Customer Education is evolving rapidly. We’ve come a long way from the days of “smile sheets” and attendance metrics being our guide to success. Gainsight, is one such innovative business that’s showing how education data and usage data connect so we can measure its impact on business outcomes.

Lila Meyer shares her journey at Gainsight, from early roles when the organization was new to her current position leading the Education Services team. We cover a lot of ground including the importance of developing transferable skills and collaboration within the customer education community.

Key points:

  • Traditionally, customer education programs focused on vanity metrics like course completion rates.
  • Gainsight is now connecting education data (LMS) with user data (telemetry) and customer data (CRM) to demonstrate the ROI of education programs.
  • This allows them to see how training impacts product usage, retention, and customer health.
  • This data is valuable for internal teams like sales and customer success, who can use it to demonstrate the value of education services to clients.
  • This approach represents a significant shift in the way customer education is measured and valued within organizations.

As technology evolves at lightning speed, how can we keep up with educating our customers? We pose this question to the legendary Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the iconic book “Crossing the Chasm“. Geoff argues that while technology outpaces traditional education methods, the core customer problems remain the same.

In this episode we’ll discuss Geoff’s perspective for understanding different customer segments and adapting education approaches. We’ll also get his take on balancing product knowledge with true customer empathy.

“Education starts with the student, not with the teacher. You’re trying to change the behavior of the student, not trying to execute your own agenda.”

Geoffrey Moore – 8:45

And what about AI? Will it be our savior or our downfall in education? Stick around for the whole discussion – you don’t want to miss his sage advice on connecting educators with executives to maximize impact.

Make sure check out Geoff’s books including Crossing the Chasm and Zone to Win.

How do you get from 6th grade science to a role leading Customer Education at Notion? It’s a great story that’s behind the evolution of customer education at Notion, where our guest – Zoe Ludwig – focused on bridging the gap between product adoption and user success. From emphasizing the importance of understanding the audience’s needs – to codifying knowledge to create a single source of truth for users check out this episode with so many topics including:

  • Transitioning from teaching to customer education leader at Notion.
  • Customer education strategies for a consumer-grade product.
  • Product education and user adoption strategies for a digital note-taking tool.
  • Using education content to drive marketing goals
  • Infusing education with storytelling and brand elements to make Notion content engaging
  • Creating high-quality content for Notion, including visuals, guidelines, and community partnership for new feature launches
  • Leveraging user-generated content in Notion’s education programs
  • Using education to drive product usage and measuring ROI through experimentation
  • Product education and experimentation with different content formats
  • Using AI for content development, including generating bullet points, expanding on ideas, and rewriting in a specific tone.
  • Using Notion for content development workflows.

Here’s a link to the Education Template mentioned in the episode!

In this episode we’re joined by Special Guest – Shannon Howard – as we dive into the Intellum-sponsored study from Forrester:  “Driving Business Success Through Customer Education”.  This is a refresh of the 2019 report, which is crucial for those in our field to review and absorb. What’s changed? Are there new trends?

Highlights? Here are just a few we cover:

  • Around 86% of respondents said they had a positive ROI from customer education, with another 10% saying they at least broke even. This suggests that 96% are seeing a positive business impact from customer education.
  • Customer education helps drive business outcomes like increased customer retention, spending, and decreased support costs. High success orgs saw a 372% ROI over 3 years, with a 7 month payback period.
  • There has been a shift away from traditional workshops and certifications towards more asynchronous, mobile, and just-in-time learning approaches.
  • Vendors are being used more strategically as partners, especially by high success orgs, to help raise maturity levels.
  • Lack of tools, technical skills, and personnel were cited as top challenges. Budget constraints were also a factor in needing to do more with less resources.
  • AI is being explored more for use cases like accelerating content creation, personalizing learning, data analysis, and assessment creation. But widespread adoption is still on the horizon.
  • Key factors for success included data access, mobile accessibility, vendor partnerships, and having scalable platforms.

Grab your copy of the report and a beverage and listen in to this deep-dive that you won’t want to miss.

Missed the 2019 report? You can find it here, and our coverage in Episode 41!

“If you just focus on educating your customers, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity!” says Mark Kilens, Co-Founder of HubSpot Academy and Drift, and now CEO and Co-founder of TACK ⛵️ & ClubPF.

In previous episodes, we’ve shared how leaders in the industry see education as the core of our programming. Here, Mark shares a human-first perspective on how education should be a fundamental pillar of your GTM Strategy. Why? The importance of integrating education into marketing strategies is crucial for businesses to build trust and loyalty with their customers.

Tune in to as we discuss:

  • Customer education and its broader definition beyond just training current customers.
  • Founding and expanding HubSpot Academy, a driver of category creation.
  • Tying customer education to business outcomes through partnerships and authentic storytelling.
  • Shifting go-to-market strategies to prioritize people over software, channels, and algorithms.
  • Creating helpful content for customers through storytelling and relationship-building.
  • Using education to fuel business growth, with a focus on customer experience.
  • Creating people-led growth through content and education.
  • Marketing and sales strategies, focusing on the “people first” approach.

