Customer training is an emerging discipline that combines a diverse set of skills. Successful candidates need to be able to craft a story, communicate effectively with their audience, produce quality content, and measure results.
In the context of training customers (as opposed to training employees), successful candidates must also be flexible, fast-moving, and capable of working cross-functionally with other business leaders.
Historically, learning and development has been a relatively conservative industry. The most common instructional design framework, ADDIE, is based on "waterfall" principles where each stage is carefully analyzed and agreed upon before moving to the next. This approach is sometimes at odds with fast-moving companies that operate in an agile environment. As a result, it's often difficult for customer success teams to find experienced training professionals that are also aligned with agile company culture and eager to drive business results.
In this blog post, we cover four non-traditional places where you can look to find your next customer trainer.
Content marketers are accustomed to educating prospects with industry thought leadership and value-add material. Producing eBooks, webinars, and blogs requires many of the same skills as customer education storytelling, content development, and data analysis. In addition, many content marketers have multimedia production skills, such as creating YouTube videos and interactive HTML5 simulations.
Another plus is that content marketers are typically metrics-driven. They report ROI metrics like number of downloads, engagement, and downstream conversion. These can be naturally adapted to customer training.
Technical writers, communication majors, and documentation specialists have strong writing and editing skills. They are experienced with distilling complex systems and concepts into simple outlines and digestible documentation. These competencies are very transferable to training, particularly on-demand training. To be most effective, we'd advise to also screen these candidates for multimedia content capabilities and their ability to interact directly with customers.
Video producers are a natural fit for training. They are great storytellers, think visually, and can produce a wide range of content. They naturally think about what will resonate with their audience, and what viewers will remember and absorb from the content. Look for video producers who have created training videos, are project oriented, and have explored interactive videos and short-form content.
Customer Success Managers
Just as content developers can be molded into customer trainers, customer success managers can be molded into content developers! A common path is for CSMs who enjoy onboarding and training to evolve into leading customer education. CSMs are naturally good with customers, understand the product, and can break down complex topics into simple steps. They also have empathy for other roles on the customer success team and are supportive of overall business goals.
Your next customer trainer doesn't need to have an instructional design degree or teaching background. Finding a motivated individual from a non-traditional background may be a stronger fit with the agile culture and results-driven mindset of a modern, innovative organization. Next time you're hiring a customer trainer, look for candidates from new places - content marketing, technical writing, video production, and your own customer success team!