Adam Avramescu 00:31
Well, welcome to CELab the customer education lab where we take customer education myths and misconceptions and chop them up with a chainsaw how gruesome I’m Adam ever rescue and I am super excited to be here today with Phil Byrne who leads customer education at intercom Hi, Phil.
Phil Byrne 00:53
Hey, Adam, how’s it going?
Adam Avramescu 00:55
It’s going well, I hope we can recover from that violent intro but not before. We acknowledge that today is what Dave,
Phil Byrne 01:04
There’s my favorite bit of the plug in his day shark awareness day. However, there’s many levels of awareness of a shock. Like, right I know of sharks, then there’s like the shark funnel. I know of sharks, I am aware of an oncoming shark. Oh, the shark? And then yeah, like,
Adam Avramescu 01:23
Am I aware globally that sharks exist? Or am I aware that a shark is around me?
Phil Byrne 01:27
Yeah. That’s like to woke in the world of sharks. Like the shark?
Adam Avramescu 01:33
I thought you were gonna go like, am I interested in the shark? Have I made a decision about what to do with the shark?
Phil Byrne 01:38
Yeah, in the shark. That’s the shark. Kind of like purchase funnel, I’m more downstream. So the betta shark adoption fool. So I’d be talking about intends to the shark have intends to eat meat. But first of all awareness, then intent. And then maybe there’s a paywall of some sort some sort of a taste wall, and then the shark has started to activate is engaged, and there’s deep consumption of me, and success and high likelihood to retain.
Adam Avramescu 02:04
Well, thanks, everyone. That’s our show. If you’ve gotten value out of this, you can fight now I’m kidding.
Phil Byrne 02:08
We’re gonna need a bigger funnel.
Adam Avramescu 02:11
Oh, my God. All right. All right, back on track. So Phil, I’m really excited to have you here today. Because you and I have a lot of really good conversations about customer education. And often they cover many topics under one broad theme and actually think that’s sort of the path we’ll take today as well. Because like, for our audience, we do this from time to time where we just have customer education leaders talking customer education, leadership. But what Phil and I were talking about before we decided to record this episode was really around the idea of how you get into customer education, and how you get into a customer education, leadership role, and how some of the skills and focus areas that you are really, I’m trying not to say that we’re focused again, but that you focus on change as time goes on. And so we want to orient this conversation ultimately, around the idea of how you measure your effectiveness in terms of your customer education program. But I really enjoyed hearing the story of how that evolved for you over time, and how, in some ways, you pivoted your own career into thinking about these things, but also the way that you tested and experimented with in your own programs to get to the view that you have today.
Phil Byrne 03:31
Cool. Yeah, look, I could talk all day. But I’ll try and keep it as succinct as possible at that, that kind of thing. And for me, the journey has been really interesting, because I only realized the further I went into it, why I enjoyed that journey so much, and why something I previously thought like data and you know, revenue based metrics. I thought they were scary. And this unexcited me was about finding the connection and the creativity in them that really lit them up for me and really made them made sense to me and turn them into something that I could help motivate a team about and create connections between our team on key teams within our business to have more impact for intercom and our customers.
Adam Avramescu 04:17
Yeah, so like you said the word creative which is a like a spark for me because you are a creative Phil, right? You came from the world of music production and video like, I would love to understand just first of all, let’s talk about getting into this crazy world of SAS and customer education in the first place. Can you tell us how you got into it?
Phil Byrne 04:37
Yeah, sure. It was a an interesting path. Alright. I’ve never would have saw myself here. So like I said, I always dabbled in music production. It was always a really interesting fun hobby. I used to DJ and produce dance music or EDM for our American listeners. And that was always a great fun thing to do, but it was never the day job. Let’s say go back about my early 20s I was a A manager of a support team in a live chat center for an online gaming company and had the on enviable, but actually quite interesting it looking back on a task of shutting down that office and helping it move to Costa Rica. And that was where I first dabbled in producing educational content. But I didn’t really know it, I was charged with moving that job over there and creating some content to enable the teams who are effectively going to be doing our jobs and creating video content for them. And definitely found it interesting, but never really thought this is something I’d love to do, obviously, a little bit of a weirdness around that whole time, I would have thought it was interesting and great to be able to try and explain a complex topic or process clearly to someone through the medium of video. It was the first time I’ve done that. And it was super interesting. However, a couple of weeks later, offices being shut down, got a redundancy payment, that was nice. I decided right now is the time to dabble no more in music production actually take it on as a serious job and to try and pay my way with this did that for about seven or eight years. And that was like super interesting. And I think a lot of people don’t get that chance to go and follow their dreams in that way and did some awesome stuff played all around the world and eventually started making music for TV and media. But then I realized, probably a little too late that I was spending half my time going out and chasing work as a self employed person. It’s super important. I probably about a third of my time trying to get paid from the people I don’t work for and very little of my time actually doing the thing I looked at, like
Adam Avramescu 06:37
you ended up becoming your own like salesperson and your own accountant instead of actually just like doing the work
Phil Byrne 06:41
exactly. And the escapism you got from that is no longer escapism, because there’s a lot of pressure on you trying to feed your family and pay for your mortgage with this kind of thing. So took a lot of the joy out of that. And I realized that I wanted to go back and I wanted to get the joy from that, as escapism like I used to, and start paying the way with a job which I got to flex some creativity in but wasn’t music production. So at the time, my brother worked for intercom still does. And he made me aware of a role that was open with the product education team, creating educational videos. And over the last two or three years, I began to teach music production with online music colleges and in person. And that was where I suppose I hadn’t ever been aware of it. But the joy that I got from teaching people, and that aha moment you get either online or in person with someone when they finally click and see I could do this, this is cool, I get this now. And you can see them envisioning their future being better because of something you’ve just told them. And that’s really powerful. And it’s something I got a lot from. And that was the first time I really thought that this was something I would like to do. I never stupidly made the connection between this job opening and being able to do that. And it took two or three days before I got back to my brother and said, Actually, I’d like to do this because I’ve been trying to think of friends of mine who would like to do this.
