Dave Derington 00:00
"We basically have built education services for an organization. But we've done it in a way that's adjunct and complimentary to a customer success organization. So you have to do any of it. Ideally, that means you have fewer CSMs, right you have fewer people doing that work. And now their time is spent more on very strategic. Hey, now I don't have to train everybody I've got I can use that hour to sit down and do like my Skilljar CSM Mike did which, hey, you know, I've been looking at your stats, and I've been thinking about how we can help you be better. Oh, my God, this is so great. This is so great. That's what a scale engine is all about."
Cutler Bleeker 00:44
I welcome everyone. We’re very excited today. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone out there. And we’re so excited to be joined by Dave Derington. Today, he’s going to be talking about how customer education is really the scale engine for customer success. And for those of you who don’t know, Dave, I don’t know how many people that would be at this point. Dave is the Senior Manager of customer education at outreach. And among many other things, he is the co host of the C lab podcast, which we recommend you check out to stay on top of all things customer education. And yeah, we’re just very excited to have him we we know this is a very, like, passionate subject for him. And we couldn’t be more thrilled to have you today, Dave. Awesome. Well, as you would say, on St. Patrick’s Day, Top of the morning to Cutler. Hello, everybody.
Dave Derington 01:40
Are we ready to roll? We’ll start walking through. Yeah, let’s kick it off. All right. So let me leave this slide up there to begin with. And Cutler you know, thanks for saying that. This is a this is a passion topic for me. And, you know, again, as you’re trickling in, we’re gonna get warmed up, I tend to get warm up over time, I’ve got a lot of coffee. So I’m super excited about this. So I want to talk today about this concept, this scale engine. And it before we get started, let me frame up what we’re going to talk about. Again, knowing your audience, I suspect a lot of you out there are like me, or you’re a customer success leader, you’re thinking about what is this customer education thing? And how can I really get the flywheel moving and get my customer super enabled. So I’m framing this discussion up within the context of what Customer Success is, and how we enable and empower that we help companies scale. Okay, so we’re gonna start off with just a quick reframe on what Customer Success is all about. Most of you already know. And then we’re going to talk about how we how this customer education market emerged out of customer success and other disciplines over time, then we’re going to talk in and this is, this is a really fun, I love this term scale engine, what does that mean? I’m going to tell you what that means. I’m not going to keep full ownership over that, because I have a partner and co host with customer education work I do for the cielab podcast, and that’s Adam ever messed you, I will give him full attribution right now, Adam invented this term, I’m really passionate about this term. So I’m going to take this and I’m gonna put my spin on it, and and try to focus for us. And then of course, I’m going to talk a little bit about whatever you want to talk about. Do you have questions? Obviously, I’m representing outreach, I’m super passionate about outreach. It’s an amazing sales engagement platform. If you haven’t heard about that, we can tell talk about that a little bit. But I can tell you about how we have done, we’ve we’ve implemented this scale engine concept at outreach, and that at my two previous companies, Zuko and gainsight, many of you may or may actually know Game Center know me from there, too. So with that in mind, let us rock and roll through this guy might be looking down a little bit, so I’ve got my notes in front of me too. So, I want to go back in and in start from the beginning on how we got to building this webinar a little bit. So I was talking to my friend, Amy. And we, we were we were really trying to get into the meat of like, Okay, what is this whole engagement thing enablement? How do we get customers really excited about our products and using our products really well? And also where where does Skillshare fit into that you’re looking at skills or maybe our skills our customer already? Awesome, I am right I’ll just say that up front. But where do we fit? Where does this platform fit into the market? How does it help us with customer success? So I did a little fun exercise. And and I shared with my friends here at skill jar so they know this is coming. I took the front page of what all the keywords were on the front page of pickle jar and put those into a word cloud generator. What do you think popped out? This is rhetorical but Here’s what a look like. And this is a good frame up for our discussion today. Because you can see three big words pop up there, of course, customer, we’re focused on the customer holy, but you see customer education. And you also see customer success on that. So that’s really resonating it in affirming the fact that we as customer, education leaders and practitioners are squarely focused on customer success. And what the premises behind customer success are simple. Again, I lived it at gainsight for several years inhaled this, and I really, I really love what Customer Success brings to the table. We think of ourselves as a little bit different where education, right, but there’s three keys that we need to keep in mind, which are Customer Success is about, and this is on the sculpture side. So you can look at it look at the front page, too. We focused on driving adoption, right? We focus on scaling resources, that means doing more with less, right, one to many, really, really spreading out our reach, because that’s what our companies are doing. They’re growing. And then when I speak grow, we’re there to help grow revenue. Now not if I have it here with me, I do. You can’t, you might not be able to see to see my screen here. But I’ve got my whole Yeah, gets blurred out my timeworn copy of customer success book from Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy, this is a really good book to read. If you haven’t done that. It frames up what Customer Success is all about. And if you are customer obsessed, you know, okay. Let me read one thing, one definition out of this book that I think is important to frame up our discussion about customer success. And its essence, customer success, as he is the organization that focuses on the customer experience with a goal of maximizing retention, and LTV lifetime value of an account. Right. So customer success has come about, because everything has changed in the world. I remember when I got my start in software, I used to be a scientist and I worked in a laboratory. And I got more excited about the tools and the software that we were using in the laboratory. And how they helped us do work. In fact, that was customer success. And that was, gosh, it’s years ago now. But this whole journey of learning software and teaching others to learn software. That’s kind of what we’re doing here. Like, a big part of customer success is teaching software. And that’s us. Okay. So again, I’ve talked about all the deals, we’re here to focus on managing churn, increasing value, and moving the company forward. I’d like to also frame up a quote from Lincoln Murphy, and I’ll show you this in the next slide. Lincoln Murphy talks about desired outcome, right? What, what customer says really is also about is the desired outcome, a customer wants to use your product or they should, right, so desired outcome is result plus appropriate experience. So Cutler I saw that you have learning experience designer, and I really think that’s an appropriate title for a lot of us, because we’re focused on the experience, how do we get people to move through the learning intervention process? How do we give them information that they need to be able to do little challenges throughout the throughout their lifetime of using the product, right, and really adopt it to really get it to bring a hug around everybody to say, We want you to use this, once you just Well, I’m working to help you through that. Exactly, I do want to say that
Cutler Bleeker 08:25
just being able to put on you know, different set of lenses to look at what we’re doing is a great way to really make sure you’re meeting the needs of your customer. Like this word cloud example, I think it’s just perfect for explaining like how customer focused we are like the word customer is going to show up on there so many times over and over. We want to make sure that we’re meeting needs of the customer while also hitting those other points Dave mentioned, you know, driving adoption, scaling resources, growing revenue. So how can we focus on the customer while doing all of those other things?
