Dave Derington: [00:00:00] This is why we say customer education is a pillar of customer success. Why? Because we’re engaging with those people on a fundamental level, the knowledge level, and we’re trying to build them up to speed. So they’re better than us.

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:19] It’s November 16th, 2018, and welcome to episode six of CELab, the customer education lab, where we explore how to build customer education programs. Experiment with new approaches and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stops growth dead in its tracks. I’m Adam 

Dave Derington: [00:00:38] Avramescu. And I’m Dave Derington. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:41] All right.

welcome Dave. We’ve we’ve got quite a, quite an episode ahead of us. we’re actually, we’re sitting in a room looking at each other, 

Dave Derington: [00:00:47] which is fabulous. Yeah. This is what we want. We can’t do that when you’re in San Francisco and I’m here 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:51] looking at each other from miles away. 

Dave Derington: [00:00:53] And speaking of days, what day is it?

What’s the national, day of 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:58] today is national button day. 

Dave Derington: [00:01:02] I don’t have any, but, I have one button I 

Adam Avramescu: [00:01:03] have, I also have one button. 

Dave Derington: [00:01:04] What are you supposed to do in national button day? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:01:06] I don’t know. 

go. So buttons, 

Dave Derington: [00:01:09] I’m compelled to find out more, but without further ado, let’s break into this session and let’s get into spirit.

So today we’re going to be talking about connecting it and visualize and customer education. What that means is if you’re like us, perhaps even painfully. That our lives are driven by technology. who among us have, are not users of the internet or Facebook or Google or whatever, problem with some of those of you are that have managed to dispel the technology go you, but you’re listening to us on a podcast.

We’re going to talk about tech. You might. How a learning management system, you might have tools like go to training. You might have tools like Adobe connect to do live trainings. You might even do surveys. And I, this is a big practice for me as I do train modules. I like to see what you think. I think you referred to a smile sheet in the good old days, and perhaps then you use a customer success platform, like a Gainsight to tango strike deck.

So whatever the case. You’re bound to technology and that’s the spirit of what we’re going to talk about today. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:08] Yeah. let’s get into it. I think that when you are working with all these tools, they have the opportunity to give you a lot of information and they have the tool to offer a better customer experience, but they also make your life and your day-to-day more complex.

it increases our workload sometimes as customer education professionals. When you have all of your information sitting in different systems. 

Dave Derington: [00:02:30] Yeah. that’s painfully true, Adam. So I think this one let’s go ahead and. I’m pretty passionate about that. What I like to talk about is what we’re going to do about this.

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:40] Let’s figure it out. Now. We’ve already talked about the LMS we had an, a whole episode about LMSs and I’m sure we’ll have more episodes about more individual pieces of technology, but I love the idea of diving into how we can connect these and help these systems, tell each other’s stories, so to speak.

So don’t you think, Dave, that integrations that all these platforms are starting to offer, Like Salesforce integrations and Marchetto integrations. Don’t you think there are enough? No, 

Dave Derington: [00:03:08] I don’t 

Adam Avramescu: [00:03:08] tell 

Dave Derington: [00:03:08] me more. All right. So this whole topic here is really, I’m really passionate about it. I’m a big data person.

And let me lead into this by saying I started off my career as a chemist and not only a chemist, but one that was focused on data. So I was a computational chemist. I built models. I did a lot of work with computers and in this day and age, like coming to where I am today, I’ve thought a lot about integrating things.

So I’m not certain that integration alone is enough right now. It should become increasingly clear that a big part of our roles, customer education leaders is to think about the bigger equation. You may have heard the term socialized digital transformation that in of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot. I like to think in other words of how do we look at the software that we’re using and think seriously how it works.

Together. We started this conversation with companies like Skilljar, w where that has a great Salesforce integration. I’ve used, learned us Salesforce integration, and while those are great, I don’t quite think they’re enough to get us where we need to 

Adam Avramescu: [00:04:12] be. That’s a really interesting way of positioning it because you do have individual systems and you have the ability to integrate these different systems together.

But until you have a way to get all of these systems reporting into some sort of single source of truth, you have less ability to tell the story of your data. And we know that organizations are increasingly relying on data to tell stories all the time, make decisions to improve operations. We have to look at data to be able to make decisions about what we’re going to do.

So as customer education leaders, we’ve historically been deprived of data. We’ve had our smile sheets and our satisfaction scores and, maybe. Whatever reporting that we can scrounge up on how many classes that we’ve sold and 

Dave Derington: [00:04:55] where completion rates 

Adam Avramescu: [00:04:56] like completion rate all of that. Right now, we have an opportunity that we’ve actually never had before to start pulling all this data together, not just education data, but business data, so that we can visualize it and figure out what role customer education plays throughout the customer journey.

Dave Derington: [00:05:12] Exactly. So what’s our hypothesis. Then 

Adam Avramescu: [00:05:15] let’s test this hypothesis to be influential in an organization it’s necessary for you to connect your different sources of data and to visualize what it means to your end goal of educating customers. 

