Understanding Time to Value & How to Decrease it with Customer Education

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Andrew Brown ·

Oct 20, 2021

Months of R&D. Multiple tests. A multi-channel marketing campaign. All of this time and energy spent to cut the ribbon on a new product. On the big day, hundreds of customers — old and new — show up, excited to try it out. Unfortunately, the excitement quickly wanes and usage plummets. But why? More likely than not, it’s because you didn’t demonstrate value. Said another way, there was a high Time to Value (TTV).

What’s Time to Value?

Time to Value (TTV) measures the amount of time it takes for one of your customers to realize the expected value and benefits of your product. 

What Are Examples of TTV? 

  • You download design software that’s supposed to decrease the amount of time it takes you to create marketing collateral. In this example, TTV represents the amount of time it takes for you to see creation time decrease. 
  • You’re a driver for a food delivery app expecting to make additional money every week. TTV is the amount of time it takes for you to see your bank account grow.
  • You’re launching a customer academy with a learning management system (LMS). Your goal is to accelerate onboarding and reduce support costs. TTV is the amount of time it takes for these two things to happen. 

In the above examples, it’s up to these companies to demonstrate value fast. If they fail, they’ll run into a host of problems: 

  • Less product adoption 
  • Lower product usage 
  • Poor customer retention 
  • More customer churn 
  • Loss of revenue

It goes without saying, but the points listed above can’t happen. If they do, it will be detrimental to the success of the business. So businesses need to do what they can to ensure TTV for their customers.

Are There Other Types of Time to Value? 

You bet. The definition of TTV above is the gold standard, but it doesn’t end there. There are other types of TTV to keep in mind: 

  1. Time to Basic Value: The amount of time it takes a new customer to see the tip of the “value” iceberg. 
  2. Time to Exceed Value: The amount of time it takes for your product to exceed a customer’s expectations. In essence, they see a new level of value. 
  3. Immediate Time to Value: The amount of time it takes for someone to quickly realize the value of your product.
  4. Long Time to Value: Value that takes effect over the long haul.
  5. Short Time to Value: Value that takes effect in a short period and keeps your customers wanting more.

All of these definitions are paramount to retaining customers. If your customers don’t see the value, they won’t use your product. If they don’t use your product, they don’t become advocates inside their company. And without advocates, they won’t fight for more budget to pay for your product.

How Can You Decrease TTV? 3 Surefire Ways

A high TTV is a red flag on its own, but an even bigger one is not addressing it and watching your customers walk out the door. To prevent that from happening, focus on onboarding, customer service and support, and maintain an always-on academy. 

1. Easy and Efficient Onboarding

Decreasing TTV in any meaningful way starts with onboarding. No, I’m not talking about the time-consuming training of the past (e.g., in-person instruction and lengthy manuals). These tactics are far too slow, unengaging and restricting. Collectively, these pitfalls all diminish the onboarding process. After days — maybe even weeks — your customers will still be light years away from realizing the value of your product.

You need the inverse of this; an onboarding process that’s quick, easy and kicks off the second your customers need it. This means you must have in-depth in-app guides, product overviews, blog posts, how-to articles and more ready to go. Even better, have a learning management system (LMS) power all of this and deliver this content exactly when your customers need it. For example, after they sign the dotted line, the technology immediately sends them the content they need to log in for the first time.

2. Personalized Customer Success and Service

Getting initial product adoption is something to be proud of, but it’s only half the battle. As your product evolves and you release new features and capabilities, your customers will need to learn about them. This means that you must have a robust Customer Success and Services team in their corner to provide guidance. For these interactions to be impactful, it’s essential that they’re personalized to each customer use case (i.e., show them how the new feature or capability can help them.) Without this granular knowledge, they may not get total value.

The challenge here is that this is hard to scale. Even with dozens of customers, it will be tough for your teams to maintain these meaningful relationships. At most, they’ll be able to have a one-off Zoom meeting. More than likely, this won’t be enough. Again, this is a missed opportunity. But if you support your Customer Success and Service teams with an LMS, they can continually deliver the content your customers need as your product evolves. Then, if they need additional education, they can reach your teams, who now have significantly more time to have strategic conversations.

3. Create an Always-on Academy

Despite your best efforts, you can’t always be there to help your customers. Maybe they only have time to learn at night after your teams have gone home for the day or they can only do it on their way to work when it’s too noisy to chat live. If your customers don’t have an alternative way to learn, they’ll have no way to level up their knowledge. This is why you need to have an always-on academy that gives them the ability to learn whenever and wherever they are. Then, if they need additional information or have follow-up questions, they can reach out to your teams during working hours. 

Now, take a step back and think about the three different ways outlined above. What do they have in common? They all give your customers what they need to be successful with your product. When they’re successful, they stick around for the long haul

Final Thoughts 

The worst thing you can do is assume that your customers will automatically grab the reins and start flying. Before they get there, you have to show them why and how your product or update is worth their time — and you have to do it at light speed. This isn’t a product thing. It’s a life thing. If someone doesn’t understand something or see why it’s valuable, they’re not using it. This is why it's so important to do everything in your power to decrease Time to Value. Full stop.

About the Author
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Andrew Brown

Andrew is a Content Marketing Manager. When he's not creating, you can find him watching the Buffalo Sabres, obsessing about Scandinavia or exploring NYC.

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