Adam Avramescu 08:02
I know a person Yeah. And he is me.
Phil Byrne 08:05
Exactly. Who knows me know thyself. We had an existentialist chat before this. So I may call back to that. And if you don’t afford context, apologies, we’ll do another podcast on that. But yeah, it was really fun. And a great way for me to realize some of these things that I’ve done. Over the past, you know, 10 years or so, we’re kind of adding up to this role that I never even knew existed. I never even really knew of SAS as an industry. And it was super interesting, I dive really deep into the whole space, when I started making these educational videos for intercom. And it was much simpler product at the time. And my boss, were you still still my boss on the customer engagement team was giving me make a video at this. Our next two weeks, I’m just picking up pieces of the product that hadn’t got educational content around them. So that was super interesting for the first couple of weeks, or first couple months just making these videos and knowing more about the product, making great relationships in intercom as well. And if you know intercom, it’s a real product first company and they really, really do a great job of bringing you along for the ride and getting you to understand product methodologies and frameworks and the jobs to be done method of where product meets marketing as well. So that really lit a fire in me I really wants to know was this stuff that I was making videos about actually working to get customers to do the thing we were trying to get them to do to enable the change that they wanted to make for their business. I
Adam Avramescu 09:33
felt like what made you start asking those questions because you know, you come in and you’re you know how to do a video you’re good at video, you could like keep doing videos forever. But at some point you clearly started to ask that question of yourself. Like what if I didn’t do video right? Like yeah, or is this actually working?
Phil Byrne 09:48
That’s the thing videos as you know, they’re inexpensive medium, time wise, and I suppose money wise by that rationale. And if they’re working, that’s cool. If the return on investment is there, that’s amazing, but I really wanted to know, where are they working because I was cranking them out. And they’re taking a lot of time and just really wanted to run some light experimentation. And obviously, intercom was much smaller, we were sitting right beside where the engineers were as well. So it was easy for us to have custom data points that we made to send out messages to customers to say, you know, in our case, he installed the intercom messenger or invite a teammate or forward your emails to intercom, deliver that content to them with a video on how to do it. And then subsequently, two weeks after receiving the content, measure and see has that data point change? Have they gone uninstalled the messenger or forwarded emails or invited a teammate. And as soon as they started digging into data that again, was a bit of an aha moment for me and being able to get that creative stimulation, which is super important for me from data and experimentation, because it was just like doing puzzles and like playing a game with data and behavior was super interesting. I was amazed at how intimate I got and still am.
Adam Avramescu 11:03
Well, it’s it I think, like a lot of us in customer education, like we’re paradoxically we become very data informed over time. But it’s actually I think, coming in a large part from that same desire to be creative, and to experiment and try things out as we do even content. Yeah, so sometimes people think, oh, like, Oh, if you experiment, you’re a numbers person. And you’re you’re focused on the science and not the art, but they’re actually they’re far more related than I think people give them credit for, oh, totally
Phil Byrne 11:28
like, and, again, from music production, music is just maths, like it’s all about the relation of things to each other. And you know, things will stamp out if they don’t gel well, like, mathematically,
Adam Avramescu 11:38
for over three polyrhythms. And
Phil Byrne 11:40
exactly that syncopation between, if you put it down on paper, you can see it looks beautiful. And that’s where that connection is, it’s in the same thing with running experiments, like the numbers, there’s an art to it. And there’s definite scope for creativity there. And that’s what I love. And that’s what keeps me going with that kind
Adam Avramescu 11:54
of thing. So like, what type of experiments were you running then?
