In this episode we explore the assertion, “The best way to start developing your Customer Education program is to leverage Virtual Instructor-Led training.” Why would you want to use Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT). What are the options for delivering it? What kinds of pitfalls and tips would you suggest? Oh … and most importantly Adam sings for us, making this another can’t miss episode!

Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) lets you prototype faster

As Customer Educators, we know that content development is no small feat. It takes a long time to product and develop content. Self-paced, online, and interactive content take the longest. In this episode, we reference the content development estimates from the ATD (Association for Talent Development) 2017 survey. This survey shows that even an hour of passive e-learning takes 42 hours to create, and that balloons as development becomes more complex.

When we’re developing for customers, passive won’t always cut it. When we create content, we often need it to have more interactivity to promote real learning goals.

That’s why it’s important to know where you’re going when you create self-service content. While e-learning will provide more scale, vILT allows you to prototype content more quickly.

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What are the key customer education leadership skills you need? Join Adam and Dave as they dive into three great skillsets, each one of which ties to a book. These are required reading material for new and aspiring Customer Education leaders.

  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown
  • Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, et al.
Adam here. In case you missed it, I have a new book out, called “Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit By Making Customers Smarter.” Pick up a copy before they run out!

This post corresponds with Episode 8 of “CELab: The Customer Education Lab.” Subscribe and download our latest episode on our siteApple MusicGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify, or wherever quality podcasts are found.

Even though I recently published a book, that’s not what this post is about. Today I’d like to share three books that not only every Customer Education leader, but every leader, should read. Each one corresponds to a key mindset that enables us to create a sense of growth and experimentation on our team, and to maximize the potential of every single team member. After all, we succeed or fail together.

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Skilljar Connect 2018

In this episode of CELab, Adam shares his experiences from Skilljar Connect, hosted in Seattle on November 14 and 15, 2018. Adam shares his experiences in talking on a panel hosted by Maria Manning Chapman from TSIA focused on Content effectiveness and how to make training stick!  Join us for this recap and tons of myths and misconceptions about content!

This week on CELab, we recap another Customer Education conference: Skilljar Connect! Adam attended and spoke on a panel at the conference, and it was a great day spent with other Customer Educators.

Let’s face it: Aside from CEdMA (which we recapped on a previous episode) here aren’t many conferences devoted to customer education. While big conferences like DevLearn and ATD TechKnowledge are helpful for instructional designers and technologists, they aren’t often customer education oriented. I’d highly recommend them to anyone looking to learn more about instructional design, content development, and learning technology. But as a customer education professional, you often must make the leap away from the context of traditional L&D, asking yourself, “How does this apply to customer education?”

So similar to how Gainsight Pulse is focused on the discipline of Customer Success, Skilljar Connect was a forum for Skilljar customers to discuss the discipline of Customer Education and share our programs.

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This week on CELab, we recap another Customer Education conference: Skilljar Connect! Adam attended and spoke on a panel at the conference, and it was a great day spent with other Customer Educators.

Let’s face it: Aside from CEdMA (which we recapped on a previous episode) there aren’t many conferences devoted to customer education. While big conferences like DevLearn and ATD TechKnowledge are helpful for instructional designers and technologists, they aren’t often customer education oriented. I’d highly recommend them to anyone looking to learn more about instructional design, content development, and learning technology. But as a customer education professional, you often must make the leap away from the context of traditional L&D, asking yourself, “How does this apply to customer education?”

So similar to how Gainsight Pulse is focused on the discipline of Customer Success, Skilljar Connect was a forum for Skilljar customers to discuss the discipline of Customer Education and share our programs.

Continue reading →

It’s increasingly clear that a big part of a Customer Education leader’s role also includes “Digital Transformation” or Automation.  In other words looking at the software we use and thinking seriously about how it works – together.

In this episode we discuss data.  How do you work with your data, automate learning journeys, make data about learners “actionable”, and much more.  

In Episode 3, the LMS discussion, we mentioned that Learning Management Systems are core systems for Customer Education professionals. They often integrate with other customer systems of record, like CRMs and marketing automation tools. But as Customer Educators, we’re still often deprived of the data we need.

Gray and Black Laptop Computer

Many Customer Education programs use upwards of 10 systems to create content, deliver training, measure feedback, and perform other business-critical tasks. Now we have the opportunity to start pulling data together, visualizing it, and using it throughout the customer journey.

