Dave Derington  00:01

Hello and welcome to C lab, the customer education laboratory where we explore how to build customer education programs, experiment with fabulous new approaches, and exterminate with extreme prejudice and violence, the MIS bad advice, and other things that stop growth dead in its tracks. I am Dave Derington.

Adam Avramescu  00:22

And I am prejudicial and violent Adam ever masscue Wait, no, nevermind, don’t get cancelled.

Dave Derington  00:31

You’re neither of those things.

Adam Avramescu  00:33

I’m neither of those things. Which is ironic because today is National ampersand day. So it shouldn’t be a both and not a neither or nor a bonafide if it’s if it’s violence and prejudice, unless it’s towards learning myths and misconceptions that I want to.

Dave Derington  00:54

Alright, well, with that in store been a little bit since we’ve talked to our audience here. So what we’re going to do today?

Adam Avramescu  01:01

Well, we are returning from our summer break, we’ve been off for a little while, enjoying a little bit of time in the sun and having fun with our families on the run. Just trying to rhyme I don’t know. Anyway, we’re back. And we are kicking things off with some episodes where we’re actually going to talk about some of the most common questions in customer education, very common things that you hear common things that we see asked and ones where Dave and I definitely have some perspective. So yeah, Dave, what do you what do you think? What should we focus on?

Dave Derington  01:39

I think this is great. So let’s start off with one of the most popular questions that we’ve had. It’s how to keep content up to date with, well, we’re gonna we’re mostly talking software as a service. So how do you keep your content up to date with SAS products?

Adam Avramescu  01:57

Yeah, well, we’ll mostly talk about SaaS today, just because that’s the world where Dave and I both are, for those of you who are not in the SaaS world, that is software as a service. I think what a lot of the lessons that we talked about can be applied to non SaaS products, whether that’s, like on premise software, or even direct to consumer non SaaS software or, or things that aren’t even software, they might just be less pronounced than they are in the SaaS world and might operate differently. Like, if you’re doing customer education, say for, you know, like a physical, like CPG product, for instance, that’s gonna operate in a very different way, because it’s not like your, your, your your horse medicine is, I guess, horse medicine isn’t the CPG product, and I’m just gonna, let’s say you’re manufacturing, like you roll, you roll out a new version of the horse medicine, it’s not going to like it is not gonna automatically update and you’re not going to have to like consult with your product team, in the same way as if you’re the same way managing you’re constantly updating SaaS product,

Dave Derington  02:58

right? I think Adam, if I were to, like reframe that, or or expand upon what you’re saying, You’re right, it’s the ideas and the concepts that we talk about are applicable to anything. But our field really has niched down into like this, hey, you’ve got software, it’s in the cloud, you’re using an app, you’re using a platform or something like that. And, and the principles behind that are the floors, lava, things are moving all the time, things are changing very rapidly to the point that it makes it very hard that you have to have a different kind of methodology to elicit and develop that content on a timely basis. And that’s why we say, hey, keeping content up to date in our field in SAS, is perhaps even more difficult than in a lot of other cases. So what are some thoughts?

Adam Avramescu  03:42

Yeah, I mean, I think maybe framing up the problem, just the way that you, you started here would be helpful to clarify. So why, why do we hear this question all the time? I think one of the reasons we hear this question is, Hey, I’m the customer education person at this fast moving sass company. And I have to spend a certain amount of time doing instructional design, creating instructional content, doing all the stuff that makes makes learning go, and I spend all this time doing this, and then I release it. And I’m starting to get feedback from my customers. And before I know it, the product has changed. So I’ve got to go update all my screenshots or all my videos, or all the work that I’ve spent time doing and it puts you in a situation where you feel like you’re spending your entire life just chasing your your product team down or feeling like your contents always out of date. So I think that’s where the question comes from. It’s like, how do I actually keep this stuff up to date?

Dave Derington  04:34

How do you keep it going in? And yeah, that you’ve hit that nail on the head. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a complicated situation, you know, when I think ideally, let’s frame it up a little bit. And I’ll go into some of the experiences that you I know you and I have had, we all have different flavors of, you know, like, your company might run on a continuous release type cycle. You know, bless you, that’s complicated, but you might be No more. And I’m just going to use the term sane environment where you have releases that happen quarterly or bi annually or something like that, you know, depends on what the characteristics of your company is. But that cycle is really important to you. Because if, if you’re always trying to scramble to catch up, and there’s no time to catch your breath, that’s, that’s painful, you know? Yeah. But if you’re lunging nickel,

Adam Avramescu  05:24

yeah, I’ve actually always worked in some flavor of continuous release. And I suspect a lot of people who asked this question in customer education are also working for companies who are on continuous release cycles, especially those who are working for startups, they, they really aren’t at that point yet, where it makes sense for them from a go to market perspective to have right like a quarterly release or something like that. There. They don’t have enough customers who are focused on having that stability. So the bias is towards speed and towards continually shipping. Right.

