Adam Avramescu: [00:00:00] And Salesforce is now larger than Siebel at its peak ever was. 

Dave Derington: [00:00:03] So they have the eye of Mordor above San Francisco 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:06] They do have the eye of Mordor. Yeah. And they have Salesforce, Trailhead characters wandering the streets and

Oh 

Dave Derington: [00:00:12] my  

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:12] goodness

That’s 

Dave Derington: [00:00:14] fantastic.

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:18] Happy Fast food day, it’s November 16th, 2018. And welcome to episode seven of CELab, the customer education lab, where we explore how to build customer education programs, experiment with new approaches and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stopped growth dead in its tracks. I’m Adam,  from Checkr 

Dave Derington: [00:00:44] and I’m Dave Derington from Azuqua and welcome everybody.

today is a special episode. And what we’re going to do is Adam. You went to Skilljar connect 

Adam Avramescu: [00:00:55] fabulous yesterday, 

Dave Derington: [00:00:56] yesterday. And, we like to get into this mode of doing like a mini recap episode after we go out into the world and we talk to you and we engage with others. Because our job is finding the others here this time.

Adam, you’re gonna recap what happened at Skilljar connect. And that was their first user conference, which is really cool. since this was the first conference that they had, it was, it was smaller than they’d probably like to be next year. so you’re going to do a brain dump on us. tell us about Skilljar.

Skilljar is a customer training platform. I’d say arguably one of the most interesting and one of the best out there in the market, right? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:01:30] There are definitely a leader in the space. And it was really interesting that they brought together a group of customer training and customer education professionals.

In fact, they claimed, I don’t know if this is true, that it was the largest gathering of customer education professionals, ever up to this point. 

Dave Derington: [00:01:48] Wow. That’s a risk. As long as we don’t, we don’t have some, tragedy B follow us. That’s pretty phenomenal. So let’s get into this. so Adam, why don’t you go ahead and lead in and, why don’t we start off by talking about what the mission was of this, what went on and it was a two day, two day fair.

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:06] Was that it was a one day affair. 

Dave Derington: [00:02:07] Oh, one day. Oh, wow. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:09] Yeah, they had a customer advisory board on the first day, but the second day was the conference. It was a full day conference. Started off with a keynote and a few interesting panels. And then, did round tables later in the day. Fabulous. Yeah, I thought it was interesting because there really aren’t that many conferences out there devoted, purely to customer education.

Dave Derington: [00:02:31] And what I, it’d be, I have to ask you this again. This is, yeah, this is part of our whole mission here is to. Evangelize and define and share what we know and learn about customer education. So one, can you start off by again, repeating for our audience? why is this different?

What do we focus on in customer education? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:02:53] What we focus on in customer education is helping our customers, not necessarily internal employees. Sometimes partners, but definitely our customers, right? The admins, the end users, the program manager, is helping them become more successful in their accounts.

And when you think about the purpose of this conference, as opposed to something like DevLearn or ATD technologies, which are some of the bigger instructional design and learning conferences out there. Those are largely focused on inter internal learning on corporate learning, right on either HR or even sometimes you have sales enablement or other teams there.

And so if you’re a customer education person who goes to one of those conferences, you’re not necessarily finding your people, you’re picking up some broader instructional design best practices that you can bring back to your customer education world. But, there’s always something really refreshing about being with people who do what you do.

Dave Derington: [00:03:50] So with that in mind, what were the kind of folks over there who was there? What companies were there, were they talking about? Let’s get into details. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:03:57] Yeah, there were a ton of great companies there. just to name a few off my head, there’s a Zendesk map. Our Zuora Avalara. Looker Alfresco.

Conveo Zenefits, Autodesk Procor and of course Checkr. 

Dave Derington: [00:04:12] Wow. Wow. That’s a big list. It was the next group just had their conference, this week, I think. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:04:17] Yeah, I think, they weren’t able to send their full team to this conference because they were splitting duties, with theirs, but it was good to see a lot of the teams represented.

I think that, when you think about the portfolio of companies who were there, obviously it was Skilljar customers, and I hope that eventually they’ll do more like what Gainsight pulse does and let non-customers in as well, and just make it a space to talk about customer education.

But for being a user conference, it was great because the companies that are represented, there are a lot of really innovative and forward-thinking, mid-market and enterprise brands. these are the companies a lot of the time who are thinking about things a little differently, right? Most of them aren’t pivoting from these very traditional education services teams.

A lot of them are companies that started in the cloud. Different peer group, right? 