Phil Byrne 11:57
So like that, I’ll get into one of the bigger experiments in a little while, which was, we did a couple years ago, which was terrifying. But we started quite small with, Okay, let’s see if we AB test this video. If we have a shorter edit, are people more likely to do it than a longer edit? And then it became okay, shorter that it worked. And then you’re thinking media agnostic, like, Okay, what if I just had a couple of lines of copy, instead of that shorter video, because if I could get away with that, in more places, we could do things a lot quicker. And over the course of months and years, you get better informed for what customers have, what stages or lifecycle what what kind of role, what what kind of behavior you’re trying to effect, will be able to do so with the least amount of friction, if it’s a couple of lines of copy. Amazing, you don’t need to get them to watch a 62nd or two minute video, if it’s a little bit in between, if it’s a duck, even better, you know, that’s cool, you can get more into that. And you still don’t need to sink a week into it, like we might do for a video.
Adam Avramescu 12:56
So in some ways, it was sort of like a lot of customer education, professional struggle. And in fact, I just I read a report recently that that pointed to this to get really beyond that Kirkpatrick level one and two, like we can all run our learner surveys, we can all run post tests. But then there’s a pretty big drop off after that with people who can actually measure whether there’s any sort of behavioral change as a result of that, that training. So what’s really interesting to me is you actually found a way into measuring that next level of training effectiveness, but you weren’t doing it as this like post hoc measurement activity, you are actually using it to figure out what the best form of training to drive that behavior would be.
Phil Byrne 13:36
Yeah. And when the best time to deliver that training as well, like, yeah, we rebooted our onboarding flow a couple of years ago was myself and Kate, who used to be on the customer education team, who’s now an advocacy team. Katie, we broke it, like we had your messages that were a little too late in the lifecycle, we saw activation tagging. And it was great to be able to just like move things around. And it’s not just what it’s who you deliver to, it’s when you’re delivered as well, there’s so many different components that when you’re in that experimentation mindset, and you’ve got enough throughput to get a signal from things, you can really, really drive a lot of change for the better by tweaking all these different levers. And that helps you be better informed, going forward about where you’re going to spend that effort, especially if you need to think nimbly, and get a lot done in a short amount of time. Having that experimentation and the results of those experiments behind you makes you much better informed for where to spend that effort in future. I don’t take credit for much of this at all, like we are really lucky in intercom to be sitting so close to our product team. And we’re using the product that we’re trying to teach people about, we’re delivering this content with intercom, which is an amazing platform to be able to use that kind of custom data, like unique to your business to deliver those content types and then measure that change as well. So I never take for granted that we’re in a really unique place to actually have a really short cycle on this kind of thing to experiment and improve things.
Adam Avramescu 15:01
You’re in an interesting place organizationally, in the sense that you report into marketing, you’ve always been very close to your product team. And did you report into product at one point?
Phil Byrne 15:10
No, it was a blurry line. And we flip flopped about it. And I always revisit that question every year, like, are we in the right place? Do we have the right inputs into us. But we’ve always been in the marketing team. But when I joined, the marketing was led by products is now why Dez, who built the company is one of the founders and as a great product mindset. So we’ve always had those product triggers and frameworks to base on our content of and I love being in marketing, I love that that closest we have the product. And we’re also kind of, I suppose we four different vectors that we kind of move along. And that would be product marketing support, and we’ve got our sales team and solutions team as well. And all of our content will have different dials on all that for all those orgs. And wherever you are in the customer lifecycle, whoever you’re talking to you and wherever you’re trying to get them to be able to do means you just dial up or down. And that’s something that being where we are means we are able to do that much more nimbly. And some of this came from when I started as well, we were small, we were setting the super small customers who were on a two week trial and renewing with us on a monthly basis monthly subscriptions means that you should always be in that marketing mindset. And always be able to move on that scale of how to do a thing, but also why to do the thing and positively reinforcing this decision to do this in the future. And I don’t think you should ever get that mindset, it doesn’t matter. If you’re on you know, annual contracts or biannual contracts, someone should always feel like they’ve made the right choice. And they should always feel excited to use your product, especially if you’re trying to expand their usage or get them to use a new product, it’s important to be able to flex those muscles as well. Because that educational content, like any kind of teaching moment that you’d have with a person, they’ll feed off your energy and your confidence in what you’re trying to get them to do. And if you honestly believe in it, and you honestly are able to convince them that this is the right way to do this effect, that change you want for your business, those barriers come down, and they’re much more likely to ingest that content or even if they’re not the right person, find the right person to share this with. So that’s something again, I don’t take for granted because it’s easy to do where we are because we’re in marketing, or close to sales, and we are close to product or we’re making that product. A lot of times we’re involved right from the start are those products being made as well. So we’re in such a unique spot, and I never take it for granted.