Dave Derington  05:55

Yeah, yeah. And, and that, actually, I have to say this out loud, because there was an earlier me that I’m thinking about the person that was in my first customer education program, when I didn’t really know that story. It’s my backstory, right? dipped into a pool of acid and became No, that was Batman. The but that that moment where like, you’re so into building, and you build all this content? And then you have that moment of, I had this moment of absolute horror shock? I don’t know. But you go, Oh, I have to maintain this. Yeah. I mean, I think this is really important to bring up because there’s a lot of you that may be out there who are new into this role? And yeah, you know, about maintenance. But the palpable sense of the velocity of change makes us very different.

Adam Avramescu  06:50

Yeah, so let’s, let’s put it let’s put a hypothesis on this. We like hypotheses on on this, this episode, maybe maybe it’s if you are doing customer education at a sass company, you are effectively a product team. You are, prove or disprove

Dave Derington  07:08

who you are effectively a product team. I like to prove I like to try to prove that.

Adam Avramescu  07:19

Okay, let’s try to prove it. Let’s go to Dave, I know one thing you were talking about. And this I think this is true product teams can’t just exist in a vacuum product teams need to go to market strategy. So I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. Can you expand on your your thoughts?

Dave Derington  07:32

Yeah, before this episode, Adam, I thought about this, and I thought about it a lot. It’s so when I say you build a product market or so in, I know in in our ad outreach, we call it the go to market strategy, you might hear that term too. So just like product, now you’re in education. And in I think this is often hard to think about, you are building a product, you don’t often think about that initially like that you’re building educational content, you’re structuring it, you’re putting in a certain way. And you’re also mapping directly to what your product is doing, right. But it’s a little bit different. So you need to have some kind of a framework of how you go and elicit changes, you coordinate with all your team members. And you actually lead you, you proactively push your own methodology to make sure you’re not just in a reactive mode, because if you’re in reactive mode, maintenance is very painful, right? Let me just go through my first point I was thinking about here. So this could be as easy as, and I’ll tell you tell you our case. But we have a team member. And she is as put in a lot of effort and has done an amazing job and being an emissary. I like that word, you know, Deep Space Nine kind of reference, I’ll have to get my deep sci fi link, an emissary who goes out in is our evangelist or an advocate for what we need, and what we can deliver as well. So she’s always in any of the go to market meetings with our product and product market team marketing, team, learning, you know, just sometimes just being a fly on the wall and sitting back and just listening. And in that that point of active listening and like actually asking questions, you start seeing the landscape of, you know, it’s, let’s say, my next quarter, and we’re updating a couple different apps and we’re, we have some minor changes. We were in beta, now we’re going to product release. There’s all kinds of changes that happen, but you need to have someone spearhead that and be able to say, okay, Adam, alright, I know, you were on developing this product, product x. You did the instructional design for last time, I’m letting you know that there are a couple updates and you can go, oh, cool, well, I can just pull up my Camtasia or, you know, whatever file and it looks like oh, this is a very simple, straightforward update. And you can work with those. You know, it aside so basically this person has helped traffic cop assign work out, or at least notify people within the rest of the team, including both instructionals aren’t even training, what’s coming up.

Adam Avramescu  10:10

Because you want someone on your team who is at least at least one person, yeah, really is working more directly with either your product marketing team or your enablement team. It’s it’s different different companies have different people to do this. Sometimes it’s like technical project managers, or program managers who do this, whoever is working with the product team, and serving as that liaison between the product team themselves who are, you know, defining and developing the product, and then go to market teams who are actually responsible for then creating all the marketing and selling the product and servicing and supporting customers around the product, right? That’s kind of what we’re defining as go to market. There. Sometimes, not always, there sometimes are teams who already have processes that are pointed at being that bridge, right? So sometimes you’ll have an enablement team, who is responsible for looking across all of your different product managers, and all of their segments if you’re if your product team is segmented out, and they’ll say, okay, we’re going to put together all the documentation coming out of this, we’re going to put together all the enablement and then instructional design, like the customer Education team can plug into that. But a lot of times that’s so no, as the as the customer Education team kind of have to go play that role, you have to figure out how to sit across the product teams release meetings, or their release cycles or their documentation, whatever it is, that’s coming down the pipe, and be able to say, hey, customer Education team, you need to be aware that these are the things that are coming up. So then we can go tag all the content that’s going to get affected by that.