Dave Derington 08:58
Exactly. Okay. Let’s get on with this. Let’s talk about the emergence of cosmetic. And again, some of you may know all this, I know. But I think it’s really important to frame up how we provide value and how we help companies to scale through education. So going back, I like to talk about the the origins of my own podcast with Adam ever masscue. You know, it happened over a couple years, and we started doing a bunch of things. But what, what we’re really here to do, like we even wrote a manifesto about it, what are the core things that we do as educators to accelerate to scale to help grow? One of the things for this podcast or this webinar that we want to talk about is again, we’re talking about engaging through education. How do we have these little points of learning happening throughout the lifecycle, and a lot of us tend to think about, maybe one thing maybe we just think onboarding, we forget about the rest of the lifetime of a customer. Most of you who are watching are probably part of customer success, but you may also be product may also be in product marketing, whomever you are, I want you to realize one thing and hold it in your head. That is, if you are working to educate your customer, you are a lever for customer success, whatever context. Alright, so let’s get something pretty fun up on the screen. This is the quote, this is a quote from Lincoln Murphy, we did a podcast recently, and we’ve been talking with a lot of people about it more and more recently, leaders in customer education space. What is going on in customer success. And I want to kind of build an arc and talk about how we can grow teams build teams, and what are the things that we need to do over time, as we’re building out education. I love this quote, and I want to read this quote, again, this came from Lincoln Murphy, in a podcast, I think, Episode 55, you can check it out yourself. It was it was amazing. Because we, we talked more about customer service, we did education. But in that he said this, customer education is not a nice to have, you know, it’s not something that you do just because it feels good. You do it, because it’s gonna make that customer successful. They’re going to get value, and value being context, they’re going to get the result they’re looking for what customers would like, I think I like to think of myself as a customer. I’m a customer soldier. But there’s many other products that come up and you got to think about how do you learn a product, right? Do you go and sit in an onboarding session and get it all at once? And then you’re good? No, I don’t, I might actually resist that. And that this is me talking, you know, true, that the learning journey is hard. When I’ll give you an idea. There’s a product, I’ve used Smartsheet. And Smartsheet was a big sell to me like the team had to sell me on using it. I was using Asana, things are great. There’s all kinds of tools. But I actually had some resistance to using this product. Because I’m busy, I don’t have I have all these other things to do. This is the life of coach customer education. We were busy, people were busy, our customers are busy. They’re not lazy. And that’s, that’s something I want to talk about. Okay. So, the other thing I want to bring to attention with with this quote, in particular, is that customer success itself has been evolving over time. It’s not as simple. As you know, these days, you know, you might have bigger and bigger CSM teams. We might be doing NPS surveys, we have to do other stuff. So but customer success has branched out into all these different little teams, like you might have a scale team, you might have an operations team. Customer education often fits in as another team like that. But what I commonly see is that we don’t really bring as much like parity, the value of education should be on par with all the things you’re doing all the motions that you’re doing. And Customer Success should be right up there. And it should be part of your strategy to begin with. That’s where I’m coming from for this. That’s why I’m talking about this as the scale engine. But anyway, we’re in that. And let’s go a little bit further and talk about how to this merge again, this again, this is just a frame up, because what I want to help, all of you understand is where you fit into the continuum of education. Okay. Let me take a breath.
Cutler Bleeker 13:14
Once I do want to point out, you know, even for someone like me, I’ve worked on small teams over the years, and the even the term customer education was completely new to me. And I finally had like a word to explain like what it is that I’ve been doing for all these years. So I know there are plenty of people out there that even the term customer education may not be like, you know, totally ingrained in you yet, but it’s you know, such a big piece of customer success. umbrella.
