Dave Derington: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Dave, here from CELab podcast. If you’re finding value in this podcast, we’d really like to get to know who you are. So we’re going to ask you to click on our site and have yourself to our mailing list. We’re going to agree not to spam you, but at some point in the future, we may have special events, certain podcasts we want you to join on, or we might even throw in a class or two.

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Welcome to CELab the customer education lab, where 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:39] we 

Dave Derington: [00:00:39] explore how to build customer education programs, experiment with new approaches and exterminate the myths and bad advice that 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:46] stopped growth. 

Dave Derington: [00:00:48] Dennis tracks. I am Dave Derington 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:51] and I am Adam . 

Dave Derington: [00:00:55] Also. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:56] Yeah, it is awesome. I enjoyed it 

Dave Derington: [00:01:00] being out of Avramescu 

Adam Avramescu: [00:01:03] sometimes, other times it’s just crippling anxiety, but, today we are continuing our mini series of mini episodes where we are analyzing different state of the industry reports.

And so this one is another hot off the press report. we’re here going to be looking at Skilljars, 2020 customer education benchmarks and trends reports. So Skilljar is a customer element, customer training platform, in that general area, for those of you who have been following the show, we’ve actually had Sandy Lynn skills, our CEO on the show, Dave, you interviewed her, right?

Dave Derington: [00:01:41] Yeah. I dunno. It was a great interview. You should check it out. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:01:44] And we did a live in the room episode with Linda Schwaber Cohen, a while back at this point, their customer education and product marketing programs. 

Dave Derington: [00:01:53] Yeah, this is really cool. It’s actually really cool. Now, as we do these things and we’re reading this report, so we know the people who are writing those reports and setting the tone, Linda’s team put together this report using a combination of different things.

So they use customer data. And then, and this is my favorite thing, or get all excited about data, the aggregate usage data of their own product. So that’s cool. Similar to the Thought Industries report. We looked at the majority of response respondents. Worked at companies with fewer than 500 report employees.

And about 68% of the respondents had customer education teams with fewer than five people. And I think I want to double down on this point here, because again, we’ve seen this in a couple different reports, 500 employees or less, that kind of indicates that first wave of customer education, where you’re just building and you’re starting to learn.

And then after that, You start getting into the more services driven plays? I think, so this is interesting for us that we’re starting to see, a validation and our perception of where customer generation fits. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:57] These are largely customers or companies I should say, who are using customer education too.

Drive growth of their core products. Again, like they’re in growth mode. And so they’re not necessarily at the point where driving revenue through customer education programs is going to be the most important thing. so we’ll see some of those trends, and we’ll question some of them and this report actually has some really interesting counter-intuitive findings too.

And while we won’t, we won’t spoil all of them for you. We’ll talk about a couple of really interesting ones. first of all, though, given the timing of this report, it launches straight into the impact of COVID-19 overall. It tells the story that, COVID-19 has had a strong impact on screening programs, which is not surprising.

one of the interesting things is that students overall are spending more time engaging with training. another thing that we’re seeing this one’s probably less surprising is that there’s uncertainty around program budgets. And similar to what we saw in the TSIAreport from a couple of episodes ago, we are seeing a trend or it’s providing discounted or free trainings customers in light of the pandemic while people are at home learning more.


Dave Derington: [00:04:04] So Adam, with people stuck at home. They’re naturally now starting to spend more of that time. They have, they’re not commuting, it’s glorious. sometimes I like my bike ride into work, but I’m one of the rare exceptions that don’t have that half an hour to an hour commute. they’re spending that time doing online training.

46, the respondents, 46%. I’m sorry. I’ve respondents, essentially half say they’re seeing an uptick in the time they spent training with only about 27% reporting a decreased. So that’s really compelling. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:04:35] Yeah. Consumption is going up, which is an interesting response to some of the other reports we’ve looked at so far where it really talked about the need to get customers.

I should say more customers into training. So whether that was the. Install base and account based penetration rates. We saw the TSIA reports or the disconnect and the Thought Industries report between the importance of training versus the actual number of customers that were trained. It’s interesting to see that COVID-19, despite all the terrible things that it has caused, is leading to a reversal in some of those trends where customers are actually spending this time getting educated.

Dave Derington: [00:05:14] Yeah, that’s great because they have the time now I’m, it’s a compelling argument for more work from home in the tech sector. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:05:21] Absolutely. And so on the budget side, though, most programs don’t expect their budgets to change. And those who do largely expected to decrease by less than 50%. Now the exception here, because they have this broken out.

The exception is going to be non-technology companies. So you can imagine there’s a divide right now between how tech companies are feeling and come down and tech companies are feeling, because if you’re in retail and manufacturing more or something like that, you are feeling a stronger impact from COVID-19 than tech companies who are more or less enabled to already do things from a late.

and so those non-tech companies are the most likely to see budgets decrease by 50% or more, which is. Going to be a meaningful downsizing. 

Dave Derington: [00:06:05] Yeah. That’s pretty substantial. And we’ve definitely seen people on an industry go, Hey, jobs are getting cuts. but there’s plenty of uptick in my industry where I’m seeing, Hey, we have more business, we have more content to create.

That’s very good. let’s get to the takeaway. So skill trades takeaway is that this makes demonstrating ROI more important than ever. and here’s some recommendations about what they think we should do. First they recommend integrating training programs with their seat, with your CRM, right? Most of you have them, Salesforce, Microsoft dynamics, HubSpot event, that can make the ROI calculation a lot easier.

And I’ll go back to some of the things that. Adam, we’ve talked about, I’ve talked about in some of our presentations, I really enjoy the data and getting that ROI, at Gainsight. For example, when I had my tenure there, we really were able to get to that. What for example, and I’m not going to go into the whole calculations and all the things you could do, but let’s just take one.

One of the things that I did is made a very compelling dashboard. Gainsight was a data tool that allows us to get a lot of the customer success related information about, I tied my LMS to Salesforce and I can make a correlation, even light to say that, Oh, four accounts that consume training.