Adam Avramescu 17:40
Yeah, you’re in a really interesting spot did not just in relation to other customer education teams, which often sit neither in marketing nor in product, but don’t always have like, like, I think the best customer education teams always have a very, very cross functional approach. And the fact that I look at kind of like two intricacies with with your team, one being that your leader Rory was hired very early, I think what you were saying where he was saying, yes, hired him as one of the very first hires, like the
Phil Byrne 18:11
12th hire or something like that. So that shows a lot of faith, from intercom in the importance of education. And
Adam Avramescu 18:17
yeah, and like to actually like, you know, originally produce video and content and things like that, that would just explain how to bring this product to life. And then then secondarily, the fact that you’ve always been at this intersection of different teams, and especially having such I think like a cascade between where you sit in marketing and then working so closely with product, which are typically the two teams in an organization that can experiment, the most like, have embraced experimentation as a decision making tool, and yet to also then work with sales and support who work with large volumes of data as well, which actually makes them ripe for experimentation. So it’s like, I’d be interested to hear that you mentioned there were some like really big experiments that you you piloted, like, tell me about some of the big ones.
Phil Byrne 19:04
Yeah, yeah, super interesting. So I got a call back to another ex teammate, Jack Jenkins, who we run this experiment with, he used to run our Help Center. And this is always an experiment I’d wanted to do. And I chatted to worry about it, and to Jack about it before we began. And we this is one of the ones we had to get permission for because it was so drastic. And I also just before we were hitting going, absolutely had some second gas moments, where what am I actually doing here, this is suicide. I just wanted to try an A B test. Or, as a team I like is the content we make effective and actually doing what it’s supposed to do overall, not just the small little iterative experiments. So we have I don’t know if you’ve ever used intercom, some embedded links at the top of every single URL. And when you’re down creating pieces of content in intercom, we have embedded links like that’s that closest with the product team and the fact that we’ve proved ourselves time and time again over launches with individual teams. We’ve got that live Since I work closely with them and make sure that we can solve problems for customers during the actual uses of the product itself, so it’s great where we can actually create the right pieces of content to be delivered in the right place. However, on a zoomed out level, I just wanted to test right. And I should give a little bit of context at the time, we were talking a lot about proactive support and what it means have like proactive and self support versus human support, because like intercom obviously believes quite big in enabling customers to self serve themselves that they can be
Adam Avramescu 20:32
part of what your product is, right? So you’re you’re really creating these like in product support experiences.
Phil Byrne 20:38
Yeah, absolutely. And for ourselves, that’s to drive AI for everyone, to be honest, I think at the nub of it is to drive product adoption, because if people aren’t adopting your product and staying healthy with it, they will die. It doesn’t matter how good the service is,
Adam Avramescu 20:51
like if a shark stops swimming. Oh,
Phil Byrne 20:54
my God. Exactly. Keep those eyes open. For the next episode. Didn’t that the intro music did?
Adam Avramescu 21:02
So we’re gonna have to have you commission, one of your tracks. Music Production days, maybe as the intro of this episode.
Phil Byrne 21:07
Absolutely. You can afford me? I know. So yes, we were talking a lot about product or support. We’re talking about how proactive support don’t right? And meeting customers where they’re at with the right kind of content should be it should reduce the amount of conversations that you will make your support team. So we’re like, okay, that’s fine. This is what we do actually doing that and driving those support calls then. So we got permission to ruin and AB test over a slice of all new customers who started in intercom over about a six week period. And that’s where I had the wobble is like, Oh, what if we find out that our content is terrible? And and actually people who engage with it overall compared to people who don’t, are less likely to do the things we want them to do? So?
Adam Avramescu 21:51
Yeah. Or like, what if the whole back group has the exact same experience not getting your content as like the people who
Phil Byrne 21:56
Yeah, what do you do? That’s it, you don’t, but we run it anyway. And we refresh the dashboard every 10 minutes, as is customary when you’re running a big experiment. So after about six weeks, we found out that the test group who did not have any of these links delivered to them in in these parts of the product, were less likely to create a conversation with support. So that was really, really surprising, we had assumed which is always bad. If you get this help content presented to you, you will be less likely to start a conversation with support because you’ll know all the things. However, we saw that if you didn’t see any health content had no option to go and click on that health content, you are less likely to go and start a conversation with support. However, when we dug deeper into the numbers, we saw that although these people did get the help content presented to them, when the help content is things like articles, videos, links to Academy courses, Product Tours, that kind of thing. People who saw these and engage with them were more likely to start conversations with support. So that’s the thing that surprises and was bad. And we thought we didn’t want. But when we dug down and looked at the type of support conversations these folks were having, they were different conversations than the test group. So the test group was having fewer conversations, but there are simpler, low hanging fruit FAQ style questions, tire kicking kind of questions, which is okay, if
Adam Avramescu 23:22
they would have gotten if they had actually gotten some education.
