In our recent webinar, Skilljar’s VP of Marketing, Michael Freeman, hosted an engaging discussion with Tiffany Taylor, Manager, Strategic Education and Success at Handshake, a leading Ed Tech platform. Taylor shared her experience of using customer education to launch a new virtual product when face-to-face communications between employers, job candidates, and career services partners were no longer possible due to the pandemic.
Whether or not you’re in Ed Tech, Tiffany’s observations on “breaking the rules” to launch a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) yielded some compelling insights. Specifically, with the help of Skilljar to enable customer education and training, her team was able to nearly double engagement with their new offering, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Here are the key takeaways from our discussion with Tiffany.
- How Handshake Pivoted to Meet Customers’ Changing Needs
- Why Collaboration is Key to a Fast Rollout
- How to Support an MVP
- Learning through Metrics
- Coming Out of the Pandemic: What Did Handshake Learn?
View the on-demand webinar here or read the recap below.
1. How Handshake Pivoted to Meet Customers’ Changing Needs
Taylor realized that just moving to virtual career fairs wouldn’t be enough. They had to focus on customer adoption of an entirely new medium of interaction. And that called for an “all hands on deck” approach to Customer Education during a crisis situation.
Prior to 2020, Handshake relied on traditional College/University job fairs to bring career counselors, students, and employers together. With the onset of COVID-19, they had to quickly shift operations “from crowded places to virtual spaces.” But how would their customers, Career Services offices at these schools who were not generally tech savvy, adapt?
“We had to change the way we did things to serve our primary customers,” Taylor said. “And we knew the way to do this was through training. But we had the added challenge of having to scale quickly.”
2. Why Collaboration is Key to a Fast Rollout
As in many organizations, Customer Education and Training can feel separate from other divisions such as Marketing, Customer Success, and Technology. Taylor knew that if she had to get a training curriculum up fast, she needed to be in lockstep with these other teams toward a shared goal.
“We needed to shift our culture around collaboration,” Taylor said. “Because we didn’t have the luxury of time, we were forced to work together with our service staff, customer relationship managers and marketers to ensure the voice of our customer was represented in our new product, and that their needs were getting met through education.”
In reducing the time to launch from one month to one week, Taylor made herself available to every team – and accepted help from every team – which was critical to course development and promotion.
This collaboration helped to create consistent messaging and break down silos, which ensured fewer errors and a faster turnaround.
3. How to Support a MVP
Handshake used the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to create their training curriculum and ensure a timely launch. They didn’t wait for every course component to be ready before they launched. They published course content as it became available. They knew they could iterate once the course was published, with input from course users on where they needed more help.
Here are some ways Handshake supported the rollout of their MVP:
- Weekly office hours to learn what topic areas needed further attention
- A demo of the virtual job fair to alleviate concerns and build trust among their career services partners
- Iterating on course creation daily and weekly, instead of annually
- Tracking course engagement daily
- Directly feeding data from support tickets into course creation and updates
- Changing content regularly, including callouts to indicate where changes had been made and when new updates would be coming
- Linking to existing video and webinar content, instead of taking time to create new content
“We had to launch an alternative product early and we couldn’t do that without training to help our users understand how it worked,” said Taylor. “We had to show them we cared about their survival during a time when they were filled with anxiety.”
4. Learning Through Metrics
Handshake’s virtual career fair training course realized the following success metrics:
- 1,026 registrants since launching in June, 2020 (more than one-quarter of their population)
- 50% of registrants came to the course within the first two months
- 12 people completed the course within 24 hours of going live
- Handshake’s best performing course to date – at 4 hours in length!
“Our frequent course updates meant that people didn’t visit the course and then leave,” Tiffany said. ”They were eager to find out what was next and kept coming back to learn more, which improved course engagement.”
Commonly accepted best practices for course development were thrown out in favor of more prescriptive guides, which proved successful. In Taylor’s words, “We’ve made too much progress by breaking the rules to go back to conventional wisdom.”
5. Coming Out of the Pandemic: What Did Handshake Learn?
Handshake’s pivot to virtual job fairs has changed the way the industry functioned in a time of crisis, but so much of what they’ve learned they will keep going forward.
Here is Taylor’s advice for organizations that want to use Customer Education to help customers adapt to a new offering:
- Bring your customers “behind the curtain” to let them know how they can most benefit from your product
- Don’t wait for perfect. In crisis times, it can be better to get it out there and iterate.
- Use Customer Education to break down a complicated procedure into a straightforward process.
- Manage customer expectations to gain customer trust.
- Put course iteration at the center of your efforts; everything else will grow from there.
The most important thing Taylor has learned as a result of this process?
“The ability to iterate can be successful as long as you’re as clear as possible. This means supplying content that’s tailored and based on more than a desire for brevity. That’s a big change for an industry, and a world, used to doing everything right away. Taking some time to learn can go a long way toward better results. Move at a pace to serve your customers, but give them as much as they need to serve their customers.”