Dave Derington  11:55

Yeah, yeah. And actually, I want to dive into that a little bit further, because it hasn’t been my experience that enablement teams are always further ahead than we are. And in customer education, I felt like our team has had to be so onpoint with looking at the looking at the updates, in an ideal state I yeah, I think enablement could do that. But

Adam Avramescu  12:16

Product Marketing does do this a lot of the time, it just depends. It honestly, depends who’s closest to product.

Dave Derington  12:21

True. And and sometimes it takes all of us, right? Yeah, in we should all be involved in. And that’s where I think if we aligned together, it’s pretty powerful.

Adam Avramescu  12:31

I think so too. And I think it also depends on the size and scope, like, you know, saying go to the product teams, meetings, go to their release meetings, that can be simple if you have a very small product team. And it can be incredibly challenging if you have a gigantic product team with multiple segments across multiple product lines. So you know, if if I am going and making the case, for instance, to have people on my team who do this, and it’s actually something that happens within my instructional design or learning experience design team, I have to build that into the resourcing model for the team, say, Hey, you know, we have to be able to keep pace with the product team. And if you’re a small startup, and you’ve got like, two generalists on your team, and you don’t even have like a dedicated customer, education, learning experience, designer, that that can be a tough pill to swallow to go to whoever you’re asking for budget and say, yeah, so you know, product teams this big, they’re gonna have this many meetings, we need to be in all those meetings. So that’s going to take like, half of an FTP. And by the way, like, we also have to create and maintain all this new content. But it’s, it’s something you kind of have to do at a certain point, if you want to make sure that your content is always going to stay ahead of the product release cycle. But I would argue, and we can get into this, that that’s not always a realistic or achievable goal, you don’t always have to be 100% ahead of everything happening in your product.

Dave Derington  13:58

Yes, sometimes it’s okay to say no, as long as you prioritize,

Adam Avramescu  14:03

right? Yeah, yeah. So you know, I think when when you think about other teams who have this same issue as your company grows, it’s definitely not only customer education that has this problem, right? Like, customer success wants to know what’s ahead of the product roadmap so they can proactively communicate to customers, sales wants to know, so they can position the product roadmap, Product Marketing wants to know, because they’re gonna have to do Product Marketing for all of it, and ableman teams, you know, depending on what role they play, you’d like you said they might be ahead they might be behind of what’s happening in product, but it you know, it becomes everyone who’s doing something go to market related needs to know what is coming out of your your product team. And so processes start to get defined as the company gets more mature, and you can definitely play a role in that or see if you can get a different cut of the information that other teams are getting. But to your point, like if that doesn’t exist, and for a lot of companies, it doesn’t. You have to figure out some version of that where you’re connecting directly with your product team. Go into the meeting. And you have to make sure that you have the time for it. Yeah. And that your leadership understands that there’s a balance between the more time you’re going to spend trying to stay ahead of product and make sure that everything is perfectly well documented, that you have a deep enough understanding of what’s getting released, and can get there before it actually gets released. If you want that, that’s going to require more time, more money, more people.

Dave Derington  15:22

Hmm. So it’s good to set that expectation is I think it’s absolutely important that we have good updated content. But also you can remember, on the flip side of that early phases, customers are just happy to get anything because they don’t have anything later. And I would say this is start this, this starts where you have like, you have a decent sized team. And now you’re actually your company is maturing, you have a process, you have maybe a style style guide or design process or methodology for how you go about doing stuff. So at some point in their in your growth, maybe a year and maybe two years, and you’re going to be doing this. It’s the change of of the job as we

Adam Avramescu  16:03

grow. Yeah, well, it’s sort of related to the product release cycle. And not all companies stick with continuous release. And that’s because the customers that they’re selling and marketing to value predictability of a release cycle over constant innovation. And it’s the same thing as far as these processes go. Yeah, you’re you’re going to put more value on having buttoned up higher quality, more robust documentation when you’re when you’re kind of past when you’ve crossed the chasm. And you don’t have as many customers who are just willing to go on the ride with you and figure it out. Like I want things more explained to them at that point, they want more on a one on one, or they want a one on one. Yeah. Like you, you have to provide education in different ways, because your customers don’t just get it. Yeah. So okay, so Dave, like, let’s, let’s talk about this, as you have to start getting things more buttoned up, how do you actually stay ahead of these these releases? And specifically, knowing that you’re at this point, also going to have more content out there? How do you stay on top of all the content and where all the changes are going to hit?