Dave Derington 13:47
It is and I think that’s a really good, I think that’s really good Cutler to say and to bring out here. I like all of you just take a take a step and think of tech a tech and think about your team or what you’re doing. Maybe you might be just starting out in your journey. And I’m going to, to open up a little bit, maybe maybe to my own detriment, but I really like to network with people who are just starting out, right? Or you’re further down your journey, and you’re learning a bunch of things and you’re don’t know where to go. I don’t have all the answers either. Because we’re all in it together. We’re building a new category, customer education is a new thing. It’s emerged out of customer success. And this is how, let’s go back 10 years in time. Let’s think about those of you who are in an education role before or working in customers. This is back 10 years. gainsight really wasn’t even a thing back then. Customer Success really wasn’t even it was just starting to emerge as a thought a concept. Right? And what happens what happens at companies now let’s go back in time, 10 years, we’re at a company, we’re a startup, we’re starting to get a little bit bigger, maybe we’re 50 people maybe we’re more and what usually happens both chronologically and as a company grows is this CSM starts training. Okay. They don’t call it that. Maybe they do. But guess what, you know, we’ve got all this stuff. And every person that comes in to support the platform and work with customers has to have a story. They have to tell, oh, this is how I use it. And these are what best practices I use. Right? So they’re just doing it. Maybe somebody says, You know what? I answer this question all the time, I’m making sport Doc, cool. Somebody might say, I’m just gonna do a little workshop, or maybe I’m gonna do a webinar on this. Cool. These are how we get started. This is what we’ve always done. Does that scale? No, but it’s okay. When I start and I’m only 50 people. Now let’s come back in time, five years in the future. I was like, What 2015 2016. Now CSM and others you’re starting to see, and I think you’ve seen those two companies are starting to hire people. And maybe they’re giving them a an instructional designer role. Maybe they’re a trainer role. Maybe they have a customer success manager role in their their title. Cool. We love this because what that’s meaning is it signifying the beginnings of a new discipline, it’s signifying the fact that we are starting to understand, oh, my God, I gotta have education. And I’ve got to hire somebody to focus 100% of their time on that. That was groundbreaking for us as customer education color, like you said, when you saw this name, when you saw customer education appear, I actually look back in history, you can go back in the 90s. And the 80s. And the concept of customer education was actually out there was very different. It was, it was more of a marketing term at the time, now we’ve appropriated it, for good or for bad, it to mean, the discipline and the practice of strategically accelerating account and user growth. By helping change behaviors of our customers. We want to reduce those barriers to value, we want to improve the way people work, you have to do this in a consistent fashion. And when you start out, it’s totally okay to make sloppy video, put stuff on paper, whatever, it doesn’t have to be perfect. We got it to the customer. But now 2021 we got us. And today, you see customer education and titles more often than not actually I’m like, wow, Hey, you got a VP of customer education. How do I how do I get that? It’s super cool, and it’s meaningful. And we’re getting a place at the table with executive leadership’s to talk about education. SAS companies are starting to have much bigger education teams. I can tell you my team at outreach, we’re a nine person strong team. And it’s amazing. And we work with more people that have education roles that are adjunct in enablement. And in l&d. We’re here, folks, this is a real thing. Maybe you use that term enablement. And we had a question came in just asking like what you feel the differences are between customer education and customer enablement? I absolutely love that question. Thank you for asking it. shake your hand whomever said it, it’s it’s really important understand that there Initially, I don’t think there’s as big of a difference. So to give you a clear example, from my, my own story, I worked at a small startup called Zuko prior to coming out reach zoek was not quite 50 people. And at the time, I actually had a fight. With my, my manager, at the time was Chief Marketing Officer, and I lived in marketing. And he called me the director of user enablement. And like, Ah, is that right? And in fact, it was for that role, because I was not just doing education and customer education, I was thinking about the entire substrate layer of knowledge for my entire team. So I was helping onboard people in my company, I was helping, you know, customers, too. I was helping partners too. I think there’s there’s a differentiation between the term enablement and education. My partner, Adam, in the podcast would would say, you know, I think enablement has a negative connotation to it. Because when you think about enabling someone, I mean, I, you know, psychologically that has an attachment that could be negative, but truly, it’s not, it’s, it’s more a different motion enablement is more internally facing enablement is kind of the same motion, but you also introduce the concept of tooling, and positioning and revenue. So largely, I’m seeing now enablement teams reporting through revenue revenue, or revenue leader, because what it’s done is it’s it’s kind of in I’m using this term loosely, it’s kind of weaponized education focused on a very, very narrow topic, to get our people and our team to know as much as they can about the product and the tools to support the product to get our customers to where they need to be. It doesn’t mean anything about like, we’re not going as deep. Sometimes we’re going going narrow, and education, I think. And again, I’m trying not to say I’m not saying here that there’s any you know, one’s better than the other. We are partners 100% the enablement lads at some point as you stratify your organization, enablement and education to remain partners but they’re together and enablement. It’s focused on the inside, and quantifying our team’s capabilities. And knowing that you’re known value if you come through my boot camp, right? So I know my team is great. Now part of education goes into that. And that enablement team should absolutely be using the content that we create. Because we’re focused on the outside. This is canonically, what our product does and how it works. And I see a lot of times one of the weaknesses is that you might have best practices here. So you know, at gainsight, it was Gong themed set on gainsight. And outreach is outreach on outreach. Right? How do we do it is that that doesn’t actually match all the time to our customers. Education is a larger spectrum. You know, I think about liberal education and about how we’re, we’re opening your mind to the capabilities, we’re thinking about the use cases, we’re thinking about the entire spectrum, the life cycle of how this product will change your life and change your companies. Right. Alright, I went way deep on that. Sounds good.
Cutler Bleeker 20:58
All right. Shall we move forward? Yeah, just reminder, if you have questions, you know, keep sending them in. We’ll try to get to as many as we can throughout the presentation, but we’ll move on. Yeah, I think we’re doing great on time, we’ll definitely have some more time at the end.