Phil Byrne 23:26
They hadn’t yet visited an FAQ or engaged with the bot, that kind of thing. So if that’s okay, it is what it is. But folks who were seeing the help content engaging with the help content, were asking different, more complex questions about the product that they are trying to use themselves. So what was happening was the educational content, which is all being created in conjunction with our product teams in order to drive activation of these products, because people are aware they’re on those URLs. They’re seeing the content, they’re engaging, they’ve got intent. They’re moving down to being active and engaged users. It’s all all based around those kind of adoption funnels. They were getting momentum to carry down through the experience, try out the product, and the questions that they were asking the support team, were really good questions on that activation journey, which, technically bad if you’re managing a support team, these are stickier question, you’re getting more complex questions that you probably need a lot more humans to deal with. So at the bases level, I like to call back something they said earlier, if you think about the job, the support team isn’t just to answer questions are to reduce the cost of support. It’s to drive product adoption and increase engagement and retention over time. So it was a great opportunity to show that we see there’s more alignment in what we do. And a lot of people think as well. And those folks who did start to stick your conversations and engage with the hell content turned out to be a little over twice as likely to activate with those products, which is huge when you think about that amount of leverage at that part of the customer lifecycle for all new business that’s coming through your product. So it was Huge. Yeah, although the initial signals were confusing, and not what we expected, it turned out to be really, really inspiring stuff and showed us that we were doing things well doing it right. And it’s given us a lot of license to kind of carry forward to find how we do product adoption attorney lock in that seat that we already kind of had the product table and show that we were driving, activation and retention and engagement. Yeah, super important.
Dave Derington 25:26
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Adam Avramescu 25:52
You made the case in a lot of ways for the value that your team provides, it just wasn’t exactly the value that you you thought you were going to see. And that’s actually really interesting, because it ties back to this. There’s a concept within experimentation and actually borrow this in my book too. But I filter it through a Simpsons analogy where it is plagiarized from the Thank you, where you’ve got the concept of a local maximum and a global maximum. Yeah, when you’re trying to optimize for the local maximum, you’re looking for these metrics that are perhaps very close to the site of the experiment itself. But if you’re only optimizing for the local maximum, then maybe you’ve missed this idea of the global maximum, which is like are there kind of bigger effects that you might be having that your experiment isn’t necessarily testing for directly? And it sounds like you were looking for a local maximum here of what effects do we have on support contact reduction. And paradoxically, you drove the opposite of that. But you were instead actually proving in an interesting way that you’re affecting this global maximum of stickier customers who are more likely to adopt and ultimately going to be, like healthier business with with your company. Yeah,
Phil Byrne 26:58
totally. It was like the gods of experimentation smacking us in the face with this is what you should have been looking for. And yeah, it was great. And it kicked off lots of great conversations with the support team as well about, you know, flipping support from cost center into a value lever for our business, which is super powerful. And I believe strongly in having come from a support background as well anyway. So yeah, that was super interesting. And from a metrics point of view, again, yet super surprising. But also showing, like I said that we had more in common as org stent than a lot of people think that was really, really interesting. On the metrics, a just stay on metrics for a little while, as well, because that we’ve just been talking about. Okay, so conversation reduction is an important metric, but also the ones which are near and dear to my heart, which are those ones of the product adoption formula, whatever those individual product metrics will be for activation. And then if you zoom out from a product level, you’ve got the solutions, your product offers your customers, and then you can activate on them. And that’s what we measure ourselves on to. And then there’s overall platform activation, as well. And they’re the things that genuinely excite me because they’re very aligned with what our customers find valuable. And that means, with your customers, you’re speaking the same language, essentially, you’re just translating things into something that you can use with different teams in your org. And this is another unlock, I had, this wasn’t last two, three years, when we kind of moved on to a growth team, which was kind of half in marketing, and product. And everything was all of a sudden about revenue. And it’s not like I was averse to it. But having very poorly run my own books. While I was self employed, I was definitely I think I had some PTSD regarding ARR
Adam Avramescu 28:40
Well, it’s like at some point, like if you’ve been in the world of customer education, or if you’ve been a creative and then all of a sudden someone’s talking to you about revenue, it seems a little bit abstract from the thing that you’re doing. Especially if you’re not like directly selling, you’re
Phil Byrne 28:51
exactly like how can I be creative when I’m just thinking about dollars, and it’s kind of got to have to me anyway, having come from like a creative background, like had a dirty field or like now we’re just talking about revenue. So I’d kind of like I hadn’t given it a chance I kind of lock it down, like I care about the customer and I care about activation and retention. I care about intent, and I care about awareness and I care about all of these like things which were intrinsically like motivating for me. And then there was this scary word, you know, revenue. That’s gross. I don’t like that. Yeah.