Dave Derington  17:08

That’s where I’d introduced the concept of a content index or library. And this is just my thinking and my team’s experience, and I’ve done this, like, in this instance, in this role I have now the speed and velocity with which things are coming at us was much more intense than any other role I had. Right. I mean, we’re, we’re hypergrowth rocketship. And what I found is like, I couldn’t keep all this in my head anymore. And I basically what designated a team member, and that team member is on point as our de facto curriculum manager, what what that role is, you know, their instructional designer, their role is to keep the big picture, the spreadsheet with in, it’s got several different tabs that have different views. One view I can use for quick reporting. But the main view, the first view is cannon. These are the tracks these are the content is the content we’ve got, this is where it fits. This is how it serves. This is what the goals are, this is what the outcome should be. Here are the links to the source, here are the links to the the videos, here are links to the questions you might ask. So all of it is in one frame of reference, including time indexes, like how long the course is, and also keywords. Right. So what this allowed us to do, and I’d love to hear from other people, I’d love to hear from you like, what do you do for that. But this allows us to go we have a monthly and I can talk about this next I might as well go ahead and talk about, we have a monthly review cycle, where we all group up and we actually invite documentation, people from other teams that matter, including our training team who has a little bit different look at stuff. And then we go through and we go through the list, right? So this context library, something I could share with you, I could share some of the information on limited basis for the clients. There’s often cases, you know, where a company is asking you, Hey, you know, I really need an I hate this question. I really need to have some piece of content and you go, where am I gonna look it up? This is your index, everything’s there. It’s all listed out. And I use it every day. So that’s an actually let me add just two more things. First touch is a field a row, when did you create that content, and then another field or multiple fields that demonstrate when you last updated the content, so that your team can go back and say, Oh crap, this is two years old, I really have to do this. What do we want to do with it? deprecated or move on and it makes it really in your face? That you know every step of the way actually i would i would advocate even building a database for this where you can really get fine grained comments and details. But this is our library where everything is in it’s easy to share.

Adam Avramescu  19:50

Yeah, we’ve we’ve experimented with putting it in a database as well because you know nowadays, products are a lot easier to to get your hands on in the past. I’ve also done it with, like, we’ve worked it into our, our combine process where as we know that things are coming down from the product team, they make it into our, you know, our backlog and then we pull them on deck as we know, the releases are coming. And you know, when we do our stand ups, we would, we would know, for instance, oh, this release is coming, it’s going to be medium or smaller, large, we need to start working on it this far in advance, so that there are different ways you can do it short of actually having a database. But if you’re not going to have a database, or at least like a really good spreadsheet, that is effectively database, you’re you you’re going to need to keep more of it in your head. So even if you tie it into like your your Agile process, and it’s going in the backlog like that means you still have to remember when everything is hitting. Yeah, it’s not automated for you.

Dave Derington  20:47

Yeah, and I don’t know about you, but when you’re moving fairly fast, I don’t trust my memory, I’d rather have it written down.

Adam Avramescu  20:55

Yeah, I mean, there are some days where I can’t even remember my own name. Please help me.

Dave Derington  21:04

Who are you? Hey, Adam. Oh, that’s my name. I’m glad you introduced yourself.

Adam Avramescu  21:12

So then, so then how do you you know, you mentioned a moment ago, that the person who originally worked on the content might be the person who picks it back up, like, how do you how do you review all this stuff?

Dave Derington  21:22

Okay, so So this is, again, I’m kind of taking the lead on the site, we’ve had to make some decisions, like, you’re going to need to do this for yourself, this is plaguing you, and you want to solve this problem, what we do is we take that index, right. And then the consensus among our instructional design team, is everybody going into that meeting has the accountability to look at the content they’ve created. Look at you know, what we’ve learned about go to market and materials that we’re going to update and such, and then indicate, okay, like, so it’s my turn to talk, hey, you know, I’ve got these three modules that I know are up to date, I’ve scanned them look like a light amount of work here. This one’s going to be a big lift I might need help with. So we kind of triage on a monthly basis and make decisions as a team. As what’s most fancy

Adam Avramescu  22:07

French been triage.

Dave Derington  22:09

I love it. Hey, you love big words, I tried to please.

Adam Avramescu  22:14

I love small words that are in French as well. Okay, go on go, Oh,

Dave Derington  22:20

I don’t want to now I like the sidebar. Um, so So what your team is going through the content, they’re being proactive. And when we all come to that meeting, that’s also where in a loved this our documentation, you know, technical documentation team shows up all the time, like, Oh, great, you got a new thing, you know, what can I use this and make a link over into this documentation, this page. And then the documentation he makes takes the time to to tell us what things they may need help with and what other helpful content would map to the content that we’re generating. So it’s a really good point to kind of tie the tie everything up.