Compared to those who did not consume training, there was a demonstrable up uptick, or you could see the, that they churn less and they also had more revenue. come in, which was really cool. This is not rocket science either. Once you have that interconnect and you can start to extrude product adoption and everything, you can start getting these pictures on what’s happening.

How are you making ROI? Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:07:47] Yeah, we’ve seen a really good similar dashboard. we have one at Optimizely we’ve seen Pat around Annie who used to be the president said Mike is now an AWS certification. He’s shown some really good dashboards that visualize this very simply, but. in addition to ROI becoming important, it’s always been important.

It’s more important. Now I think there will also be some impacts that we’ll see in this report on monetization, but before we leave this topic, one thing that’s really interesting is even though we see a lot of programs who don’t expect there to be a ton of negative impact on their budget, let’s tie this to a finding from later in the report.

37% of the respondents were actually unsure what their annual training budget is. So I think for a lot of smaller programs who don’t necessarily, they don’t operate on a PNL. they work at companies that probably don’t have like super defined budgets for different departments and maybe it’s all generalized or rolled up, these projections about whether their budgets will increase or decrease our kind of a moot point because.

The way that they’re getting budget is they’re going and asking some senior leader for that budget. It’s not like they actually have a revenue target and the budgets operate against. Yeah. So I don’t know if it’s interesting, but on the monetization front skills are also saw a trend towards new pricing strategies.

So instead said we’re going to talk monetization. most respondents didn’t really change anything around their pricing. Yeah. I should say. 21% did open up some courses to non-customers and over half of them now offer some courses for free or at a discount. So again, similar to what we saw in the TSIA report, there is definitely a trend towards people.

we’re moving paywalls from courses right now. Dave we’ve talked and talked about this before. This is a time to shine for education programs. 

Dave Derington: [00:09:42] It’s time to shine. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:09:43] And it’s a good way for companies to give back while also providing opportunities for their customers and prospects to learn more about how to get the most out of their platform.

So in a way like this is, I hate to say this cause the sound cynical, but like this is look, there’s a marketing opportunity for education programs. So it’d been under marketed because now you’ve got more learners who are at home trying to learn things, or maybe people who are out in the market trying to rescale.


Dave Derington: [00:10:06] I think that’s probably one of the bigger ones, Adam, I think we’re probably going to see this pay dividends in the future too. there could be more interested in products that people. let’s think about that a little bit more. It’s not just about Goodwill, right? I think about what TechSmith did recently.

I will, I’ll give you a practical example of something that’s deeply impacted and helped me is that text mouth. Wendy had talked about this when she was on the show. They have given out, the video review tool that they have for free. And, Oh my gosh. Does that make a difference? For us in our organization because we use Camtasia and this isn’t a pitch or an ad for a temptation, but we were having a pretty big challenge in doing our review when they open that up.

We’ll not only do that help us because we’re all now working remotely. And I can’t sit next to Evan or other team members and say, Hey, what about this? And, Oh, let me look at that. And now it’s, how do we collaborate remotely? They solve that problem for my team. With a free product that I will now buy there, have a revenue uptick now after that, but it’s benefiting everybody.

so this is really cool. It’s not about just Goodwill. It’s about showing interest in other products that you might have in your ecosystem. We’re just taking advantage of that time that now I now have, because I didn’t have to commute and I could sit down and schedule that time. We’ll have 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:27] more time for it.

People are trying to re-skill and w when I made that comment earlier, it’s I actually don’t, people are trying to be cynical about this or trying to be opportunistic. I think that companies are actually trying to give back right now in any way that they can. And one way that companies can give back is through education.

Dave Derington: [00:11:42] Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:44] okay. let’s let’s switch topics. The report also went into the idea of training audiences. Dave, what did we see there? 

Dave Derington: [00:11:51] Oh, I love this. I love this topic. It actually just came up yesterday, too. skills that are found that training multiple audiences, like not just your customers, but partners, prospects, and your own employees was actually very common.

18% of programs train all four of those cohorts, and 33% train at least three. Now, if usually if one wasn’t included it might’ve been prospects. I’m going to step up on my little soapbox here and talk about this a little bit more openly and candidly, because I see this as the customer education as being really powerful tool, particularly in those, let’s say that.

I think we’re seeing a delineation, Adam, that 500. See a 500 employee Mark, right? Until you get to that. And this is what I’ve seen. A lot of companies don’t really have time for enablement teams for sales enablement, or an HR team for L&D. They just don’t have it. They don’t have the resources.

And a lot of the time that they look at. Me because, Oh, you’ve created the product training. Oh my gosh. We could just use that for our own employees. Couldn’t we could we use that for our partners? Absolutely. Why should you have several different teams generating similar content and customer education are really great.

Source for that kind of stuff. so I think this is really interesting, that multiple audience thing is, is compelling. we learned a lot like that. We can help more than just our customers. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:18] Yeah. I don’t know. Did we do an episode on this day? I feel like at some point we might’ve done a hypothesis about, should your internal and external training be the same.

And I think I agree with your premise, but not necessarily your conclusion fair. So the way I think about it, I completely agree that if you are doing great customer education and that education is related to your product or industry best practices, it makes sense that there are a lot of people in your partner base and in your employee base, who will also benefit from that same content.

I totally agree with you there. that said, I’ve worked at sub 500 person companies where there’s still been a lot of value in having. even if you’re going to repurpose that customer education, you still do have L&D you still do have sales enablement because it’s a bit of a Venn diagram, right?

The Venn diagram of product knowledge that’s appropriate for your internal audiences or for your partners. There’s still a bunch of stuff in the, the non-overlapping diagram, right? as a customer education team, If you’re also being pulled into, Oh, how do we create these, sales skills courses for our sales team, or for 30 days, if you are not focusing aggressively on doing what you do best in some ways you might be diluting the value and the focus of your own team.

You’re not going to be able to specialize as much and even sub 500. I would argue that still important. 

Dave Derington: [00:14:44] Yeah. I’ll, I will close that loop is in saying, I agree with you there. I would say that one of the, one of the key things though, is to re recognize that as a customer education function, where you’re focusing on your product, as you evolve, you should start seeing, I don’t prioritize internal training or partner training initially, but I include it in at some point.