Dave Derington: [00:05:27] Got it. Okay. let’s break into this, kick us off Dave, before we really dig into this.

So I’ve got a few topic points that I like for us to discuss Adam. Now I tend to think about this quite a lot, this subject, partly because my previous role at Gainsight really got me thinking about it. My current role at Azuqua has me thinking about it. Oh, so much more and transparently, I’m user enablement here at Azuqua.

My job is to get people to understand or use our product. Our product is integration platform, right? As a service and. Today, we’re doing a joint podcast. This will be on the connector. This will also be on our SI labs, thing. And partly because we’re crossing the gap and of course we can do this with Checkr at some point, too.

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:10] What a great operation community. If you’re a subscriber of one to subscribe to the other. 

Dave Derington: [00:06:14] Absolutely. Thank you, Adam, for that plug. so w let’s get into this, like the interesting thing about products like Azuqua and actually products like Gainsight is that, Azuqua is about integrating products together, connecting all of your apps that are in the cloud sometimes on the prem, is that sounds silly.

Sometimes on-prem on the prem. That’s like a new hipster way to say it again. But what is opened my eyes is that I’ve got this tool and I never would have thought I’d had this as a customer educator. That allows me to say, Oh, I’m going to reach into Salesforce. I’m going to look for this person.

And Imma bring back information about them. I’m going to go out to Twitter and see who Adam Avramescu is and bring back information about them. I can dip into all these different cloud apps that I have as a business. Now, how does that relate to me as an educator? now Gainsight my mission. My passion was a leverage.

We call this drinking your own champagne or eating your own dog food, leverage that product to be a lens, to be a visualization platform on the day that we’re working with. So what we’re trying to get to is using all these tools to automate, right? That’s the first point I want to put up with. So what that means.

So customer education, and we’ve already talked about this Outland customer education means different things to different people, depending on whom you ask. Of course. and part of that customer’s life, Let’s pretend we’re role-playing you’re my customer. I’m trying to teach you how to use a very complicated, sophisticated product.

Your first natural inclination to say one Dave and busy two I’m stressed three. I don’t understand what you’re talking about. 

But it’s  too hard, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:07:49] Dave, it’s too  to use your product. That’s how I imagine customers talk. 

Dave Derington: [00:07:55] Exactly. I love it. So those of you who are out there that are new, like you’re starting out a customer education function.

Your company is an organization is brand new. You’re trying to get it off the ground. This is hard, right? You’ve got to look through documentation. You’ve got to look through a knowledge base. your customers are going to have to like maybe call in your support team and ask questions to basically treat them as defacto standard training and documentation.

It’s not what we intend to do. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:08:18] Yeah. information starts to get siloed at that point. even before your organization gets siloed. You have a lot of information about how to use your product, but you’re not making it easy for the customer to find. And even though I just did a mock customer voice a moment ago, it actually is hard.

It is hard for them and we need to be able to empathize. With them. So a couple of days ago it was a national spicy guacamole day 

Dave Derington: [00:08:41] where we were 

Adam Avramescu: [00:08:42] it’s actually also national education support professionals day. That’s maybe more related to what we do, 

Dave Derington: [00:08:47] but 

Adam Avramescu: [00:08:48] we were at the skills, our customer advisory board, and a bunch of really good SaaS companies there.

W we had a round table where we were talking about our customer education stacks. So not just the systems that we use to create content or to deliver it, but also to measure it or to get feedback on it 

Dave Derington: [00:09:07] or to share progress 

Adam Avramescu: [00:09:09] or surveys, all of those things that we do around our education programs and many of the programs that were there, like many of the teams.

Used upwards of 10 systems in their customer education stacks. That’s a lot. Yeah, because you, you do a lot of things, whether it is creating or delivering or measuring. 

Dave Derington: [00:09:26] Okay. Now with that in mind, a 10 on average of 10 systems, that’s incredible. And that’s my pain too. Like I might have Salesforce or HubSpot or, Skilljar, or what have you.

So if we go back to the question that you asked before is integration enough? I don’t think so, because are we going to integrate every single one of those systems, those integrations aren’t often provided. We don’t need them. Like you can use products similar to Azuqua to reach in and connect and get the information in and out.

How do you, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:09:51] how do you take all of those systems and let them work together to create a customer journey? 

Dave Derington: [00:09:57] that’s the point where we want to get to today. So how do you automate that? How do you create that journey? How do you get that? Oh, gosh, this is a lot of load. if you were doing, if you were starting out 10 years ago and you had maybe an LMS and you had the other stuff.

to support it. Your boss is going to say, Hey, I need you to make a report each week. So I need to go into my LMS. I need to export some records and I put them in a spreadsheet and need to build a pivot table. I need to go look up some other stuff. It might take me four or five hours to get just a report.

