What are the biggest issues facing customer success teams as they scale their customer onboarding and training programs?
Whether you are just starting on your customer onboarding program, or manage a fully scaled customer success team, you'll likely face many of the challenges that we've outlined below.
Read on for common pain points in customer training and our quick tips on how to solve them.
#1. Maintaining your content
Whether you are training customers through live instructors, customer success managers, outsourced partners, or eLearning, your product is most likely updated on a regular basis, as well as best practices for how it used. This is a particular issue for software products that are updated continuously, but also applies to physical products and non-tangible topics like continuing education.
Here are some successful strategies:
- Develop a single source of content under your control. It's far easier to update an eLearning module in one place that everyone refers to, than it is to reach out to a distributed network in an ad-hoc and untrackable way.
- Modularize your content into bite-sized chunks. When updating a small part of training, you don't have to re-record an entire video or SCORM file. This is also general best practice for eLearning content.
- Minimize use of version-specific details or screenshots where possible. For basic concepts, using visuals built in Powerpoint, live action, and animations is a way to decouple your training materials from your product exactly as it looked at that point in time.
#2. Releasing new content
Many companies focus customer training on the initial onboarding phase, where resource bottlenecks typically first appear. However, to get the most value from your product or service, your advanced users need additional content that is relevant to the later stages of their customer journey. This is particularly an issue for companies who sell training subscription passes, since users need to continually engage with tfresh content to get the value of the pass (think of how you use subscription services like Netflix).
When developing your training content strategy, we recommend planning for advanced topics and developing new content that will provide your customers with long-term value beyond the initial implementation.
#3. Pursuing one-to-many strategies
In the early days of customer onboarding and training, many companies (including Skilljar) pursue a one-on-one approach. Inevitably, you'll reach a point where you need to scale your customer base faster than you can scale internal headcount. Customer success teams therefore start employing "one-to-many" strategies including on-demand training and public webinars. Sometimes, these are even dedicated positions within a Customer Success organization.
In this transition, companies are concerned about the quality of the customer experience and losing the feedback loop with customers. While these are valid concerns, we find that customer satisfaction scores can actually be increased when combining one-to-many with one-on-one strategies in a thoughtful way.
#4. Using your CSMs wisely
As your customer base grows, CSMs often find themselves spending an increasing amount of time on basic and repeatable activities. At Skilljar, we've worked with clients whose CSMs spend over 25% of their time on basic training instead of working on strategic accounts and other high-value activities.
One approach is to hire more junior CSMs for basic activities and escalate as needed. However, customers can be frustrated by working with junior staff who aren't as familiar with the product. This is particularly worrisome since onboarding is such a critical touchpoint that sets the tone for the rest of the customer relationship. A more effective approach we've seen is to create a dedicated onboarding and implementation function which includes activities like training, project management, and professional services. This enables efficient scaling for onboarding and frees up the CSMs to focus on account management.
#5. Offering retraining for customer success
As your customers hire more team members and/or add additional seats, new users also need to be trained on your product even though it's after the initial implementation. Regular product refreshers are also commonly recommended. One strategy for encouraging this is to offer product certifications that expire after a defined period of time, typically 1 year.
#6. Addressing customer diversity
Customers have different preferences when it comes to interacting with your company. Some people prefer self-paced learning, others prefer 3-day in-classroom sessions. Big companies have different budgets than small companies, and industry verticals have different expectations around training as well. These preferences vary across individuals, companies, geographies, languages and more.
As you scale customer training, you'll likely receive requests to expand the types and modalities of training that you offer. Sorting through the highest ROI activities and determining expansion plans is more challenging with an increasingly large and diverse customer base.
#7. Calculating ROI
Customer success, training, and education teams are frequently challenged on how to measure the ROI of their activities. It's not as simple as measuring new revenue for sales, or number of tickets and resolution time for support. Customer training is highly cross-functional and pays dividends over a longer period of time, with improved product usage, customer value, and ultimately renewals and revenue.
Defining, implementing, and measuring the ROI of customer training is vital to ensuring customer success, as well as demonstrating the business case for training to your stakeholders. We have an entire Ebook dedicated to this topic: How to Measure the ROI of Customer Training.
We hope you've gotten useful tips and tricks to apply as you design and scale your customer training program. For more information, download our eBook, How to Scale Customer Onboarding.