Adam Avramescu  22:56

David, you’re making a good point, too, which is, you know, a lot of customer education teams actually own documentation as well, or at least don’t help center and they’re, you know, think some some of what we’re saying is going to hit in a different way. Because the expectation a lot of the time is that if you’re doing like Help Center documentation, and especially if it’s in a very commonly used area of the product, you probably you probably gotten into that idea of the content index or library or what I would call like a like a content audit map. I get that term from like brain traffic and Kristina Halvorson and the whole content strategy world, you would you would get to that earlier, I think if you’re responsible for documentation, because that’s what you’re living and breathing versus if you’re mostly maintaining courseware, you can probably exist for a little bit longer without feeling like you need to get to that level. Yeah. Yeah, that said, I think and this is where, you know, you’ve talked a lot about process, I actually think there are some things we can say from purely from a content point of view as well. When you’re, when you’re running a SaaS product, or when you’re supporting a SaaS product. I think one thing that you can do is you can actually future proof your content and a lot of ways and I think I talked about this in my book, because this is something I learned very early on. one I think is depending on how fast your product updates, depending on all

Dave Derington  24:23

find the page. I have your book right here beside me, man. It’s a great book

Adam Avramescu  24:26

Dave’s pulling Dave’s pulling up the book,

Dave Derington  24:28

you can’t see it, index.

Adam Avramescu  24:31

I don’t know if the book has an index.

Dave Derington  24:35

As well as Table of Contents good enough. Keep going. Okay.

Adam Avramescu  24:38

Okay. Yeah, it’s like an index at the front of the book. Okay, so I from from a content uptake perspective, looking at the content mix is important. Because I think a lot of people to your point, Dave, get really excited and start and say, oh, we’re gonna create all these videos and it’s gonna be high quality, and we’re gonna get all these talking heads in there, so on and so forth. But you got to be critical, I think of how much high production value content that you use, especially for content, that’s not going to be super evergreen. So the more video you have, the more audio you have, that’s going to be harder to update than things like text or even screenshots. And I would say even for things like text or screenshots, and this can apply for video, too. Use a simplified UI, if you can. So there’s there’s a lot of good writing out there now about how to do a simplified UI. You take components of your product, and you abstract them. So you’re not looking at every single detail of your product as it exists, you’re you’re looking more conceptually at where things are laid out. If you’re if you’re taking techniques like that, then you’re kind of future proofing your content in a way where if something minor in your product updates, you’re not necessarily going to have to go and update every single screenshot now.

Dave Derington  25:52

Yeah, know that. And I love to respond to this one, too. Like, it’s, this is harder than it seems. Right? Yeah. You, Adam, I think what I want to say to this is that I think this really presupposes or requires that you think about your process pretty intensively, you know, like, and what I mean by that is like your style, like, how do you construct your content. And for me, I want to respond with this went into this point, in particular, because I like what you’re saying. And I agree with what you’re saying. But in some cases, I’m not able to do that, right, we try to simplify our UI as much as possible, we try to avoid talking about stuff. But predominantly, our team has settled on video. And what I’ve found is that the team itself has kind of gravitated to a style that allows them to quickly update content on the fly in like in the video content, they’ll go back and just record segments of it works pretty well, partly because, you know, the style is the same The tone is we’ve got good audio equipment, which we’ll talk about in another another podcast, but the good audio commitment, the commitment, the good audio equipment, actually masks,

Dave Derington  27:02

good equipment.

Dave Derington  27:05

But the future proofing is important. And it’s really something you have to have foresight and forethought on to really think about how you’re going to make it. How are you going to save yourself work in the future. And I say this is really important, because I’ve not done it twice. And because I had to scramble the content in the first place, then I go, Oh, my God, now I have this problem going in the first time around? How can you future proof your content, one of the techniques that I that I’ve wanted to bring up here for this one is early on really early on. And before I even had real instructional designers, one of the loops we made to update our content was simply to go, alright, I’m gonna do webinars style videos, and then I do it again and upload that content as my content, then I do it again. And I’d upload that piece. And I do it again. And that actually got completely around all the style stuff, because I’m just replacing the recording, but later a bit more mature. And you have to do this in a in a, in a context like you’re talking about?