Dave Derington: [00:05:05] Yeah. And th those are our peeps, right? Those are the ones that we’re tasked with something different. Just like you said, no, we’re not extended enterprise. We’re not L&D we’re not this big corporate type training monolith.

we’re the folks that are out there. We have many hats and we’re trying to get content out where there is none. So that’s, that’ll be interesting to see what. what are the different kinds of things that you’re talking about in that? what, tell us more about these companies, this cohort of companies that are coming to this conference, as opposed to the other ones that you just mentioned, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:05:34] you can get into this in a moment too cool.

But, I think it reaffirmed for me the idea that there’s a category of customer education. That’s a little bit different from, education services, as it used to exist. Because I saw some trends here that were different than what I would have seen at other conferences. Most of the companies didn’t have formal certification programs.

most of them were proctoring. The ones that did have certification programs were more likely to be doing them as marketing or as industry plays. And most of the companies, this was very surprising. Weren’t charging for training. 

Dave Derington: [00:06:07] Interesting. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:08] It’s more common for younger or smaller companies, but I was actually surprised.

By the sheer number that weren’t just not doing education P and L’s, but actually just weren’t charging for training. 

Dave Derington: [00:06:18] We’re going to have to dive into this a little bit more. So with that in mind, I think you framed it up. So there’s a lot of, there’s a really good cohort of people that were there.

They were focusing more like what we have to deal with at Checkr with Zuke. formerly when I was at Gainsight, probably formerly when you were at, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:33] optimized, like 

Dave Derington: [00:06:34] optimized lamps. Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:36] So it’s I remember the name. 

Dave Derington: [00:06:37] You remember you worked there. Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:40] It was four and a half years.

Dave Derington: [00:06:43] let’s get to the next subject area. I think what you wanted to talk about first is some of the investors that have been, at the forefront of helping Skilljar, get up to speed. So tell me a little bit about. Your engagement with them. What they’re thinking about, how did this all play into the conference?

Adam Avramescu: [00:06:58] Yeah. So one of the big topics was, customer education as a discipline and as a category. So when they actually had the VCs there, they had two investors, Rajiv Batra, and Doug pepper. So there are two skills, jars and investors, and they were there to give the VC’s perspective on the customer education space.

Not necessarily just Skilljar as a product, but this whole. Cohort of companies who are starting to emerge in the customer education space. Gotcha. Doug, I believe was an investor in Marquetto and he actually ex the way he was thinking about it, the place the customer education is in right now is similar to how he saw.

Marketing automation in the early days of Marchetto where it used to be. That marketing teams didn’t have a lot of credibility in their organizations. They didn’t have a lot of say in decision-making and it’s because they didn’t have access to a lot of data. So a marketing team back then was going to trade shows and handing out pens and doing all sorts of, non-measurable activities, just creating 

Dave Derington: [00:07:57] awareness, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:07:58] slag billboards.

Yeah. and then all of a sudden, everything gets digitized and marketing teams had the opportunity to start quantifying what they did, and to start getting more disciplined and more data-driven. And they compared that to where customer education is starting to go. We’re moving out of the world of just running these gigantic week-long onsite trainings that don’t really get measured aside from a smile sheet.

And all that we’re measuring is, You know how happy people were or how many butts were in seats or how many trainings we delivered, how much 

Dave Derington: [00:08:28] to live off the training engagement 

Adam Avramescu: [00:08:31] revenue, like all of that is starting to change because the training business is no longer just about how much training you do and how much money you made off the training.

The training business is starting to become about how you’re able to activate customers. Are you activating them quicker? Are you helping them become more loyal and more retentive and grow with your organization? 

Dave Derington: [00:08:52] This is fascinating because I recall talking with some, our leadership about what the board is thinking, and these are all the bullet points of a board.

They say, they’re not even thinking about butts and seats and how much you’re making off of that is like, how much does your customer education function support our mission of product, finding customers. Engaging customers and helping them to 

Adam Avramescu: [00:09:14] adopt. Yeah. I used a new term as well that I’d never heard before.

they talked about replacement markets 

Dave Derington: [00:09:20] that is new. So I’ve not heard of this. So dive into that 

Adam Avramescu: [00:09:23] one, I’ve heard of it until yesterday either. But a replacement market is the idea that for any software category, there are going to be new players that come in to fill the void. When the people who used to be the innovators become the established companies.

So an example that they used was a, in the CRM space, Siebel used to be the CRM. And then Salesforce came along to disrupt what they were doing. part of what Salesforce did was they were in the cloud, right? So they were able to scale in a way that Siebel wasn’t. They were able to pick off a lot of the customers that Siebel might’ve had.

And Salesforce is now larger than Siebel at its peak ever was? 

