Knowing that customer education is important and where it stands in your company’s growth engine is only half the battle. Knowing how to educate customers about your product or service is just as important. Sounds daunting, I know. But I’m here to help. Here are ten ways to optimize your customer education KPIs and strategy in 2022 and beyond.
Bonus Content 🚀
How to Improve Your Customer Education Strategy
Whether you’re building your first customer education strategy, attempting to navigate an engagement plateau or trying to transition to an advanced academy, there will always be steps you can take to improve.
1. Solve One Problem at a Time
There’s nothing wrong with trying to be the answer to everyone’s challenges, but forcing your customer education program to solve every department’s challenges (i.e., helping the Customer Success team decrease time to-value, reduce the number of tickets for the Support team and boost product adoption for the Tech team) will spread your resources too thin.
Instead, focus on one challenge and dedicate all of your time, energy and resources to that. Once you solve that, move on.
2. Think About Customer Education Roles
There’s no rule that says building a customer education team has to look a certain way, but there is a best practice you should follow: Appoint a leader who's aligned with your program's goals.
So, if you’re trying to reduce time to value, see if the Head of Customer Success wants to join the team. If you’re trying to reduce support tickets, ask the person leading your Support team. The more closely you can align your leader to the program’s goal, the better of you’ll be.
3. Break Down Siloes
Arguably the greatest benefit of customer education is that you can mold it to help various teams, including Sales, Marketing, Services and Support. As a result, your team should work cross-functionally and include stakeholders with different skill sets and knowledge. Letting any remaining siloes stand will keep you from implementing a strategy that truly impacts the entire company.
Base your decision on the problem (KPI) you’re targeting. For example, if your goal’s to help the Implementation team decrease time-to-value, make sure you're walking in tandem with someone from that team and you both understand the mission.
4. Break into the Boardroom
Departments like Marketing and Sales don’t often struggle in the same way as Customer Education teams to get leadership buy-in. Why? Because Leadership teams have always considered them the most important. Given that customer education’s still the new kid on the block, securing support from the top of the company isn’t always easy. But it’s key to a successful strategy. Without an executive sponsor, you won't be able to scale, get more budget and align on goals and expectations.
So, prioritize breaking into the boardroom for the sole purpose of aligning on greater business methodologies (i.e., KPIs they use to make strategic decisions) and demonstrating short-term- and long-term value.
5. Ask for Feedback
Remember back when Amazon was an online bookstore? It wasn’t until Jeff Bezos asked his first few customers what else they wanted to buy from Amazon that he realized the greater opportunity. After saying they’d love the chance to purchase everyday items, like cleaning supplies, he started to evolve the company — the beginning of an evolution period he wouldn’t have started if he wasn’t open to feedback. The same goes for your customer education strategy.
Frequently asking for feedback is one of the easiest ways to improve your customer education strategy. To do this, send out surveys or host quarterly lunch-and-learns (they can be virtual) that bring like-minded customers together. By asking for feedback and keeping the door open, you can make continuous improvements that create better learning outcomes for your customers.
6. Integrate Internal Technologies
The best customer education strategies impact multiple teams (remember the cross-functional point above?), meaning everyone should speak the same language. It also means any relevant technologies should be on the same page, including the LMS and CRM.
By bringing these technologies together, you can walk in lockstep with Sales, Marketing and Services, keep everyone aligned and ensure you’re making moves to achieve outcomes that’ll benefit your customers and the company.
7. Optimize the Content Creation Process
Taking a customer education strategy from good to great comes with a lot of changes, including a bigger headcount on your team and more moving parts. What doesn’t change is your need to deliver value. Whether you’re working with a team of 5 to train twenty-five customers or a team of one hundred to train one thousand, you need to provide the same experience.
Doing so requires optimizing your content creation process, allowing new and old team members to create content and add value. Said another way, Joe Schmo — a new hire with little customer education experience — should have no trouble getting up to speed. While you shouldn’t expect them to be at the same level as Jill Schmo — a ten-year vet — they should be able to create and deliver consistent content to your customers.
8. Invest in Design and User Experience
Genuinely great customer education strategies go beyond excellent content, goals and perfect tech stacks. The best ones also invest in how their academies look and feel. More specifically, they dedicate resources to ensure the learning experience aligns with their brand. I'm talking about customization.
Customizing your academy is subjective. For some, customization starts and ends with adding their company logo and brand colors. For you, it should mean more — for example, the login screen and course completion pages.
9. Market Your Customer Education Program
The best customer education strategies look at marketing from an internal and external angle. Internal customer education marketing aims to spread the word inside of your company, with the goal of helping employees understand how customer education can help them. You can do this by sitting down with different teams, taping flyers around the office or sharing updates on Slack.
For external customer education marketing, your goal is to keep your customers informed (i.e., show them why your customer education program is essential and how it benefits them). For example, you can discuss the benefits throughout the onboarding process or send out automated emails updating them about new courses.
10. Introduce Customer Education Certificates
The success of your customer education strategy depends on your ability to get — and maintain — engagement. This is why one of the best ways to improve your customer education strategy is to introduce certification.
The best example of this in action is HubSpot’s certification program. By offering certifications on both its technology and greater industry (sales and marketing), HubSpot gives customers and prospects something tangible to work toward, encouraging engagement and long-term learning. You can do the same thing.
3 Customer Education Program Examples
Building out your customer education plan and need some inspiration? Here are a few examples of customer education programs and how they apply some of the best practices mentioned above.
HubSpot: Aligning its Program With the Business
HubSpot is the leader of the customer education industry. It was first to the party and continues to set the bar, helping the company grow to more than 100,000 customers and $1 billion in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
A key driver of this growth is HubSpot’s proven ability to align its academy with the company’s goals (i.e., everything in The HubSpot Academy connects to the inbound methodology and content flywheel, which is what HubSpot's known for).
Shopify: Aligning its Academy With Brand Standards
The customer experience (CX) continues to emerge as a key differentiator for companies. Historically, the way most companies approached this was to improve the user interface (UI) of their product or hire more support reps. Those are still great options, but there’s another way: Align every owned channel with your brand’s design so that when your customers jump from touchpoint to touchpoint — for example, from your website to your academy — they get the same experience.
Shopify does a great job of this. No matter how a customer lands on its academy, they’ll immediately know they’re still in Shopify's world.
Amazon Web Service (AWS): Creating Brand Champions With Certifications
Scroll through your LinkedIn feed and don’t stop until you see one of your connections posting about how they just got one of AWS’ certifications. By giving people, including customers and prospects, something to work toward and a way to enrich their professional lives, AWS encourages continued engagement with its academy — and because AWS is constantly changing and its certifications evolve, it has a repeatable way to keep people coming back.
Improving Your Customer Education Strategy With Northpass
The above tips and tricks are all great ways to improve your customer education strategy, but here's one more: Team up with Northpass. To learn more about how we can help you take your customer education strategy and program to the next level, reach out today.