Dave Derington 21:11
Okay, now, I’m going to get to the absolute meat of what’s going on here. Sorry, for my time tracking. So I’m gonna say this, again, customer education is the scale engine of customer success. Repeat that with me silently. Take that to your manager, take that to your CEO. Now we’re going to prove it. We’re going to talk about how this is actually happening. Okay, so first off, what the heck is scale? I hear it all the time. And I hear it much abused. Scale is is one of those weird things. So one of the things I’m absolutely truly passionate and fascinated about. And this is something that’s been part of my DNA for all my life there. You hear somebody call himself, the startup person, I’m the startup person, and go back to mid 2000s, where I did my first startup, I was number three in a company called game rail. And we were, I’m not gonna get details, but it was fun. I wear all kinds of hats, I did all kinds of things. I’ve learned so much, it was super hard. It was infuriating at times, but there’s the glory of, I brought something new into the world as part of a team. And that’s super cool. I never shook that feeling. I went back and work to better companies. But then I’m always like, we’re not moving fast enough, we’re not learning enough, we’re not really doing cool. We’re not getting enough excitement. So I fall back into this now, layer in that this concept. And actually, I had to look through some business documentation understand what the concept of scaling, you think of scale is really, you are scaling a business? scaling means very simply, that you take a kernel, an idea, a concept, one little thing, and you extend the reach, think about going viral on social media. That’s kind of scaling, right? This one little meme about I don’t know what, weird lemon with a face on it, that goes all over the world. And everybody’s into it, we’re trying to affect the same thing with a business where we start out small, and then we add people, and we add growth, and we start to go go bigger and bigger. And you know what? Now outreaches, like hundreds of people. And I’m not gonna say we really have a problem, but we have a different set of needs for every stage in our development lifecycle. So scaling, my thought about scaling is reallytribal knowledge and taking what we know institutionally about what our product can do. And, Okay, I’m gonna grab this from here, I’m going to talk to Cutler, I’m gonna go out and like I’m collecting all of this information. And I’m putting it through a sieve. And that Sid is like, okay, what’s good? what’s right. I don’t know if you experienced this. But if you are in discovery, when I call discovery, or elicitation, or just learning from other people, I’m asking my team, how does this thing work? Right. And in that process, it’s an evolution as I start to learn things I find, okay, I talked to Jane and Judy and Joe and john. And john said this thing, and Judy said this thing and, and she’s kind of quiet. And Joe is boisterous and loud and totally, you know, like, it’s really hard to like sift through all this stuff. And make sure we know what’s what’s what, that’s our job, right is to get that meat out, put it on pixels and paper and start to to deliver that to other people. Now, what happens normally, let’s say, okay, many of you are probably in a company and you just got hired or you’ve been there for a little bit. You’re 100 150 200 people. That’s like a critical point in time for a company. And this is where I say one of the jobs that you have to help your company scale is to go to your leadership and say, “Hey, friend, you know, I know we’re going to do all kinds of crazy stuff, or marketing is going to go nuts and we’re going to we’re going to have product marketing in there and we’re going to our CSMs are going to try to help. You know what, that’s chaos. I tend to see marketing teams do better about that by strategically having outcomes and goals. And that’s where our customer success teams really need to spend time. It’s, you have people in all these different disciplines throughout your work starting to stratify and speciate and become like really buckled down, and then they don’t talk to each other. This is nobody’s fault. It’s fine. It happens. But that’s where we come into play. And what we’re doing is trying to go Okay, Hey, I’ll talk to Jane and see I’m making up names. I use Jays. I don’t know why. But let’s talk to Jane. Jane has been a CSM. She knows her stuff. She is just flippin Amazing, right? But know what the hell up here. It’s all up here. It’s terrible. Because now I come in and I go, I get to spend hours and hours and days and weeks with Jane, or other people and bring all this information. And so the point I’m trying to express is CSMs, professional service teams, support teams, solution consultants, even some salespeople spend a lot of their day saying the same darn thing over and over again. Right? Or, I see this all the time. Success, people really love to train, because it makes you feel important. It does. It makes you feel good to train and teach somebody something. But not all of us are good at and not all of us, we might be good at it, we might have the wrong material. What we are here is to layer in consistency, and, and real learning and achieve real learning outcomes and help scale because you know what? That’s CSM, they shouldn’t have to do this over and over again, they should be able to like it outreach, what we do is we have snippets and templates, snippets and templates are really impactful for not just salespeople, but also Customer Success managers, because you could say, Okay, let’s let’s roleplay Kotler, you’ve got a problem using outreach. And you don’t quite understand how to do sequences, sequences or just like a linear chain of things that we set up and we put our prospects through and you go, I just don’t quite get it, and you’re calling me and I’m like, Cutler, okay, I’m your CSM. Normally, you know, I’m going to do is I’m going to sit down with you, and we’re gonna open up your assignment, you do all this stuff. I’m a big company. Now, I don’t have time for that I want to do that I desperately want it, I love it, I love my talks with. But I’m gonna say, Cutler, I’m gonna give this little link in that cuz it’s gonna be we’re gonna go to our university. And then now I’ve saved myself an hour. Think about that over all of my account pace, right? Maybe I have 100 customers 100, I’m a CSM with a book of business of 100 customers. Save me a hell of a time. Okay, so that’s our key here. We’re we’re there to lift up, everybody. Let’s go a little bit further here.
Cutler Bleeker 27:45
I think that does highlight just the importance of having your customer Education team work cross functionally within your program, like your customer Education team, whoever it is, however big or small, needs to work closely with the other departments within your organization to make sure that you’re capturing those conversations that people are having over and over to know where to create resources.