Adam Avramescu 29:19
How did you learn to learn? What’s the Dr. Strangelove learn to Stop Worrying and Love revenue?
Phil Byrne 29:24
Revenue short enough journey, I suppose I think this was a it was an interesting time for me and Rory, is that we got through it, where I think he was a little bit frustrated with me that a lot of the time when we were talking about NRA or I was not negative, but like I suppose took way longer than I should have to try and get behind some of these projects. And for me, it was very, I had to kind of convert these things into things that I cared about so that I could motivate the team so that I could get behind a particular project and see the connection to the things that I did care about, and essentially, use revenue as a proxy for the stuff that I knew. I could do well, because I think I had some worries, I don’t think Well, in this space, it was just about trying to convert the things that I did care about, into a level up to the things that they can drive, which is better revenue. And what that really unlocked as well is, or what I’ve found might be different for for everybody’s business. But that’s the one shared word and shared goal in all orgs across the business, like a business as a business for a reason on it’s to make money, great if you can align with your what the market needs, and what your customers love. But ultimately, if you’re not driving revenue, you’re going the wrong way. And if your customers love you, and you can make great change for them, if you’re not making enough revenue, you’re gonna fail them because you’re gonna go out of business, and they’ll have to shop around. So really tied to the value you can get. And tying that into value can give the business by driving better revenue for the business on different segments of the business is a massive unlock when you try and work cross functionally. And show these teams how you can add value to their mission or their goal as well. And then, like you said, when you work on your local data, your local maximum, that’s where it’s about you, like, if you’re talking to the sales team, they probably don’t care about some of the product activation metrics you’re talking about, or about, oh, here’s the engagement rate for this Academy course we’ve got our video on it. It might be off the charts, but they don’t care that the one thing which you can align around to at least have an icebreaker is what we’re going to do to drive better revenue. In this segment, we’ve seen great signals from these particular things we’ve done in the past which have increased activation rates, which is meant for x x x revenue. And then you at least kick things off in the right language by aligning around people’s goals for the quarter for the year. And then you can translate it whatever way you need to get them on board. Once you’ve got that momentum, and you’ve got their buy in.
Adam Avramescu 31:49
I agree. And I think like you and I have talked about this before, like often in our world will speak the language of instructional design. And we’ll even talk about evidence based techniques within adult learning because it is a language of rigor, and it is a language of research. And so we think sometimes that doubling down on that is what lends us a sense of legitimacy. And like maybe it does, especially in our own circle where other people understand how those things work. But then you try to bring that to the business and people who have other deeper areas of expertise, like it’s not going to translate because again, we’re not all speaking the same language and in a way like revenue is that I think you described it as like a Rosetta Stone. Like if you can translate what you do into revenue and what the other team does into revenue. Well, now you’re actually having a more persuasive conversation about how to prioritize things. Because you’re not just using your own deep expertise as a bludgeon, you’re actually up leveling the decisions that you’ve made to the level of how it’s going to affect the broader business, which is ultimately more persuasive. Even if it’s like, not the natural place that you go to in terms of thinking you’re going to be persuasive, because it’s like not doesn’t feel rigorous in the same way.
Phil Byrne 32:55
Yeah, you’re going to be outside your comfort zone. And to be honest, you’re gonna probably have to give up a little bit of what you care about as a result, because once you know that, there’s a huge responsibility to make sure that you’re working on the right things for the business. Whereas previously, you could have been just, I’m working on the most exciting things are, I’m working on this thing, that’s a passion project for me, because I want to have are all of our academy and learning touchpoints all a part of this great big system. But ultimately, when you get down to a more informed place about the content and experiences that you create, and the effects they can have in revenue, you need to work backwards and go, Okay, am I working on the right things to drive revenue. And that’s where you do have to give up a little and have some harder conversations about yourself. But ultimately, make sure that you are working on the right things for the business. And it will streamline how you work to make sure that the kind of brownie points you kind of gotten over the years with what you did, it helps rejuvenate that relationship. And it helps make sure that there’s confidence that you’re working on the right things, both internally and externally as well. And you get a good shot in the arm for the trust that you’ve gotten the business as well, like it really opens up doors for you to have the right conversations with lots of senior leadership team.
