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Customer Education with Solver

June’s Customer Education Coffee Chat featured a conversation with Debra Hawley, Academy Manager at Solver, a single, cloud-based accounting solution that automates reporting, consolidations, budgeting, and forecasting. Debra shared her process for structuring course catalog content through two distinct user journeys on Solver Academy, where she manages nearly 150 courses attracting more than 1,300 users.  

But First…An Update from Cutler’s Corner

Cutler began the Coffee Chat by discussing an emerging Customer Education trend: Customer Hubs. More organizations are striving to create a seamless experience for their customers by tying together training, knowledge bases, communities, external systems, help centers, and more – all in one place, usually through a single sign-on experience. 

Skilljar representation of Customer Hub

Ways that Skilljar can help support the emerging trend of Customer Hubs include:

  • Improved navigation/experience: It’s important to connect users to all of the resources they might need, without them feeling like they’re leaving your site. Skilljar’s platform is completely customizable, so you can create your ideal experience through front-end design.
  • Reduce the barrier to access: You can reduce friction within the experience by eliminating sign-in walls, which slow down access to different areas and resources. Through the use of Single-Sign-On users feel more connected and can flow seamlessly throughout your site.
  • Enhanced Data and reporting: Connect all of your user data and reporting on resource usage (e.g., # trainings completed, help articles read, support tickets issued) across all systems.
  • Matching customer expectations: Customers have a relationship with one brand, regardless of the number of systems supporting them. They shouldn’t have to jump through hoops because of a robust tech stack.

Skilljar will continue to follow and keep our community updated on the emerging trend of Customer Hubs in Customer Education.

Solver: Structuring Course Catalogs to Accommodate Two User Journeys

Debra Hawley from Solver said her plan for two user journeys “basically lived in her head” until she put pen to paper and started “brain dumping on the page.” Her thought process went something like this:

 “I wanted to accommodate two styles of learning: catalog pages for those who like to open a book and poke around to find what they’re looking for, and learning paths, for those who prefer a breadcrumb through the forest approach. For both, organizing by subject matter was important, so I relied heavily on tags for that.”              – Debra Hawley

 Debra’s goals were to:

  • With close to 150 courses, find a better strategy for organizing and structuring her catalog
    • Make the page less cluttered
    • Help users find what they’re looking for (when they may not even know what that is)
  • Define new learning pathways that would help guide users through the experience
    • Make it easier and less overwhelming for users to find related courses on the same topic
  • Keep the existing experience active while working on the new experience so when it comes time to launch, all you have to do is “flip a switch” (i.e., hide the original page and make the new page active). This saved her from having to create a new layout on a test domain and then duplicate it on the training domain when it was time to launch the update.

Here is what Solver’s course catalog looked like originally (and is still available on their free course page):

Solver Academy powered by Skilljar

The left-hand navigation lets you filter by What’s New, Delivery Type, and Subject, but the page scrolls down to more than 17 rows!

And here is what Solver’s course catalog looks like after Debra implemented her strategy:

Solver Academy powered by Skilljar

Solver’s course catalog solution includes:

  • A simplified landing experience with fewer options on the main page, allowing learners to find and select course content 
  • Updated filters to help learners narrow the results to easily find what they’re looking for
  • Use of the catalog header to include tile images that direct learners to different resources such as a site tour, monthly updates, live training sign-up, and a registration link for an upcoming conference 
  • Use of the search functionality to return local or global search results based on the page you’re on, to optimize the experience

“Because we sometimes have pages beneath pages that skew the search results, I decided it was important to point out which pages have global search and which have local. An added icon makes it easy to see which is which.” – Debra Hawley 

Advice from an Academy Expert

Debra gave the following advice to our Coffee Chat attendees looking to structure their course catalog:

  • Start by sketching or mapping out a plan until it starts to make sense
  • Think about what would work as a catalog page, learning pathway, or subject and experiment with different variations 
  • Work in a digital sandbox before you post anything to your site
      • Build your new layers in production, with them hidden, until you are ready to go live
      • Play around, test, and revise
      • Get internal buy-in for your changes in the sandbox while your existing site is still live  
  • Use the filter options to help you narrow down the results on a page 
    • Encourage your learners to use the different filtering options to help them find the right content 

Consolidating and narrowing down courses by learning pathways on the Academy home page, but then still providing numerous course options through filters is a great way to eliminate frustration and help learners find what they need. 

Solver’s customers are very pleased with the new course catalog format, with many sharing how much easier it is to navigate. Thanks to Debra Hawley for sharing her customer learning journey with us! 

Skilljar’s Customer Education Coffee Chats take place on the first Thursday of every month!

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