And that’s, it’s just a report on what we’re doing. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:10:27] so yeah. So what about today? it’s 2018. It’s almost 2019. what does that journey. Look like today. What different systems are they interacting with? All 

Dave Derington: [00:10:34] right. Propose an automated journey. All right, let’s see. We’ll I’m going to tell a story and tell you what my dream is.

and I’ve worked on some material, hopefully in a future podcast. I’ll throw it on what we’re trying to do here at Azu CWA. You can share some of the things that you’re doing as well. And we’ll get into the nitty gritty, but here’s my dream, a new customer joints, They buy my product and they get it installed and everything.

Concurrent or concomitant with that, we have an email that goes out, welcome Adam to my new product X. we wanted to start your journey off. And here’s all the things that you can use to access, rate your onboarding. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:12] And that’s great because you’re catching me in a moment of need, 

Dave Derington: [00:11:15] right?

I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to do. Yeah. At that moment that you signed up, that you got to trial org or whatever, you get an email. And that email has a, where do I need to go? Where is the training material? How do I get the most value of it? What do I really need to do first?

Like a quick start, all that kind of stuff right in my face. Right there. It’s empathetic. It’s telling me it’s giving me a start. Of my journey, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:38] but it’s not overloading me. You’re giving me what I need to start, but how am I going to learn all that other stuff along the way? 

Dave Derington: [00:11:43] that’s where we’re going to be picking up.

Like for instance, I believe in a cadence of delivery, this could be partially automated or this could be built into your entire work process. So imagine, I know at Gainsight we had project managers that would be an implementation specialist, right? So let’s say you had gotten Gainsight.

A couple of years ago, you would’ve gotten to a team and they, you would have been assigned a project manager and they would have had, they had this really great program at the time where they would meet with you once a week or a couple of times a week. And they basically give you a little micro lessons and teach you stuff.

But alongside that, they were helping you with the implementation process because there’s things that you could do that they could not. And I’m more of a fan right now of also, you could do that, but I want to have an adoption strategy. You signed up, you got access to the material. I’m going to bump you periodically the next week.

Hey, I see Adam, you did modules one and two, and these are really good modules that I would encourage you to do. how do I know those? Because I’ve seen what you’re trying to do in the product using my product. We’ll use the big word telemetry or my adoption data. So having some kind of a cadence defined autonomously that goes from the start date.

One week out two weeks out, three weeks out a month out, you’re getting little bumps. They’re not over the top. They’re not unwieldy there. It’s Hey, did you know? I bet you did know you could do this really cool thing. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:00] So having a nurture or a drip campaign that goes on a case 

Dave Derington: [00:13:03] indeed. And that’s a marketing thing, but this is posts.

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:06] It’s customer marketing. 

Dave Derington: [00:13:08] It is custom. It may be pre-sales. It may be post-sales. It really depends because you could be in a trial and beginning this thing. It’s 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:13] true. True. So you’re going to, you’re going to increase conversion if you are in a trial, but you’re also probably going to increase time to first value.

Dave Derington: [00:13:20] Absolutely. And 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:21] I like that because that changes the role of the CSM or the implementation manager during onboarding, instead of being the one who’s just delivering all the information or knowledge dumping. Or spending their time training. They’re able to help project manage you through the implementation so that you are hyper-focused on getting to first value with the product and it’s getting ongoing value instead of just delivering content.

Dave Derington: [00:13:44] Absolutely. And that really should not be their customer success manager or implementation managers role. I assert because if we decrease the mental load that the cognitive load, I think that you’d use that term previously. My goodness. Those people have so much to do to begin with. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:58] I think I’m actually gonna use it in the future in our next episode.

Dave Derington: [00:14:01] Ah, yes. I’ve heard you talk about this in the past. So we, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:14:04] we recorded these out of sequence. Okay, but what about partners or people who have required training with plans? 

Dave Derington: [00:14:10] That’s a really good question as well, because the way that I take training, I, in my view of customer education, I look at this a little bit differently than let’s say a word, a services org, or I was internal and I was worried, exclusively about onboarding my team.

I care about everybody. It’s all inclusive world here at Azuqua, but. What I like to do is say there’s different cohorts or different kinds of learners. A partner is a really good one. Now I lump this into customer education as well because partners are customers they might, And a lot of, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:14:42] a lot of teams have both in their scope, customers and partners.


Dave Derington: [00:14:45] Same team. The only differentiation that I would have is I think partners are more important for me to track and monitor. And maybe that’s not me, maybe. Let’s say you’re the head of a team. You’re at a partner for Azuqua and you have four or five people that are on your team. You’re the kind of the main point of contact project manager that is coaching them, right?

Your job is to help them become onboard and they have to know this product. So my job is I want to build a framework so that okay, just like the customer welcome email, they get a partner. Welcome email partner. Welcome email also says, Hey, guess what? On top of this, you are required. By your organization, not us to complete this within two weeks at a grade level of 80% or higher, and to take all the tests to do this stuff and then to do a checkout exam.

So all this stuff could be brought in. So that, I think they should have additional reminders, additional notifications, and a way to understand how they, did I pass, did I, not. That helps because of a partner is working on by proxy for your company. You sure. Want to do two things. One, I know that you’re trained to that customer has confidence in you.