Those teams start to appear. And then, like our support team also uses our LMS to onboard and do enablement for them. But they’re teaching, like how do we do this? How do we approach this? It’s more about approach, but the product training is still something that you will continue to have over time.

Adam Avramescu: [00:15:22] Yeah. it’s we are in violent agreement now. if you were doing a great job with your customer education programs, There are going to be other audiences and cartoons and internal and even prospects who will benefit from it. But I do think it’s interesting that prospect is the group that gets left out the most in this analysis.

And I think that tells us, Dave is that educating prospects is still considered to be marketing’s job. 

Dave Derington: [00:15:47] Yeah, I worry about that. and frankly, we’re building a lot of information. We’re building a lot of build a lot of content. Why can’t prospects benefit from the same material? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:15:57] Yeah. At one, some of it might be reporting structure thing.

So you know, about 10% of the respondents of this particular survey and reported into marketing versus over half of them reporting into customer success or pro serve. Yeah, it might be a sphere of influence or what is customer education here to do in your organization? we saw some interesting echoes of this in our report that we haven’t talked about it yet.

We’ll talk about it. Next episode, the Intel, Forrester report, where, you know, when we think about. Pre-sales customer education versus post-sales customer education. Like pre-sales customer education is often thought of as the domain of marketing. What does marketing do? It educates the market about your product.

It generates awareness and interest. So post-sales customer education is often just thought of as its own specialty and not, there might be some overlaps with marketing, but it’s not really the same discipline. 

Dave Derington: [00:16:55] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I 

Adam Avramescu: [00:16:57] think some of this is company size again, right? So we see this trend for smaller companies.

Education typically reports into customer success. As you get larger, it’s usually customer success or professional services. Since that function, professional services only gets defined and companies get a bit larger and all the other reports we’ve seen this one’s strongly indicated that the top training goal was product onboarding and adoption.

Closely followed by customer retention. So when you think about what does a customer education team here to do when you report to customer success or professional services? definitely when you reports of customer success, you are there to do product adoption, product onboarding like that. That is probably the reason why your company has decided that you need a customer education team.

Yeah, customer retention, same thing. Retention is a team sport we talked about last 

Dave Derington: [00:17:48] time. It is. It definitely should be. we’re seeing that strong trend towards onboarding and adoption. That’s the primary goal, right? We want, Oh, you’re a customer. Now we need to get you up to speed first, but then.

It usually start there. Okay. I can get customers on board, but what about the people that have already been using the product? And then now you have to start to define that journey. yeah, that makes all kinds of sense since, that’s a crucial part of the customer journey. Doesn’t often get scaled very effectively or at all.

I see that all the time, people like I’m killing myself, I’m doing this training. I’m doing this over and over again. I’m like, why are you doing that? Let’s just sit down. Let’s record it. Let’s get it into an LMS. Let’s drive people to it. it sadly, it’s a matter of control. And why people don’t do it.

And it’s a matter of, we just don’t have time. We’re going to have to resource why that doesn’t happen. okay. So let’s get to the numbers. The customer education can, as we know, make a huge difference in this respect to this onboarding and adoption place from the numbers. 75% of respondents engage most frequently during onboarding.

Yep. Makes sense. And most of those focused on new accounts and not new users and existing accounts, again, make sense only about 20% really focused on that ongoing usage. and that’s why, if you think in terms of the university style grading or coursework system, 100, 200, you’re not really getting those 200, 300 level type curriculum.

The more advanced content that goes beyond the features, until you get into. The adoption plays. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:21] So although it is interesting, the way that you just laid that out, the fact that they were focused on new accounts, not new users on existing accounts tells me that one-on-one curriculum, even if you could be using it 90 days, 120 days, six months, two years after the initial onboarding, the companies aren’t capitalizing on that as much as they should, which suggests to me, like we talked about in the previous episode, that training is still thought of as a point in time activity.

Not as this ongoing continuous process continuous program that supports onboarding as your customers continue to add new users or as points of contacts, turnover. so it’s interesting. and what you’re saying resonates with me, I would argue that for that two Oh one, three Oh one level, curriculum.

Yeah. Many education programs aspire to do that. But it’s time. You never get around to it or priorities, but what they don’t realize. And we talked about this actually in the episode where we interviewed Matt from Miro is I think a lot of companies don’t realize that they just cram too much into onboarding.

Dave Derington: [00:20:26] So the kitchen sink phenomenon 

Adam Avramescu: [00:20:27] they took. Yeah. They took the two Oh one content and put it into one Oh one course. Yeah. So some of this stuff that you put in the onboarding actually needs to be the more advanced, ongoing content. Because if you don’t do it that way, if you don’t actually chunk out your content correctly, you’re going to encounter cognitive overload.

You’re gonna overwhelm those users before 

Dave Derington: [00:20:47] they’re ready. Can I interject something you man. All right. So in a L definitely let you get back to this. I had a really cool experience earlier that maybe wasn’t last weekend. So I decided to play a new game and, I love games and we were talking with Daniel quick and he loves games.

So it falls onto that. The game is unreal tournament and it’s an alpha that goes back to the version 20 plus years ago. what really? And eats I, Dave, you were talking about games here. This is a customer education. Oh yes, it is games. Do customer education in a way that is unpressed and it cool.

Unprecedented really cool. If that’s a word 

Adam Avramescu: [00:21:23] I’m also very excited about this, because I think we’ll have referenced every past episode that we did by the end of the series. 

Dave Derington: [00:21:28] Yeah. This is a bonus. I love this. it’s a good way. here we are at the end of the beginning of the year and reflecting on, what changes we need to make to our curriculum 

Adam Avramescu: [00:21:37] or.

Thinking about the before times 

Dave Derington: [00:21:39] before times the good old days before co anyway. Okay. Back to the story games, unreal tournament, video game. Why is this what happened, Dave? That was compelling. What was interesting is I said, Hey, let’s do this tutorial. Let’s do the intro. Tutorials are almost always a Bismal in video games and in the worst ones, again, the it’s as commonality between video games and real customer education, because this kitchen sink thing, this adding everything into it, trying to get somebody to know everything is not what game designers do.

