Step Out of the Customer Success Silo and into the Light of Education Services

May 25, 2018

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Strategy, Education Services

Let’s be honest. If it were possible to just make one sale, stop there and have a “forever customer,” everyone would be a Customer Success (CS) pro. That isn’t quite our reality though.

The CS reality is a lot more complex, nuanced and ultimately scientific. It requires relationship building, thoroughly understanding customer needs, advocating for their wants, and helping every customer — not just the largest — flourish in ways they never could alone.

Simply put: CS helps customers have the very best product experience possible.

But CS organizations can’t do it alone. Unlocking a proverbial holy grail of enhanced product adoption, increased renewals, thriving upsells and product advocacy requires collaboration with other business units, especially Education Services (ES). However, much of the time we find these organizations and teams operating in silos – ultimately creating a disjointed customer experience.

Time to fess up

We can hardly fault CS teams for losing their way in a young industry strapped for resources just as much as it is experience. What we can do though is shine a light on how ES can positively impact CS strategy. That said, before we go any further, take just a moment for some quick self-reflection. Have you ever found yourself doing one or both of the following, — a.k.a. the first roadblocks to embracing ES:

  1. Make assumptions about customer capacity for absorbing knowledge
  2. Put too much faith in the user-friendliness and effectiveness of your products

In our experience, engaging customers with proper training can be a game-changer. Yes, there must be a foundation of quality product design and thorough onboarding, but customer education goes beyond how a product works to revealing how customers can reach outcomes faster. And that’s a revelation that must remain present throughout the customer journey.

Still doubtful? Know that for a properly educated and trained customer, there is a:

  • 92% product renewal average
  • 135% increase in product usage
  • 2x the rate of engagement

Ok, now are you ready to step out of your silo into the ES light? Well, patience, young grasshopper. Don’t become a cautionary tale.

There is no hard and fast instruction manual for understanding where to insert education in the customer lifecycle. We see a lot of CS teams stall out in its integration, and worse yet, they go back to their old ineffective ways.

Five pitfalls to avoid when integrating education services into customer success strategies:

  1. Skipping the development of a customer journey map
  2. Not introducing ES into every stage of the customer journey
  3. Limiting ongoing conversation or not fully engaging with customers
  4. Passing up evaluation points to get feedback from customers
  5. Taking on too much too fast

Now for the honey do list:

  • Do embrace an investigative spirit. Initiate conversations instead of just waiting for a light to go on. Become a valuable part of the dialogue with customers by getting a tight grasp on the data behind the role ES plays in the health of the customer relationship.
  • Do start small. Determine where education can have the most impact and work on those insertion points first, then expand to other stages of the lifecycle at a scalable pace. Integrating ES into CS dramatically energizes the customer lifecycle, so be prepared.
  • Do have your team ready. Manpower resources can stifle progress or snuff it out completely. Make sure your CSMs have alliance with Education Sales Representatives to guide them when making training recommendations for the customers they serve. If you lack CSMs (or need an Education Sales liaison), know that there are outsourced CS organizations like ESG at the ready who can supply Virtual Customer Success Managers (vCSM) and Education Sales experts.

Building on that last point, when CS teams outsource to the right CS partner, they experience significant return on investment. Overall cost savings mitigate expenses. And working with a partner experienced in ES and CS eliminates sometimes-insurmountable learning curves.

Discover more about hitting the ground running with ES integration into your CS strategy by downloading our white paper, “Turning Knowing into Growing: Integrating Education Services for More Powerful Customer Success.”

Learn more – Learn how to bring Education Services and Customer Success together to improve product adoption, drive renewals and uncover expansion opportunities. This PDF tells you what you need to know.