At its core, your customer education team aspires to make businesses more profitable by using a product or service more effectively. In the past, companies dispatched trainers for on-site instruction. Fortunately, today's online learning management systems (LMS) have replaced traditional, in-person training sessions that meant expensive travel and scheduling restrictions.
Building a successful online customer education academy necessitates teamwork from experts in a variety of domains. If you're lucky, you'll have the resources at the beginning of your quest to create your online academy to build your dream team. But don't be disheartened if you don't — the best of the best, Hubspot Academy, started without a team and no resources and look what it became.
For customer education programs to succeed, this team has to take ownership to ensure your academy is not an ancillary, ad-hoc offering, but an integral part of the entire customer journey.
Here are the vital roles you'll need to complete your Customer Education dream team. (Or beg or borrow — maybe not steal — them, as needed, from existing teams around your company.)
Customer Education Lead
Building a customer education program for the long haul means someone will need to be in charge, of course. Even in the short term, a project leader will need to drive the work.
If you're reading this article, this person may be you.
The customer education lead corrals all the personnel involved in creating your academy to guarantee the program meets the customers' needs and achieves the internal goals. This individual is also responsible for tracking the effectiveness of the training program and reporting those results to leadership.
Subject Matter Expert (SME)
A subject matter expert possesses comprehensive, in-depth knowledge of a product and how it works. The SME then translates that information into a logical training program your customers can easily digest. The SME also reviews the program for accuracy and suggests updates when needed.
You'll most often have to turn to product managers or engineers for subject matter expertise and you'll need to budget time for them to assist on the training project.
This is an excellent opportunity to borrow existing team members' brains based on the lesson you're building.
An instructional designer develops the story and structures the learning so a new customer can learn quickly and incorporate your product into their workflow.
Typically, the instructional designer interviews the SME and conducts additional research to build the best experiences for your learners. The instructional designer should be a great storyteller who can transition the raw content into an actual lesson.
The designer converts the concepts of a learning path into a beautiful and visually engaging reality. They create the graphics, customize the overall look and feel, and build interactive elements such as quizzes or games.
The designer usually collaborates with the instructional designer to ensure the courses provide an engaging, branded and beneficial experience.
It's more important than ever before to deliver a fully integrated learning experience. You'll need someone to handle the nuts and bolts.
Your LMS should be loaded with integrations and tools to connect your customer academy to the rest of your technology stack. For example, our customers can use Northpass for HubSpot and set up webhooks.
While these tools are usually super simple to set up, you'll need someone to make sure that all the data is flowing and being captured correctly to help your Sales, Customer Success, and Marketing teams reach their goals.
It's becoming more of a necessity to include video in your customer academy. Viewers claim they retain 95 percent of a message when obtained via video. Because of this, short, easy-to-consume videos are becoming the norm in customer education.
You may not need an in-house video editor, but having a reliable video editor in your toolbox is necessary. Give this person a lot of attention at the beginning — this will save you time and frustration down the road. Your instructional designer and graphic designer should work closely with the video editor to ensure this person deeply understands your brand and your goals. If you do this right, your video editor won't need much instruction after the first few videos.
And now for some non-team members you definitely need in your circle of trust.
Especially at the beginning of your journey, having someone with a great deal of influence at the company to support your initiative can make or break your academy's success.
This person doesn't need to have subject matter expertise, experience building customer training or be connected to customer success in any way. They need to have the ear of the company and be your biggest fan. Your executive sponsor should serve as a sort of sherpa to help you align with the business's strategic priorities.
Before rolling out your academy, enlist a group to test drive and troubleshoot the courses. These beta testers can be individuals on your staff, other team members throughout the company, outside experts or your most engaged customers.
Ask them to give honest feedback on the training so you can correct any deficiencies or technical bugs before you launch.
Summing it All Up
Investing in the right team is key to any successful endeavor. A customer academy is no different.
Take time to build relationships with your team members, colleagues and customers. There's no shortcut to creating quality content, but with the right people in place and the right advisors, you'll be on the path to success in no time.
Now that you know who you need on your team, what tools will you use?
Sign up for a demo of Northpass to see how you can build a robust, interactive, Customer Academy quickly and easily.