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?
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.
Technology and business are rapidly evolving, and it can be hard for learning professionals to keep up. You need to create more content that's more relevant than ever before, and do so more efficiently than in the past. So ask yourself, "Can I continue to use ADDIE to develop their learning programs?"
MRR. Churn. CPA. ARC. LTV. If you're in the SaaS business, you're familiar with these terms.* Do a quick search for "customer success KPIs" and you'll find a dozen more. It can be a challenge trying to figure out which KPIs to use to measure the effectiveness of your training team and the programs you produce.
Further complicating matters is if you're being asked to tie your training metrics to customer success. According to customer education thought leaders like Wayne McCulloch, senior vice president of Salesforce University, "education has never played a more important part in customer success than in a cloud-based organization."
We talked a while ago about the content marketing strategies you can steal to help market your training, but are there other strategies you can use to manage and develop training programs? Sure! Let's take a closer look.
The internet is filled with stories about how business departments have trouble working with each other. Whether it's the IT team frustrated with marketing, or product development that ignored engineering or technical support, working in silos can be a problem. And customer education pros are no different.
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.
The Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model eBook is by far our most popular. Hundreds of fast-growing software companies have downloaded it in the last two years. One very prominent customer education team in the big data, hadoop space used the maturity model to plan its strategy, goals, roadmap, organizational structure, and roadmap.
Certification is one proactive solution that ensures customers are trained to properly use software and increases the likelihood that customers will renew year-after-year. Instead of focusing on acquiring new customers, software companies should focus on retaining customers by striving to not only train, but certify their customers so it's ensured customers know how to use the software. After all, renewals are a leading indicator of series A valuations for SaaS companies, if you ask Tomasz Tunguz.
After designing a software training course and implementing performance-based certification, customers should come to the course bright eyed, bushy tailed, and willing to learn how to use the software, right?