Adam Avramescu  28:02

Well, and the content strategy can support that, right. Like if you are focused say on it, like let’s say you are using videos, well, first of all, you’re going to start putting more processes and techniques in place where like to your point, you know where your Camtasia templates are, you can update them or on the fly, you have standard assets that you can reuse, or you can replace, there are definitely things you can do from a production standpoint, as you grow that will make this all easier. And let’s say you are doing more video, because you decided that that’s that’s the you know, most effective way for you to deliver the content that you’re you’re delivering? Well, you can do what you said they like you can you can know that, you’re not going to focus on perfecting what you have, because it’s going to be constantly re recorded and reiterated. Or perhaps you’re doing more of a micro learning strategy, you’ve got shorter videos that are more modular. So when something changes in your product, for instance, you’re not going to have to go back and change every single video, you can actually identify the specific short video, so it’s all related. But what what’s really standing out to me is that there’s a disconnect sometimes between the things we’re talking about right now, which are things you realize down the road, when you actually need a little bit more process maturity, more strategy, and the things you’re asked to do when you’re first starting a team or that you want to do when you’re first starting a team, which is like build experiment, get some stuff wrong, you know, you’re gonna have to go back and fix it later. And that’s a perfectly fine tension to have. You can go experiment with things you just have to experiment with an eye towards, okay, what happens if this experiment succeeds? And now we’re gonna go do this thing long term? What do we do? What do we do as we turn these experiments into, like actual things that we maintain? If that makes sense?

Dave Derington  29:38

That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Give yourself cut yourself some slack a little bit and have room for experimentation. And don’t worry about it too much, but future perfect should be on your mind.

Adam Avramescu  29:48

Yeah, and I think, you know, going along the lines of Don’t worry so much. I think we also underestimate when we asked this question about updating our documentation or updating our videos we need to trust Start learners on this not all product updates are created equal. Not all product releases are created equal. And the more you learn what those look like for your product for your customers, the more you’ll start to get a perspective on what actually needs to be updated versus what you might be overreacting to. Because remember, we have the curse of knowledge, we know our product better than almost anyone else knows our product, which means that we over index on changes, we freak out about things that might actually go completely unnoticed to most customers. Yeah, so let’s, let’s classify this. On one hand, there are major releases, there are deep functionality updates that are that are relatively self contained. So like, we released an entirely new I don’t know feature within our product, like an example for slack would be when we released workflow builder, workflow builder is incredibly powerful, lets you do a million different things. But largely, does not like when we released workflow builder, we didn’t have to go back and update everything else about the rest of slack the product because it’s relatively self contained, right. second category is, there are this is like the opposite, Where, where, where, before, it was deep, this is broad, where there’s UI changes that are trivial in terms of functionality, but they’re sweeping enough that, you know, you’re gonna have to go back and change everything. So the example of this would be like an information architecture change, where all of a sudden, the fundamental layout of your product changes, and maybe every single feature is the same. But now the layout is completely different. So like, you’re sitting here going, like, Oh, my gosh, I have to go and update everything. Great. rebrands are another good example of this, oh, my gosh, I have to go change the logo in every video. And here is where having a good, you know, perspective on how you’re going to reuse assets and, and where they’re located and how you’re going to swap them out. If your Camtasia files and all of that that’s where that becomes really important. Because it’s going to be a nightmare, the moment you have to go update every single thing that you have, you have to create the space and time for it. Exactly. But then there’s this third category, which is like a bunch of minor changes that happen in your product, especially if you do continuous release, probably happening every day. They’re trivial in terms of functionality that might be you know, some what intrusive in terms of layout, but a lot of them are gonna be ones like you notice, but the customer doesn’t actually notice you see it because you have the curse of knowledge. And there, I think you have to trust your learner, that they don’t need to see the exact same UI in your videos, for instance, or in your Academy that they’re seeing in the product right then and there. It’s really easy to try to oversell for this problem and say, oh, we’re gonna make it all contextual. We’re going to do it all on product, we’re going to do it all via like, walk me pendo what fix app to use. Forgetting a couple of these products, apologies, many,

Dave Derington  32:50

that’s okay, I’m gonna get your name. You know, we’re thinking about you there.

Adam Avramescu  32:55

And yeah, and you’re all good. But those products also, you know, even if you’re using them for entirely contextual learning, well, what happens if all of the, like all the tags in your product change, now you have to go like re anchor all of those guides. So there’s no real way around this, like, there’s no way to avoid that to some extent. If you are doing customer education, for a fast moving high growth, SaaS product, the product is going to change, and there are going to be some assets that get left behind. Uh huh. And you have to let your customers tell you, in some cases, whether they carry on or whether they notice or not. So it’s important to have feedback forums, so you can see what customers are getting confused by or where they’re really noticing that things are starting to get out of date. But I think it’s unrealistic to think that, especially if you are a lean customer Education team, and you’re not getting the support to be in all of your product meetings, and have all of your content updated before every release goes out, that you’re not gonna have some of that you kind of need to let your customers like, like, have faith in them, they won’t notice a lot of minor changes, or even if they do, they won’t care. In a lot of cases, you kind of need to let them tell you.