In this episode we welcome Katie Felton – Director of Academies, Global Education Services at Anthology Inc. to continue our exploration into Pricing and Packaging for Customer Education.

This episode dives deep into the world of customer education programs for software companies, featuring an EdTech expert. Here are some key highlights:

  • Launching a Unified Academy: Learn how a company with 40+ products overcame language and product alignment challenges to create a single training platform.
  • Pricing & Packaging Strategies: Discover how to price software training subscriptions based on contract value and explore tiered pricing models with real-world examples.
  • Balancing Revenue & Customer Success: We discuss the importance of creating valuable training content that supports customer success, even when it impacts revenue generation in the short term.
  • Merging Product Training & Professional Learning: Explore the benefits and challenges of combining product training with broader professional development programs.
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment: Get insights on how to handle customer discount requests and ensure marketing and sales teams are aligned.

If you’re involved in the EdTech industry or building customer education programs for software products, this episode is packed with valuable insights!

How do we price our Customer Education programs? It’s a hugely challenging task, even for the experienced – and one that CELab listeners have asked for!

We welcome Mindy Barenblat to the show – an Austin-based an education & enablement strategist and consultant, formerly GM/VP of Education Service at Blackbaud and Eloqua. Tune as we discuss:

  • Subscription-based learning model with ala carte options
  • Integrating training with product sales
  • Pricing and packaging for software products
  • Integrating training with product sales.

In this conversation we are joined by Emily Brogan, the Customer Education Manager at Dovetail. Emily’s experience (and ours!) expresses and dives into the importance of putting the customer first, and the role of Dovetail in providing customer insights. Emily shares her experience in building the Dovetail Academy and the challenges of scaling customer success and education – particularly focusing on collaboration and listening to customers as the company grows. The need for simplicity, customer-centricity, and continuous learning is key in this journey. Join us for another great conversation with these takeaways:

Takeaways

  • Put the customer first and prioritize their needs in customer education.
  • Build a customer education program that scales and allows customers to self-serve.
  • Collaborate with different teams in the organization to align on the customer journey.
  • Listen to customers and use their feedback to improve and refine the education program.

Listen in as we explore the ever-evolving intersection of community management and customer education with Brian Oblinger. Brian is a seasoned veteran in community management, and shares invaluable insights drawn from his extensive career, underscoring the power of learning from past endeavors. Our discussion ventures beyond the surface, examining how industry giants have leveraged platforms like North Pass to foster innovation in digital customer education, ultimately enhancing product engagement and retention.

We tackle the strategic and technical challenges of creating a frictionless user experience across learning management systems and community forums, sharing practical steps for incorporating single sign-on and prioritizing user experience in program roadmaps. The transformative potential of integrating community into educational strategies is not just a dream—it’s a reality we’re passionate about, and we want to share that passion with you.

Brian Oblinger is a revered community management expert with a wealth of experience dating back to the mid-90s. As the co-host of the In Before the Lock podcast, he shares his extensive knowledge to help others avoid past mistakes in community engagement. His expertise is rooted in building strategies that intertwine community and customer education, showcasing his proficiency in creating symbiotic relationships that enhance digital learning experiences.

About the Show

CELab is the Customer Education Lab for Innovative Customer Success, Enablement, and Marketing Teams. Our mission is to explore how to build Customer Education programs, experiment with new approaches, and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stop growth dead in its tracks.

Listen in as we discuss:

  • Guest intro Brian Oblinger
  • Brian’s favorite pasta
  • CE use in businesses
  • Fusion of community and customer education
  • Brian shares wisdom on digital training
  • Philosophy of customer-centric resource accessibility
  • Tackling technical challenges for a frictionless user experience
  • Unified experiences in customer platforms
  • Seamless navigation between learning and forums
  • Aligning community and learning within organizations
  • Importance of flexible, customer-focused organizational design
  • Weekly challenges and gamification in customer-led learning
  • Long-term benefits of a strategic community-building approach
  • Developing engaging community learning platforms
  • Integrating social learning and user involvement in content creation
  • And – please – if you’ve found value in this podcast, share with your friends, your peers, and your network to help us “Find the Others”!

Resources:

Brian Oblinger LinkedIn

Before the Lock Podcast

Northpass

Thought Industries

TechSmith

Dave Derington LinkedIn

Adam Avramescu LinkedIn

Two of the key activities in the life of a Customer Education professional are crucial skills to have: Collaboration with Product Teams and getting their buy-in.

In this episode we welcome Jesse Evans, Director of Customer Education at Honeybook – and Box and Meta alum. This is an action packed episode where we’ll dive into all things Product and learn how to engage, collaborate, and develop your relationship with Product and Product Marketing to make a difference.

  • Collaborating with product teams for customer education
  • Product development and adoption challenges in SaaS organizations
  • Overcoming objections and misconceptions in product development
  • Customer education and product adoption
  • Using marketing campaigns to boost product adoption
  • Product education and in-app tours for enterprise software
  • In-app education and collaboration between customer education and product teams.
  • Product and education collaboration.
  • Product release process and collaboration between education and product teams.
  • Product education and its impact on customer success.
  • Demonstrating value to product teams through customer insights.
  • Customer education within product teams.