What a game designer does. That’s really good, especially for platforms is they start easing you in and grouping and chunking different kinds of skillsets over time. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:22:21] And it’s very scaffolding. 

Dave Derington: [00:22:23] It’s called scaffolding. So what compelled me, what really got me was. I knew all the weapons and I played this game 20 years ago and they get you into this big hall.

It’s this catacombs type thing, and there’s little rooms that go off to each side and you go to the left and the right and you’d left. And the right, all the way down is probably eight different segments with two sides, each like 16 different weapons that you could use. So I enter the first room and there’s a little sign.

And then I go up to the sign and it starts talking. You need to, Blah, blah, blah. Do this. Oh, easy it’s click right button, click, left button, do something. And then it gets progressively more advanced. But I was, it was intriguing because the way they set things up, they had these little moving targets.

These like people like warriors that were moving around and they do certain things. And if you shot them, a little ball will come out and be an unlock. For this big key. So you’d have to shoot all these things and do whatever it told you to do. And then don’t unlock and you can get the key and you go into the next room.

Then as you turn around, you can look at a light outside instead of, but complete. So I’m getting this great understanding of the product, right? It’s a product. It is software it’s SaaS. We just don’t think of it that way. So thinking about that, like how onboarding is such an important thing, a game designer will look at how do I get people to understand the skills they need to do so they can be effective and not.

Churn. And when I turn, I bounce off a game, cause it’s just not interesting anymore. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:23:46] Yeah, absolutely. So what are we doing to hook people at the beginning and to, to your analogy about unreal tournament. How do you make that onboarding moment where proverbially, your users are in the hall?

They have the one who’s in front of them to try and figure out what they do. those are your features, right? Yeah. How do you make that experiential and how do you let them find the value in using those things and using those things in the proper way? Yes. You just telling them like pending tournament manuals, not okay.

So we’re going to do, we’re going to do what a unreal tournament can teach us about customer education, or maybe we can do a game that I’ve played on the backlog. We’ll do that. Yeah, we’ll do that one in the future, maybe for our fun episode at the end of the year and data to your point, like about churn, but the risk here I think is that if you don’t focus on existing accounts, they’re bringing on new users too.

And if those new users don’t get properly trained, those users fail to get value. And that’s what leads to churn. 

Dave Derington: [00:24:41] And that’s all software, like the idea I said about games, like if I don’t understand how to use the game I give up and you do the same thing, the exact same thing with software you throw up, but objection is too hard.

I don’t understand it. That’s churn. Yeah, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:24:56] absolutely. Absolutely. So this report covers some similar territory as well. Like we, we know that driving product adoption is really important to these programs, but they are also looking at monetization. Oh, let’s 

Dave Derington: [00:25:09] talk about 

Adam Avramescu: [00:25:09] programs. Yeah. Dave, what does the report have to say there?

Dave Derington: [00:25:12] this is interesting and it found that most program budgets are increasing over time. Thank God. Okay. That’s great. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:25:20] But that’s not because yeah, go ahead. 

Dave Derington: [00:25:22] I was just saying, it’s going to be, I’m probably reading your mind. It’s might be related to results, the programs, they achieve or perhaps because they’re growing companies, on the other hand, most training leaders who responded don’t have any idea what their budgets are.

I haven’t, I now probably have better understanding of what my budget is and I’ve ever had in my career, but now I’m at a bigger company in professional services and I have to, at startups training leaders, They’re typically not the budget holders in it. And frankly, as a distractor, if you can not do that’s fine.

As long as you have a stake in it. but it makes it difficult to advocate for yourself if you don’t know what your budget is. So that’s interesting. We’re looking a lot into budget and monetization. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:26:04] Yeah. And that’s, we’ve heard Maria Manning-Chapman from TSIA. Say that if you’re always going to go back to the well.

Asking for your next head count asking for your next system. If you can’t prove ROI every time you’re going to have a harder road and the TSIAreports, you’d actually look into that quite a bit. That’s T versus free spectrum. So here in the skills, our report at 56% of the programs that were surveyed, do charge for training while the rest are free.

And of that 56% of the ones who do charge most actually still offer the majority of courses for free. With only some requiring payments. So we really are seeing the feed of free spectrum there. Yeah. and that might be like offering premium content. So again, it makes sense. Just the top goal is supporting onboarding and driving product adoption.

And if you’re doing that, you don’t necessarily want to put all of your customer education behind a paywall. You want customer education to support product adoption and not create an additional cost barrier. so even though a lot of this training is probably coming with the software license and.

The two-sided report had some interesting reflections to share on that for larger organizations here. It makes me wonder if these programs don’t have any revenue focus, are those the ones that are going to be caught off guard next number to go to the weld, to ask 

Dave Derington: [00:27:19] for budget? that’s definitely a possibility, that might also be why most of those respondents do plan to monetize their monetize program a lot further within the next year, I think about that all the time now, more than ever. let me sell it, tell you that story just real briefly with what we’re doing right now at my current company, we’ve had those dialogues like, Oh wow. I want to scale up and do these things. Maybe now it’s time to develop an onboarding package that includes this and this, and it’s extra because a lot of companies don’t think about buying services when you’re in that Salesforce.

Sales thing, they’re go, Oh, I’ll just get the product and we’ll be fine. And even more. So they forget about education services. And if you’re not thinking about those upfront, I see this all the time a company comes along and says, Hey, guess what? We need to need you to come out and you need to do this training for something.

And then as soon as I say, it’s going to cost X thousand dollars, they’re like, Oh wait. I thought that, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:28:14] nevermind. Let’s go learn it. Yeah. Don’t you want us to be successful? 

Dave Derington: [00:28:17] Yeah. And of course you do that for a while and you say, okay, we’re just going to come and do it because anything it takes, you can’t afford to do that for long.

You have to be revenue centric because at some point in that reflection, inflection point, you’re going to need, you’re going to need to pay for you’re you’re at the table. It’s like you’re at home in a family. You gotta do your part of the chores. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:28:34] but that’s where your point about feet are free, but having a packaged offer really makes sense, because if you have great free resources and they’re scalable and there’s, fixed costs associated with them, you can easily say to that customer like, Hey, this is the basic training that you get from the CSM.

