With the rise of 'as-a-Service' (or XaaS) products around the world, software companies are becoming more aware of the importance of customer education. They're seeing the direct impact of education on company and customer success. "Education Services organizations truly have the opportunity to be a game-changer in driving product usage and adoption, because training is at the core of both," according to Maria Manning-Chapman, vice president of education services research at TSIA.
Most software companies are so enamored by their product's features that they use it everywhere. It's in their marketing, thought leadership pieces, and especially in their training material. Sure, it's important that you train customers on the features so they know how to use their products, but they probably bought your product for a different reason entirely. So why are your training programs still features-based?
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.
The customer journey is important to so many different departments in your organization. Each team may base their activities and goals on a particular segment of the customer journey, and customer education teams are no different. But that can only happen if you've mapped the customer journey. Many companies haven't, or they've only done a portion of the journey. TSIA did some research and found that mapping the customer journey was one of four key practices that lead to high renewal and expansion rates.
Quick question: When you use Microsoft Word, do you use the built-in styles to add formatting and layout options to your documents? Or do you simply open a new document and start typing away, clicking the bold or bullet list buttons to change the way your text appears?
There are three schools of thought when it comes to whether to sell customer education to customers. One argument is that customer education is a valuable service and should not only be sold, but the customer education function should be run as a business with responsibility for making a profit. The second school of thought also believes customer education is a valuable service, but the goal is not to make a profit, but for training to just pay for itself, so it can sustain itself and otherwise avoid the scrutiny of CFOs during lean times. The third school of thought argues that training should be a service that is included in the price of the product subscription. After all, adoption and renewals are the main goal, not making a few bucks from selling training.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, we hosted a webinar with special guest Francoise Tourniaire of FTWorks to discuss ways to manage knowledge to improve customer success. Not only is Francoise founder and owner of FTWorks, she is author of numerous books including, The Art of Software Support, Just Enough CRM, and Collective Wisdom, Transforming Support Through Knowledge, so she is uniquely qualified to talk about how enterprise software companies can put knowledge management support processes in place that help customers learn, use, and achieve desired outcomes using your software.
Adoption rates for enterprise software are surprisingly low considering how many resources companies invest in software to run their businesses.
For example, according to Forrester Research, nearly half of all CRM projects fail. Most of us have experienced software implementations that suffered from lower user adoptions. A Sand Hill Adoption Insight study found that poor software implementations can result in reduced employee productivity and wasted time and financial resources. There is a significant opportunity to improve software adoption and in turn drive customer success for fast-growing software companies and their enterprise customers.
In a recent “Ask Me Anything” webinar, Rob Castaneda, Founder and CEO of ServiceRocket and Aaron Fulkerson, Founder and CEO of MindTouch, tackled this subject. In the hourlong audience-driven Q&A, Aaron and Rob answered frequently asked software adoption questions and discussed strategies companies can employ to achieve desired outcomes by ensuring customers are adopting software tools.