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Learning Platforms are the Future of Customer Success
by Jase Oct 18, 2018

Customer Success has seen a considerable rise over the past decade. With more and more tech companies moving to monthly subscription services the need to keep paying customers happy, engaged and productive with your platform have never been higher. That is why many companies are looking for ways to make their customers more successful so that they stay invested in their software. The expectations of today's Customer Success teams couldn't be higher (see graph). Customer Success Managers (CSM) are closer to account managers and often have high sales quotas that must be met through retention and upsell. It’s an uphill battle for your Customer Success teams to onboard new customers, upsell them, and keep them happy. Plus, it doesn't scale because you always need to increase the size of your Customer Success team as your client base grows.

The key to scaling your business is by providing your customers with more self-serve options. Self-serve help portals allow your Customer Success team spend more time focusing on their accounts while giving your customer immediate access to information when they need it. We're seeing a lot of our customers contact us to help build learning platforms to help their customers learn at their own pace. A learning platform helps remove those pesky questions, and it helps provide insight into the adoption of the platform.

A learning platform isn't just an investment to help your customers — It also helps your Customer Success team manage their accounts, increasing customer satisfaction and reducing churn.

Self-paced learning is scalable

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Self-paced learning is the most scalable solution for your customer success team. Instead of having your CSMs lead screen shares, or send lengthy instructions to customers on an ad-hoc basis, a self-paced learning portal makes it easy for new customers to learn at their own pace. New hires spend less time onboarding. CSM spend more time working through your customers business problems.

Self-paced learning isn’t just scaleable; it’s a better way to learn. Typically, webinars and learning sessions need to cater to the lowest common denominator, i.e., the person who has the least knowledge. With a learning platform, your customer can choose the lesson paths that make sense to their experience level. Perhaps the marketing manager is already familiar with your suite of tools and only wants to learn about reporting. Instead of having a customer success agent do a walkthrough, the learning portal could be used to help the marketing manager brush up on the analytics section at their own pace.

The problem almost every CSM team faces is staffing. There are not enough staff per customer, and often, when CSM teams are needed most (after many new sales, major product upgrade) there's just no way for them to help everyone.

Attention spans are low.

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I think we’ve all zoned out in various learning sessions, webinars, and other long (and not interactive) meetings. Having given my fair share of webinars, and having participated in quite a few as well, I can tell you it’s common for people to whip out their phones, and nod and ‘un-hun’ but not pay attention. You’ll always be fighting that lack of interest from your customers.

With a learning platform, your customer is in control. Able to learn at their own pace, with a variety of materials, and they can go from learning to doing right away. By giving your customers control, they'll be more likely to participate, or at least use the learning platform when they get stuck or need to learn additional functionality. Many people like to figure things out on their own, in their way. Webinars and other learning sessions prove to be too rigid, and often the material isn't absorbed.

You’ll get actionable analytics from your learning platform.

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Learning platforms plus usage statistics from your platform can combine to paint a compelling picture of adoption and comfort with your solution. If you notice that a new customer hasn’t been using the learning platform, and adoption is lagging, you can have your CSM reach out and see if anything is holding them back, or if they’d prefer a bit more one on one hand holding.

The analytics that you get from your learning platform indicate a lot of usage and adoption then you can have your CSM call and offer an upsell, or additional services so that they can get more from the solution.

A better customer experience

A robust and modern learning platform provides a vastly better customer experience than simple help docs, FAQs and pre-recorded webinars. The purpose-built learning platform makes it easier for new customers and existing ones to improve their knowledge of your solution and improve their professional skills. You go from being a vendor to being an educator who adds value to your customers.

More so than just adoption, brands today want to be seen as resources to help customers achieve their personal goals and business objectives. Learning platforms embody that by not only providing education on your solution but also general industry best practices and know how. Take a look at HubSpot, who with their HubSpot Academy give not only instructions on HubSpot, but also digital marketing, copywriting, inbound marketing, design, and customer experience. You don’t need even to be a customer to take advantage of and feel good about the Hubspot brand.

A learning platform can help you close deals by reassuring the prospective buyer that their teams will be able to learn the new software on their own and at their own pace. Gone are the expensive and honestly dull half day learning sessions where a CSM comes on-site or video conferences to show the tool. We’ve all been dragged into a conference room for a half-day meeting (with free lunch!) to learn a new software or platform. Most of us glaze over, while then having to go back and figure out how to use this tools — And it’s the only natural, between the demands of your job, plus spending hours being lectured, it’s difficult to absorb information in such a dry and non-interactive way. A learning platform makes learning simpler because users can learn at their own pace, in their way. Whether that’s with help documents, videos, learning paths, or however they prefer.

Bonus: Learning platforms can help close deals

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Whenever you acquire new software or tool to do your job that entails a significant investment in training for staff. Although we all hope that the new tech will increase productivity, sales, or some other metrics, often, teams struggle to adopt them and complain about the learning curve.

When so many of today's solutions look similar, being able to provide education and training are becoming a more vital point to differentiate along. Your sales team can point to your learning resources as a way to reassure customers that they'll be supported, and their teams will be able to adopt the new solution quickly.

Help your customers, help your brand

Brands today want to be consultative and resources — They want to go beyond providing a specific tool, or closing a deal, to being a key partner in the success of the company. Far too often brands don't back this up with actions. That is why building a learning portal for your solution, and for professional development elevate your brand from vendor to partner.

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