These are the online resources we have. These online resources are great, and you can get all that stuff for free. Yeah, 

Dave Derington: [00:28:58] that’s a good note. Don’t they enter it in there that, customer training isn’t always seen as an upsell, more are comfortable funding their program, funding their own program because the benefits it provides, it provides customer success and product adoption.

That’s what we do. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:13] Yeah. So there’s going to be some free training in there. It’s going to be focused on product adoption and customer success will either start needing to. they can do the basic training themselves there. Yeah. From your CSM will CSMs do some sort of training. but they’re not necessarily gonna be able to make it super bespoke.

They’re not necessarily going to be able to package it up in a broader, learning plan or implementation plan. They’re not going to be able to work with you as deeply. So if you are a larger, more complex customer with more complex implementation, Hey, let’s think ahead. Look, you probably do want some sort of services package and that services package should include education, but if you truly are going to be okay doing this on your own with self-serve resources, that’s okay too.

especially if you’re a smaller company. So yeah, I think we’re going to see more fee-based programs. Or these programs are just going to start to get really good at proving the ROI and the impact that they have on the metrics they say they drive like product adoption. 

Dave Derington: [00:30:12] Yeah, that’s a hot button.

Isn’t it? That in the report, 68% of respondents are integrating with the CRM 65% with an access to a, like a single sign on Okta. because what they’re trying to do is get better at tying that customer data together, and showing that impact. And, I’ll say here, one of the things that’s really, this is hard because let’s say you do single sign on is great.

I have it set up with my instance of Skilljar and the objection, the issue that it routes around is I know anybody going into my LMS. I know who they are. I know what account they’re with. It’s easy. That’s all integrated. I don’t have gaps. I don’t have to clean up that data, but if you don’t have that integration point, then you have people, Jane doe@gmail.com.

I don’t know who that person is, even if they sometimes type a company and it might not map to what I have in my CRM. So it is really, it’s really hard here. You need to be able to measure outcomes. And that’s what, some of the things we’re thinking about this integration with the CRM is really.

Geared up to do. and, I’m gonna say this, these two points here as part of my soap box, speaking to this whole thing, integration with the CRM, getting access to an SSO, two things I think you should do, and you might not agree with me, but these are the things I think you should do when day one or big 

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:27] data stuff 

Dave Derington: [00:31:28] usually connect your to connect to your CRM or data warehouse.

As soon as you can that add outreach. It took me months, many months to get that done because. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:38] Yeah. So start to start asking as soon as you can. 

Dave Derington: [00:31:40] Yeah. You have to, because by the time you actually need it, which is, later you’ll have it and you’ll have been recording it. Now it’s a matter of, like I think my VP asked me some different numbers and I just gave them to her.

you’re ahead that. Yeah. Did this first. So that’s a huge ROI because execs are going to come to you and ask for it and you have it. And actually they’re going to, they’re going to think you don’t, and implementing SSO just makes everything more streamlined. The caveat being there’s cases. When you might want to give somebody who’s a prospect access to your training material, and then you can’t do that easily.

so you should think about when you want to make this happen. It’s I’ve been in some sticky situations 

Adam Avramescu: [00:32:14] there. Yeah, absolutely. if you don’t get those systems implemented, If you can’t start figuring out your plan for SSO or to connect your LMS with a CRM or to get all that data into a data warehouse.

Hey, you’re going to have trouble proving impact because those systems won’t get connected, but those are always hot button issues and have a lot of complexity. So you’re probably going to run into a stumbling block, but once you do have the connected, you can start looking at those downstream effects and actually doing correlation analysis.

So exactly. like all of the reports you’ve seen so far in skills are most of them are measuring improved product adoption and onboarding. 

Dave Derington: [00:32:55] Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:32:56] Several of them are measuring, sees that. Yeah. And a lot of them are looking at retention. Because those are the most common right there.

Basically every report has now told us that’s what customer education programs are all looking to drive. there were a few other, there were some less common ones. Some were looking at product expansion as a signal for account expansion. Some we’re looking at driving support costs down and some are looking at NPS, but those seem to be a little less common.

Dave Derington: [00:33:27] Yeah. they’re not the first string. you mentioned the first few are, those are hot. Those are easy. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:33:33] Yeah. And NPS might be because not everyone uses NPS. And also because I don’t know if, I don’t know. training does the whole LinkedIn NPS, but it’s not necessarily, I wouldn’t look at it as.

Closely as something like product onboarding or adoption, because Is a much clearer story to be told there, or like support costs as much clearer story be told there, in some ways, when you’re doing a correlation analysis, you can’t just like anything can correlate with anything. So you have to be able to tell the story about like, why you believe that correlation is valid.

Otherwise you’re gonna get a bunch of questions and you should exactly, but so similar though, to the TSIAand Thought Industries reports that we’ve looked at over the past couple of weeks, there is room for improvement and uptake. Or that’s what the TSIAreport called penetration. So everyone is still looking to drive more uptake of their training.

Dave Derington: [00:34:20] That’s good, which in turn should drive uptake of your product. then we get into some actual data from Skilljars platform. Now that’s, this is cool. Maybe there’ll be a gap between what respondents say and what the product data actually tells us. that’s, it’s all, it’s always if my doctor tells me something, I’ll say one thing and it might not be the full truth, but he looks at my blood work is like, what the heck you’ve been doing?

that kind of thing. We’ve got the data, I’m a big data guy, that, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:34:45] Actually would you say you listened to science? Dave? I 

Dave Derington: [00:34:49] L yeah. I’m a scientist man back off, man.

that’s a good bumper sticker. so what do we see here? First of all, that most course completion happens within a day. Okay. Likelihood that a student’s going to come back to a course after three days, seven days, 30 days, it only slightly takes up from a one day completion rate. So you’ve got a limited amount of time to get somebody you’ve got a cat, but you’ve got to get that audience captive and you’ve got to get them through the material.

