claire Schooley (formerly of Forrester Research) that gives us an eye into what training professionals really think about the State of Customer Training in 2020.