Adam Avramescu 34:09
I agree because like ultimately, you want to be credible to the business, not just within your own circle. And the way to do that is to show that you are a steward of the business and you’re looking out for it. And like that’s not different, by the way than looking out for your customers. If you care about your customers, you care about how much value they’re getting from the product, and you care whether they’re going to stay a customer for life than you do care about revenue as long as you’re not in pricing and packaging. And if you’re in the pricing and packaging team, then you also have to make sure that you have your pricing model set correctly to sustain that. But like in a healthy business, there’s a direct connection between the work you do to make your customers happy and sticky and the revenue that comes in and stays in your business. For sure to actually want to take it a step further. Because what you said just like dropped a tinfoil hat onto my head. No, no.
Phil Byrne 34:57
Let’s imagine in a good way it’s a tin foil hat?
Adam Avramescu 35:00
Yeah, no, I’m having a total tinfoil hat moment. Okay, like, let’s go. Let’s say we all like to go to instructional design conferences and we hear all these great ideas and we’re here is x the future of customer education is Mobile Learning the future of customer education is the metaverse the future of customer education, right? Like we’re being sold on a lot of really interesting but progressive sounding ideas. And often, the way that those are being sold to us is that if we do not embrace whatever this is the latest and learning technology, if we don’t all change our LMS as to LSPs. If we don’t all start switching SCORM over to x API, whatever it is, I’m just like thinking of examples I’ve heard of over various years, that we’re going to be left behind. But what is that? That’s a marketing technique? Right? Totally. That’s like vendors in the l&d space, trying to sell us on an idea of what true progressivism and business relevance is in our world in l&d or customer education. So that they can make revenue. Exactly. Yeah, right. And like, I think we have to be the more savvy we are about, like what revenue is and what the relationship to the mechanics that operates in a business are like, I think actually, the better decisions we can make about what to prioritize and what to deprioritize.
Phil Byrne 36:09
Totally. And it comes back from me to boiling things down again, at that experiment level, like, I don’t care, whether we have these nice things like having an academy is great. I love it. And I love that we get such great feedback about it. But ultimately, as a customer education leader, I can’t care about that. It’s nice. It’s lovely. It motivates me, but I still need to care about is it driving the change that we need? Would we be better off setting a torch today? And just having, again, experimentation mode, couple of lines of copy somewhere? Is that actually driving more behavioral change over time than this other cool, nice thing? And that’s what I suppose it sounds a little cynical. But again, at those conferences, or when people are like, Oh, you’ve got to learn through the matrix. I’m like, don’t, yeah, maybe. But let’s find out what will drive that change it, I don’t care about it being the next cool thing. I ultimately care about getting down to the atomic level of adoption that I need adoption for features, products, solutions, platform with the customers to drive that revenue so that we can stay viable business and keep driving up behavioral change that our customers want or need out there. I don’t care. If we have to drive around in an ice cream van, handing out flyers and how to use intercom whatever works, we can help. There is like okay, this to keep us engaged, there’s a certain amount of form that we have to have, we have to believe in it passionately. And I have to be able to motivate the team to feel like this is something they want to do. So there’s a an onus on me to ensure that we are working the right things, but also in the right ways that will make us a strong content team going forward to
Adam Avramescu 37:36
Yeah, well. And often there’s a direct tie between what we do to keep ourselves engaged in what we do to keep customers engaged, right? It’s not, if we were doing something that was so dry, and so mechanical, and where we had no ability to exercise our consultative or creative muscles, then Well, generally, we’re also not providing whatever the best solution is to the customer either. So absolutely. Usually,
Phil Byrne 37:58
it sounds like therapy now. But you’ve got to work on yourself, make sure that you’re bringing your best version of yourself to that relationship. Otherwise, you’re not going to keep that as a strong, helpful, productive relationship over time, because you’ll lose interest, you won’t be excited about driving up behavioral change, you’ll just be doing a job. And I’ll just be just creating documents for X aren’t just writing a video for blah, you need to have that fire and that interest in creating successful outcomes for your customers, which will create successful outcomes for the business. Those the circle continues.
Adam Avramescu 38:34
This episode is brought to you by Intel them, you know and tell them we’ve had them on the show before. And if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know that customer education leads to retention and revenue. So the intelligent platform gives you everything you need to educate your customers, partners and employees on the products and services you sell. They’ve got a great platform, they’ve got evolve as an authoring tool. And within Telem put it all together, you can deliver highly personalized and engaging learning experiences. Give your customers a single destination for all their learning needs and create and manage a wide range of content. So check them out today at try dot Intel him.com/ce Labs. That’s c e l a b s. I agree. And to that point, I love that you’ve kind of brought the conversation full circle because you talked about getting into customer education from being in a creative field and kind of realizing that, ironically, what was feeding you and feeding your creativity once you made it a business was not actually feeding you anymore. And now paradoxically, you’re you’re almost in the opposite situation where in a way, trying to get curious and trying to get creative about what will drive product adoption. What will drive revenue. That’s almost like a freeing and creative way to approach business.