Dave Derington 28:10
Yeah, you got it. And this is actually Cutler a big deal. One of the things that tends to happen, that’s happened to me several times is I’ll get going, I’ll start building stuff. And then I’ll get so focused on building the content that I’m not fluidly connecting with other people and listening to our needs. So we are kind of like this is where we’re bringing up this concept of a scale engine. I want you to visualize a flywheel I want you to think agile. In fact, if you go and you look at the go to customer, that education, slash and I think it’s Manifesto, but there’s a link at the top, we’ve actually taken a lot of this thinking. And we put that on six bullets, six things that you should keep in framed up in your, in your, in your mind, but a big part of them is you’re always staying in Connect connection with our entire team. We’re always learning, but we’re always looking for opportunities to lift and elevate somebody to invoke scale. The ultimate goal for me is that I can take all of this work off of my professional services, support and customer success team and put most of it in a university. Now we’re talking skills reference, okay. This is why I bought sculptor, I’m putting all of my mind in the flow of everything into that. Right. So that Cutler is trying to learn outreach, Cutler goes to the university. You know what, in because Skilljar has done a great job helping us structure and expose things and lay things out in a way. I’ve seen just a tremendous lift, like 77% since August and another 30% since January, of people going to university because now they see, oh, I start here and I go here. I connect the dots and I don’t have to call my CSM or come back because I didn’t get some topic. That’s a skeleton. So let me let me reframe this again, in terms of let’s let’s think about locomotion. And let’s think about a scale and I think about an engine. I used to be a physics major in college, I ended up becoming a chemist. So I think about Third things a lot. Sorry, I love this diagram because this is what an engine truly is. You go from I’ve got now think of hot sources that the hot take, that’s knowledge of how our platform works at, you know, but it’s just potential, it’s something in somebody’s head, they might repeat everything. And then we do work and the work is teaching the work is helping a customer understand things. And part of that work being done is not me, part of the work being done is on the individual, because they have to consume and processes information. So again, this slide is kind of a repeat, I think about walking or locomotion, right? I’m in early phase 50 person company, I’m doing all the work, I’m doing one on one training. But then as I go, I get a horse and buggy, okay, I can put more people in the car with me. And I can build one of many things, I could build documents and put it in my my, like a Zendesk support side portal, or I could build a little training modules and put them up and still not quite all together and still a little bit slow. But then when I get down to the end, where, you know, frankly, outreaches, I’ve gotten there over, usually I get programs to this point in 18 months to 24 months. Now I have a university that’s fully functional. And I can onboard people and keep them happy over their lifecycle, simply by University, layering in for larger accounts, more than one on one type thing when we need it. But we pivoted all of that into a university type automated platform that any of our customers can get to anytime, whenever they need. That’s the scale engine scaling is is building us flywheel of, of information, right. And getting that to the customer when they need it in the motion. And that we keep growing and growing and growing and growing to the point where we have, we basically have built education services for an organization. But we’ve done it in a way that’s adjunct and complimentary to a customer success organization. So you have to do any of it. Ideally, that means you have fewer systems, right? You have fewer people doing that work. And now their time is spent more on very strategic. Hey, now I don’t have to train everybody I’ve got I can use that hour to sit down and do like my skull Jr. CSM? Mike did which, hey, you know, I’ve been looking at your stats, and I’ve been thinking about how we can help you be better. Oh, my God, this is so great. This is so great. That’s what a scale engine is all about. Any questions about that? I think I’ve kept capture that. But there any questions at this point? Is that does that make sense as a new term? Anybody have thoughts challenges?
Cutler Bleeker 32:34
Yeah, we’ve gotten a couple questions when your customer base gets up to a certain size, how are you supposed to grow your program? Like? Is there anything that comes to mind as far as like, how big should your customer education program be based on whole? Your customer base?
Dave Derington 32:53
I absolutely love this. Okay. Let me back into this a little bit. And this this may take time. So let’s just be cognizant of time. I don’t have a lot more slides here. So there’s actually a good point. I think about customer education in caught in it like a continuum or a spectrum. And I don’t have a slide to show you on this. But let’s think visually mentally. Okay, Hmm, yeah. Okay, start the beginning zero to 50. Right, I’m going to use arbitrary numbers. But these numbers I’m seeing from TSIA, I’m seeing from Skilljar I’m seeing from other organizations that they’re like said, Ma, they’re pretty canonical, they’re pretty standard, around zero to 50 people. That’s to me, one of the places where your team should start small. And in fact, I will channel my inner Bill Cushard, if you don’t know about service service rocket or the podcast that they do helping cells, check it out, because he’s always talking about customer success and customer education. In fact, he was the origin story for me to get started. Those he had said, Hey, you know, my customers customer education hire will be like, number 10, or number 20. In a company, something I do not see. And if any of you are leadership, director, and above, and you’re thinking about this, start early, because you end up increasing your technical debt exponentially, with every year you wait. And every person you hire, and every customer you acquire. I don’t know if it’s been framed up this way. But it’s true. Like, I’ve joined several companies at times that were way past when they should have enlisted help. And I’m not trying to be mean or critical. I’m just trying to be factual. Let’s go back to and I’m going to actually dip into some examples here. So at gainsight, I came in and the company was round about 200 people, maybe 150. And at what what I was called to do, it was really weird. I was in an interview with Denise Stokowski, who is the VP of product at the time, and I was applying for an onboarding project manager role. And I thought it was so fun and actually class, she’s scared me to death. Because in the middle of the interview is like, okay, we’re going to stop this interview right now. Like, why. And she said, I don’t want you to apply for this. This is way, this is not a good fit for you, I have a job in mind that I need help with. And that’s to help our admins learn how to use this product, because it’s impossible. And the reason that that opportunity happened is that I’d been a university professor, adjunct, I didn’t do it full time. But I did that for eight years. And I loved it. I loved teaching. And I also had been a project manager for like enterprise security for good come, I’ve done all these different weird things. I’m weird. Many of you might be like me, and I, that’s why we all get along or while we’re learners, right? So what when I came in to do was help them scale that program. But it was kind of too late. It really