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.
If you look back through our blog posts in October, you will notice a theme about building new customer education team capabilities and individual skills. In this final blog of October, I want to introduce a new capability that I think will be the number one most critical capability customer education professionals will develop to set themselves apart from other leaders in the organization. That capability is to implement jobs-to-be-done theory in everything customer education does.
I do not have scientific evidence to support this claim, but I argue that customer education teams at fast-growing SaaS companies produce as much, or more, content than any other team. And this is saying a lot when you consider that content is usually produced by marketing, communications, product, and sales enablement teams. Not only does customer education produce a large volume of content, the content it creates is likely to be the most useful for buyers of your product compared to other content your company produces.
I am always surprised when I hear from customer education professionals that the customer education function does not get the respect it deserves. I believe it is quite the opposite. So much so, that I believe education is not only a vital and strategic operation at a technology company, but a function from which it's leaders can take a career path to many other functions in the business.
The customer education function at a fast-growing software company is as varied, complex, and strategic as any other function. It can also be an under-appreciated operation depending on the culture of the company and on how it is run and led. How customer education is viewed is largely determined by how you run it. If you focus on answering the question, "How can we help customers learn?" and then proceed to develop the most instructionally sound courses possible, customer education will be undervalued.
This blog post is about how to use a maturity model in a very practical sense, but before we get into the how, let's define what a good maturity model does. A maturity model describes each stage of an organization's maturity and what things are generally happening at each stage. This is useful to understand because each organization is at a different stage of development and has different levels of capabilities, resources, and technology to support its operations. For example, a customer education team of eight people with a VP-level leader has a much different level of capability and maturity than a one person education team that just became a full-time role last week.
Before you even think about developing a customer education strategy, you must begin with a goal. It sounds simple enough, but too often, people who lead efforts to develop software training programs for customers just start developing a strategy, or worse, just start training customers on product features, without a clear vision for why education is necessary in the first place.
When your customers say your training is ineffective or you see from reports that product use does not increase following an education intervention, one of the questions you should ask yourself is, "Are we helping customers understand the context for why our product exists and why they need to learn it?" One major problem with software education is that it is focused primarily on helping people learn features. Learning features without understanding basic concepts and without understanding "why" will often leave people bewildered about how to use the software.