Adam Avramescu: [00:35:18] So basically for a given course, for the average course, if they can’t complete it in the same day that they start it, you’re not necessarily going to see a lot of uptake in the likelihood that they’ll complete it. After that first day, I think this is really cool. Cause we don’t think about these stats a lot, but here Skilljar is actually providing insights from their platform.

That the tell us what people actually do. 

Dave Derington: [00:35:42] What about let’s translate that into numbers. Like we’re talking core size here, right? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:35:47] modular. Yeah. So we talked. Yeah. So obviously if you want something that’s going to be completed in a day, then you might expect there’s an inverse relationship between course length and completion probability.

So the sweet spot, for course, completion seems to be, either between zero to 15 minutes. So I guess 15 minutes or less. I wouldn’t take a zero minute course would, you 

Dave Derington: [00:36:08] know, be amazing and pack it all in my head that quick 

Adam Avramescu: [00:36:12] 15 or less. And then there’s another peak between 30 to 45 minutes. So I don’t think this is saying if I interpret the state, I don’t think it’s saying that 15 to 30 minutes is bad by any means.

And I think if you look at how some of these breakdown, it’s not like that, there’s a significant decrease. I think some of this is just Blanco. data anomalies because of the sample size. 

Dave Derington: [00:36:33] Oh, I don’t know. I would actually argue. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:36:35] Okay. tell me more. 

Dave Derington: [00:36:36] I’ve been perusing a lot of YouTube and I listed a lot of podcasts and my assertion would be those that zero to 15 minutes is more like that.

Entry-level I got to hook somebody it’s that first product video, it’s the small stuff because a lot of the times, and I work in sales now and in sales, you’ve got a very, you’ve got strong minded individuals who resist. A lot of time, the training, because they’ve got their method to sell and it works for them.

And we’re coming in and saying, we’re going to change all that a little bit. Same thing we did for customer success. The same thing you do with every product platform we’re changing. This is change management. I want those small, those first videos to be small and concise because if they deliver value and there’s not a lot of time, of time commitment on my end and I learned something from it and I can use the product after that.

Holy cow. I’m going to do that. Five minutes, 15 minutes I’m up and running. Cool. But that 30 to 45 minutes, that’s a different one. That’s more like that. Virtual instructor led training, not the on demand training. not always. 30, 45 minutes is a good virtual instructor led training session or a big meaty module.

That’s more Think of the audience, I’d say the first part of the audience is a lot more end-users the latter part of the audience is advanced end users and administrators where people that are setting up and configuring the system. that’s just how I’ve seen it. You may see different 

Adam Avramescu: [00:37:54] well, but then, so I agree with everything that you just said, except for then why would you think that 15 to 30 minutes is lower?

Dave Derington: [00:38:02] I don’t think it’s anomalous at all. I think it’s just an artifact of the different, audience cohorts. on one hand new people that are, that don’t have a lot of time, they’re just getting into it. And then it’s just in time. I Oh, 30 seconds in an Pendo or, two minutes, three minutes in a marketing video that tells me how to do one functioning function or an education value that tells me how to do some workflow.

But on the other hand, 30 minutes is what’s going to take me to de convolute a really complicated administrative function, like a best practice around setting up content in. What we will call sequences. How do we develop that? How do we do AB testing? You’ve got more ground to cover, right? And in, and advanced topics or more, I’m assembling several different things.

Like a workflow is an, in several different features wrapped into, okay, now I do this. Now I have to think, and I have to do this. And now I have to think, and I have to do that. So somebody may be a lot more prone at that point because they want, they’ve invested the time. They know the product to come back and do that.

That’s just what I’m thinking. It might, it’s a hypothesis. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:39:05] Okay. So it’s I’m willing to sit down for something that’s snackable under 50, and I can complete that and I’m willing to go to a 30 to 45 minutes, like VILT type session because there, I think I’m going to learn one, one topic, top to tail, but 15 to 30 minutes is that like awkward middle where it’s neither snackable nor.

Like a full session. Is that what I’m hearing? 

Dave Derington: [00:39:31] Yeah. And this is a hypothesis to test Adam. This is where, we’re what we like to do, but that’s just where it makes sense to me. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:39:37] I will be curious to see what this looks like next time skills are, it does the same benchmark because when you look at the 2017 results, there is a very strong, like typical inverse curve, right?

Zero to 15 minutes, 78% completion rate. Yep. 15 to 30, 64% completion rates. 30 to 45 minutes that goes down to 48, 45 to 60 minutes. It’s about the same it’s 49 one to two hours, 42%, two to three hours, 27%. And then strangely in the 2017 data. And again, this might be sample size three plus hours that completion rate spikes back up a little bit to 47%, which might tell me that when you have a course that is more than three hours long.

Now you’re talking about something more like a full day training. And maybe it’s like a certification course, and there’s more incentive to complete it because inherently the stakes were higher, but the 2019 data, it’s a lot more like upside down Z, which is the scientific term, 

Dave Derington: [00:40:39] just contiguous, I think is what you’re looking for.

But yeah, I’ll go with 

Adam Avramescu: [00:40:42] that.

Zero to 15 minutes, 57%. Fits into 30 minutes. That’s a 45% completion rate. That’s our awkward middle 30 to 45 minutes. That’s a 55% position, 45 to 60 minutes that goes back down to 46%. So we’re now hovering more in the forties and fifties, right? the curve is a lot more normalized. I didn’t want to say flattened because of, we’re talking so much about flattening the COVID curve, but, we are 

Dave Derington: [00:41:12] so many references.

I love it. It’s a lot more 

Adam Avramescu: [00:41:14] normalized, right? The difference between a 57% and a 45% completion rate is dramatically different than a 78% and a 42% completion rate. 

Dave Derington: [00:41:23] God we’re nerding out. So hardcore, but let me tell you one more thing I’m thinking of. I would love to see, and again, let’s go back to Skilljar and say, Hey, skull jar.

If you’re doing this again next year. I would like to see this broken up along different audience cohorts in different intentions, right? Because you have the modality of how things are being expressed. Is it a live course? Is that an on-demand course? Is it a virtual instructor? Led course. Is it a micro learning component?