Dave Derington  34:11

Yeah, that was brings up my favorite story, the Disney story about the concept of a weenie, you know, sometimes you’re leaving things in to purposely distract from from things that are more impactful. But no, like what I’ve what I’ve experienced Adam is exactly what you’re talking about, like, particularly early on, customers really just want the knowledge and they’re very tolerant of Oh, I that logo isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Or, you know, oh, I see that. There’s a lot of little minor changes, but I still get the meat of what I need. And that goes on for quite a long time. And to be frank, I even now I don’t see a lot of complaints or concerns of something just mostly internally.

Adam Avramescu  34:54

And he was noticing its internal people.

Dave Derington  34:57

Yeah, like yeah, I know you see that but nobody else I’ve got on my backlog, and here it is, I could show you my backlog we’re gonna do we’re gonna work on that. But then it’s a matter of I’ll collect some of those, and I’ll address them at one time. You know, it’s a matter of us again, word triage, what’s most important to have updated? Do you have to have all the logos changed, or you have this fundamental use case that is not defined that is really going to factor revenue? Right? Because it’s a new feature a new product that everybody needs. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. That’s the most important. It’s a game, we’re always we’re trading one thing or another, you know, we’re living in the Iron Triangle, and making decisions every day, and what’s important and what we prioritize?

Adam Avramescu  35:37

Absolutely. And I think it’s just important to set those expectations. And if someone starts coming to you saying, Well, no, everything needs to be perfectly up to date, all the time before it gets released in the product, then you can come back and either say, Okay, well, here’s what I needed to be able to do that. Yeah. Or, or ask why. Why does this matter? Why Why are we? Why are we fixated on the idea that we need to be. So you know, kind of down to the dotted i’s and cross T’s I don’t know, a single SaaS product in the world that has 100% always up to date, always accurate documentation. And that’s because the product moves so fast, all of them, even those who aren’t in continuous release. And it’s okay. And it’s okay. And I think this also, there’s, there’s another articulation of this that we didn’t really talk about yet, which is not necessarily about keeping your content up to date with the product so much as it is about letting learners know what’s new in the product. So I think this is another area where people are really, really around the axle, where they go, Oh, well, we just, you know, had all these releases, we need to let customers know that we just released all this stuff, or similarly, yeah. Or they might go, you know, hey, we have these certification programs out there. And we need to, you know, allow people as they’re recertifying, to know what’s new in the product. And those are all very legitimate, viable strategies. But you have to approach them intentionally as a strategy. And you have to be aligned around how you’re going to do it, when you’re going to do it and why you’re doing it. I think it’s easy sometimes for people just to get like really nervous about the fact that customers don’t always know what’s new. And I think that, to have that discussion, you also need to be talking about Okay, well, why is it important for them to know what’s new, our customers actually saying they need to know this? Are they complaining? are we losing revenue? Because they don’t know what’s new? Are we are they turning? Because we don’t know what’s new? Right? So it’s like, we kind of need to get to the bottom of it so that we can actually design a better system or a better intervention are a better learning product that responds to that. Yeah, and can also inform our content architecture, right. So if you have like, core content, and then you have some content that’s like, specifically maintenance content, like, let’s say you have a certification program, and you know, learners are going to come back over time, they’re going to get recertified. You might want them to get recertified by going through some sort of maintenance module that’s all about what’s been released in the product during that period of time, so they can stay up to date. Well, that’s a great, that’s a great use case for doing content that’s specifically pointed at that. But that’s very different from being asked to do like release notes for every single product update. And then you ask, Well, what needs to be in the release? Now? We’re like everything, and you’re like, nobody’s gonna read it all in there. Because Because it’s like people need to know. And then you go look at the analytics. And it’s like, five people looked at this, and our team spent 100 hours on this is this ROI, right? This is I think it’s just about being intentional adding a strategy.

Dave Derington  38:38

Yeah, I think you’re right, how do you boil that down into something that’s, that’s usable, that people are going to consume, I have to give a shout out to some folks that I used to work with a gainsight. Because one of the things I really enjoyed was their release cycle. And one of the things that they did early on that I thought was amazing, around this whole, you know, like, what are all the changes, they actually held a had the product manager stand up. And like as customer education enablement, teams would actually help facilitate and co host. But we would have this meeting that we would share to everybody internal and external, like customers and partners, what all the changes were, and we made it fun, right. And that stuck with me, Adam, that, like one of the things I really hope that we as custom education folks, and, you know, SAS companies start to think about and this is my own bandwagon. So I’ll step on my box, and everybody knows is my own personal thing. But I do think this is where we could actually leverage social a little bit more, and do like, think about the lifestyle, education, the you can subscribe to a channel or subscribe to a feed and maybe this is where you just have a YouTube feed and quarterly or monthly, you’re gonna have a fun little thing. Maybe it’s a quiz show, maybe it’s some other way of, of engaging with your audience and getting them to like, reflect upon the cool changes that are happening. They’re gonna make their experience better. But have that happened over longer periods of time, because when I know when I see quarter release, I’m like, Oh my god, deer in the headlights, there’s so much right coming at me. And that’s almost too much. So,

