In our recent webinar, Skilljar’s Director of Customer Success, May ElHattab, hosted a conversation with Heidi Feurig, Director, Customer Education for Zywave, on how her team works with Customer Success to drive cross-functional business value for training.
Heidi has been with Zywave, a SaaS solution for insurance brokers and financial planners, for 16 years. In that time she’s seen a lot of changes for Customer Success, and essentially the rise of Customer Education. She brings a unique perspective on the importance of the Customer Education/Customer Success partnership and how it can be used to drive business results.
“One of the top five items that is most important to a consumer when they’re making a decision on who to do business with is how they’re going to be supported. And that’s very important within Zywave’s organization.”— Heidi Feurig
“When mapping your customer journey, it’s key to collaborate with cross-functional partners. Setting expectations up front goes a long way and builds collaboration into the process from the start.”— May ElHattab
So grab your coffee and read the recap of how Zywave uses Customer Education and Customer Success to fuel results for lead generation, customer onboarding, product adoption, customer health, and renewals, revenue, and expansion.
1. Add new customers (Lead Generation)
Customer Education helps internal teams guide the customer journey from the very start, before they are even customers.
At Zywave, they don’t expect their Sales or Customer Success teams to understand their complete library of solutions in their training catalog. But they do work very closely with Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success to put together marketing collateral that explains their self-service training platform, Zywave University.
They make sure all teams understand the variety of trainings offered because people learn in different ways. The Education team shares success stories and metrics, NPS scores, and more on how training helps customers become successful with their solutions. Those marketing materials are designed by the training team and used in the sales process to help internal teams better communicate with prospects.
“Potential customers want more support, and they want a training and implementation experience that supports their purchase.”— Heidi Feurig
2. Accelerate customer onboarding
“Inserting Customer Education into the onboarding process is key to scaling and accelerating time to value.”— May ElHattab
While one-on-one training support is great, the reality is, for any company that needs to scale and build their customer base, one-on-one training by itself is no longer a viable solution. It takes more time to support repetitive discussions or specific needs and you might not even be hitting the right personas or audiences at the right time. This is where an education program can help to streamline that process. Like Zywave University, it can be a combination of on-demand and self-serve training.
Having a variety of ways for learners to understand the solutions before them is key, according to Heidi. At Zywave University, they’ve created three main ways for customers to learn:
- Fundamentals certification (Everything a new user absolutely needs to know to successfully use the solution)
- On-demand training (For those that don’t have time to attend live sessions)
- In-product training (Instructions appear in the product through a blue question mark or a link to a training or article within Zywave University)
“The components of your Customer Education program can’t just live in the heads of the training team. It’s important to enable other teams (Customer Success, Sales, and Support) that talk to your customers to use your platform as a tool so they don’t have to take on the training work themselves.”— Heidi Feurig
3. Improve product adoption
“95% of our customers who complete a training session, whether it’s related to a product release or not, say they are comfortable using our solution and can continue to log in and be successful with it.”— Heidi Feurig
As a company continues to grow and evolve, it adds product features. You want to have new functionality and new areas for customers to explore. Also, as you continue to mature as a program and as a company, putting out thought leadership content is a great way to establish yourself as the experts at what you do. To this end, it’s important for Customer Education to be aligned with new product releases. Heidi explained how this process has evolved at Zywave.
Zywave holds cross-functional meetings including representatives from Customer Success, Sales, Product Marketing and Customer Education, in addition to the Product team. They make sure they are all aligned as an organization regarding the purpose of the feature and how it’s going to help customers. That positioning goes into all the work that is done surrounding the product, whether that’s a sales demo, a product marketing message, a Customer Success strategy call, external communications, or their training programs.
They have cross-functional team chats in which team members can ask questions, get clarification, and everything is documented internally in Confluence. So teams can always go back and look at positioning and what other teams are doing to support a release.
All of this information is shared prior to a release going out to customers. They update training collateral specifically for Customer Education purposes before the feature goes live. Often, that collateral is connected via an internal app queue message announcing the new feature and how to learn more about it.