And I think that we’ve been more telling, I think it would be you’re pulling out the signal from the noise a lot more because I think what we’re seeing here is just an aggregate. This is aggregates is what is said in the data. This is aggregate data showing these times, but I don’t think it breaks it down as to get us the granular.

They get us to the variables that we really have in play. what was the content about, what are we doing and I’ll go on from here and say, what are those types of people or types of content people are consuming or using, for me that, and for you, I think as well, some of the time is video.

it’s common again, we’ll go back to we talking about Wendy Hamilton. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:42:25] it’s 

Dave Derington: [00:42:25] something I valued about the relation, the discussion I had with Wendy was that she had asked me he’s like Dave, people are making content. what do you think? The number one area, whenever number one, destination is for the content that we’re making on Camtasia a is 

Adam Avramescu: [00:42:42] and open to her episode.

Dave Derington: [00:42:45] this is an interesting hypothesis too. It was like, for me, it’s YouTube. And that’s yeah, that’s the answer. It’s YouTube. It’s video. It’s common because followed by HTML or maybe some texts that you’d put in your LMS, or maybe you just have them on a website. They do is very consumable.

It’s easy to create a, I have people talk to me like, why aren’t you using SCORM or XAP? I was like, you know what? I don’t have time for all this crap right now because I’m trying to build the material the first time through. I’m trying to vote. Nobody has ever gotten this far. We’re trying to build the content embedded.

It’s basically you’re it’s like you were in a book and customer education. You were the first one who actually looked at the entire spectrum of what customer education is and you laid it out. And that’s what we do the first time through with customer education. Then we come back and we think about the other modalities, right?

It’s not that SCORM isn’t is bad. Or instructor led training onsite is bad. It’s more time investment in more technical investment and more. cognitive load because you have to worry about other things. I want to do it simple and I to have fast. and that seems to point again, going back to the Skilljar, rapport, customer education programs are producing content that combines bite-sized written content with videos.

Adam Avramescu: [00:43:53] you’re actually making me think this is now, this is my crackpot theory is that 

Dave Derington: [00:43:58] we were talking, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:43:59] we were talking a lot, actually, this wasn’t even that crackpot, but we were talking a lot about chow. Before COVID. if we talked about, this is one of our, one of our previous episodes before COVID onsite training was very popular, not just because it was a revenue driver, but because that’s where customer demand was.

if you’re, if your theory is. You want to pitch customer training to someone in a way that will get the least eyebrows raised the least pushback. Then you are going to suggest doing some sort of classroom training because that’s how people think training works. Yeah. And that has been true.

That’s received wisdom and a lot of people still believe that, but I think we’re starting to see something similar with video, right? Like now that we’re in the age of YouTube, Now that people are used to watching quick tutorial videos and things like that I think is now starting increasingly to become the default way that people think about education.

So you want to have a perfectly unobjectionable education program that is hosted online. What are you going to use? You are going to use video now that sounds like I’m attacking video and I’m not. But I’m suggesting that I think is part of why it is so prevalent to the point where it was by far heads and tails, the most common lesson format within skills arts courses.

Dave Derington: [00:45:21] Yeah. And Skilljar is newer as far as LMS is go in. And again, going back to my point, video is easy. but I think it gets discounted because from a traditional. Context, a formal education and structural designer may just to poo that and 

Adam Avramescu: [00:45:38] It’s it’s not the way things are done. 

Dave Derington: [00:45:39] No, it’s not, but what it’s challenging and I’m sure you have this problem too.

It’s challenging to hire instructional designers to work in a customer education team for a couple of reasons. One of them being that a lot of them are used to a smaller. not I call it full-stack instructional design. What I mean by that is you’re eliciting discovering, researching all the way to delivering and everything in between.

Meaning that video now I would say. Polish your video skills up big time, get Camtasia, get it. any of the video editing, captivate, articulate, how, w premiere, there’s all these tools out there, but that video stuff is really compelling. It’s really fast. It’s go to market 

Adam Avramescu: [00:46:24] stuff.

Yeah, that makes sense. And I think we see this again, like given the video is so prevalent, the second most common one was HTML and then there’s a more significant drop, like VILT and SCORM are on there, but they’re definitely lower. they’re the only ones before what you might consider the long tail of quizzes, HTML five PDF survey that had websites.

Other like by that point, these are used very infrequently. Video is really starting to dominate in these lessons. And you mentioned Wendy Hamilton, we’ve seen some of the research from TechSmith that talks about the ideal length for high-performing videos. Yeah, usually they are. they’re micro loaning.

They’re below the 20 minute Mark. And that jives with the research that we see here from skill are Customer education programs are producing content that combines bite-sized written content with videos. And I absolutely agree with what you’re saying that if you are an instructional designer looking to go into customer education, polishing those video skills is a great way to re-skill.

Dave Derington: [00:47:28] Absolutely. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:47:30] And so finally, Skilljar looks into one of our favorite topics, which you’ve discussed on previous episodes. And in fact, even in this series, it’s come up on, I think every report we’ve looked at certifications and credentials. 

Dave Derington: [00:47:41] Yay. Yay. We love to think of that. Okay. Tell us more. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:47:45] Yeah, I will.

So similar to the thought industries report, 41% of respondents didn’t do this at all. They did no certifications. And if I recall, actually I think that number was very similar. To the thought industries number. but 45% did offer some sort of certificate of completion. So not necessarily what you would call a full, certification, but this would be like a certificate or, yeah, like a certificate that you offer at the end of the course, 

Dave Derington: [00:48:14] like saying evidence of completion or so-and-so 

Adam Avramescu: [00:48:18] fundamentals of underwater basket weaving one Oh one.

Dave Derington: [00:48:22] Good admirable 

Adam Avramescu: [00:48:24] and nearly as many offered either badging or non proctored certification. So what you would consider like a low stakes. So again, for programs of this size makes sense because you’re not necessarily going to see a lot of formal proctored certs, when your company is fewer than 500 people, unless, Linda and I did a.

a webinar at one point where we were doing like the onboarding matrix and if your product is high stakes, high risk, then you probably are going to go more towards high stakes certification as a way to onboard your customers. But that’s pretty rare for a lot of SaaS companies. and again, it’s prioritization makes sense, given that the time and cost involved to create a full certification.