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In this episode, Adam recaps the highlights from CEdMA’s Fall 2018 Conference.

Customer Education Management Association | LinkedInIf you’re unfamiliar with CEdMA, or the Customer Education Management Association, it is one of the primary organizations for Customer Education Leaders. Adam spoke at their fall conference in Boston and brought back some nuggets to discuss.

CEdMA, or the Customer Education Management Association, is one of the primary organizations for Customer Education Leaders.  Adam spoke at their fall conference in Boston and brought back some nuggets to discuss with Dave in Episode 005 of CELab.

At CEdMA, all the presentations are led by member organizations, so you’re not hearing from abstract “thought leaders” — you’re hearing from other Customer Education leaders. This also means that, rather than artificially imposing a theme, the themes that arise are more organic and based on the issues and trends that Customer Education leaders see on a day-to-day basis.

This year’s conference saw two key themes:

  • The role of the traditional Education Services P&L (which stands for profit and loss, and refers to running your department like a business, where you must achieve profitability) vs. using Customer Education to support the overall health of the broader business.
  • The role of certification and badging, to certify and credential our customers.

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CEdMA, or the Customer Education Management Association, is one of the primary organizations for Customer Education Leaders. Adam spoke at their fall conference in Boston and brought back some nuggets to discuss with Dave in Episode 005 of CELab.

At CEdMA, all the presentations are led by member organizations, so you’re not hearing from abstract “thought leaders” — you’re hearing from other Customer Education leaders. This also means that, rather than artificially imposing a theme, the themes that arise are more organic and based on the issues and trends that Customer Education leaders see on a day-to-day basis.

This year’s conference saw two key themes:

  • The role of the traditional Education Services P&L (which stands for profit and loss, and refers to running your department like a business, where you must achieve profitability) vs. using Customer Education to support the overall health of the broader business.
  • The role of certification and badging, to certify and credential our customers.

Continue reading →

With the rise of Customer Education in SaaS companies, many Customer Success, Marketing, or Services leaders are in the position of needing to make their first Customer Education hire. But who do you hire?

Do you promote your rockstar CSM or support rep? Do you bring in an experienced Education Services leader? What skills are you looking for?

When you’re looking for your Customer Education Leader, you can choose someone who’s been in your business or function (like a great CSM, who has Customer Success experience), someone who’s led Customer Education for a company with a different business model than yours (i.e., on-prem instead of SaaS), or someone who has competency in a key skill like Instructional Design but hasn’t done it for customers before. So you end up looking for someone in a Venn diagram kind of like this one:

For smaller companies, your first Customer Education hire will often be doing the job solo for a few months. This means you’ll need someone comfortable being a player-coach: someone who “has done it before” but also “still wants to do it.”

More established companies may already have trainers or content developers in place — they just haven’t formalized a Customer Education function yet, and now they’re looking for a leader. Here, you have more options. You can potentially promote someone on the current team, or you can bring in a leader from the outside.

There’s no one right solution to these challenges, but if you’re intentional about whom you bring in, you’ll be ahead of many companies!

Continue reading →

With the rise of Customer Education in SaaS companies, many Customer Success, Marketing, or Services leaders are in the position of needing to make their first Customer Education hire. But who do you hire?

Do you promote your rockstar CSM or support rep? Do you bring in an experienced Education Services leader? What skills are you looking for?

When you’re looking for your Customer Education Leader, you can choose someone who’s been in your business or function (like a great CSM, who has Customer Success experience), someone who’s led Customer Education for a company with a different business model than yours (i.e., on-prem instead of SaaS), or someone who has competency in a key skill like Instructional Design but hasn’t done it for customers before. So you end up looking for someone in a Venn diagram kind of like this one:

For smaller companies, your first Customer Education hire will often be doing the job solo for a few months. This means you’ll need someone comfortable being a player-coach: someone who “has done it before” but also “still wants to do it.”

More established companies may already have trainers or content developers in place — they just haven’t formalized a Customer Education function yet, and now they’re looking for a leader. Here, you have more options. You can potentially promote someone on the current team, or you can bring in a leader from the outside.

There’s no one right solution to these challenges, but if you’re intentional about whom you bring in, you’ll be ahead of many companies!

Continue reading →

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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