Dave Derington: [00:10:01] No, they have the, I have more door over a San Francisco 

Adam Avramescu: [00:10:06] door. Yeah. And they have Salesforce, Trailhead characters wandering the streets. And, Oh 

Dave Derington: [00:10:10] my goodness. That’s always a lot of plastic though. you think about that kind of disruptive.

I like this concept of a replacement market that disruptive sound negative. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:10:19] Yeah. Yeah. and so the customer LMS is, are customer learning platforms that are out today. Are almost a replacement market for the old corporate LMS. Gotcha. Interesting. The way that Doug was talking about it is, he’s, I saw a gap.

He likes to invest along the customer life cycle or the customer journey. That’s how he put it. And he started by investing in a lot of sales and marketing tools to help bring in net new names and nurture those customers. and then he was starting to look at customer success tools. But even though they provided reporting and alerts and playbooks, they weren’t necessarily allowing companies to act and to take action on those reports and alerts.

unless you also had some sort of tool for customer education as well. So he saw those as very complimentary 

Dave Derington: [00:11:03] that’s good to know because that’s resonant with our pitch. That customer education is a pillar. Of customer success. It’s a part of the equation. And I think I would assert that a lot of folks don’t think that way, that customer success is customer success.

We don’t have this 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:17] bridge. you had the advantage also of working at Gainsight. You worked with one of these customer success tools, very intimately. And now we’re looking at it from the other side and looking at how does this tie into customer education plan? 

Dave Derington: [00:11:29] totally.

It’s a big deal. So what else did they talk about? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:32] one, one final gap or. One final topic was, Rajiv, the other investor. I think it was actually one of the earlier investors talked about how customer education is a tool for companies to be able to differentiate themselves and to differentiate with empathy.

Dave Derington: [00:11:48] Interesting. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:11:49] Yeah, because if you’re doing customer education, you’re able to do something that a lot of your competitors aren’t, and this is what we always would say at optimized as well. Is that customer education doesn’t just bring in training dollars, customer education. For us helps optimizers digital marketing professionals, experimenters do their jobs better.

It’s optimized. It was building a category too, right? It wasn’t an experimentation professional 10 years ago. So if we were to able to empathize with people who are doing something new in their jobs, show them that we know this space better than anyone else, but we’re not just going to tell you that we’re going to help you succeed in this space.

Then that’s actually better for our companies. and that’s the role that even the VC is really solid customer education was playing strategically. 

Dave Derington: [00:12:34] That’s really neat. and just to get a bill Cushard props, and I would just say Sarah Brown and Rob Castanedo as well, that helping cells motif that I think that’s what you’re talking about, That we are helping you. That’s not an extra cost to you. It’s implicit in the product you bought, or maybe you didn’t even buy it yet. You’re evaluating it and you’re trying it out. But we’re helping you to sell that product and helping sell a platform helps you do your job. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:00] Absolutely. I think that the whole service rocket crew was early to that message.

I love the idea of helping cells and I love the idea of customer education being a strategic differentiator for the business. And that actually tied really well to the keynote because Suzanne ferry from Matt BARR was talking about how her company was really able to use customer education. As a differentiator really early in the sales cycle.

Dave Derington: [00:13:24] That’s fabulous. And I recall I’ve talked to Suzanne myself in the past and she has got a really interesting take on this whole thing. So can you consolidate, like what she w what are the speaking points she had in her keynote? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:36] Yeah. And first of all, I loved spending time with her. I loved hearing from her because she’s super practical.

It’s going to tell it like it is, and, that’s. I think that’s our people to 

Dave Derington: [00:13:45] tell us, like it is sister 

Adam Avramescu: [00:13:48] that, she was unafraid to tell it, like it is the role of customer education in marketing. So she had built a program that unlike a lot of other education services teams, a lot of what she was putting out there was free.

And it was search optimized because she is responding to this customer expectation. as she called it the. The consumerization of learning or Netflix for learning. 

Dave Derington: [00:14:11] Ooh. Where, because it gives a new impression of Netflix and chill, but continue, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:14:18] I’m not going to touch that. customers now expect things to be free more often, especially in some industries.

they expect things to be bundled together and really easy to discover. even Netflix, even though Netflix itself, isn’t free, you pay a subscription for Netflix. Once you’re in, everything is readily available and it’s bundled together and you’re not doing multiple micro-transactions just to, You don’t, you’re not paying for each show.

Dave Derington: [00:14:43] Yeah. I want those movies. Oh, no. That’s nine 99 this week and yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:14:47] Yeah. and for her, a lot of it was also about making sure that things were really easily discoverable in organic search and, finding people based on the keywords where they’re trying to get help, not just map are, but for some of the, the keywords that were related to their industry and the technologies they worked with 

Dave Derington: [00:15:02] gets into the whole SEO, universe.