Adam Avramescu  40:11

yeah, I think I think to your point to like, if this is important to the company, then you really should be working with Product Marketing and your social team. And if you have a community, there are many teams that should be involved in that process. It shouldn’t just be you customer education on islands like being expected to go document into the void, because yeah, it’s not going to be engaging, it’s not actually going to be human or speaking to the actual customers needs around the release, like you kind of have to have a little bit more empathy around that. So Dave, we’ve have talked about a really common content question today. And in the next episode, we will talk about another really common content question, which is about how you customize content when you have a product because this is the other this is the other part about SaaS products or software products is when they’re configurable? How do you address that from a customer education perspective? We’ll get that in the next episode. But I want to, I want to, I want to ask the question, let’s go back to our hypothesis, have we confirmed or denied when you are running a customer Education team? For a fast moving SAS product? You are effectively running a product team? What do you think?

Dave Derington  41:20

i? I really feel like we’ve confirmed that because so think about all the things we’ve talked about. You’re thinking about your release schedule, you’re talking with product all the time, it’s very much like we’re integrated. And we’re we’re delivering a product yourself.

Adam Avramescu  41:34

Yeah, I, I would agree. So it’s a paradigm shift. It’s a paradigm shift. It’s well, how you think about yourself as a customer Education team, and what model you use to think of yourself to argue for how you grow where you focus, etc, that that’s pretty fundamental. If you think of yourself as a service team, you’re going to do things that services teams, do. You think of yourself as a product team, you’re going to do things a product teams do if you think of yourself as a marketing team, it’s so on and so forth. Not one is right, customer education doesn’t fit into a box customer education is a different, it’s it’s customer education. It’s not any of those other things. However, there should be some guiding metaphor, ultimately, that you can use for inspiration and to help others in your business understand what you need and what you’re asking for it. Totally. So Dave, we’re back. We’re back from summer vacation we’re into. I think what you wrote is season three of our sea lab adventures.

Dave Derington  42:31

Yeah, I think we’re starting out our third year of really getting into it. And we haven’t really broken it out that way. But I like to think of it as we’re going into season three. And now we can we’ve had time to reflect You and I both took time off. And we and I don’t know about you, but I actually completely detached. So what are we like, want to think about the next set of speakers? What are your thoughts? What do you want to do for the audience?

Adam Avramescu  42:57

Well, I know a lot of people in our audience have asked, How can they get on the show. So we’ll make you like to be a guest on the show. submitted on the site, we have a contact form. Let us know who you are, what topic you’d like to speak about why you want to speak about it. Just give us give us some information about what you’re thinking. And, you know, we’re always open to interviewing different folks on the show and hearing different voices from around the customer education. community, especially if you are a practitioner, and you are doing the work day to day. Yes, we want to highlight your voice.

Dave Derington  43:33

Absolutely. Yeah, reach out to us. If you want to talk, you’re really passionate about a subject, particularly if it’s something we haven’t talked about before. We want you on the show. And also remember, it may take us a little while to get back to you. I know. I have looked at mailbag and gone. Oh geez, that’s been a month ago. We are working co host for this podcast. We like we work day jobs. We have families. So we’re just like you. And we’re doing this because we love to do it. So give us a little grace on that. But we will reach out to you.

Adam Avramescu  44:05

And speaking of submitting on that website, we do have a great podcast website at customer dot education. That’s the URL, you can type it into your browser and our site will come up. We’ve got shownotes we’ve got transcripts, we got other materials. So definitely check that out and use the contact form if you are interested in speaking on Twitter. I am at MSU

Dave Derington  44:28

and I’m at Dave Derington Special thanks to our friend Alan coda for our amazing theme music. And as like we always say this helps you out. You can help us out by subscribing an apple podcast, overcast Stitcher, Spotify, all the all the cat pod catchers that are out there. And leave us a positive review on I was just checking Apple podcasts and we’re still at a solid five. We’d like to add a few more folks to that but there’s quite a few reviews that really helped us out helps us to expose this podcast to other people and keep this thing going

Adam Avramescu  45:00

To our audience. Thanks for joining us. Go out and educate, experiment and find your people.

Dave Derington  45:08

Thanks everybody. Bye!

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