We like to say that Customer Education is the Scale Engine of Customer Success, but the reality is that many CS teams put little attention on Education. In this episode of CELab, Donna Weber shares her thoughts on how Customer Education can make an incredible impact on your customers. Listen in to learn how you can take the next steps to building scalable education programs – and why it matters to your bottom line!

In this episode we talk about how you, as a Customer Education professional, can and should collaborate with others. It could be your L&D team, Sales or Customer Success Enablement, or even training professionals like you at other companies!

In this episode we take a question from the Customer Education Slack Channel. What is the best way to deliver different modules and content for a program? Do you focus on video lectures with “talking heads”? Do we use slides, screencasts, or something else entirely? Join us as we share some experiences

What does it take to start over as a Customer Education leader? Not necessarily for those in their first role in Customer Education like we often focus on in this podcast, but what should you be thinking about if you leave your successful Customer Education team to start or lead another? It takes a balance of leaning on your previous accomplishments and expertise with listening to your business and innovating.

“Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy”, the audio clip for which we mention, is an amazing game and you should play it! You can find out how through the author’s website.

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (SteamApp StorePlay Store)

We recorded this episode after both Dave and Adam moved into new roles as Customer Education leaders. Between the previous episodes and this one, both co-hosts began building and leading new Customer Education teams.

We’ve started new stages of our journeys, which makes this a good time to reflect and to think about something that most Customer Education leaders will have to think about in their lives: starting over.

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With this episode, we again take a break from our normal format to bring you the second of a two-part presentation that was given at the Bay Area Customer Education Meetup on January 31st, 2019.  

Here, join Isabel Swartz as she talks about Data Driven Decision Making for Customer Education Leaders … like her!

Today we step aside from our normal format to bring you the first of a two-part presentation that was given at the Bay Area Customer Education Meetup on January 31st, 2019.

A special thanks to Adam for organizing this event and to Christy Hollingshead of Heap for making this event possible.

If you’d like to see the visuals being talked about in this presentation, check them out on our CELab YouTube Channel here.

What trends are we seeing in the field of Customer Education?  Join us as we chat with Linda Schwaber-Cohen from Skilljar. We talk starting with scale, federated search, free vs paid training, and measuring the value of training (with data!).  

Linda SchwaberCohen - eLearning Industry
Linda Schwaber-Cohen

Linda leads Product Marketing and Customer Education at Skilljar, so she knows quite a bit about the Customer Education space! In this episode, she walks us through the trends she’s been seeing in the market as well as in Skilljar’s customer base.

Starting with Scale

One trend Linda highlights is that Customer Education teams are increasingly “starting with scale,” or in other words, building Customer Education programs that address broad audiences from the onset. This includes formats like online academies, help centers, and video, which can all scale to thousands or millions of end users.

Previously, Customer Education programs would start with low-scale activities like instructor-led trainings, one-to-one sessions with trainers or product experts, or classroom sessions. This has been true either because the technology to develop more scalable trainings wasn’t accessible, or because it was the easiest way to start training customers out of habit.

But that’s not cost effective, and it leaves many customers in the dark. So now companies are starting with more scalable, on-demands approaches. This is especially helpful as our customers onboard new users, who all need training at different times and paces.

Federated search

The second trend Linda discusses is the move toward federated search. Increasingly, Customer Education programs implement a search tool that will search across multiple Customer Education properties – online academy content, help center articles, community-generated posts, blogs, and more. Gone are the days of each property having its own, isolated search. This improves discoverability of content wherever the customer is searching for it. This way, customers won’t need to know where to search for what they’re looking for, get frustrated, and give up (or angrily contact your customer support team).

She also discusses the advantages and challenges around adding federated search and help content directly into your software product. Often this requires getting buy-in from Product teams who see help content or training as a failure of the product to be intuitive.

Paid vs. free training

The “in-product search” conversation ties into the idea of offering freemium models, or paid offerings, for training. Often when you’re bringing in revenue, that makes it easier for you to get the prioritization from cross-functional teams like Product and Marketing, or to get Product Management resources on your own team.

Linda talks about how she sees more sophisticated training teams offering paid education programs. Because they bring in revenue, they often get treated more as a product in and of themselves, instead of as a support tool for the software. While it’s still not common for many new Customer Education teams in SaaS to charge, it’s very common in the Education Services world, and Linda sees a hybrid model work in practice.

One thing she’s seeing is more interesting ways to attach training to premium support models and product subscriptions. For example, some companies create certification programs or premium education programs that aren’t completely customized to an individual account, but are available to a certain tier of customers to attend.

Data-driven approaches to Customer Education

The last trend that Linda covers is the emergence of data-driven approaches. It’s becoming more common for Customer Education teams to collect, and use, more data to inform their approach. In the past, most training teams would collect cursory, activity-based data (like training survey scores, attendance rates, and revenue).

Now, Customer Education teams are using data to prioritize content – for example, what are the top customer search terms, and can those be used to create new help or education content? And when customers find specific pieces of content, do they find them helpful? Bounce rate data in a web analytics tool can give you that information.

But many of the metrics that we’ve historically looked at are – in her view – vanity metrics. For example, looking at bounce rates or completion rates without trying to understand the broader story around those numbers won’t be useful in proving the value of Customer Education to your business.

To get a seat at the bigger table, we have to stop looking at training data in a silo and start comparing it to business metrics such as product adoption, churn, renewal, expansion, support deflection, and so on.

This is also why LMS platforms increasingly integrate with core business systems like CRMs. If you can look at learning data in the same place as customer data, and analyze the two together, you have a better picture of what training is actually doing for your customers.

This episode is part three of our informal trilogy about instructional design in customer education. (See parts one and two.) What does it take to become a great instructional designer or content developer in Customer Education. How can you succeed in the role if you’re transitioning from another career? We’ll tackle these questions and more, so listen in!

For those making the leap into Customer Education as Instructional Designers, they typically come from three places:

  • Customer Success and Support: The rock-star customer-facing folks who love educating their customers, and want to do it full-time
  • Internal L&D: Education experts who have been working in corporate L&D or enablement, and want to transition to external education
  • Master’s programs: People who have committed to get a degree in instructional design or instructional systems design

Which is best? Are any of them best? The big question most people ask is whether they need a degree to be most successful in the field. What’s more important, field experience or a degree?

Person Writing on the Notebook

We’ll look at these three common paths and give some perspective on them.

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In this episode we talk with Bill Cushard – Host of “Helping Sells Radio” and Director of Marketing at ServiceRocket – for our first ever CELab interview!

How do you help your customer buy from you?  A lot of times we don’t help our customers … we just try to sell to them. 

In this episode, Bill explains how helping your customers, particularly through education, really sells.  We talk about Agile approaches to Marketing – and that includes using Agile Sprints to develop Educational content, building your 5-year roadmap for education, and much, much more!

Profile photo of Bill Cushard
Bill Cushard

In this episode, part 2 of our informal trilogy on Customer Education instructional design, we discuss a few failed hypotheses around content development. These are things we’ve been asked to do, and we’ve all certainly tried in our careers, but they just don’t lead to effective learning. Tune in to hear more!

New Customer Education leaders, especially those who are “accidental” customer educators who get thrown into the role, don’t have strong backgrounds in content development. That leads to content that can please stakeholders but will fail customers.

Our goal as content creators should be to:

  • Make content memorable, so learners won’t forget it after they take our courses or read our articles
  • Drive actual behavior change, so learners will do something differently after they engage with our content

How do we often get this wrong? Read on.

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