Adam Avramescu: [00:15:05] Totally. It’s all SEO and. Also thinking about learning as more of a career play than just a software adoption plate, the way she put it was learning equals earning. 

Dave Derington: [00:15:17] Oh, you mean for the customer, the learner? Yeah. For themselves, because they could go out and go, short story on the side.

I, when I was a Gainsight, I was approached by several individuals who I was absolutely blown away that they had gone through 20 some hours of technical training. They were not customers. And they left really high, really great comments back on our feedback forms and said, and I was able to interact with them and I’d say, why are you doing this?

You’re not accustomed. It wasn’t negative. It was like, we’re not currently one of our customers and what are you trying to accomplish? And they go. I want to learn everything about customer success and customer success operations. So I saw that your material is free. I’d really like to become, an employee of Gainsight or become a customer success manager blew my mind.

that’s resonant with the story that you were telling about how we are now at that. It’s like the YouTube generation. And I love myself into that now. I use it increasingly more and if it’s free, it’s out there. I can find it. Yes. I might not use it, but I know it’s there. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:16:15] Yeah.

YouTube, not just for millennials anymore. 

Dave Derington: [00:16:20] I’m obsessed. So 

Adam Avramescu: [00:16:21] it’s true. No, but it’s true, right? Because the information is available and, she was actually telling a story as well about. How, some decisions her company had made to gate some of that content once they did that, they actually started to lose some of the marketing value that making it free and open had provided them.

So other providers who maybe were doing it at lower quality, came in to fill that market need. Oh, wow. Yeah. not that you should, not that you shouldn’t get anything. There are some things that should be proprietary and some things that should have a cost associated with them. I think it’s important too, to have a model and a strategy, but part of that strategy can really involve things being free and open.

And so she actually outlined four different strategies that you can take back to your business. 

Dave Derington: [00:17:06] This is exceptional. Yeah. So Michelle was there, did they record it to share with anybody? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:10] I think, the slides are coming out, but, I don’t know who they’re gonna be. 

Dave Derington: [00:17:14] All right. Were you hearing it first from Adam?

Maybe we’ll encourage, Suzanne to get on a, an interview with us. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:19] That’d be really good. Definitely get on an interview with us. 

Dave Derington: [00:17:21] I’d love to talk to her again on that in 2019, 

Adam Avramescu: [00:17:23] right. Suzanne, if you’re listening. so here were her four models though, and hopefully she’ll come back and, and actually go through these in more depth, but super briefly, one is the revenue model, the more traditional let’s sell our ILT is we’re on a PNL.

we’re generating revenue from our trainings and we’re going to get as much margin from them as possible. Yeah. Number two is more of the land and expand strategy. So you’re discounting, you’re using training to close your deals. So there’s a value associated with it, but you’re not necessarily trying to get margin from that.

You’re trying to create the perception of value to close the deal. Totally. number three was what she called the influencer model. So where you’re going more for awareness and reach. You’re using Google analytics or whatever analytics platform you’re using to figure out who is going to your training, what they’re doing in there and how that’s ultimately influencing their loyalty to your brand.

Got it. and then there was the demand gen or SEO model where you’re really just going after net new names. so it’s the most free, the most open you’re really just trying to get that 

Dave Derington: [00:18:26] reach. This is cool. And part of me is going, I live in marketing and this is the first time I’ve been as in customer education person in the marketing function.

A lot of these things tap on what I am called to do every day. Although I’m still education and training. I’m squarely in the marketing thing that expands my reach. And I think this is a really good point for customer educators is that you can get easily locked into a services org and I’ve been one, and it was frustrating because I go, but I want to do this and I need to do this and I need to reach out.

And I couldn’t because I was in services. Yeah. So she’s promoting a model that kind of goes exp it goes 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:00] broad. We have to think of ourselves as broader than just services or just marketing, but. part of it is us being able to speak the language of our business and be consultants to our business on what model is best.

That is a lot of the times they were looking to us to make that decision or to help them make that decision. And if we can get that alignment, then we can pick a model or some combination of those models and stick to it. Instead of just doing a piece here, a piece there, which is sometimes the trap that we fall into.

Dave Derington: [00:19:30] All right. I think that’s great. That’s a great summary of Suzanne thing. We’re going to have to follow up with her and have her, come on the show. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:36] Definitely. She’s a rock star. 

Dave Derington: [00:19:37] She is a rock star and I really appreciate time. So she’s coached me a little bit and gave me tips and it was extremely helpful.

So with that, let’s pivot and talk about your panel because you did a, you hosted a panel or what were you 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:50] talking about? What you bet on a panel. 