Adam Avramescu: [00:15:50] Absolutely. If you’re going to be delivering on a company’s behalf, the company should certify you. 

Dave Derington: [00:15:56] Absolutely. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:15:57] So does that mean they’re going to get like a badge or a certificate or something like that? 

Dave Derington: [00:16:00] Totally glad you asked about that, because I think at this point, like in the stage of where I’m at, I’m thinking about certification, but there’s a couple of different ways to do certification, And he’d probably speak more to this than I could. But at one level you have a light certification badging, I think is really cool because Trailhead, you can walk through drill head and you get bad, you can do it all for free and it makes you not just feel good, but you attained. A level of expert experience.

That’s well-earned right. So with that for, we could give you a certificate of completion. I can give you badges to say you’ve done these levels. That’s really a great thing because I’ve been exploring Mozilla open badges. you can add these things to your LinkedIn account show off.

I’ve done this stuff that transitions to translates to value with your end customer. it might help you get a job, all kinds of benefits of that. So definitely I’m thinking about certification in that process. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:16:45] And then going back to the point that you were making earlier, That usually involves a lot of systems talking together.

Totally. Cause if I’m going to certify you, that means that sometimes I have to be able to go in the product and understand whether they’ve performed the right actions. It might mean that they’ve taken some sort of test that’s being tracked either in a learning management system or an assessment platform.

if you are using open badges, that might be, even a different platform to be able to post them to LinkedIn. So there’s a lot of systems involved at that point. 

Dave Derington: [00:17:12] Totally. And that involves building out use cases and building automation around that using some kind of a tooling in this case, I’m doing it with Azuqua where I could actually say, Oh, I see that you have completed my 100 level series by doing all the quizzes.

I see you completed them all. I have a roll-up that says, once all these things are hit, I’m looking at that every day and say, Hey Adam, I see you completed level 100 with a 99.9% score. You automatically get your certificate and it’s sent to you. through another system, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:41] that sounds like something that would be great to automate.


Dave Derington: [00:17:44] totally. Because I don’t want to deal with that. Cause mucking around with it by hand is a heck of a lot of work. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:47] No, we are past the point where the first person that we have to hire on our teams is the training admin. 

Dave Derington: [00:17:53] That’s all being 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:53] done on technology now and that’s great.

so what about after all 

Dave Derington: [00:17:57] and after I’m going to no stop. I can get this to the point where you’re going to continue to have webinars, to have updated training, to have podcasts. we can take a cue from marketing. because marketing, I think is really good at establishing a campaign and you should never stop.

you should put people into different campaigns by roles, to have this nurture, this adoption track. we never stop in customer education. Once we get onboarded, then how do I expand and learn more and grow? How do I teach others? So that never stops and building those cadences as well.

That’s a nurture campaign. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:18:27] Yeah. And let me maybe add. Something to that as well, which is that within an account, you’re usually going to have different user roles and different users. So even if your account is out of onboarding and you’ve done those things to help that customer get set up in the first place, you’re still going to always have new users coming on board, especially if you’re working in a high turnover industry.

Dave Derington: [00:18:46] Yeah. And that’s really easy to do because once I see, let’s say I’m tracking the HubSpot, I could see that account. Ex has, Jane just started the other day. I could be looking at my account and say, Oh, Jane started, she has been assigned this role. My system is already looking at that and can pick Jane up and send that welcome email and onboard her without ever me having to be even aware of it.

Although I’m going to get a notification via Slack because I can do that. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:11] Yeah. And now she gets a role based nurture, and she’s coming up to speed and her admin doesn’t have to worry about it. So everyone’s yeah. Everyone’s good. Everyone’s copacetic 

Dave Derington: [00:19:19] copacetic. I love that word. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:20] So to do that though, that involves a lot to get you to your dream and you have to have different systems and you have to have access to those systems.

So how do you make that training data actionable? 

Dave Derington: [00:19:31] That’s where it gets fun. let’s think about this. You already know your came off of the Skilljar event just recently here. Vendors like Skilljar, offer integrations sometimes depending on who they are, they may be free. You may have to pay for it.

Largely. I would say you’d see those companies offering that as another skew because it’s an unbelievable amount of work to create an integration to maintain it. That’s why it’s a good thing. So integration is a great example. let’s take Salesforce. I’ve used Salesforce integrations. because let’s say you log into the learning management platform and now I know what account you’re associated with.

Now I can start to integrate all that data together. And what am I going to do with that first thing that you’ll want to do is obviously roll up that data so that you can see the landscape of learning. That means by account. By person where they’re at in their journey. However, you want to articulate that into some kind of a table.

I use this to like a basic database table that as things are happening, I’m bringing enrolling up people so that you’re basically examining and merging all of that data together. And I think, we were discussing this before. You might want to analyze it, visualize it with some kind of a, SQL variant database and, and a BI tool like Tableau or what have 

Adam Avramescu: [00:20:39] you like we’ve used Looker before Chartio.

and there’s an architectural question that comes from that. So you mentioned, sometimes some companies it’s great for them just to have the CRM integration. So let’s say that Salesforce is their source of truth. That’s where everyone is looking for that information. if that’s the case, then if every system you use has a Salesforce integration.