Product marketing also sends an internal email announcing the release, which Customer Success and Support use in case they get questions. The idea is to look at the experience as a whole from the customer perspective and work together across teams with that collective knowledge of what the customer base needs to be successful.
Another successful program Heidi’s team initiated was a training spotlight series. Whether it’s a new product feature or specific workflow, they offer additional training at no additional cost to support special items on a regular basis, as needed.
4. Improve customer health (NPS, CSAT)
“At Skilljar, we find that NPS scores are almost double for our trained customers versus not trained customers.”— May ElHattab
With all that goes into Customer Success and Customer Education, it’s important to see the outcome of that work. How do you prove everything you’re putting through is actually resonating with customers and end users?
Two ways to measure customer health are through NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction). For businesses that don’t use their own Business Insights tools, Skilljar offers a Customer Education Business Impact Template, which helps customers tie information on trained customers to business-level metrics like NPS and CSAT to report back internally to program stakeholders.
When it comes to measuring customer health, Heidi advises to start small, measuring whatever statistics you have access to. One of the more important statistics that Zywave looks at outside of satisfaction scores like NPS and CSAT is customer time to value (TTV). They created TTV benchmarks for each of their solutions by measuring the time from the contract effective date to the close of project implementation. One solution might have a TTV of 30 days in which a customer should be able to successfully use the solution, whereas another might be between 60-90 days.
Their objective is to have 50% of their customers hit the benchmark when closing out the project. If the solution falls short, they need to examine the process from the whole customer experience, not just the training component.
They found that a key factor was how they were communicating with the customer about training. They improved their email communications to make them more user-friendly, actionable and clear. With this approach, they were able to improve their benchmark, almost reaching the goal of 50%.
“If training success is falling below expectations, look at it from the larger lens of the entire experience rather than just assuming that the problem is the training program. That’s just another great example of how you work together across teams to find and fill gaps in the experience.”— Heidi Feurig
5. Drive renewals, revenue, and expansion
“Without a Customer Education process or cross-functional collaboration with Product Marketing or Customer Marketing to push out the right content, it’s a truly missed opportunity.”— May ElHattab
Once you’ve collaborated to add new customers, improve onboarding, increase product adoption, and improve customer health, there’s an opportunity for expansion, cross-sell, upsell, and even monetizing training!
Everyone wants to reduce churn and secure renewals, but there’s also a significant opportunity for Customer Success and Customer Education to come together on expansion, cross-sell, and upsell. According to Heidi, having an education program allows existing customers to discover new features they may not have enabled or add a new product to drive a specific business outcome.
Still, Heidi pointed out that there are some valid reasons for Customer Education not to monetize. It all depends on your business unit, but at Zywave, they decided that their training should also be a profit center. They spent a lot of time engaging with their Sales, Customer Education, Customer Success, and Product teams to understand the best ways to monetize.
They landed on two options for customers:
1. For the initial implementation, they offer a premium package in which customers can receive additional training for a one-time additional fee, on top of the out-of-the-box training from Zywave University.
2. They also created training packages of different levels (starter, business, and performance). It’s an annual contract of extra sessions that customers can purchase to refresh or brush up on training.
“With a packaging strategy that lasts for a year, we can plan and work with the customer to create a strategic training plan that will work for their organization. It benefits both the customer and Zywave because now we’re increasing adoption and stickiness.”— Heidi Feurig
There’s a lot of opportunity to work together as cross-functional partners to drive value for both customers and the business. Here’s a recap of May and Heidi’s key discussion points and closing words for our coffee chat attendees.
“One of the things I’ve learned working in CE over the past 20+ years is that customers want different options to consume their training. That’s why instructor-led training, along with on-demand and self-guided learning is the best way to support customer needs.”— Heidi Feurig
“Always tie training to business outcomes. Make sure you showcase how it impacts the bottom line, whether it is a cost center, whether you’re monetizing — show how it drives revenue and growth.”— May ElHattab
See more resources from Skilljar on how Customer Education can partner with Customer Success to drive business outcomes: