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.
Having a goal, before you begin, matters because it determines your direction and what actions you will take to achieve that goal. Therefore, without a goal, you are both aimless and don't know what actions to take.
Consider this example.
Two software companies may have two different goals. The first software company is focused completely on customer growth, and more specifically, on acquiring new customers. This company has a goal to add 200 new customers in the current fiscal year. The second software company is focused completely on increasing the product renewal rate. This company has a goal in increase the renewal rate from 87% to 92% in the current fiscal year.
Knowing this, answer these two questions:
- What customer education goal would you set for each company?
- What customer education strategy would you develop for each company?
Seriously. Take a moment and write down your answers.
Your answers likely considered that each company would have a different customer education goal and a different strategy to achieve that goal. At the first company, if acquiring new customers is the primary goal, your customer education goal may be focused on training non-customers and your strategy may consider ways to use customer education as part of a marketing strategy. At the second company, your education goal may relate to training a certain number of existing customers on unused product features and the strategy may focus on reaching a specific overlap of least-used features and customers who do not use those features.
The goal drives the strategy. Not the other way around.
What goal should you pick?
The answer to this question is quite simple: pick the goal that your company cares about most at the time and align your customer education goal to that. If your company's main goal is to increase leads then your training goal should be to get training to influence a certain number of leads per period.
So, find out what your company priority is. It could be one of these:
- Educate the market
- Increase the number of marketing qualified leads
- Speed up the on-boarding process
- Achieve a revenue or profit goal from training sales
- Increase avergage deal size (or average selling price)
- Reduce calls to support
- Reduce time that services spends training (so they can focus their time on implementation and consulting work)
- Increase produce usage (more frequent use and/or more feature use)
- Increase renewal rates
- Upsell into higher user tiers
- Increase purchases of additional product features
- Improve customer outcomes
Once you know what your company is striving to achieve, you can create a customer education goal, define the metrics to measure your progress, then go about the business of developing your strategy.
As Steven Covey has said so enduringly: "Begin with the end in mind."
Use the Software Training Maturity Model
After you decide on your goal, you may start developing a customer education strategy. To make this process a bit easier, you should use a maturity model. A maturity model will help you assess the current state of your training function and make decisions about what actions to take and when to take them. This will help you make predictable and steady progress towards your goals. We have developed the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model to help you do just that. We created a guide that explains it and an online assessment to help you determine your current maturity stage. Use this tool to help you develop your customer education strategy. Download it now.