Dave Derington: [00:19:51] Okay. Tell us a little about that. And what kind of, outcome did you have from that panel? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:19:54] Yes, so I, I didn’t host it and that’s a good thing because it was actually hosted by Maria Manning Chapman from TSIA right.

The technology services industry association. And she’s also an amazing person. She’s done a ton of research in this space. And so even though she was moderating the panel, she was also contributing a lot based on the experiences and the benchmarks and the data that she’d collected from organizations as well.

the subject of our panel was content effectiveness and how to make training stick. That’s always a topic that I love talking about. 

Dave Derington: [00:20:27] Yeah. that’s one of your reasons for being and doing a fantastic job at it. It’s really hard. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:20:32] It’s hard. It is hard. luckily I was also joined by some other great speakers from Avalara Procor and Komodo.

So we were talking about some of the big, common myths and misconceptions around content and especially how a lot of the times when a subject matter expert comes to us in our organization and says, we need a training on X. That people have this flawed assumption of how training content works or what training actually is because a lot of the time they think, Oh, let’s just get the subject matter expert to do a knowledge dump onto the customer.

And then they are in a state of having been trained and that’s 

Dave Derington: [00:21:12] that never works. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:21:12] It never works well. It works. If the learner is really motivated and if the learner understands how to parse all the stuff coming out of the subject matter experts, head. But one of the main things that we have to do in creating content is help remove the parts that are in essential, help figure out, how to make the content more palatable to someone who’s learning it for the first time and how to really repeat that information, in a way where it will actually stick because you don’t just learn something once and then you’ve learned it, 

Dave Derington: [00:21:43] right.

You have to go through repetition. You have to go through 

Adam Avramescu: [00:21:45] practice. Yep. Practice 

Dave Derington: [00:21:47] hands-on work. And it has to be in one of the things that I think we often lose in education is passion. Like for me, I recall when I was teaching at Webster university, one of the things my students liked the most is I got so excited about stuff because, I taught game design and web design, and these are things I know and love, particularly game design, and I could get up there and talk about it.

I’m excited about this and this is so cool. And yeah. That’s sometimes hard to do when you’re tired and you’re trying to slog through delivering some thing and you’re a technical person and you really don’t to educate. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:22:22] That’s where we live. Absolutely well, and even if you do like to educate. A lot of the times when you actually start taking what’s in your brain and turning it into training, you actually lose that passion.

You actually filter it out. Yeah. We didn’t talk about this on the panel. I actually wish we had. So if you were at that panel, this is what I wish we talked about. 

Dave Derington: [00:22:39] We talked about losing 

Adam Avramescu: [00:22:40] your passion, a lot of other good stuff. that training is both logical and emotional and good content is both logical and emotional.

And if you’re just working off, a script and an outline of topics, You’re also missing some of these more emotional things that help people learn and retain content. So for example, stories, analogies like these really embed in people’s consciousness and help them remember things in a way that just walking through a stream of content won’t necessarily accomplish.

Dave Derington: [00:23:10] I think we’ve been, we’ve discovered a topic that we’re going to have on an upcoming podcast. I really want to tap into this more because I think that emotional concepts. Like how it has said that you retain information a lot better when you care, when you’re interested and that taps into your emotion, the human side of us.

That would be a really good one to go way deep on. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:23:32] Yeah. Let’s okay. we’ll spend a good amount of time on that. Another topic that we talked about, we talked about more of these common myths, misconceptions and questions. One of the most common questions that people ask about content is.

How often do I update it? What’s the quality standard. So we got into that and one of the takeaways, I won’t talk about everything, but one of the big takeaways was that customers in general, we found are more tolerant of out-of-date content than we, as the instructional designer. Think 

Dave Derington: [00:24:01] that’s hard to palate, right?

Because you think, Oh, I’ve got to keep this up to date, but I think you’re right. I had a conversation with somebody about this. Just recently that we were talking about screenshots and an over abundance of visualization embedded in documentation is not necessarily a good thing. if you go to a Salesforce Trailhead, you’ll often see that it’s a lot more wordy than visual and that’s, that helps stave off some of that.

Did you guys talk about that? And in degree, like how you can make a resistant to. Common frequent changes we did. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:24:34] And again, gotta do a whole content episode, but, there are a couple of techniques that we talked about specifically. One was even if you are going to be more wordy than visual, make sure that those words aren’t then describing the UI.

So don’t talk 

Dave Derington: [00:24:48] about, that’s a good 

Adam Avramescu: [00:24:49] point. The red button at the top, right of the screen. try to avoid talking about positioning or color or things that you think are going to change. And then one of the other ways to be more resistant is you have to have a set of content that isn’t actually just focused on how to use your product, the stuff that’s about your product is probably going to change quickly if you’re a SaaS product.

that stuff’s great to do in text, maybe like really quick videos, things that are replaceable because that content is going to end of life really quickly. On the other hand, you’re going to have stuff that’s more industry-related or more skill related, those frameworks or more conceptual pieces.