And Salesforce is able to provide all your reporting then great, make friends with your sales ops person and sales. Salesforce is going to be your source of truth. But the fact of the matter is for many companies, that’s not the case. And so for example, at Optimizely and Checkr, we’ve chosen not to roll everything into Salesforce, using Salesforce integrations, but what we’ve actually done is use data connectors to get all of our information into our data warehouse and use the data warehouse as the source of truth.

So that we can visualize it in Looker or Chartio or whatever. your system of choice is 

Dave Derington: [00:21:31] absolutely whatever you want. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:21:33] LMS is like Skilljar. For instance, they do have a data connector that. That goes into your data warehouse or I’ve seen other, solutions use API is, or other ways just to really extract, transfer, load that data 

Dave Derington: [00:21:45] ETL.

Okay. You’re talking my language right now. No, I think this was really cool, Adam, and you’re building, you’re talking to the point that I’m trying to make is that end some way. And this is going to be different for every one of you. You’re going to have different systems, but at some point you need to take out a piece of paper, need to build this system, this flowchart of systems, like we were talking in previous podcast, what are all the technologies that you use?

Where are they at? What do they do? And then think about how do you knit them together. you’re thinking exactly dead on. You have a data warehouse that you can look at and inspecting to build reports against to answer any of the questions that you want. And you feed the data in from various different integration platforms or integrations as.

static vendor integrations, and we get all this together. Now we can start looking at it. And what are you going to do with it? We just talked about this onboarding critical roles. There might be a difference between a partner and a generic customer. Maybe you have a use case in which, and I’ve seen this practically before, where it comes in handy.

Let’s say you have a team member, Adam, and that team met me. You say, Hey, I need you to learn this application really well because you’re maybe you’re my training operations person. You need to learn how to use this database platform and, or the BI tool and okay. You need to come back and say, okay, Jim, did you do this work?

I don’t want to have that question of, did you do it? I want to have this answer of IC that they progressed to the system and I have access to those tools. So that knowledge is there. I have a dashboard. It shows me where I’m at, what I’ve done for Jim. I see that Jim got his badge. Awesome. that goes all the way through, but it doesn’t stop there because number one, like at Gainsight, one of the things that I did is I gave some tools and dashboards in Gainsight for my CSMs who were always asking me, did do training to training.

And I just go here’s the page bookmark. And look it up, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:23:25] not just the CSM, a lot of the time, but the point of contact on the customer side total, you can democratize that data if you can open it up so that both your CSM and their point of contact can both see that information. 

Dave Derington: [00:23:36] That’s powerful. That is, and that’s relatively easy to even with Gainsight had provisions to be able to expose a page at the time they were calling it, the, Okay.

Inside three 60. So I could share that kind of information on training journeys or learning journeys with customers using my data, my sources. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:23:53] Yeah. And a lot of customer LMS has have this too, where there’s some sort of a customer facing dashboard or portal. Yeah, 

Dave Derington: [00:23:58] totally. But that doesn’t stop there. so we might want to get to what’s my MPS, right?

What’s my training NPS. how many modules have people done? maybe I start wanting to do things like a customer. Files a zero and an NPS, a logs, zero and NPS. And I know what we have here for NPS stuff is. We’re going to get notification in Slack for our director of customer success. And then we can take action upon it.

So actioning upon it could be various different use cases from, okay, my employee didn’t do their training. I need to have them follow up on it. And I need to know about it. Or a customer is very unhappy with the training that they received because there was something legitimately wrong or it broke. And I get notified instantly through Slack, all of these different things.

Or for example, a training, a customer says, I don’t understand how to do this. And they file a ticket and that trick, it goes into JIRA as, something for my documentation team to fill a gap. So that’s what we mean by having actionable data. First step, we build that data repository. Second step is now we start defining the use cases and the workflows autonomously that help take that load off of us as a manager of a customer education unit.

And give us that information. So now I can go, Hey Jim, you’re my training officers. And guess what? I need you to go and complete those things so that I know that you’re in good shape, Jane, you’re. Focusing on building new modules and your backlog has already built for you in JIRA. You just have to drag that Kanban style into this, into the next thing and say, you’re working on it.

Everybody’s doing their job and it’s a whole lot less cumbersome. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:25:29] Very cool. so if I understand you correctly, the idea is that based on what a customer does or doesn’t do someone needs to be able to respond to that. Someone needs to be able to take action and you don’t want to be checking a bunch of different systems to make that happen.

You want those systems talking to each other? So you get that information quicker. 

Dave Derington: [00:25:48] And I’d argue that. I think a lot of folks are either just completely overwhelmed and they just give up because they don’t have the tools they need to integrate their stack, or they haven’t been tracking to begin with because they’re not aware of all the tools that are out there to help subsume this data into one unified look with actionable outcomes.