Versus the actual impact of doing that high stakes certification. It’s not effective ROI and it’s not effective trade off versus, doing like a certificate of completion or a bandage. 

Dave Derington: [00:49:18] Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting. It gives me a lot of cause to think. And we’re actively working towards a high state certification program, but we’re doing that for a reason because it’s a market differentiator to help administrators have portability of their career to get, move along.

You have to be thinking about what are the, what’s the value behind the things that you are developing? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:49:38] Yeah. so Dave, are those incentives aligned? There was actually some really interesting, counterintuitive findings here. 

Dave Derington: [00:49:44] yeah. This that’s, let’s talk about this because we’re reading these reports and we’re trying to process this, the data they showed.

They compared to completion rates of certificate programs to non certificate programs. And in this case, the certificate programs had lower and this is weird overall lower completion rates. So my question from that is, Oh, geez. Does this mean that certificates might not be great in census? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:50:10] Okay. Let’s put a fine point on this for the programs that offered a certificate, they had overall a lower completion 

Dave Derington: [00:50:20] rates.


Adam Avramescu: [00:50:21] whether it was a one day completion rate, seven day completion rate, 30 day completion rate, total completion rate. Those were all lower than the overall non certificate courses. 

Dave Derington: [00:50:30] Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:50:31] I think that does point to the idea that you shouldn’t feel, we talked about this. I don’t remember now if it was this episode or a previous one, About how sometimes you might be building a certificate program because someone, maybe someone highly paid at your company sends you to have service.

And that in itself is not a good reason to build a full certification program. as the learning leader, you need to be thinking about what role certification actually plays and not just like slapping, a certificate on the end of your course and expecting the basketball and to drive a better engagement.

Because once you start putting the word certification on things, Now you’re setting an expectation that there’s going to be more content. There’s going to be a higher workload for you to produce it. And for the customer who is taking that certificates, that there’s going to be more rigor. I’m actually not surprised to see that there’s lower completion rates on these programs than say a lighter weight program that is more of like a microlearning based experience.

Cause you might assume that for these courses that do have credentials and do have certificates, these are probably overall. Longer more in-depth courses. 

Dave Derington: [00:51:34] Yeah. And I have to call a little BS on some of those here, just being transparent. So when I was at Gainsight, we built a, an administrator training program that was a prelude to the certification program.

It’s getting you up to that test. And the completion rates on there were staggeringly high, even compared to a lot of my smaller stuff, because I felt there was a lot of, there was a clearly spelled out value prop. And call to action as to why you would do that. So I’m wondering what I’d said before, and one of the other points in this dialogue that I’m wondering if we don’t have all of the variables clearly, we’re not getting all of the signal out of that noise.

Adam Avramescu: [00:52:11] Yeah. I think one thing that we can say here is that, certifications are not, if you build it, they were com. They will. Yeah. Like it’s you really have to push those marketing. Yeah. Marketing is still important, regardless of which any program that you’re building, but the more effort that it’s going to take for someone to complete that program in a way, the more that you have to make sure that you are correctly marketing the value.

Dave Derington: [00:52:35] Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s, I’m going to say that’s where a lot of times you fall off the rails, is that okay? I built this program and nobody’s going there. What’s the value. also something I want to wrap that off. I th I think we’re seeing an angle in there, but I think this is good data, and I think it’s in general.

True something else. I really want to, again, take a soap opera moment. Soapbox moment on is that when we talk certification, all of you who are listening about customer education, please repeat after me and help us out. Certification is fundamentally different. Then a certificate of completion, there should be from a continuum of low stakes to high stakes, but there’s some stakes, some skin in the game, some risk on the end of somebody who is taking an exam or trying to get that, just giving slapping a, if you say you have a certificate or your certification on some class, you give.

It’s not apples to oranges. It’s apples. Oranges are very different things. Yeah, I agree. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:53:32] I think some of it is just a, it’s a terminology issue. It’s like how, something that’s not training can be called training and we can get pedantic and say, it’s not training because it doesn’t have learning objectives or something like that.

Like it’s the same thing as certification. Like when you create something that. You say as a certification, probably to a lot of your, let’s say you’re using a certification program, quote, unquote, as a way to do marketing for your product and for your industry. you might call it a certification.

and you have all the appropriate caveats and disclaimers about what it does or doesn’t mean to the market, mean to the market. And a bunch of people will go through that program and they’ll get their certificate of completion, even though you’ve called it product X certification. Yeah, so it’s a terminology thing where I think that you can call a lot of things, a certification program, regardless of if under the hood it’s a true certification program, or if it’s a certificate of completion, I think you just have to be very clear in setting expectations.

For what that certificate should or shouldn’t means the market 

Dave Derington: [00:54:35] setting expectations. Thank you, Adam. You made it, cut to the quick, okay. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:54:38] cut to the quick, that’s what we should’ve called Daniel Quick’s episode. 

Dave Derington: [00:54:41] Cut to the Hill. In retrospect, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:54:44] while we are ruminating on the past, let us look to the future.

we’ll ride into the sunset here on national road trip day. It’s 

Dave Derington: [00:54:51] a great day. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:54:52] It’s a, it’s always a great day. So if you to learn more about this report or see it, in is over@skilljar.com with a bunch of other great reports, webinars, and other customer education thought leadership. And if you want to learn more about us and our podcast, we have a website.

At customer.education, where you can find show notes and other material, you can find us on Twitter.  

Dave Derington: [00:55:19] and I am @davederington special. Thanks to Allen. Sorry. Special. Thanks to Alan Koda for our wonderful theme music. And if this, your friends help you out, you can always help us out by subscribing in Apple podcast, overcast, Stitcher, Spotify, or YouTube.

Pod catcher of choice because it helps and leave us a positive review on Apple podcasts, because that helps even more. Those two things help us to expose our podcasts to other people and keep this conversation going 

Adam Avramescu: [00:55:48] and to our audience. Thanks for joining us. Go out and educate experiment and find your people.

Dave Derington: [00:55:56] Thanks everybody. Thanks for listening.

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