Those are going to change less often, but you’re going to get a lot more use out of them. So you can usually put a little more production oomph into those. 

Dave Derington: [00:25:30] Totally. And maybe that means, so I know that at Gainsight, we were delivering customer success manager training, and this was more agnostic of platform, even though Gainsight does indeed produce, arguably the top notch, SaaS platform for customer success, they focused on thought leadership.

Adam Avramescu: [00:25:45] So when CSM university wasn’t about. Yeah. And was Gainsight. It was how to be a CSM. 

Dave Derington: [00:25:50] But then it implicitly, if you had exercises and stuff, okay. Let’s move over to the tool. Here’s the training for that? Here’s the material for that? Similar to what we like to do in the future with Azuqua, I’m worried about getting the details of how things work and what they do.

And then my next. Obvious step in education, as part of the educational continuum is to go back and say, okay, now we’re going to talk about the bigger pictures. What are you actually trying to accomplish? Let’s not talk about our product and again, it’s the hub helping sells motif. I’ll give Dan Kogan credit for coming up with a title.

This is, a minute here. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:26:25] do 

Dave Derington: [00:26:27] automation Academy or automation university, like the premise of how do you do, how do you conceptualize the things that you need to do from talk from taking data from one point to another point processing and doing that’s agnostic of platform, there are things you need to think about.

So we’re talking about that next phase of. I’m training you who may not be skilled in as an engineer would be to develop this work process, this workflow, I’m teaching you the fundamentals of thinking through these processes of digital automation and digital transforming. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:26:57] Yeah. And that content is going to last you a lot longer than here’s how to do X, Y, and Z in our product.

Exactly. So another big topic was microlearning. Ooh. A lot about micro-learning right. 

Dave Derington: [00:27:08] I’m 

Adam Avramescu: [00:27:08] rubbing my hands together. I know. so the question that we were asked was does the trend towards microlearning conflict with traditional education practices and methodology? Jeez, 

Dave Derington: [00:27:19] the answer is 

Adam Avramescu: [00:27:20] I disagree with the question.

Dave Derington: [00:27:24] That’s why I love working with you, Adam. I think what should be the question? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:27:28] so here’s what I think it’s, Here’s why I think the question is a little weird because we think of microlearning as being this new, innovative thing and actually think that microlearning is well, first of all, it’s ill-defined what is micro-learning?

how long does learning have to be microloan? 

Dave Derington: [00:27:45] let me take a stab at it. I liked that. And actually that was my first challenge by my team here at Azuqua. And they came in we really think you should try to keep it small, learning and I go, okay, I’m game. I’ll try. and actually I believe in one aspect of that, is that when you think towards the micro, you think towards how do I atomize.

Not 80 am, but ATO M 

Adam Avramescu: [00:28:03] only I can. 

Dave Derington: [00:28:04] They’re going to brand it atomizing. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:28:06] I’m not gonna take that for something. 

Dave Derington: [00:28:08] Yeah. we’ve got ad hoc  so you’ve got a vocabulary lesson. no, I’m thinking more of it’s really good to think about micro training in the essence, in the spirit of how can I make sure to reduce all the.

The crap, the junk, the things that are irrelevant and how do I get to what actually matters concisely. And I tend to think of micro training as well. This piece of content may be part of a bigger, maybe a subset of a bigger piece. Maybe I record it all at once and I break it up. but I think in and of itself, My, the micro is great for Hey, I’m going to teach you about this one thing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I’m done. But trying to Colgate, like how do I articulate a pathway of learning that takes this piece and this piece and this piece and this piece, sometimes you got to go bigger and you have to build an arc. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:28:55] I even think the way that you’re talking about it right now, conceptually, that makes a ton of sense.

If you can break things more down into individual learning objectives, individual tasks to be done, individual skills to be built. Then I do think that it’s more effective to be able to componentize those, to be able to take them apart, put them back together and maybe those form a larger course. but even in doing that, I still don’t think we got to the heart of what you just called micro learning might be macro learning to another company.

Dave Derington: [00:29:24] Oh, really? 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:24] Okay. Like we don’t have a set definition of exactly what is micro and what is macro, because think of it this way for companies that just did. ILT courses that were weeks long, maybe an hour long training to them is micro-learning. 

Dave Derington: [00:29:39] I can see 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:39] that. That makes sense. If you started with our training and now you’ve moved to a 10 minute courses, maybe that’s micro.

