Skilljar Coffee Chats showcase different ways customers are using our platform, including demos with special guests. This month’s Customer Education Coffee Chat, hosted by Cutler Bleecker, Skilljar’s Customer Training Manager, featured a conversation with Christine Kim, VP Client Learning & Enablement, and Rachel Chan, Client Learning & Enablement Manager, of Basis Technologies.
Basis Technologies provides expert services and cutting-edge software for digital advertising and media management with Basis Demand-Side Platform (DSP). Christine and Rachel shared how they re-evaluated their education program and got internal buy-in to move to a hybrid training model, and also evolved their certification program to align with the company’s new branding.
The more a customer knows our software, the stickier that they’re going to be, which reduces churn and gets them to spend faster once they sign that contract.— Christine Kim
So grab your coffee and read the recap of how Basis Technologies took their certification program beyond education to create a place of community and networking for their customers.
Moving certifications from 1:1 to 1:many
Certification at Basis started with one-day events in a classroom setting as a means to educate customers about their software. In order to become officially certified in their digital media solutions, learners needed to complete a test. These events were held annually for about 100 clients. Once a year, one big event, over one hundred clients.
They evolved their certification program by creating multi-level programming. As they received feedback that clients wanted more learning opportunities, they began to host more in-person certification events over several days. Once they shifted to multiple days, they could host smaller sessions several times throughout the year.
For us, the certification became much more than teaching. It provided the space for our customers to learn from each other, versus just from us. it was a networking opportunity.— Rachel Chan
Once the pandemic hit in 2020, they needed to pivot and find new ways to deliver training and content. So their in-person certified sessions were held virtually over Zoom. They identified what worked well in their in-person programs and translated that to a virtual environment, i.e. they broke down two days’ worth of in-person training content into shorter bursts of content and engagement.
Evolving into a hybrid learning model
In 2020, they launched AdTech Academy to better support their training mission to “meet their learners where they are on their learning journey and take them where they want to go.”
The pandemic created the push they needed to explore and create self-paced versions of their certification program. Based on survey feedback they received, their clients were asking for flexibility. To meet that need, they created an on-demand certification program using the Skilljar LMS, as their program was becoming too much to manage manually — and too much to ask learners to sit through at one time.
At this time, they also signed with Credly to offer badging services and certificates issued to learners who completed their certification content.
By partnering with Credly and having that badging program, we’re able to drive awareness of our academy as well as for our company.— Christine Kim
They experimented with shorter, live sessions for four hours at a time, along with e-learning for topics that were less complicated. These e-learning sessions could also serve as pre-work, or inserted between instructor-led topics as a debrief. This is how they evolved to a flexible, hybrid model for their learning program.
Re-evaluate certification, reimagine training
During the pandemic, we realized that we needed to re-evaluate our certification programs, which led us to realize that we needed to reimagine our training program as well.— Christine Kim
In order to reimagine their training program, the Basis team considered learner needs, business needs, and business constraints, as described in the book, Design Thinking for Training and Development.
1. Learner wants and needs
To consider learner needs, they asked:
- What is delivering value to your learners?
- What solves the problems they have?
- What does a learner need and want in order to use your software?
For Basis, the answers depend on who the learner is. A brand new media buyer using their software for the first time is going to require a different set of skills than an industry user who may have just graduated college or is new to the ad tech ecosystem.
Then, the team considered:
- Would a certification always be the way to give learners what they need?
- Beyond content, are the right systems in place to support what learners need?
- If there is a system in place, is it streamlined and easily available?
In our early stages, during the pandemic and before we signed on with Skilljar, everything was everywhere. We had Zoom recordings. We had restricted content in SharePoint that only our customers could access. Obviously, that’s not a great learner experience or customer experience.— Christine Kim
2. Business needs
Every business has the ultimate goal to drive and increase revenue.
We agree with Skilljar that trained customers are our best customers. In order to grow revenue, our customers need to know how to use our software.— Christine Kim
Basis had a business need to educate two different audiences — customers of their software and the ad tech industry overall.
The team then had to consider how to balance business needs with business challenges.
