Intercom knows a thing or two about customer conversations. As a platform that delivers messenger-based experiences through live chat, bots, apps, product tours, and more, they help organizations like IBM, Microsoft and Facebook build better customer relationships. It’s one thing to create a platform that enables personal connections at a time when it’s never been harder to reach customers – it’s another to ensure your very busy customers take the time to learn how to use it.
Intercom’s Customer Engagement team is dedicated to guiding customers through the Intercom product with targeted messages, educational PDFs, webinars, in-product videos, and more. And to ensure relevancy, they reach out to their customers regularly to learn how they can help them get more value from Intercom. It soon became apparent that meeting customer needs could best be addressed through long-form training.
“Creating content to not only help people achieve the job to be done, but to excel at their jobs, was something we’d wanted to do for a long time,” said Danielle Swanser, Product Education Manager for Intercom. “Hearing this from customers encouraged us to start working with Skilljar on Intercom Academy.”
Intercom Academy empowers people with the skills they need today and skills they will need to grow in the long term. In less than 18 months since launching, Intercom Academy has already had over 15,000 course registrations with over 5,000 completions. We sat down with Swanser, and Thomas Creighton de Farias, Former Product Education Manager for Intercom, to learn more about how they worked with Skilljar to set up Intercom Academy and how they use it to build better customer relationships through educational content.
From Small Talk to Engaging Conversations
Intercom’s Customer Engagement team had historically created a lot of educational content. But through conversations with their customers, they recognized a need to go beyond their typical training experiences to help people achieve larger, career-based goals. Examples of these types of goals include building an effective conversational support team and becoming a conversational support expert or Sales Development Rep (SDR) Pro.
In fact, since Intercom addresses a global need for connection, they don’t restrict their content to just customers. Intercom’s learning platform is open to anyone interested in mastering conversational relationships. (Click here to view Intercom Academy and try one of their courses for free!)
A Conversation About Support
Skilljar enables Intercom Academy to use various content types and course structures to build customer relationships and create an enjoyable experience. Creighton de Farias told us: “We sat down with our subject matter experts to create on-demand content with a focus on conversational support and engagement that could target a wide range of roles that use our product — from support reps and managers to marketers and sales reps.”
Their newest series on the “Conversational Support Funnel” is a collection of four short courses – one course for each level of Intercom’s Conversational Support Funnel framework. “This reinforces the flexibility of the framework and we’ve found it encourages course completion too,” said Creighton de Farias.
A Conversation About Content
Beyond support content, there are many opportunities to develop topics for Intercom Academy that can help build customer relationships and engagement. According to Swanser, ideas for new courses come from many places:
- Internal teams such as Sales, Support, Content, and Product are consulted to understand where customers could benefit from educational content.
- The Intercom Messenger is used on Intercom Academy to ask learners to leave feedback and suggest courses they’d like to see.
- There’s also a module asking for course recommendations right under the list of available courses which integrates with Intercom’s Custom Bot product to take suggestions in real time.
- Intercom reviews conversations and reaches out to users of their customer forum, Interconnected, to assess customer needs that could be addressed through course content.
A Conversation About Engagement
Intercom uses their own Messenger to supply video steps within a Product Tour to increase course engagement. In this example of the Product Tour of the Intercom inbox, a video message displays for each section of the inbox overview to explain how it works.
In longer courses, the same type of chat message (lower-right corner) is used to give further explanation to course material.
These messages are also used in final lessons before graduation to introduce a completion badge (with confetti!).
A Conversation About Metrics
Intercom uses data tracked in their own system to make sure they’re triggering the right message type on the right page.
Overall, Swanser sees that Academy students are more engaged and activate better than those who don’t interact with Academy. (Activation refers to getting users to take the actions that will enable them to see value in the product/feature they’re using.)
Swanser reported the following success metrics for the first 18 months of Intercom Academy:
- Over 15,000 course registrations, with over 5,000 completions.
- With eight courses available, Intercom’s course completion rate has been about 40%, (based on quarterly averages).
- Their recent Conversational Support Funnel Series (a collection of shorter courses <20 minutes) has seen increased completion rates of over 55%.
A Conversation About the Future
Intercom is looking forward to targeting more relevant content to their customers. For example, they’re working on a “Getting Started” course based on the questions customers ask in their first 30 days, as told to their Customer Success Managers (CSMs). They’re expecting to see an increase in course completions due to this added relevancy, and in turn, make their customers more successful.
Creighton de Farias said, “We’re in a great position to experiment, trying courses of different lengths and formats based on different topics.”
In addition to trying new course formats and more precise targeting, Intercom continues to add courses for more roles and use cases across their business. “The on-demand content we create for Intercom Academy is a resource we make available for free to all Intercom customers,” said Swanser. “It’s in our interest that every customer is as successful with Intercom as they can be, and with this content being on-demand, it’s ideal for educating at scale.”