In my career, I've launched a fair amount of client-facing education programs including video-based courses, partner certifications, webinars, monetized training sessions, etc. The amazing thing though is that I'm ALWAYS uncovering new tools, methods and innovations in this niche and was curious about your own experience launching customer facing training, performance support or documentation.
As such, I would love it if you took a couple of minutes of your day and to share your own experience, tools, tips, tricks, successes and failures here if you have relevant experience.
I'll add a comment shortly where I'll share my own two cents.
Video Based Learning: This program took a lot of time and resources to launch as it was comprised of video lessons, hosted in an LMS with supporting documentation. The other issue with this type of program is the upkeep required in order to keep the content relevant. Wistia is an awesome video-hosting platform with TONS of analytics broken down to the individual user.
Webinars: I'm a huge fan of the one-to-many approach as you can utilize the knowledge you have in-house across various teams to host webinars that help the client succeed. They are also fantastic as marketing funnels for new prospective clients. Cheap to produce.
Paid Training: You'll typically be selling this sort of thing as a service and will likely be covered by the professional services team. It can be a definite boost to revenue, is a high margin activity and helps clients with deep pockets by having training tailored especially to their needs and business. Onsite training is typically best - but especially right now - remote training is the ticket.
Certifications: You will definitely need a robust LMS and one that can integrate into your CRM in order to track certification stats. I have found a blended approach is typically best when launching these sorts of certs: a combination of eLearning, live training, videos, documentation and assessments. It keeps the learner engaged. Certs present the same challenges as purely video-based courses as the content needs to be kept fresh and up to date. I like SaaS LMSs like SchooX or Litmos, as they are powerful enough to handle this sort of thing - but also light enough to not cost an arm and a leg and have relatively light implementation cycles.
In-Product Support: I've used WalkMe to develop robust, contextual learning within the product itself. This requires some engagement with the product teams initially for implementation - but the content can be administered by a wide range of orgs/people. Being able to provide the customer with light training content within the product is a fantastic way to ensure the customer has the knowledge they need - when they need it.
Would love your feedback and additions!
Knowledge-base: There needs to become common vernacular amongst your customers and a way to share some of the common challenges, best practices, etc. Some tools we've seen: Intercom, Confluence, Zendesk
Community: We've seen the power of community and this can be a huge benefit down in your lower segments. Like-minded customers can connect with their peers and engage. Tons of ways to stand this up...Salesforce, Slack, Tribe, Insided, Higher Logic
Great callouts. Thanks! Yes, I've used Zendesk for KB hosting for a while now. It's fantastic. One of the things I love the most about it is the ability to host both client-facing and internal articles. The internal articles can be then triggered to auto-pop for CS/Tech Support in relation to certain tickets. Good stuff!
On the community front - it enables those raving fans to be active and almost part of your support community.
Thanks for the addition!
@Jeff Breunsbach's comment about common vernacular is vital. I can't tell you how many times customers weren't in sync with our team because of how they were defining or using a term. I learned that publishing a Glossary of terms used in our business, reporting, products, etc. helped to create clarity for everyone.
Some new technologies I haven't seen posted yet include SharePoint and Saba (recently purchased by Cornerstone). I've also used Calabrio for interaction recording, QA, and Voice/Text analytics.
I love a good Community where folks can share non-proprietary thinking. Getting tips from a SaaS is tough because they're not involved with what the customer is doing, except for providing a service. Customers are more likely to think like one another in some way, shape, or form.
Webinars can just be fun, having used to host a monthly one. It was a blast. That's from the delivery end. To maximize customer benefit, it should be paired with some open exchange between org and customer as to what should be in those webinars. Unless the person running the webinars is a trend-setter, then the customers should be the ones to decide what is needed and important, not the service. That is not to say that the service can't supplement a customer wish with need to knows from the Service. That should always be present.
The danger to avoid is having a display of information lose the customer interest. I have seen all of a Community, Knowledgebase, and Webinars all lose customer buy-in and faith, resulting in a loss of utilization and a skyrocket in customer displeasure.
It's all about crafting an exchange for your customers to talk about positives, or productively express negatives. It should never turn into your customers getting creative about finding ways to talk negatively about your service due to bad experiences.
Great topic! Having come from the learning tech space most recently, here are some of my musings:
-Perfect is the enemy of progress. My advice is to simply start somewhere if you don't have any formal client-facing education. Build a foundational V1 program rather than focusing on being best-in-class out of the gate. Use customer usage/adoption/ticket queue data + direct CSM/Support/client/VOC feedback to identify training and knowledge gaps. Document and prioritize these based on the risk profile of your customer base. Then host an internal company-wide "Content-a-thon" (offer fun perks and food!) to produce or repurpose foundational materials so that they are up to date and client facing. Start by creating low production, low cost video content and guides. Gather feedback from your customers, iterate, and scale. I've done this a number of times now. No fancy tech or external agencies needed. Huge company cost-saving approach.
-Learning Paths are important. Create role-based/persona based training sequences or experiences. Reduce the number of live training hours significantly while improving CSAT. Layer in knowledge reinforcements and mini quizzes.
-Align training/customer facing education with the most common jobs-to-be-done. Guaranteed to reduce time to value. Offer education that goes beyond simple click paths. Help them realize value immediately out of the gate.
-Exec Light: Offer a 60-90 min condensed ROI-centric training for low-bandwidth executives or managers who aren't the day to day users of your product but require a foundational understanding to manage their teams and socialize value. Super convenient esp when there is EB turnover and the new guy or gal doesn't want or care to learn your product.
-Learning technologies vary in scope, complexity, and time/cost investment. My personal and humble opinion is to hold off on making a major investment until you have the resources to spare. Higher tech learning experiences tend to require dedicated resources like an instructional designer. content writer, LMS admin, etc. Implementation can be time-consuming, expensive, and unintuitive especially for first timers. There tends to be a large gap between what users think learning technologies will deliver vs what they actually deliver...
-Certifications: Certs can be high stakes or low stakes. High stakes = certifications required to legally perform the duties of your job or keep your job (arguably there's more to high stakes but keeping this high-level for now). Low stakes = knowledge/training that should enable you to do your job more effectively, but isn't necessarily mandated by any authoritative body or professional association. I did a webinar with our friends at TSIA on this topic last year if you care to check it out: https://www.tsia.com/webinars/leverage-certification-to-establish-customer-advocacy
I could chat client education all day - happy to share more!
Really great insight here - all spot on. Thanks @Samma Hafeez ! I too can chat client enablement all day long.