Customer Education Labs

Educate. Experiment. Find your people

The Learning Management System (LMS) is often the first system that a Customer Education function will purchase. After all, if you’re going to deliver online courses, you need a place to host them and track people’s completion. And even for live courses, you need a place for people to register and manage their enrollments.

The earliest LMS platforms were used in academia, government/military, and then corporate HR departments, to track courses and required trainings. But today, many LMS systems serve more modern use cases like sales enablement and — of course — Customer Education.

These LMS platforms have become both more sophisticated and more specialized. Some “extended enterprise” systems allow you to manage training for internal learners, partners, and customers. Other “customer training platforms” focus primarily on customers or other external learners. There are so many subcategories that the overall market has over 800 vendors!

But many of those vendors are clunky, hard to manage, or not friendly to customers. According to a benchmark by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), LMS platforms continue to be among the most used, but least liked, software for Education teams.

This means that even though you’ll likely need an LMS, you’ll need to be choosy about which one you pick. You also may want to experiment before choosing an LMS. In our third episode of CELab, we debate the pros and cons of Customer LMS platforms.

What’s essential about a Customer LMS — and what can you do before you have one?

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If you had said the term “Customer Education” even a few years ago, it would have been a synonym for training. In Episode 002 of CELab, we question the role of “training” in a Customer Education program.

After all, that’s the main way that tech companies thought to educate their customers: bring them into a room (or a webinar), teach the materials, facilitate some activities, and then the customer was educated.

The Internet has changed the way we live and work, but it’s also changed the way we learn. And it doesn’t just mean taking our long training sessions and posting recordings or breaking them up into webinars. The industry is seeing a shift in the way that people look for, and use, information.

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So you’re thinking about starting a Customer Education program? Increasingly, companies are investing in Customer Education programs at an earlier stage. Sometimes these programs support the company’s Customer Success or Marketing strategies. Sometimes it’s just because they realize their employees are spending so much time training that they should devote a full-time person to do the job.

So if you’re the executive spinning up a Customer Education function, or you’re the first Customer Education person in-seat, how do you think about starting a team?

In our first episode of CELab, the Customer Education Lab, Dave Derington and Adam Avramescu explore how mature your organization needs to be before investing in Customer Education. Our perspective is that most organizations start too late, which is why companies are now investing earlier and earlier. The organizations that invest in Customer Education earlier are able to scale.

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One of the most common questions we get asked from people who are starting Customer Education programs is, “Do I need a Learning Management System?”

An LMS seems like a standard part of a Customer Education Program and it’s usually the first system to be implemented. But is it right for everyone?

Startups can’t always get the budget for it or justify the ROI. Even more established companies find that their LMS doesn’t always work for them.

Is Customer Education just Customer Training? Or is it something more?

Whether you’re scoping out your program for the first time, or consolidating separate functions into one Customer Education experience, you have to know which programs to include — and which ones to leave out.

But we think that whether you call it Customer Education, Enablement, or Education Services, you’ve got to think bigger than just training.

Welcome to the Pilot episode of CE Labs – the Customer Education Laboratory!

This podcast series is devoted to you – The Customer Education pioneers out there – to share what we, and others have learned from hard-won experiences in the trenches of fledgling SaaS companies and tech startups.  

  • Maybe you’re a member of a Customer Success team realizing that you need to invest in Customer Education — or that you have an interest in doing it yourself
  • Perhaps you’re the first Customer Education hire at a growing company
  • Maybe you’re part of the growing community of Customer Education Heroes.

In this episode we introduce ourselves and our mission and begin challenging the assertion:  “You don’t need a customer education team until your company is mature”.

You need Customer Education earlier than you think. Starting Customer Education early in a business will help you scale customer adoption and growth.