As a Manager of Customer Implementation at Skilljar, I’m familiar with the challenges and frustrations that typically accompany customer onboarding. Skilljar is the leading Customer Training Platform, and we work with hundreds of technology companies of all sizes to accelerate product adoption and increase customer retention.
Because we use Skilljar ourselves, we understand what it’s like to build and implement a customer onboarding program and can empathize with our customers’ frustrations. At Skilljar, we don’t just talk the customer education talk, we walk the walk. And here’s a peek of how we did it.
The Skilljar Onboarding Journey
In Skilljar’s early days, our Customer Success Team experienced several of the same challenges faced by many of our customers. In particular, our user base was growing but our current training program struggled to scale effectively.
Customer Success Managers (CSMs) found themselves in a position where more time was spent on product training and education than on strategically collaborating with customers on the execution of their training site. The CSMs were stretched thin, resulting in lengthy implementation timelines and an overwhelming time investment required for each successful site launch.
When we initially recognized our own need for a formalized customer onboarding program we asked ourselves a number of the same questions we seek from our customers:
- What are the foundational skills we need to learn to be successful with Skilljar?
- How do we create (or re-purpose) content to teach those skills?
- What content creation tools or resources are available?
- How does the training site fit into our larger learning ecosystem such as a help center, in-app education, webinars, 1:1 product walkthroughs, certifications, etc.?
- How can I ensure that relevant content is surfaced to our students at a manageable pace?
- How do I market training and communicate my training site to existing customers?
- How do I measure success once my students are engaging with my training content?
Based on our answers to these questions, our team began to lay the groundwork for our customer onboarding program. We created a comprehensive Help Center, developed Customer Support outlets like Zendesk and in-app support for product education and troubleshooting, and built an overarching customer project plan to better facilitate and manage implementations. All of this work culminated in us launching our very own education and onboarding program, Skilljar Academy.
Building Skilljar Academy
Our process for developing Skilljar Academy was no different than what our own customers go through. By leveraging insights from our initial customer launches, evaluating our recurring education-related support tickets, and following best practices on launching an LMS, we identified that the following content types and design features would be most impactful for our audience and training site:
- An onboarding course series to provide an overview of Skilljar’s approach to implementation, including video tutorials, written walk-throughs, and in-app activities
- “Quick Tips” lessons that provide brief explanations of specific product functionality,
- Repurposed materials, including past eBooks and Webinars, that contain valuable material for new customers
- Easy-to-find buttons linking students to their Skilljar dashboard, our Help Center, and other resources within our greater training ecosystem
It’s unsurprising that creating high-quality content is not an easy process, and given its importance, we also knew that it was not a project we should rush through without a plan or prioritization. As we worked through our development plan, it became clear that the crawl-walk-run approach we often recommend to our customers would also be the most effective for our own content development needs.
The Crawl-Walk-Run Approach to Content Development
This strategy focuses on prioritizing your content development needs by identifying the most necessary and valuable requirements for your training site to be effective. In other words, this process identifies the content that is a necessity for your customers and prioritizes it based on the level of effort required to create it.
At Skilljar, we started with the essentials: a series of onboarding courses that provide training around our product and insight into Skilljar’s approach to implementation. After releasing this initial course series on Skilljar Academy, our team continued to identify other training gaps, particularly in the initial phases of onboarding. Uncovering these gaps enabled us to outline an initial collection of Quick Tips videos that drilled deeper into areas where additional training was needed.
By following this process of incremental development, our team was able to successfully meet our initial launch date. This continued process also helps us regularly evaluate our customers’ engagement levels with our content to both optimize and re-prioritize accordingly.
Skilljar Academy Today
Today, Skilljar Academy offers a variety of on-demand training courses our customers can take at their own convenience to learn about our product and implementation process. This approach enables our Customer Success Team to focus their conversations on the strategic components of a successful program launch, rather than product basics. As our team continues to grow and learn, we continue to update and add to Skilljar Academy, both for existing customers and for new users just getting started with Customer Education and onboarding.
Skilljar is in the unique position of being able to make use of its own technology to help ourselves and others. If you find yourself in a similar position, I highly recommend taking advantage of your position. There’s no greater empathy you can possess with your customers than becoming one yourself.
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