Yeah. How are you doing things at Checkr and even Optimizely? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:26:09] So 

Dave Derington: [00:26:10] actually both Checkr and 

Adam Avramescu: [00:26:11] Optimizely. One thing that I did pretty early. Sorry, let me start again. When I started to Checkr, one thing that I did early was make good friends with our data engineering team, sales ops business systems, all the teams that really control or have access to the data and the reporting.

And that was a lesson that I learned because at Optimizely, I don’t think we did that early enough. So we did have systems that had information, but they weren’t talking to each other. And so it was easy for us to look at whatever that particular systems native reporting was, but it wasn’t easy for us to tell the story of how do those systems relate to each other.

And it wasn’t easy for us to tell the story of if something happens in this system, let’s say a customer takes training. What effect does that have downstream on their product adoption or on their renewal rate or expansion rate or turn rate. Because we didn’t do that early enough at optimized lead, but eventually we got that to a really mature point.

It was something I wanted to start doing really early at Checkr. And in fact, I partner with those teams when we were starting to do our systems evaluations, because I want them to tell me how effective the integrations are, how effective the data connectors are, how effective the API APIs are, because they’re going to have a perspective on that.

And ultimately, I don’t want them to feel a lot of pain. Around working with an API, that’s not going to meet their needs. the harder the API is, or the less powerful the integration is, they have to make implementation decisions based on that. And, I 

Dave Derington: [00:27:43] may have to code them themselves.


Adam Avramescu: [00:27:45] Yeah. So it just makes it hard to analyze and tell the story. 

Dave Derington: [00:27:48] Yeah. And that’s why in this point, since this is a co-branded one, I’m making a shameless plug for Azuqua. The main reason I shifted from Gainsight, and this is an interesting story. When I had an opportunity to work here, I was one way that by the technology, because I was using it at Gainsight and I was using it specifically because I needed a tool or a technology that integrated or brought data in from various resources.

My integration from learn dot was great. It was sufficient to a point, but it gave me a volume of data I didn’t care about or didn’t need because it just gave me all of it. And I needed a very concise thing when I learned about Azusa. And I said, Oh my gosh, So here’s the rabbit hole. I went down, I was building Python scripts and I was building my own database on my own server because I couldn’t get help from our development team to do this.

And because they’re arguably busy and for good reason, I didn’t want to disrupt them. They said we don’t have time for it. So I had to find a solution on my own. That’s where Azuqua and products like Azu are really useful Azuqua. Solve that problem for me, I could easily connect any data source. We have 250 to connectors and more now, so you can connect to Salesforce, HubSpot, whatever it is, even those that have an API that don’t have a connector that we built, you can connect to.

So for me now I have stuff running right now that I can say, Hey, I see somebody did this training module and they completed it. And I can send them a report. It’s just, it’s fascinating. So that’s why I would advocate. if you’re going down this road, I’m going to talk about this more in future podcast.

Try to talk about it agnostically, but check out Azuqua. If you’re in learning and education, particularly customer education, you have this problem that Adam and I have both had. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:22] Yeah. And when you’re, when you are making friends with your data ops teams, maybe have them check it out to 

Dave Derington: [00:29:26] indeed. Cause they’ll love it.

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:28] Cool. no shaman and shameless plug, obviously. . Came to work for the companies that we worked for a reason you have to believe in the product. 

Dave Derington: [00:29:36] Absolutely. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:36] Yeah. so now that we have the data connected, how do we tell that story visually? How do we build these dashboards to actually, make our points come across and support our work?

Dave Derington: [00:29:47] I think this is a doozy. I think this is the Whopper. the best of all the hamburgers, right? so I’m going to be Frank learning management systems often offer really great reporting. I was super impressed actually with one DOT’s adoption of really great reporting system that I had a lot of tuning power over.

It came a little too late for me because I’d already done it. I think that having different kinds of reports dashboard, for instance, here’s one of my dream ones. let me talk a little bit more about Gainsight. I realized that tools like Gainsight tools like Tableau other different reporting platforms are really amazing for visualizing right.

Particularly travel. we were just at Tableau. con 18 and we did a hackathon and just seeing the creativity that people have and making these beautiful dashboards as amazing, that can be shared with anybody. And they’re very intuitive and vision and give you the stuff you need to understand the problem.

So I had one dashboard that was just learning status. Anybody can go to it and figure out. Where they were. I had a part of that was customer facing that they can go and look up their records. It was simple, easy, effective. I can even automate sending an email with that on a periodic basis. One thing that I got to, and you’re going to love this because we talked about metrics and we’ll talk about metrics again.

I built an executive dashboard. How do I correlate to all the major metrics, time to value? what’s my overall learning NPS, all these things that matter for me to validate. How good of a job that I’m doing, because I don’t know about all of you, but I think this is a really hard thing to do because you’re working really hard in education to try to get out there and guess what, if you’re not tracking that, and you’re not doing NPS, you’re not getting data, you’re not reporting your data.

