I just spent the day with a software company in a private workshop to help them design their customer education strategy. I love facilitating these workshops for two reasons. First, I learn a ton about how different software companies think about educating customers. Second, I find it highly rewarding to help a team go through a journey of discovering what is possible in helping customers and making a direct contribution to the overall company goals. These “light bulb” moments build on each other, and by the end of the workshop, the teams I work with have a three to five year vision of where they are headed and a clear plan of action for what they need to accomplish in the next two quarters.
This is not a prediction. It is more of a description of trends that are already underway. Some of you early adopters are riding these customer education trends to high success. Others are missing out mostly because your education operations are new or are in a low maturity state. The good news is that a low maturity state is normal and temporary. You can grow your organization into higher maturity stages by increasing your capabilities over time. One way to know what capabilities to add to your team is to understand where there trends are headed. Below are four customer education trends that are happening right now, and it is not too late for you to get on board to ride them.
In December 2017, Customer Education University announced a second course called, How to Design a Customer Education Strategy, and I am very excited about it. One of the best things you can do for your personal and professional development is to set aside dedicated time away from work to learn a new skill, learn a new process, or think deeply about new ideas you can put to work. It is hard to do that in our modern world. There are too many distractions. You know what I mean. One effective way I have found to create this dedicated time is to sign up for a class of some kind. In a class, you can sequester yourself away from the distractions of life, be in the moment, and soak up new ideas and new skills. If you pick the right course, you can actually find new motivation.
ServiceRocket is proud to announce that we have received two Learning Management System (LMS) awards from technology research firm Talented Learning in 2017. Learndot has been named 3rd Best Customer LMS and ServiceRocket was named second Best LMS Thought Leader.
Being data-driven and running analytics and data science and predictive modeling and machine learning and setting up a data lake and hadoop and pig and hive and... You know what? Come to think of it. All of that just makes me want to take a nap. Of course we all need to be more data-driven in our approach to running a strategic customer education operation, but analytics is intimidating. Especially for those of us who did not double major in statistics and computer science.
Customers are tired of poor audio quality, so why do we still give it to them. I am taking about poor audio quality on live, online training and poor audio recordings on self-paced eLearning. When customers join our live training or start on one of our eLearning course and it sounds like the speaker is sitting in a wind tunnel or worse, they hear every tap, tap, tap on the desk or crinkle, crinkle, crinkle of shuffling paper next to the speaker phone, it is such a distraction that it makes customers want to just hang up. Have you ever heard this feedback from customers? Have you every wanted to hangup on a conference call when the audio was so bad?
The most recent Customer Education University course, How to Build and Run a Strategic Customer Education Operation, is coming to an end, and students are finishing the final assessment and collecting their certificates of completion. Congratulations to all who completed the work. Among the many topics covered in the course, one of the most popular, judging on how much time we spent on it, was how to price training.
We know that customer education programs need to help our customers use product features. We also know that focusing too much on feature training misses a huge opportunity to help customers achieve desired outcomes because feature training will often miss the context required to understand why someone needs to learn this new software product in the first place. After all, no matter how good your software is, customers can do their job with out it.
If your company runs customer on-boarding or professional services engagements through customer success or professional services teams, you need to build a software training course about how to implement your software immediately. Chances are you do not have a course like this, and it could be one of the quickest wins you have all year. Here's why. For starters, a course like this is outcome-focused, and the outcome is a successful implementation. Second, a "How to Implement" course is a new product, with a new price level, targeted at a new customer segment. Third, since your company already has an implementation process, and runs it with customers every day, creating the course will not be very much work. You already have the content.
Fender has an adoption problem. Here are the stats. As reported in The Verge, ten years ago, 1.5 million electric guitars were sold. Today, it is down to one million. That's bad, but it gets worse. Fender discovered that 90% of all new guitar players quit in the first 12 months of purchasing a guitar. If you were thinking of going to the guitar business and saw those numbers, you would open up an online bookstore, figuring you'd have a better chance competing against Amazon.