Seven Customer Education Trends You Need to Know
This Spring, I learned key Customer Education and Customer Success trends at two excellent conferences: the Pulse Customer Success conference, and the CEdMA Training Leadership conference.
Located in downtown Oakland, CA, Pulse is tagged as the biggest event in customer success. With over 4,000 attendees from all over the world, it sure was big! There was high energy and overly crowded rooms and hallways. Pulse Keynotes included Aaron Levie, CEO of Box; and Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project.
My favorite session was presented by McKinsey & Co. Alex Rawson and Karl Albertson provided highly insightful and accurate benchmarking data on the state of the Customer Success industry.
Two trends I learned from that session:
1. There is a big blind spot on the cost saving potential of Customer Success and Customer Education programs, and how they reduce internal Support costs. As a result, we need stronger KPIs to demonstrate impact on our organizations.
2. The industry agrees that on-boarding customers is the most important part of the customer journey, and that it is critical to address the on-boarding experience.
ServiceRocket hosted a full-day Business of Customer Education conference within the Pulse conference, attended by a riveted standing-room only audience. The top trend is:
3. Don’t just charge customers for education. Charge a premium. A panel of open source experts: Sarah Sproehnle, VP of Customer Success at Cloudera; Richard Huie-Buckius, Head of Training and Certification at Mulesoft; and Peter Childers, VP of Learning and Strategic Development at Couchbase; all emphasized the impact and value Customer Education has on our organizations. They insist we don’t give training away for free. Instead, charge a premium, because customers equate value with cost. In fact, the downside of giving training away is that you won’t be able to fund your offerings. Sarah also shared well-trained customers at Cloudera buy more and have less support needs.
Attend Pulse events throughout the year. In Silicon Valley, CSM Practice sponsors Pulse Local events in the San Francisco Bay Area. See here for details.
The CEdMA Training Leadership Conference in Santa Clara, CA, was quite the contrast to Pulse. CEdMA conferences are small and intimate, with just over 100 training leaders present. There was plenty of time to network and learn from each other, with excellent deep dive presentations.
My top take away from the conference is thanks to Terry Vyas, who accentuated throughout the conference:
4. Customer Education professionals need to have pride and swagger for the impact we provide. The reality is, Customer Education touches more customers than Customer Success and Professional Services organizations, we scale better, and we provide a high return for the overall business.
A panel of members of the CEdMA Executive Council shared their top trends in the industry:
5. Customer Success is the top trend to align to. Other trends, such as micro-learning, learning as a service, and the education technology stack, are tools to enable customers. In addition, the tsunami of Customer Success is about making the customer successful, not about Customer Success.
6. We must be relevant. We must align with our organizations’ KPIs. Specifically, by focusing on attach rates we can plug into the ecosystem of selling and marketing.
7. Include product managers and/or portfolio managers on our teams to drive your product offerings. By thinking like a product and business owner, we can drive more successful offerings.
CEdMA puts on two conferences each year: Spring in Silicon Valley, and Fall in Boston area. The next CEdMA conference is in October in the Cambridge.