The conventional wisdom at many SaaS companies is that they’re not ready for customer education or customer community. Many leaders say they’re focused on building (or just maintaining) their customer success teams. In this challenging economic environment, customer education and community are seen as nice-to-have extras for down the road.
But what if customer success and customer education are actually part of the same revenue-building strategy? What if you could use customer education and community to scale customer success and do more with less?
Whether you have a dedicated customer education team or not, your customers still need to learn how to use your product. Without informed and inspired customers, your revenue efforts are just filling a leaky bucket, and you’re hiring expensive customer success managers (CSMs) to hold the mops.
The truth is, you have already invested in customer education. You’re just doing it expensively and inefficiently because everyone in your organization is doing the work individually, but not in an optimized way.
But don’t take our word for it—listen to Adam Avramescu, VP of Customer Education at Personio, co-host of the CELab podcast, and author of Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter.
At Pulse Europe, he explained how a broad customer education strategy—community, in-app education, training, help centers, and more—can drive customer success outcomes at scale across the customer journey. Here are some of the main takeaways from his presentation.
How Customer Education (and Community) Drive Digital Customer Success
Digital customer success blends human and digital engagements to help customers achieve value. Customer education and community are powerful tools to drive this strategy:
- Customer education takes the expertise out of your CSMs’ heads and makes it available to customers on demand, at scale
- Automated educational programs allow CSMs to focus on value realization instead of feature trainings, support tickets, and other repetitive tasks
- Community creates a rich source of user-generated, peer-to-peer content that helps customers achieve value without direct CSM engagement
- Education and community content is trackable because it lives in systems where the activity is being monitored
The Measurable Impact of Customer Education
The benefits of customer education and community aren’t just operational—they directly impact metrics that drive revenue.
- A Forrester Consulting report found that customer education programs increased 18.3% per trainee
- A 2023 ebook from Thought Industries found that customer learning reduced churn by 16%
- Among Personio customers, Net Revenue Retention (NRR) for customers with engaged community users was 121% vs 87% without
These results indicate that customer education and community transform prospects and users into loyal, lasting customers who produce consistent revenue.
What’s Included in Customer Education?
An effective customer education or community program is a portfolio of activities that are orchestrated across the customer lifecycle. That means thinking beyond simple trainings or forums to include a broad, organization-wide digital customer success motion. Some key pillars of this approach are:
- A customer engagement model that describes business goals with each customer and the investments needed to achieve them.
- Intentional playbooks for consistently interacting with different customer segments across the journey
- A single, branded hub where all your customer education channels come together in a place that makes it easy for customers to navigate resources
Three Plays to Scale Customer Success with Education and Community
Here are three real-life examples of companies who used education or community to help customers achieve value at scale:
- Personio sequenced their “essentials” educational content into a learning path specifically designed for customers implementing Personio for the first time. This low-touch, self-service approach significantly approved activation among small- to medium-sized customers.
- To drive adoption after the initial onboarding phase, Intercom created a robust nurture program of educational courses organized by persona and executed via both email and in-app engagements. They simultaneously built a large user community that connected users who had similar interests and challenges.
- Personio optimized their self-service strategy around content discoverability. They created a “Find Answers” tool to offer users contextual help before submitting a support ticket, and to provide help to those without access to support. We also use federated search with recommendations across their resource library.
Scale in a Way that Resonates with Customers
There are a lot of choices to be made when using customer education and community to build a digital customer success strategy. Implementation is a journey, and there is a lot of information out there—books, podcasts, and other resources to inspire you as you think about customer education and community.
The key when evaluating different ideas is to approach them from the perspective of your customer. Your customers’ experiences—and whether they achieve value—will be the ultimate measure of whether or not an educational or community program works.
Learn more about how Gainsight can help you build customer education and customer community capabilities. You can also check out the full Pulse session, Customer Education and Community: The Scale Engines of Customer Success.