Phil Byrne 39:57
Totally is the only way I can do it. Yeah, like and that’s Think I’ve found out as well for myself, like, I can’t just work on something, if I’m not interested, it will show in the work. Absolutely. If I’m phoning it in, and I’m not motivated, and I’m, again, really fortunate to work in a company that just doesn’t sit still, we’re no longer a little startup. But we still oftentimes behave like when there’s so much experimentation on a playful product enhancements and creations, that it never gets boring, we’ve always got a scope for and again, like I said, we were using our own products to deliver this educational material. So we’re able to work in lockstep with the product team for help me deliver this in a better way in product and how we drive better educational outcomes, because intercom can be used for that. So it always keeps me engaged, which keeps the I hopefully, the team engaged, which keeps the customers engaged as well, it’s definitely a really great symbiosis in what we do as a company, what we do as a team and the change that we can help bring our customers as well. And again, I feel totally privileged that we get to work in a spot like this all the way through the customer education funnel as well, I should mention, it’s not just that kind of importance of obviously, we have, we work in the marketing side. So we create those videos actually drive that new business as well, by working really closely with our sales team. This is a whole other conversation we could have and the differences we made to those videos once we talk to our sales team, as well as our marketing team. Because the way we were trying to market stuff wasn’t the way we sold it. And Kelly works with the sales team to create those videos, she does an amazing job shout out to Kelly Daniels, those people are in there in the product. They’re working with the content that Danielle I’m Brian create to drive product adoption with the CLM team Victoria does that in product work where we did that experimentation of and then it goes back into that longer form, best practice training that we used to have in our academy. And that’s Danielle, who lives he kind of you know, Danielle, you’ve met Tanya, she’s awesome. And then that more mature level of education where we’ve got certification as well. And all of that has grown from those C’s of product adoption. And sitting at that desk in those early days with jazz being between product and marketing and setting up those relationships, to keep things creative, keep things honestly, treading that line between business and customer and finding that magic in between and those aha moments for yourself unless you feel them. And you’re just gonna fake them with customers is super important to me to make sure that we are working on the right things in the right ways to keep everybody really engaged. And I think it shows in the content on experiences we created.
Adam Avramescu 42:26
I love that. And I think that’s that’s a wonderful place to go to bed. And wraps are our journey here. Yeah, and allow it felt felt it to come to my eye. And I also I imagined everyone standing up and cheering as you were shouting them out. So hopefully if you heard you’re on the podcast and you work at intercom, you’re feeling really good right now because you do great work. Like really, you have a ton of respect for intercoms entire education program. And for those of you listening, if you haven’t checked it out, please do go check out intercom check out the product, check out intercom Academy, but also people check out Phil,
Phil Byrne 43:00
maybe no, take an extra like go take your headphones off, have a walk on touch grass. Exactly. Take off your shoes and socks. Take a sharp reach to get back home, that kind of thing. But yeah, I think that’s something which I like as well, like you said, like we all go to the learning conferences. Just before we finish up where we find a lot of the value. And what brings something different to what we do is that kind of Nexus we are in between those different orgs. But at a macro level, it’s the different influences we have like Danielle comes from a support and training background, I come from a music background Brian on the team comes from a teaching backyard like real world schools teaching kids, Kelly worked in a government office creating content around city plans. It’s all about things that are not what you’re doing that actually make it that culture add that’s important. So don’t go to the customer education conference all the time. Talk to people in music production and who write fiction and find those different tangential bits, which will add value and uniqueness and keep you interested in the stuff that you do and the change you can make. Because that’s what will keep it interesting for you and keep it unique and keep it valuable for your customers to
Adam Avramescu 44:13
love it. What a great place to take it. So hopefully everyone will go out and take on some sort of passion projects, see some art, make appreciate a shark, make a cake whatever it is. And if you however want to learn more about customer education, we do have a podcast website at customer dot education where you can find show notes and other material and listeners if you found value in this podcast. Please share with your friends, your peers, your network to help us find the others. I think we said we’re both lurking around on LinkedIn. Is that right Phil?
Phil Byrne 44:44
Yeah, we’re lurkers longtime Lurker first time listener caller as applicable.
Adam Avramescu 44:51
Thanks to Alan Koda for providing our theme music unless we somehow managed Phil to give us a discount on the ending theme
Phil Byrne 44:57
today. I give you a coupon. We did. Oh,
Adam Avramescu 45:00
Thank you. We know many of you are subscribed right now. And what we’d really appreciate is a five star review on Apple podcasts, Spotify podcasts, wherever you consume and rate podcast to share our little show with the rest of the world and to our audience. Thanks for joining us, go out and educate, experiment and find your people.
Phil Byrne 45:19
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me. It was great. Thank you