3. Business constraints/challenges
Their previous model of in-person events did not allow them to scale and was an exhaustive use of company resources, including their subject matter experts’ time.
A learner travels with a defined starting point and requires multiple opportunities to retrieve and apply learning along the way. Even though Basis was creating multi-level certification programs, they lacked an ecosystem. There was no way for users to go back to something they wanted to learn more about or to introduce a new feature by providing a tutorial or best practices.
We realized we had to launch with an LMS that would provide us with a longer lasting footprint because ‘learning is not an event that happens once and done, it’s a journey.’— Christine Kim
While their certification program was successful, the team felt like they were throwing a lot of information at customers without knowing if it was being digested and there was no way to reinforce the learning. They wanted to instill habits in their customers that would lead them to find the information they needed, when they needed it.
They needed a way to keep learners engaged beyond certification. They had to consider the content that would be relevant post-certification and make that easily available to users. They considered:
- Where would this information live? In their Academy? Help Center?
- What are the differences between the content in each destination?
- Why would they direct customers to one place or the other?
- How would they keep their content up to date? (Ad tech moves really fast!)
Getting internal buy-in for your training program
Once they identified what they needed to do, the next step was to get internal buy-in. These are the stakeholders they would need to get on board in order to scale the program.
Here is the approach they used to get stakeholder buy-in for each group.
- Strategically talk to Marketing about how to include your academy and certification program within the go-to-market strategy.
- For the Product Marketing team, speak to the product benefits that are included in the academy and how it can help to communicate new or updated features.
- Outline the benefit of helping CS scale the 1:1 training they do with customers.
- Instead of spending time explaining how to use a feature, direct the customer to content created just for that purpose in your academy.
- Focus on strategic conversations with customers versus where to find a button.
- Invite CS team leaders to participate in content planning for the academy and explain how they can use it as a promotional vehicle.
- Use the insights Product hears directly from customers and cross-pollinate the topics in your academy with their findings.
- Invite the Product team to your live learning events to help them understand customer wants and needs.
- Send the Product team your survey results so that they can see how customers are reacting to your product.
- Explain how you can turn a day of tedious learning into something magical for customers.
- Create curated experiences under the umbrella of education, but with a networking and community component to expand the value for them.
Ta da! AdTech Academy relaunches in 2022
The culmination of the team’s effort to re-evaluate certifications and reimagine their training program resulted in a renewed AdTech Academy — on-demand content and in-person events that drive awareness of Basis Technologies through education and badge sharing.
Reviewing survey results and feedback helped us identify the need to develop microlearning courses, learning paths, and certification content.— Christine Kim
The first thing they realized when they relaunched AdTech Academy was the need for shorter pieces of information. This resulted in launch of courses, which are short lessons on key industry topics or features within the software. They have two sets of courses — one exclusive to their customers and one that’s available to industry learners.
They created learning paths for the topics they identified as needing more detail, such as for users in certain roles.
Like the courses, they have a set of certifications available for their customers and also the ad tech industry. These are more intensive learning experiences hosted in person on-demand or through the hybrid model. They offer badges for the completion of learning paths and certifications.
They partnered with their onboarding team to develop content that customers could access through on-demand training, in addition to formal onboarding sessions.
AdTech Academy supplements formal onboarding with on-demand trainings so users could go back if they have questions or want to learn more about something covered in live sessions. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback around this model from our customers.— Christine Kim
To recap the evolution of training and certification for Basis…
There’s so much value in seeing the evolution of our customers’ programs. Many of us had to pivot from in-person to on-demand and can benefit from this model for incorporating hybrid learning to offer live events in addition to on-demand training.— Cutler Bleecker
See more resources from Skilljar on how to grow your training and certification programs based on business and customer needs:
Badges, Certificates, and Certifications (eBook for a comprehensive guide to credentialing)
A Customer-First Approach to Professional Certifications (Webinar recap featuring Bluebeam)
Tips and Tricks for Renovating Your Learning Platform (Coffee chat recap featuring LogicMonitor)
Bringing Clarity for Credentials, Certifications, & Badges (Coffee chap recap featuring Credly)