So 

Dave Derington: [00:29:47] it changes perspective based on who you are 

Adam Avramescu: [00:29:51] and what you’re doing and what you’re delivering and what you’re teaching. But I think that it doesn’t conflict with traditional instructional design practices, because what an instructional designer does and. I’m going to give credit to Julie Dirksen for this.

She wrote design for how people learn. And she’s one of my favorite voices on instructional design. I’ve heard her say that the main thing an instructional designer does is manage cognitive load. 

Dave Derington: [00:30:16] Wow, that’s cool. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:30:19] If you could take these big complex concepts and break them up into pieces that actually help people drive behavior and build new skills, then you’re doing your job.

That’s a traditional. instructional design methodology and practice. And what does quote unquote microlearning do, it’s an attempt to help move towards that, right? So it’s 

Dave Derington: [00:30:37] a in effect doing instructional design as it was dictated that we do it. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:30:42] I think the fact that we moved from these really long courses to a more modular experience is less a factor of any super of trendy, new instructional design practice.

It’s more of a factor of technology and communication, because now we have the ability to talk to people in shorter periods of time. People have the ability to get information in shorter periods. It’s not like millennials have goldfish attention spans it’s we have new ways to talk to people in shorter bursts, 

Dave Derington: [00:31:12] right?

Like the YouTube effect, like what I really love now. And. And I’ve adopted this and implement this. So I don’t like generational gaps. I don’t believe in them. I don’t. I think that there might be trends and nuances, but everybody I’ve worked for worked with who’s a millennial great worth that work ethic crush it’s been great.

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:29] Yeah. And they do love avocado toast. 

Dave Derington: [00:31:32] I love avocado toast. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:31:34] I’m a millennial. I love avocados. 

Dave Derington: [00:31:36] Just damn good thing. But, but the thing is that, so talk about YouTube. I have found myself. Completely embracing YouTube now, particularly I’m a builder. I like to build, computers. I am a hacker I like to try new things and that’s part of my job for me.

I have to go out and explore an API and understand how it works and to be able to give somebody training on it or to do interesting things with that to show people off the power of Azuqua. So I’m constantly finding myself drawn to YouTube for these little. Often they’re very short videos. Somebody is trying to do such and such a thing.

They do it, they show it and they tell it’s done. Oh my gosh. Now I might take that and do something bigger with it. So the, in that essence and that spirit of, I would tend to define a micro training as something where it’s consolidated. It’s really tight. It makes sense may be fun, but it gets me one kernel of learning and then I’m off.

Adam Avramescu: [00:32:29] it makes total sense. you came there for a reason. And now you’re going to get off and be on your way and do your thing. 

Dave Derington: [00:32:36] Yep. And I can do it right then and there. And I know it going forward. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:32:38] It’s sticky, which is one of the other debates that we were having is does completion rate matter?

Ooh, should we be measuring completion on our content? And, people are of a couple minds of that. I actually don’t have a super strong point of view on this yet. if you follow that hypothesis, you follow that line of thinking that I came in to learn something. it shouldn’t really matter if I completed the course or the series of courses.

It should probably matter more if we can measure whether they actually then went and took action based on the thing that they learned. 

Dave Derington: [00:33:07] And that’s more like a, another podcast we’re going to be doing here, where we’re going to talk about all the data. what do I know about you did me right now?

I’ve shifted away from completion rates completely. And I’ve. Atomized, I broken up my training into little tiny pieces that are particular that are specific to certain topics in my expectation for you. If you’re listening and you’re a learner of. Let’s Sue CWA is that you’re going to get in, get what you need, get out.

If you want to get a certification. Brilliant. I want you to do that and I’ll give you the tooling to be able to accomplish that. But I don’t care. I want, I care about I’m empathetic to you in getting what you need and getting on with your day. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:33:45] Yeah, we actually, and we just talked about that in episode six.

I’m winking because we. A little production magic for our listeners. We’re recording this one first, cause we’re sitting in a room. speaking of certification, that was the last topic that came up. And, we had Colleen Lai who is one of the education leaders at Procor, construction management software.

And she was actually talking about how they’d generated tens of thousands of certifications, goodness, from their certification program. So we were asking, what’s the role of certification in a modern content program. are certifications still necessary? Are they still relevant 

Dave Derington: [00:34:20] thing?

Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:34:21] Yeah. And at least for them, if you go over to their site, I think it’s pro Corp com slash certification. they actually have different role-based certifications and I believe that they are free certifications. Oh, yeah, they are. I’m looking at their site right now. They’re free certifications.

