Using Customer Success to Make Enterprise Software Training More Effective

Posted by Guest Author on December 22, 2014

Leveraging Software Training for Customer Success

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Building an Efficient and Effective Training Program

Guest post by Keri Keeling - Director, Customer Programs at Bluenose Analytics, Inc.

We all know that enterprise software training is absolutely critical in Customer Success because good training is like The House that Jack Built: Solid training turns into empowered users, which turns into adoption, which turns into renewals and upsells. However, I’ve often seen organizations make a few key mistakes that can hobble their training programs before they have a chance to be successful. In reality, it seems that training programs are less likely to be treated like The House That Jack Built and more like having to change the oil in your car…You know you have to do it, but don’t want to find the time or spend the money to get it done.

When I was leading the Customer Success organization at one of my previous companies, I inherited their training program, which suffered from a lack of care and feeding. The training program that I inherited consisted of employees from several companies (in some cases competing companies, yikes!) gathering in a room to view a few PowerPoint decks. Essentially, it was the “show up and throw up” approach.

To state the obvious, it wasn’t an optimal training program; so I worked with Marketing to revamp it into a program that was geared for success. It wasn’t an easy process but it’s important to learn from past mistakes in order to craft effective and efficient training programs. If you can devote the resources, your training program can pay dividends in terms of adoption and upsell potential.

Mistake 1: One Size Does Not Fit All

One main theme that should be considered is that not everyone learns the same way. Studies show that presentations can actually be a poor way to get messages to stick in the mind of the audience. That doesn’t mean you should ignore presentations or slides, but it does mean that you have to account for the fact that people learn things in different ways.

A fully thought-out training program caters to various styles of learning, which can include presentations, video tutorials, in-app help pages, community, interactive learning, quizzes and more. This can sound a bit daunting – especially since Customer Success isn’t teeming with resources – but if the goal is to empower end users, it’s something that has to be tackled.

For the aforementioned revamped training program, I was able to get some of Marketing’s time to help build out all of the needed resources. It took a while to generate all of this material but the all-encompassing nature of the training program paid off.

Mistake 2: Not Properly Identifying Your Users

Many SaaS companies set up their training programs around two personas: admins and end users. This is an awesome way to get up and running. Because the two personas will mostly encompass the majority of your product’s feature/functionality and user habits, you’ll have the majority of your training content created in no time. However, keep in mind that it’s a poor approximation for all of your users, what their needs are, and how they should be trained.

The reality is that many SaaS apps have a variety of end user types. Your training should be built around these separate personas and how they live in your product For example, if you have one account that has 50 licensed users you probably have a smattering of:

  • Executive Users (high-level usage - reporting and/or page views)
  • Admins (owns the functionality of your product)
  • Casual Users (occasional)
  • Individual Contributors (more often than casual)
  • Power Users (they live in your platform)

That said it’s probably a bad idea to send the CEO a 45-minute dissertation on report creation. Most executive types won’t devote the time to reviewing the content. Instead, send them a 3-minute video that addresses their specific needs with the product. As mentioned, you have your admin and end user courseware built out…now you have the ability to break your content into “snippets” so that you can send just the right thing to the right person.

Of course, I understand that it can be a challenge to know who all of your actual end users are as well as understand how they are using your platform and whether or not they need additional training. At my current company, Bluenose, we are trying to help solve that problem, but there are a variety of modern tools that can help with this.

Mistake 3: Not Accounting For Different Courseware Modes

This one builds off the first two, as it’s very easy to build a training program with the mindset that the end user will always be accessing it in some standard way. That’s definitely something you should avoid because it has the ability to turn off some of your best potential users.

For example, you may develop some stellar tutorial videos, upload them to YouTube, and feel like you can check the “yes” box to having video tutorials…but what about the eager trainees who want to watch it offline during their train ride into work? What about the admin who wants your material hard copy to read?

An excellent training program optimizes the content for these different training modes. This may seem laborious but creating the base content is the difficult part, as you just have to slice-and-dice it for these other distribution channels.

You may be asking, “Keri, this all sounds great but what’s the payoff?” After working for almost 9 months revamping the training program I mentioned earlier, we saw revenues go up each quarter after the new training system was implemented. Not only did we see revenue tied to training increase, but also we saw support cases drop and renewal rates increase.

More about Keri Keeling - Director, Customer Programs at Bluenose Analytics, Inc.:

Keri Keeling Bluenose customer successKeri is a results-driven Customer Success leader with deep experience in helping SaaS vendors build and grow their Customer Success teams and efforts. With nearly a decade of experience, she has built Success teams for companies that range in size from start up to publicly-traded.

Topics: Customer Success, Enterprise Software, Training, Enterprise Software Training Series

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