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Customer Education Expert Q&A Series: Melanie Gallo, Zenefits

Customer Education Expert Q&A Series: Melanie Gallo, Zenefits

Melanie Gallo
August 12, 2020
Customer Spotlight
Training Strategy

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world, and Customer Educators are adapting to keep up with constantly changing business priorities. We’ve asked our customers what they’re doing to cope with the current global landscape and how their work has been changing. In this edition, Melanie Gallo from Zenefits shares her insights.

Tell us a little bit about your company. How do you leverage customer education to support your customers and/or the industry?

Melanie: Zenefits’ Customer Education program is built around enabling our customers to realize the full value of their platform and integrations. Courses are online, mostly microlearning and broken out by role/user profile. For example, there are learning paths for new users by role (admin, manager, employee) for each specific Zenefits SaaS package, as well as add ons. We also offer video content that is domain-specific and important HR topics for SMBs (that is product agnostic).

Since we are a younger, born-in-the-cloud SaaS company, our products are continuing to evolve so we release content regularly on the new features and enhancements. New product and training releases are announced through Beamer (announcements located on all users Zenefits dashboard). When new customers implement and onboard with Zenefits, they either go through a self-serve or a guided experience. Both experiences are task/milestone-driven and a component of Customer Education is integrated into each step.

Education is also integrated with our Advocate hub (Influitive). Not only do customers get badges and rewards in the hub for completing training, they also get notified of new courses as soon as they are released and can comment and discuss training. Since COVID-19, the number of training discussions has greatly increased, especially around how to use Zenefits to support changes due to the CARES Act and PPP. There is also a certification that uses Skilljar’s LinkedIn integration.

How have customer learning behaviors changed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak? What new demands are you hearing from your customers?

Consumption of customer training has grown immensely since COVID-19. In response, we created a COVID resource center that contains webcasts (HR Office Hours) on trending topics and questions from SMBs, as well as product enhancements to support new acts (like the PPP Loan). Every week, we review questions coming in from our customer base (through our Advisory team, our Advocacy portal, and Workest) and then produce the webcast. We often solicit customers to be guest speakers during these webcasts.

Typically access to our training is restricted to Zenefits customers; however, with the support of Skilljar, our COVID-19 resources are also available on a free public domain: officehours.zenefits.com.

How is your Customer Education team adapting to help customers right now? What are you doing to increase your impact? What accommodations are you making?

To increase our impact, we are scaling our onboarding and enablement efforts. Last year, we released a live enablement program for certain cohorts of customers. The program has been a huge success so we knew we needed a way to scale it for all Zenefits customers. In order to scale the program, it was imperative that we make it self-serve, online, and integrated with our advocacy platform (ClubZen) so that our existing, successful admins could ‘mentor’ and provide advice to new admins on questions regarding product setup and configuration, as well as best and common practices. A side benefit to this being that it also drives down Support case volume for new companies within the first 90 days. In order to make this happen, we used Skilljar’s Catalog Pages as our foundation of the program (Accelerate).

We also analyzed churn data to determine the top 5 features customer’s who churn in the first 90 days do not set up. Each of these 5 features were then broken out into steps that guide the customer through setup, onboarding, and enablement. Each step links to a dedicated ClubZen channel with challenges and discussions specific to the space (non-ClubZen admins can join via an integration between Skilljar and Influitive).

Links to Accelerate are also embedded into the product. For customers that are configuring their own product, a link to our Accelerate program is available on their set up checklist. A concern was that new customers might not understand what Accelerate is or what the benefits of Accelerate are when they see the checklist for the first time. To help mitigate this, a Zenefits team member recorded a welcome/expectations video that explains set up steps, Accelerate benefits, and ClubZen prior to the customer seeing the checklist for the first time. In order to continue the ‘theme’/ ‘in-person’ guide, the same person also recorded a next steps video for customers who complete the checklist, as well as an introduction video for each of the steps in Accelerate.

What trends are you observing? For example, increased student hours, student registrations, courses delivered, new audiences served (prospects?), new content delivered?

At first, we saw a spike in new students taking training. Now, we are seeing repeat users taking additional training. We’ve also seen an uptick in customers talking about the benefits of training in ClubZen. Accordingly, we’ve challenged some ClubZen members by asking them to share advice they would want to give to a new admin and what advice they wish they had received as a new Zenefits administrator. The majority of responses say take the training (!) and join ClubZen.

How do you think this will change your operations moving forward?

We are continuing to look for ways to expand onboarding and enablement efforts past the 90 day mark to keep engagement and product usage high. We are also developing more advanced training opportunities (power users) and offering elevated status and badges in ClubZen to promote users’ mastery and expand certification.

The impact of COVID-19 on SMBs will not go away soon, so we are paying attention to what’s going on with our customers/SMBs in the US, changing laws, and what we can do to help.  All of our teams, including Product and Engineering, are ready to turn on a dime to support SMBs during this pandemic.

What new colleagues are you engaging with that you haven’t worked with before?

There are a lot to list… Since we’ve gone remote, the collaboration across teams and locations has been amazing. Our company has always believed in leveling the playing field for SMBs (more like tipping the scale 🙂 ) and as soon as this pandemic hit America, we all knew we had to act fast to help. My team and I work more with Communications, Marketing, C-suite, Sales and even closer with Product and Engineering. We’re in the process of a Skilljar reskin with our Design team so that it is on-brand to our new zenefits.com website that just received a “Webby Honoree” award.

Our customer services (Customer Education, enablement, and advisory) are differentiators that strive to make customers successful and have customer feedback to substantiate. Sales is now actively promoting our services and including me (or someone from the team) more in the sales process to talk about our offerings and benefits.

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