was because the company was taking lots of hits, because the market was saying this product is impenetrable. I can’t figure this out. So that actually meant that most of our solutions, consultants, and people solution architects and we’re we’re having a heavy lift, and everybody had a heavy lift. Now over the years after, and I’m not saying it’s all me, we had a team, we worked on this together, and we collaborated with everybody. So this is not the day of show. This is the education show. We move the needle big time we turned it from we turn the of this sentiment from of gainsight, about our program, from the teens and NPS, to NPS of our education program over was over 60. So if you know about the continuing NPS that’s really darn good. Actually over like 30, or 40 is pretty good. You’re getting a 60s, you’re getting great. So we fixed it, but it was painful. Then I worked at azuka, which is the same thing. And as it was was 50 people, right that were actually that sweet spot. And what what the fun thing was with zuke was that we introduced that we started to like actually do this is the thing, you’re you’re listing out use cases, how are we using this product? Why are using this product? What’s going on. And as soon as the sooner you do that, and you you get a structure, and you have a process for capturing tribal knowledge and converting it into truly actionable information that can help a customer on their own, the better, because it’s going to take a whole lot less time over time to do that, because you get things in motion. Now at outreach, I have a different kinds of team now I feel like I’m further down the pipeline. But it also came in again, at that 200 ish person, Mark, with a lot of tech tech naturally had a team before me. But they’re focused on different things. I’m focused on skin. When I came in, I said scale, scale, scale, scale scale, you’re a big company, things are going fast. We need to get all this stuff together. So it really depends. So again, going back to answer the question about up to about 50 people, if you make your first hire somewhere in there, and you really start to focus on the basics and building the program, get it you don’t even have to get your LMS yet, but you should be actually working with companies like Skillshare to think about, what do I need to do, don’t jump too fast, you should partner with someone like skill jar who can help you think through what you’re going to need a year or two down the road. Right. And that’s a very strategic process. Then let’s go from 50 to 150. A lot of times you see a customer education person drop in and about 150 to 200. Right? I think it’s too late. It’s too late. Because look, opportunities have passed, we’re starting to grow. Now we have a tribal knowledge problem. And I don’t know if I’m the only one thinking about it like this. But when it comes to an organization, and again, the concept that I talked about previously was, you know, Jane, Judy, Joe, john all have something different in their head. One is, is not going to really tell you about stuff, so you have to dig it out of them. It’s a lot of work. So when I came in at outreach, my job was to meet people and network and learn. And I didn’t produce anything for some time, right? But then when he got that, then I built a team and now we’re trucking. Now, now then there’s other layers or inflection points. So the inflection point that we’re at at outreaches. I’m two years in, right? We have rebuilt the foundations of our university. Our skill Deringer in implementation is jammin right? We were We were just I want to show you the line. But I’m afraid to because I don’t think outreach we love that. But we’ve gone up a lot. It’s been up into the right not quite hockey step. But the utilization of our of our educational material has been discovered by everybody. And what our CSM and our other teams are doing is moving people to it. So now we’ve got scaling growth through education. And that’s exactly where we need to be, then what you need to do further is start to stratify and speciate the programs that you have. So what what I’ve done is of course, I’m putting the hammer down even further on University, and developing learning pathways are tracks and layering in badges. And we’ve built a certification program for the most important people to maintain the integrity of our customer application. Our customers are adamance and then we’re going up market and starting to to layer in non non like product agnostic learning soft skills. So there’s always this stuff to do and you’re starting to scale through other kinds of information. Now, now I have to I mentioned this as well, because this is really important to need my team’s challenged me on this impasse, we have five for trainers and attorney managers. So we have a full competency. We’re a full shop. So at the high end, we we actually gave ourselves breathing. So I don’t want to scare any of you who are in training out there is that what’s going to happen if I do this scale thing, like, not gonna be out of a job? No, in fact, just like a CSM, just like our other team members, you’re freed up and liberated from that time that you would otherwise be spending on. Just grinding out training free, free, free, free, free, don’t do, don’t do it, please, it’s a trap, it will crush your soul. And it has I’ve seen my, my trainers just literally get mentally crippled after having to go on the road for weeks at a time and never get a break. Now we flip the script, actually, you have a little bit more bandwidth. So we’ve actually been able to do projects to further improve the courses that we have live. I’m getting excited about this, because I am excited about it, it’s really super cool to see. And now even stratified further. So I have a one to many curriculum that’s embedded in our in skull jar. So you can go to live courses and do it all on Skillshare. So the things that we have at the high end are that the bespoke custom training where I’m going to really get in detail. And you’ve got a human being there who knows a platform. So we are a team. And we’ve taken in all of these things, all these endpoints. And now we’re really helping scale. But that’s also like, so I think you get it now where to go next. So that’s up to 300 500 people. After that I think what you’re doing, and Cutler just cut me off because I’m just on a roll 500 to 1000. When you’re thinking maybe you’re thinking IPO, maybe you’re thinking other things, it doesn’t really matter. But I tend to view I don’t know if this is a popular one. So let’s just think about this as me I tend to view the work that customer education does as building up to becoming an education services function. Now that point, what you do is like let’s say I IPO let’s say we actually got all of our stuff together and we’re really functioning well, then I’m thinking more about revenue, then thinking more about how do I expand the program and make it revenue positive or at least revenue neutral, and it may break off the customer education piece, at least conceptually, we might still all be the same organization. But I see the customer like the education services plays adjunct to support adjunct to professional services, we’re building rescaling programs to help onboard for CES two, we’re laying all that in. But now that’s I’ve got skews, I’ve got products that people can buy on their own package with sales. I got the whole kit caboodle. So now we’re a fully fledged mature organization, that if we’re doing it right, you’re going to start if you actually have the data to track it, you can start to show that impact on arr. Retention scale, losing customers do turn, you start deflecting a lot of calls. There’s all kinds of things, but then the measurement part is is the challenge. Okay, I’m gonna take a break here and take a drink of water. Yeah, that’s great.