They’re based on all the different roles involved in their software. And they’re actually using that as a way to really engage customers, give them a learning experience. and they’re not necessarily putting a price on it, but it’s increasing customer engagement and awareness. 

Dave Derington: [00:34:50] That’s fabulous. And I love that too, because I found, I think it’s neat to get a badge or assert or something in for me.

I hate taking tests. and I particularly hate proctored exams and sometimes I’ve been called on to delivered them. But I think that puts a lot of stress. Like I remember a friend of mine that said they take, took the PMP. And the first thing they did after taking the PMP exam is cry. Not because they were sad because it was such a hard thing.

It’s such a big milestone and that they just literally collapsed after that. I don’t want to make my customers that are learning our product. Cry. I want them to get something of value and to be able to build incrementally towards it. It’s like video games do where over time you’re building, you’re gaining achievements, you’re completing quests, but you feel like that’s attainable and you, and it’s, and I’m more of a fan of performance.

So I like to measure that. Did did this person, let’s say Jane went into my product. She needed to learn how to use a table in Azuqua. she watched the module in five minutes, five to 10 minutes. They’re done. And now I can see that Jane created two tables and is increasing adoption of the product.

That’s just basically product telemetry. And that I can correlate that to the fact that I saw that she had the table module and boom, that’s validating my existence, but making her get her job done very. Expedia expeditiously. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:36:06] I love telemetry sounds so fancy. but you’re right. Good thing. We just recorded an episode on how to hook up all your systems and automate them as well.

Okay. So let’s do a few takeaways just from this conference. so w one, one of my main takeaways was customer education is growing as a discipline. The fact that we’re able to come together as a group of customer educators, and not even just. Training services, but really customer education professionals was really phenomenal to me.

and I do see it coming from two places. There are companies that are building net, new customer education functions, within customer success or customer marketing. And then there are these existing companies who are pivoting from education and services, but it really is I think, a different cohort.

And that was really like, it’s skill, jar connect. And I do feel like people were connecting and that was really a really nice feeling. another one that I took away was companies really are moving to this mix of free and paid for the education services, like pure revenue model, thinking about Susanne’s presentation, cost recovery in P&L isn’t the main goal for most of them.

Dave Derington: [00:37:13] That’s a big shift. So that’s a cool takeaway. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:37:15] It’s a big shift and I think it is largely aligned to the reality of SaaS products is that you don’t just sell the product once, sell training services as an add-on and then your revenue is protected until you go for whiskey and golf with the decisionmaker two years  later 

Dave Derington: [00:37:31] when everybody’s happy.

Yeah. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:37:33] You’re constantly renewing. You constantly have to drive adoption. And that means that training, onboarding all the things the customer education does. Are becoming more critical, not less, technology and integrations, data availability, being really having all these systems to be able to talk to each other is becoming more important than ever.

So it’s really nice to see customer education professionals taking more of a technology approach to what they are indeed. Yeah. And, overall just really great to see people connecting and that there is a community of customer education. That’s materializing. 

Dave Derington: [00:38:03] it sounds like you had a fun time, a solid session.

you did a lot of stuff there and learn a lot of things. And this was our people. I think he found them. So I’d love to be able participate in the next one. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:38:14] All right. Skilljar. If you’re listening, invite Dave  to use this podcast as a forum to get into conferences now. 

Dave Derington: [00:38:21] Totally. And I could walk there too.

All right. So I think you’ve done a great summary Adam, on this and, Let’s let’s go ahead and wrap this up again. You want to learn more? You have questions. Reach out to us. We have a website now it’s HTTP. S :// customer.education. Yes. That’s a little weird, but we love it. we grabbed it.

We’re all about customer education here at customer education labs. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:38:46] That’s HTTPS. It’s a secure website. 

Dave Derington: [00:38:49] Yeah. But you can go to HTTP and we’ll be fine. Or you could just type in customer.education. It’d be fine. 

Adam Avramescu: [00:38:53] I was trying to make it like a selling point type in whatever you want. You’ll find 

Dave Derington: [00:38:57] that find us.

Hopefully we do the SEO, you’ll be able to find show notes. You’ll be able to find a blog entry is, and come hang out with us. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. again on Twitter, I’m @davederington 

Adam Avramescu: [00:39:09] and I’m at  

Dave Derington: [00:39:11] and to our audience. Thanks for joining us. Go out there and educate experiment.

Adam Avramescu: [00:39:17] Thanks for listening.

Hey Adam, here, if you’re enjoying our show or finding value from it to ask you for a quick favor, not here to ask for your dollars, but it would really help out if you subscribed in your pod catcher of choice and went to iTunes or Spotify and left us a positive review. Leaving us a review is the most powerful thing you can do to help expose this show to new listeners.

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