I won’t beat around the bush, so I’ll lead with the answer: Ask only for what you need and make a compelling business case.
Here’s how to do that.
Evaluate Existing Resources
Asking your leadership team for the world, i.e., a ton of vague or extraneous resources, is a recipe for disaster. Instead, run a content audit, understand what you have and what you need to launch or improve your digital customer academy.
How to Conduct a Content Audit for Your Customer Education Program
A content audit is a review and analysis of your content library. In the context of customer education, a content audit includes going through your website, app, content management system (CMS), help center, current customer training materials, and other internal sources to identify strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and opportunities for improvement.
A thorough content audit has 3 steps:
- Gather: Dig into your website, social media channels, email campaigns, sales and marketing materials, customer service resources, internal documents, and more. Pull any content you think will be helpful and put it in a document.
- Organize: Sort your content into categories and include relevant information such as content type (blog, video, webinar, etc.), content purpose, product feature mentioned, page URL, author, accuracy, and relevance.
- Evaluate: Determine the current state of each piece of content. Is it accurate? Does it reflect the current state of your product? Does it still speak to your customers’ needs? If you gave this to a customer today, would it help them?
Now separate the “good-to-go” content from the stuff that needs some TLC and find knowledge gaps.
Are certain features under-represented?
Are there recurring themes among support tickets, and do you have content that addresses them?
Do you have content that answers the most common queries in your help center?
Once you pinpoint gaps, you can approach stakeholders and ask for specific resources.
Now go ask for them with a solid business case.
Making a Business Case for Digital Customer Education
“Can I have X, Y, and Z?” probably won’t be enough to consistently secure resources for your digital customer education program.
Instead, try this: “Can I have X, Y, and Z? It’ll help you with A, B, and C.”
You can sum up A, B, and C into a business case or an overview of why internal stakeholders should help you out.
The goal of your business case is to show your teams that their investment in your program will actually help them.
Identify Business—and Team—Needs
The core of your business case will depend on who you’re talking to. To make a solid business case, you need to understand what each team leader (CMO, CTO, etc.) cares about.
- Marketing → Lead conversion rate, customer acquisition cost (CAC), lead volume
- Sales → Sales cycle length, win rate
- Product → Product adoption, feature usage, NPS
- Support → Tickets, first contact resolution (FCR), average handling time (AHT), team cost
- Customer Success → Time to first value (TTFV), upsells, customer lifetime value (CLTV)
Once you understand what each team cares about, collect data supporting customer education’s impact on those metrics. If you don’t have any data, show them how customer education will help and how you’ll calculate its impact.
How to Show the Impact of Customer Education and Training
Measuring the impact of digital customer education isn’t as challenging or time-consuming as you may think. Your first step is to define a “trained customer.”
- Someone who completed a certification program.
- Someone who completed 10 courses in your academy.
- Someone who completed 5 learning paths on specific topics.
From there, you can compare any of the above metrics of trained and untrained customers.
For example, if a trained customer submits an average of 1 ticket per month and an untrained one submits 5 during the same time, you can tell your Support team that trained customers submit 80% fewer support tickets.
If you’re asking your Customer Success team for help, you can show them the cost savings of customer education and training.
Consider a sample organization with 20 CSMs who dedicate 30% of their time to customer education, including 1:1 training, emails, and sending materials. That equates to 12,480 hours annually, costing the company $780K annually.
Considering that the ideal amount of time CSMs should spend on customer training is about
10%, traditional customer education costs the company $520K annually or more than 8,000 hours of CSM time.
Said another way, a manual customer education program costs them $520K on training-related expenses.
This also means that traditional customer education's inefficiency and performance losses are equivalent to four full-time employees whose time could be better spent on revenue and retention activities, like relationship building and success planning.
Prepare for Objections
As solid as your business case will be, objections are inevitable, so be prepared.
- Objection: We’re already swamped with Zoom meetings and firefighting. Each CSM actively works with dozens of customers, so they have no time to expand their workload.
- Response: Customer education is an efficiency play. Helping us with resources now will free up your CSMs to focus on relationship-building and other strategic initiatives that drive retention.
- Objection: Our product is always evolving, so anything we create now may not be relevant in a few months. Keeping everything up to date would require significant resources and take the team away from product improvements.
- Response: Customer education resources are “living documents,” and we’ll update them as the product evolves—with your partnership. Frequently updating content is also a good way to keep customers engaged with your product and excited about what’s new.
- Objection: Additional resources could dilute or conflict with the brand message without proper oversight from the Marketing team. We’re also concerned that the message won’t remain consistent.
- Response: This is a collaboration, and Marketing will be involved every step of the way to ensure the content is positioned correctly and aligns with the brand voice, tone, and overall specifications. It’s also worth noting that quality content can enhance our brand image by showing customers that we’re invested in their success.
- Objection: More education will make prospects more critical of our product. It’ll also remove some of the need for prospects to engage directly with customers during the sales process.
- Response: Well-informed customers make buyers more confident and likely to buy. Your academy can also be a unique selling point by showing prospects that you’re committed to their long-term success.
- Objection: Reps are already drowning in tickets. Asking them to help you with resources will take them away from immediate, more pressing customer issues.
- Response: The content will aim to reduce reliance on support by answering common questions and navigating repetitive challenges. Not only will this mean customers are less likely to default to reps, but existing ones will have more capacity, meaning that you may not have to hire more.
You may also get “this isn’t our problem” (probably in a nice, less passive-aggressive way)—and that’s fine. Sales, Marketing, Product, Support, and Customer Success are under immense pressure to deliver value. For team leaders, that means dedicating all of their resources to their goals, not yours.
But come to the table with valid responses at the ready, and you shouldn’t have a problem circumventing their initial concerns.
Powering Ahead with Digital Customer Education (and A lot More Resources)
Your digital customer academy's long-term success and sustainability rely almost entirely on your ability to fill it with personalized and in-depth content consistently. For many teams, however, securing those resources can be a challenge.
That doesn’t have to be the case. By evaluating the current resource and making a solid business case to the stakeholders you’re asking for help, you can secure resources now and in the future.