Cutler Bleeker 43:00
Yeah, I know, we have a couple more slides to get through. So we’ll move on, please keep sending in questions, we’ll actually try to address any of them that we can towards the end as well. Yeah. Cool.
Amy Davidson 43:11
This is Amy, I’m going to throw in a couple of questions for you to think about as you’re talking. We have a few people who are asking about how to get started. What, how to deal with the content itself, transferring knowledge from knowledge platforms, identifying technical documentation and growing it into customer education programs? Where do they start a crawl walk run approach? So if you can sort of add some of that into your discussion, I think that I’ll address a few questions.
Dave Derington 43:40
Sure. Okay, I’m just gonna do the slider, then I’m gonna open up the time. Okay, that’s my last one. I didn’t want to give you something to go home with. And these are skill jar stats. So you know, think gave me a color for these. When you build this program, right, you’re going to see things in aggregate, like, Hey, I have a 30% increase in my adoption in a month. I am expanding accounts because customers and customers do this for me, they go, Oh, this is great. I’ve got this, I feel like I have support 10% increase in customer count expansion. I like this third 170 3% improvement in customer renewal. Think about that. That’s huge. Your CS team is probably fighting a lot. And then the last one is what I just talked about decrease in cost instructor led training. Again, that scares instructors. Don’t let it because it’s a trap. You want to free up their time to go higher level, you want to make sure that those people are given the white glove. Okay, so with that in mind, Amy, I’m going to I’m going to I can actually stop the slide if you want to and you just want to put Would you like to do? Let’s go into q&a. Okay, so you’re talking about life cycle, right? Where do I start? How do I get started? Let’s Let’s start with the beginning. And again, this is examples that I can tell you. Let’s focus on outreach. I’ll give you the story of outreach and what what we did here. Okay, so I came in and basically did a did an assessment, let’s say, let’s pretend you’re the first customer education person, maybe you’re a manager, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re a CSM that’s been designated don’t care, you got the same role. Your role is to triage. Right? What I mean by triage is, what do I have available to me? Has the team? Do we have a support site with a bunch of documentation? Is that managed, managed and maintained? Who knows? What do we have any training whatsoever? Do we do webinars? Is there anything like just survey the landscape? So usually, that takes me weeks to a month when I come in, and usually my manager is chomping at the bit to say, Dave, what are you gonna do? What’s your plan, which I’m like, hold your horses, let’s actually do the due diligence to understand what’s going on. So step one is analyze, figure out what your program is doing. Okay? Hopefully, I won’t take you too long. But you need to uncover a bunch of rocks, you need to ask a bunch of questions, you need to get out there and talk to all the leaders in all the organizations, from product to marketing, to customer success to whatever. So you do that, take copious amount of notes, and then sit with it, look at it figured out, look what you’ve got on look at all of it, let it let it just flow through your your your mind, and then start to build a plan. Now that’s where it gets a little bit harder. So So now I’m actually trying to build the program, what I usually do is take a very, Oh, you know what this is informed a lot by my my team’s work on certification, what I really loved about a certification program, it really challenges you to think about the customer’s position. Something if you do any research, and you haven’t done this before, look it up and learn a little bit about what certification is about because there’s the concept of a job task analysis. And that really breaks down by functional and use case sections, what customers actually need to be able to do, right, it’s, this is kind of an enablement play. So when you go through that motion, I tend to think about this in use cases, if you can call it a list of the use cases, meaning, again, if you’re not familiar with the term use case is how to do something, it’s a how to, I want to know how in outreach, I take a list of prospects, and I put them on a sequence, and I do best practices, I can work to talk to my customers and talk to prospects and get meetings. That’s outreach in a nutshell, right? There’s best practices, there’s all kinds of stuff in that. But that’s a use case. And there may be other use cases for your product. If you can go through and strategically break those down, say, okay, use case number one, I need to be able to load prospects in working use case number two, I need to be able to contact them in certain ways, noose case. Number three, numerate them, once I’ve got that I’ve got a really good understanding of my customers needs, and a roadmap on how to get to where I need to go. Okay, that’s, that’s it, and then be brutal and focused on building content for that. That’s the point when now you need to do a learning experience designer, instructional designers, or maybe even trainers, there’s a couple ways I go about this, depending on where I’m at in my organization, maturity, if you’re really small, you’re just starting out, one of my favorite things to do of all time, is to go super fast, I get a subject matter expert, I get them, you know, it’s kind of sage on the stage, but I empower them with a script, or I do it myself. I build small, really tight modules. And I do them live live stream of like we’re doing here on a webinar. And I get really detailed, I record that I put it in my university, I move on, I do that I put in university and move on, I build material as I go. And now what you have is if you have a learning management system, right, then that’s really good time to have it when you’re building out, you can literally very quickly assemble that university. And now you’re offloading the work of the trainers, maybe even you leverage your trainers to train on these modules, record them, put them in the university, rinse, wash, repeat, right? Once you’ve got that substrate layer of core modules and learning pathways, and you’ve got all your use cases identified, you’re done with the first level and then you can start scaling up. Ideally, in that time, you’ll hire an instructional designer learning experiences under someone who’s going to work on the content, do you layer them in, then they take over and take these courses, and now they use Camtasia or captivate or whatever you’re going to do SCORM build really nice modules out of them that accelerate or like, bump up the quality. And now I’m resurfacing that when my trainers are now training, and now I detach the two functions. Now I start growing my team. I started expanding and I usually make a very tight focus my first loops are what’s the core I need to do? Do that move on? What’s the next one? Do that move on do that, and then come back and maintain it. And that’s one of the things I see a lot of companies