In the SaaS world, it is critical to align your customer training strategy with your customer success strategy. Customers usually have many choices and the costs and effort associated with switching solution providers is much lower than it used to be.
Ensuring that your training group is aligned with your success team’s objectives will increase the company’s short-term revenue targets and long-term viability. In this blog, we cover some of the key elements of a customer success strategy and how customer training / customer education can align their deliverables to this strategy.
- Where customer success fits in
- Essential elements of a customer success strategy
- Activity: Onboarding
- Activity: Product / service education
- Activity: Value realization
- Activity: Expansion
- Customer success goals
- Customer training and customer success statistics
- How LEAi supports learning
Where customer success fits in
Customer success is typically responsible for onboarding customers, helping them solve day-to-day problems and may also provide additional training for them. It is for this reason that customer success should work closely with customer education to ensure that they can successfully deliver on their objectives and that both teams have KPIs that align with each other.
A recent TSIA webinar provided a good visual of what customer success is responsible for delivering and how it fits with both training and customer support teams.
Selling the right solution
Customizations and integrations for adoption
Training / Education
Onboard, measure adoption, renew, expand
Resolve product issues preventing adoption and value realization
Essential elements of a customer success strategy
A customer’s journey at a company will vary by organization. However, after speaking to a few experts and analyzing different customer strategies, it is clear that pillars of a successful customer success strategy include the following
These closely align with the three key customer revenue drivers – retention, expansion and advocacy.
Onboarding is a critical aspect of a customer’s SaaS journey. As the number of customers, products and features grow at an organization, it can be a challenge to deliver a consistently excellent customer onboarding experience. An increasing number of customer success managers (CSMs) can spend an increasing amount of time on basic training or customer success can partner with customer education to make more efficient use of resources.
The first step is to determine your onboarding model. According to Skilljar’s CEO Sandi Lin, there are three models to consider.
Self-Service Model – In this model, the users onboard themselves, learn the product as they go and direct their own learning path. Self-serve onboarding and its “learn by doing” approach works well for simple products, those with a high volume of users and products with freemium tiers.
To be successful, the company needs to invest in resources to build great product training. They also need to spend time to ensure that the content is kept updated, collect feedback to ensure that the training and onboarding is effective, and respond to that feedback by adjusting the training based on the input customers provide.
Low-Touch Model – This model has little direct human contact but uses a mix of documents, resources, and a knowledge base to enable users to learn at their own pace. It may also include digital onboarding techniques like webinars and automated email campaigns to grow customer knowledge.
This model is effective for mildly complex products where there may be some friction in adoption. To be successful, organizations need invest in customer success teams to build automated emails campaigns and continually identify onboarding friction points and address them through training.
High-Touch Model – This model is often used for enterprise-wide products that has extensive implementation or customization needs and may have many stakeholders. As the name suggests, the organization needs to invest in more customer success resources to walk customers through the product.
There is less of a need for training resources in comparison to the other two models since CSMs working within this model often customize how they onboard customers depending on their unique needs. However, it is still important to make content available so customers can self-serve as they ramp up their use of the product, and CSMs have a baseline to start with when customizing for their customers.
Companies offering self-service or low-touch onboarding should plan to offer written documentation, knowledge banks, on-demand / self-paced training, pre-recorded webinars, recorded screen captures, video tutorials and in-app help to maximize success.
High-touch onboarding should include instructor-led training or customized sessions with their CSM, in addition to resources traditionally offered in low-touch onboarding.
Activity: Product or service education
Some clients may not be aware of the full capabilities of the product and how it cam help them meet their obligates or ease their day-to-day functions.. Educating customers (and leads) is an excellent way to establish authority in the field, convert leads, increase customer stickiness, enhance a company’s brand and create customer advocates.
There are many companies that do this well. For example, Hubspot provides a great blog for marketing and sales professionals. Neil Patel is another provider who provides great educational content for SEO. [We at LearnExperts offer free content for those in the training industry. Don’t forget to bookmark our blog!]
Education can come in many forms such as blog posts, thought-leadership pieces, eBooks or white papers, webinars, presentation playbacks and presentations at industry events. This content should be supported with product tips, recorded screen captures and other assets that link the industry education with product functionality.
Activity: Value realization
Value realization is an ongoing aspect of the B2B customer journey. It is imperative that SaaS companies have a product/solution that customers find so valuable they just cannot imagine doing their job without it, this way when it comes time for customers to renew they wouldn’t dream of cancelling or finding a different solution. To do this well, customer success needs to have an in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs, expectations and desired outcomes.
Often companies will check-in with the customer on a semi-regular basis or around a product event to ensure that their expectations and outcomes are being met.
To help customers realize value, companies should first determine the objectives their customer wants to achieve by using their product or solution during the onboarding process with their CSM. Then the customer should be guided to learning materials or sessions that will help them to achieve those objectives as quickly as possible. Then, over the customer journey the CSM should continue to guide them to additional value in the product/solution with additional training to increase the customers perceived value of the product/solution.
In this instance any learning format could be leveraged, but it’s critical that the content of that learning fits with the customer journey and their desired outcomes.
Often referred to as upsell and cross-sell campaigns, these activities can be beneficial to both customers and the supplying company. Cross-selling involves the sale of additional products that complements their existing offering. Upselling includes upgrading or purchasing an enhanced version of the original product.
Cross-selling and upselling is typically done during periodic check-ins when sales or customer success are reviewing customer’s progress or gauging their satisfaction. This is the opportunity to gauge whether the client is open to expanding their product acquisition strategy.
To help customers with a cross-sell or upsell opportunity, customer success, sales and marketing should be well versed on product functionality, use cases and ROI. Competitive reviews would be also helpful.
Customer training teams can support these activities by providing step-by-step execution guides and product training that walk customers through use cases and talking points to handle questions and customer objections.
Customer success goals
As always, it is important to measure effectiveness of customer success activities. Here are customer success goals to help direct your team’s efforts.
- Customer retention rate
- Customer churn rate
- Customer retention cost
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- ‘Trial’ to ‘Paid’ conversion rate
- Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
- Product adoption rate
- Daily active users (DAU)
- Net promoter score
- Customer satisfaction score
- First contact resolution rate
- Customer growth
3 Customer training and customer success statistics
- Average renewal rate of trained subscribers is 92%, compared to 80% for untrained subscribers (TSIA)
- Companies that have education services as part of a formal customer success strategy have a product growth rate of 16.5%, compared to 4.6% for companies that don’t have education as part of their customer success strategy (TSIA)
- Poor onboarding is the most frequent cause of churn (23%), followed by product underperforms (20%), ineffective relationship building (15%) and overselling (14%) (skilljar)
How LEAi supports learning
LEAi is our online learning content development tool, and it helps to quickly create learning content for online courses, step-by-step execution guides, product training, presentations, microlearning, videos, instructor-led training and more. Key features and benefits of LEAi include:
- Import documents, blogs and other content that already exists in your organization to automatically create learning objectives and learning content
- Be guided by best practices with our LearnAdvisor
- Automatically create test questions based on the content
- Repurpose content easily for different learning formats
- Create short and punchy microlearning courses with a click of a button
To learn more about how training services and LEAi can support your customer success strategy, contact us!