You’re missing the boat. Like why somebody may come along and say your training sucks. We never had any information or exposure to that. And guess what? You’re going to be really offended. And it might be right. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:37] and this, I think this is actually part of our, origin story, Dave, that part of the reason why I, I learned who you were and got really interested in talking to you was seeing the work that you had done integrating Gainsight and, learned a lot.

Dave Derington: [00:31:50] Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:51] And that was dashboards that you had built. 

Dave Derington: [00:31:52] It was super hard, but what I like about our interaction here is that you’ve talked given a lot more definition to some of the new kind of metrics, That you’re doing cohort analysis. You’re saying how quickly did somebody get onboarded? And I can look at that.

If I’ve got a volume of data and I’ve correlated to an account, right? The concept of an account, whether it be in HubSpot or Salesforce or some of the CRM to a learner that’s within that account. And I could say, Hey, people@pandora.com, first thing pops in mine because I’m listening to some music. they want to do training and they’re their speed.

To come on board was, so much faster than somebody that never took the training. duh, but I can quantify it. So that’s like a time to value type thing. We can go into ARR, annual recurring revenue. I could correlate ideally. and I actually did this against that. And I was pleasantly pleased that ARR of companies that consume customer education material is higher than those who do not churn rate all these things.

These are things that this is why we say customer education is a pillar of customer success. Why because we’re engaging with those people on a fundamental level, the knowledge level, and we’re trying to build them up to speed. So they’re better than us, They know our product even better. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:33:04] And when you’re trying to do that sort of attribution or correlation, it starts by getting curious about what’s happening outside of your education business and what’s happening in your business at large.

So for instance, at Optimizely, when we were building. Our dashboards. We started by building dashboards around these very operational questions. So we wanted to look at discoverability traffic value, things like what is our most viewed content or how many people are visiting our site every day, or what is our, enrollment and completion rate.

Things that you can get out of LMS is out of Google analytics, but we, we want it to pull those together, at least in ways that were easier to report on, but what we. Really started to move to over time was looking more at impact and it’s as important. I think, to look at the impact of training on a business as to look at things like bookings, margin and revenue, it’s as important now for us to look at product adoption, expansion, renewal, churn, time to value, support deflection 

sales, ARR.

Because education does have an impact. And I think for each of those, you can ask this fundamental question for those who took training versus didn’t take training. What is the difference in those key business attributes? 

Dave Derington: [00:34:27] Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:34:28] you mentioned a good one. What’s the ARR of customers who are trained versus ARR of customers who weren’t trained.

Yeah. let me propose another one that we looked at it. Optimizely. What is the common support ticket? Contact rate customer contact. 

Dave Derington: [00:34:42] Oh, this is a good one 

Adam Avramescu: [00:34:44] for a trained versus untrained customers. What is the renewal rate for trained versus untrained customers? And as long as you have a common definition about what trained equals, in fact, I’ve heard Pat Durante who’s president of  and he’s, he leads training of talent.

Now, he says, just get really simple about it. If you’re going to say. A trained customer is someone who’s taken at least one training. Just be really simple. Don’t try to, think about different tiers and different levels of attribution and all of that. Just have a definition for what a training.

Dave Derington: [00:35:18] I like that’s really easy to translate to a, a SQL query. look at this table where we have one person that’s taken one course and. Put that as a red, yellow, green. Exactly. Yeah. Very simple dashboards. Oh, this account is in the green for education because they’re like it Gainsight I, something I really valued was that they had these kind of red, yellow, green, or, dashboards that showed.

So data under different lenses, let’s put it like that. One of the things that they hadn’t gotten to, which I kept pushing towards the, we hadn’t gotten there yet was a whole training scorecard. Have they taken at least one training have, are they continuing to look at that? How many people do they have in training?

Do they not have anybody in training? Like I would say in a customer success environment in Gainsight, if a customer is not consuming training, they’re red. Yeah, absolutely. Totally rad. And that then, because quite frankly, this might, insent some customer success managers that might be listening, but I’m going to say to you, your job is not to train the customer.

And you’re in a small company and you don’t have any training people. That’s fine. But your job is to help empower the customer feed and make sure they’re using the product. Make sure they’re happy using the product, not to train them. That takes a lot of time. And that’s what my job is. So getting you that tool so you can come back and say the call to action, then for you as a customer success manager.

I’m not going to do this training. I’m going to give you the information and we’re going to build it and automate it. And then we’ve got this feedback loop. The 

Adam Avramescu: [00:36:43] other thing that you can start to do, that’s interesting is, right now we’re telling a story about correlation and attribution, right?

We want to understand what do trained versus untrained customers do. it’s easy enough for me to say I’m a trained customer. Who is someone who has taken at least one training is X percent more likely to perform this key action in my product. And by easy enough, that’s hard, but if you have the data, you can do that analysis.