don’t necessarily do well because it’s freaking hard. Because you’re talking maintenance like when’s the last time I touched a piece of content? What is it What’s changed? This is where you’re layering in an interaction with your your go to market, product product marketing teams, and staying in lockstep with them. You start to deliver new content and updates as you’re Going, Gotta of take a breath. This is a lot. But this is how I look at the world, you start very strategically you get the basics, you put them in an LMS, you start start to offload as much of the work as you can you get your trainers, so that they’re not overwhelmed. You You, you start to engage with other resources, and then start to work with your CS team and your support team and your proserv team to find those gaps. So if you’ve got the basics, what are the things next that you’re missing? What are the areas that that you need to figure out? I think I should always also tell you data is super important. I will say data is one of the biggest like not just data in sites, insights, insights, take data, and map them to questions you have about that data. How many people have completed these courses? How many people were in them? Are we going? Are we really increasing or decreasing? Are we impacting other teams? Are we decreasing the amount of time that it takes them to do training, or decreasing our number of support calls? This my friends takes a lot and I struggle with this too? Not? Because it’s hard conceptually, it’s hard. Because getting partnership from, you know, bi teams and others is difficult. And it’s not a priority, because your company is going to be saying no, we need to get data supporting our sales team or revenue team who are professional services human Yes, they do. And that is indeed more important. But it’s not much more important. If you look at if you work with your data teams to start getting that the insights on how your program is performing, you can show like I do is like look at this up into the right hockey stick curve with people using adoption. How is that impacting you as the CSM, and then they go figure it out? And like, Oh my dear God, why didn’t I put more money into this program because now I can hire less CSM or I can keep the same CSM and they could do more. Right. So that’s, that’s the core of it. And now and then what I do is I layer in a lot more stuff, like on sites, and you know, like really going deep with customers. And then now we’re introducing things like change management modules like that, that conceptual. Okay, well, yeah, here’s how the product works. But how do I change and pivot my whole thinking about how do I adopt this program? And how do I, how do I as a customer who’s like, well, crap, now I got to use this program, but I don’t just have to use it. Now I have to teach others how to use it because an admin and Arman stakeholder, now I’m really stressed out, I want to alleviate that stress. Now you’re introducing those things are on demand and for the team to encompass the change management, the thoughts about it’s kind of meta, how do you use this product, and then you keep going from there, like we’re where I go next is, you start thinking about certification, I would only use that carefully. And I will use that formally with proctoring. Because you and for the most important people who are supporting your products as your partners that your your professional services team, that is your customers had admins who are maintaining their accounts. I’m not gonna say certifications, easy certification is in fact, extremely difficult. And it’s also very difficult to understand how leaders understand how it works and how to build it. That’s kind of where I aspire to go, you may or may not need that you could do something like we’ve invoked badging. So I’m more interested in bringing everybody through my course making sure they’ve seen it, touched it, know where it is. If I’ve done that, then I know what customers are doing. Because over time, they may come back, I want them to keep coming back and know I have a really, really awesome program all the cover all the bases, you can talk to your CSM. Ideally your CSM should say, Dave, seriously, you’re calling me about this, you know, there’s University. Yeah, I’m a dummy. I did that actually with my CSM. Here, I’m being transparent. I, I stopped myself from calling Mike one day, because I go, you know what, we have a great university or your great Academy here, I can go to your support site. It’s changing the minds of customers through scale is another aspect of it, you want a customer know you can come to one place, or several places, they’re all interlinked. And they know how to answer their own questions and self serve. That’s critical. Okay, did I answer that? Okay. Got it.
Cutler Bleeker 53:53
I think it goes with setting that expectation early for customers to they need to know that these resources exist, you can’t just have them. There’s like a whole nother aspect of making sure your customer base knows where to go to get certain things answered. And just because you have a Help Center doesn’t mean you don’t need a university. Just because you have an academy doesn’t mean you don’t need your help center. Like I think these are resources that can work in tandem with each other. It’s just setting the expectation of where to go for certain information.
Dave Derington 54:23
Indeed – you got it.
Cutler Bleeker 54:26
Alright, I think that brings us to kind of the end of our session here. I know, we got a lot of questions that we weren’t able to answer. I think we can take some of those and maybe do some some blog posts about them or some social posts that we address. We could follow up and you know some of the future things we do with some of these questions as well. But we appreciate everyone’s time. Thanks for joining and if you weren’t aware of the passion Dave has for customer education. I think you’re now well aware of how passionate he is about the subject. And he’s been a big part of the customer education community. So we want to thank him for that as well. Yeah, I’d like to actually extend an offer to all of you that are on definitely go check out the customer Education Laboratory, that’s just customer got education. There’s a Contact Us page on there. If you have questions, you really want a little personal time, I usually run my own personal office hours. And I’m interested in learning from you. And being challenged on some of the assumptions and the things that I’m learning. It’s a network, we have a community that’s building this a Slack channel for customer education. If you haven’t been in it yet. I can get you connected with that and add you to that and then join the conversation. And in addition, some of the questions we may take to CELab and do our q&a session. So if you need to reach me, just go through the customer Education website, contact me, I’m happy to talk to you. I do have a full time job as my co host for custom t labs. But we try to make time for you because we really want to learn together and grow together. So I really appreciate this. Thank you, Amy and Cutler for inviting me to talk. Yeah, happy to have you and yeah, thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next time.