What’s a little harder to do sometimes is to figure out when is it correlation and when is it causation? Cause I know some organizations that are very strict and very rigid about the idea that you can’t make arguments. Just based on correlation, 

Dave Derington: [00:37:28] it has to be a direct causation. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:37:30] Exactly. So you have to prove to me that because a customer was trained, they use this feature more or because a customer was trained.

Dave Derington: [00:37:39] So we have data on that. Yeah. Yeah. We can confirm that. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:37:43] Yeah. With, and so it’s a more complex, set of data that you have to gather. Now you might have to do more of a time series or figure out. Hey for customers who were trained in month one versus not trained in month one, what was their product usage in month three, right?

That might be one way to structure it. Or you do a pre and post cohort analysis. 

Dave Derington: [00:38:04] But if you’re capturing really granular data in that data warehouse, you have that information, then it would obviate the need to get to a very detailed, precise picture of what the learner is doing.

Adam Avramescu: [00:38:16] Absolutely. regardless of how you tell that story, having the data available to you is going to let you start answering those questions and giving a more compelling argue back to your business. 

Dave Derington: [00:38:25] Yeah. And that resonates, and it comes back to the point that you’ve got to connect all of your tools, get the data in a place where you can then start asking questions.

It’s your Oracle, right? it’s my source of information that I can spin off in any other direction. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:38:40] we’ve talked data to each other. let’s wrap up maybe with a few conclusions. Dave, what would you, what would you give us a call to action to folks listening on either of our podcasts?

Dave Derington: [00:38:50] All right. Again, I’m going to have a call to action for you to get out a piece of paper and a pencil or a pen or Evernote, whatever you use and, and sit down and ask yourself some questions. You may have already done this in our previous podcast. If you’re traversing the series. Sit down first and do this exercise like Adam had said on average, people are having about 10 systems, write them down.

What are they, within that I would ask yourself or ask the vendor. If you don’t know, do these products have an integration, failing that? Do they have an API? Many companies do API is, are the future. That’s. Again, back to the point of this podcast here, I’m talking about Azuqua. We consume API APIs and our job is to be able to pull that information all in the one source, you can connect all your apps, right?

So having an API as a question, you really want to ask any vendor so you can get access because it’s your data. And then when you have access to it, you can bring it in. So what system do you have, where is that data that you need and think about things that are outside of your. Your wheelhouse, right?

You don’t own Salesforce. you’re bribing Jeanette with beer over in Dez ops to help get you access to it. It doesn’t mean you’re breaking any rules. It’s okay. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:40:00] Good. Pacific Northwest IPA, 

Dave Derington: [00:40:02] indeed. but that’s important to do, build that network, understand what your systems are. So then we’ve got the data, we know where everything is.

Let’s talk about how would you deliver training if you could automate it? Okay, that is, it’s getting into new learning. It doesn’t have to be because I can also automate notifications. I’m doing this virtual instructor led training or send out emails. would you like to have in person training, we’re going to be in San Francisco on this week at this date.

And I’m going to give you a discount on training if you sign up today. So you’re capturing all that data. It doesn’t matter how a customer consumes that training. It’s just that they have the exposure and they can get to it. Ideally, I’m going to send you everything I have on demand first. If that’s not enough, we’ve got, instructor-lead like we do Twitch every week we can do on-prem if you need it.

But those are high costs. A lot of time. Think about how you would automate, what are your use cases? What are your workflows? How do you want to build, articulate that journey? And then the has to resistance is reporting. What are your metrics? What’s your business doing? This might be a conversation with many different team leads, customer success.

What do they want? What is marketing and what is sales and revenue trying to drive, or what’s your CEO interested in get, gather all that, all these metrics and figure out. Do I have enough information to be able to ask that question? What is this? do I have the data to substantiate it? Can I get to causation?

And that’s the Holy grail. If I can do all those things and I can build an autonomous system, then my daily work, isn’t all about reporting and getting to my bosses, the information they need about how successful I am. That’s taken care of. I can focus on educating. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:41:37] Let me suggest that if everything Dave just said sounds completely overwhelming to you.

Take a step back. Because data’s confusing, right? data can be really intimidating. I think starting with that list of systems that you have is a really great start. I think you can compliment that by writing down just a list of questions that you have about your customer experience or about the impact that education is having on your customers.

So even if you’re not ready to. Write down all these reports and figure out all these metrics, start with a set of questions and did, yeah. 

Dave Derington: [00:42:13] Very good. With that, where at the end of another great podcast, if you want to learn more, remember you probably already found this. We are@customer.education out on the interwebs.

there, you can find all of our podcasts, some great blog entries. Now, Adam, you’ve crafted a few of them just recently, that should be available soon. you can find show notes and other collateral that we like to share with you. And if you found value in this. make sure you share it with others, your friends, your peers, over beers.

Like you’d like to say, and help us find the other. And on Twitter, I’m @davederington. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:42:46] I’m at @

Dave Derington: [00:42:46] avramescu . 

And again, thanks for joining us. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:42:51] Go out and educate experiment and find your people. 

Dave Derington: [00:42:56] Thanks everybody for joining us.

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