In this episode of CMAweekly, the conversation centered around the role of customer education in driving customer success and marketing goals. The importance of onboarding and adoption for new and existing customers was discussed extensively, with insights into strategies for training and community involvement to increase adoption and retention rates.
The conversation also touched on the challenges of providing training support for different tiers of customers and the need for offering training resources. There were also discussions on customer advocacy internationally, as well as the challenges and strategies around onboarding paid customers using a highly technical product.
The importance of customer education in onboarding was emphasized, highlighting the need for various modalities to accommodate different levels of users.
Table of Contents
Customer Advocacy in the Middle East
Mary Green [00:02:05]:
We have so we were initially going to be having Sienna and Alexei get on and share their questions and thoughts about customer marketing impacting onboarding and adoption, But they both cannot make today’s call, so we can either continue to talk about that or and just our thoughts around that because I’m sure there’s people on this call that, have some ideas or experience there, or we can talk about something else completely. And I know in a couple of weeks, we were planning on doing like, having a follow-up to this discussion as well with Caitlyn from g two. So that’s also an option if you wanna continue talking about that. It’s totally up to you all. Anyone have any preferences? Oh, go ahead.
No. I’m just saying I’m I’m easy either way. Although I’d love to pick the hive mind on, just a question on, customer advocacy, sort of internationally, but,
Kristine Kukich [00:03:38]:
okay. When do you wanna know?
So I’d love to know whether any of you guys have had experience with, working with companies in India, specifically, and and So that Middle East around customer advocacy, success in. How we execute there? Do they embrace it the same way? And whether there you think there are real opportunities to sort of expand and explore, in in in, in those markets. Now I should say the backdrop to this is I’m I’m I’m I’m basically, looking for my next role. So I’m pivoting from my background into marketing and PR and cons. So I wanted to I’ve actually done customer success and advocacy in Various aspects in in people’s roles, but, that’s where I’m really focused on now. So, really key to understand, Anybody’s experiences, in those markets?
Rebecca Grossman [00:04:37]:
I mean, I’ve onboarded from my past 2 companies I’ve onboarded definitely some advocates from India. It wasn’t very many. We had very few. I had more of those folks engaging in the conversation. Some are working with sales to request more conversations from the companies in India with our reference customers, but I didn’t have a high number of folks joining. But I think it was also because our customer base was lower. So it wasn’t necessarily because they didn’t want to join. I think they found value in the program.
Rebecca Grossman [00:05:11]:
But it was just because our customer base was Well, we’re slip. Probably doesn’t really help you. They definitely saw value in customer advocacy programs. Especially most of the folks I talked with. You know, we’ve had business discussions and technical. They were typically highly technical, with more user space than more executive conversations. That’s kind of more my experience.
Yeah. No. That’s that’s really helpful. And, I’m guessing that’s through You’ll pay this company or where you are now?
Rebecca Grossman [00:05:45]:
My yeah. I just I’m at Stripe now, but I’m just, like, started and I haven’t even gotten into really the customer base because I’m working on some internal initiatives first. So it was with my customer base at BNC and with, Terry, that was with for a long time.
Okay. Yeah. And and and the reason I asked that is my my sense. I could be wrong here, but my sense is if, You know, there are companies that are the headquarters within the US or Europe where, you know, and they are, transnational, then, Absolutely. No opportunities to kinda reach out to customers in in India, but I’m I’m also keen to explore and understand How Indian based tech companies, B2B companies whether they can’t see the value of customer advocacy marketing, because they’re also standing in their own way.
Global company experience; Meetups & User Groups work
Christa Niering [00:06:34]:
Yeah. So my experience is with, global international companies who have a presence in India. I don’t know that we’ve ever worked with one that is based in India necessarily, But there there definitely is. Daniel made a really great comment, which is where I was gonna be headed, and that is that meetups and user groups and and things like that, around technical conversations do really, really well. And that’s where I’ve seen the most success in in pulling out advocacy or or art advocates, finding advocates. I don’t know if it really helps you a whole lot since we don’t have Indian based companies necessarily. We just have All both countries. No.
It all helps. It’s it’s it’s good to get the perspective because, as I said, I’m gonna toe in that in that space, and I’m looking, potentially, Opportunities to see whether there are companies, out there who, again, are willing to take a punt. And so, yeah, absolutely. We want to, you know, It start, doing some advocacy and and and kind of success marketing. So that is just to try and get a handle on, Their level, awareness and understanding. And and I’ve got my own perspective on that based on some of my conversations, interactions with You can take our place in the sort of a while back.
Kristine Kukich [00:08:07]:
I’ve found that that The groups that I’ve worked with have an they don’t mind talking about the tools they use And they’re they don’t mind saying good things and bad things about the tools they use, but the the issue is that they move around frequently where they they job hop a lot more than in other parts of the world in my experience and so having a person at a particular organization, They may not be at that particular organization next week when you need a reference, so it’s been challenging. It’s not a bad thing necessarily to be at the individual level, Right? It’s to say because they are very, kind. If they really like your tool, they’ll talk it up. They share it with their their They’re peeps, whatever that means, you know, in the the business that they’re in. But, but because they change so frequently, it’s the cult of the individual, not an ability to have a logo, right, associated with it.
No. That’s good to know. That’s good to know. Thank you.
Mary Green [00:09:19]:
Yeah. I would think because even if they’re SaaS companies or tech companies in India, if They are in competition with other countries. They’re they may have to have some level of Getting the customers to be active and doing some advocacy, whether it’s reviews or even participating in a community and sharing their experiences. So, but I’m not there. I’m not in a lot of those groups, or not groups, but I don’t have a lot of experience with companies that are In India.
So, and, and, and again, the reason that I asked and I I I’ve worked with some Indian tech companies a while back and The I mean, whilst the market is maturing and has matured around marketing PR, my Sense is still that marketing is seen as kind of business development. It’s kind of like, oh yeah, you know, marketing and it’s like, Hey, can you go off the business sales collateral? Just marketing, you know? Yeah. We can do collateral, but that is in marketing. There’s a more to it. Or it’s very narrow focus, which is, Hey, let’s do digital Because everybody’s doing digital, so let’s just do digital marketing, and that’s gonna drive revenue. And what I’m trying to Get a cost is actually you can do all of those things, but it’s channel. But you need to spend more time with your customers and invest in in in that customer base, particularly now when, you know, come companies and the, are being more cautious about the investments. So, okay.
No. But this has been really helpful. Thank you.
Customer Advocacy & How it Impacts Onboarding
Mary Green [00:11:04]:
No problem. Christina wanted to talk about onboarding anyways. I think it’d be great to come up with some ideas on how Customer marketing advocacy can, impact onboarding and even ways we can work with The teams that do onboarding to, you know, make a difference for our customers. Does anybody have any ideas or questions they wanna start with?
Cristina Levenetz [00:11:39]:
Hi, Mary. Yes. I definitely wanted to to chat about, to onboarding and kinda get people’s perspectives on, you know, if what, what the The nuances might be and differences might be of onboarding when you have maybe both a, a high touch Customers. Right? Where, like, CS is onboarding, but then you also have a tier of customers that are, automated and kinda like where the the overlap, is and maybe how how People approach the some of those differences. Any
Mary Green [00:12:27]:
Christa Niering [00:12:30]:
I mean, we definitely have that, we’ve got a wide range of experiences in onboarding, and I wish I had an answer for you, but we have the same issues. There’s not a consistent experience We and and ours runs the full gamut. We have customers that we don’t talk to at all. They just order online, And then we’ve got customers that that AEs talk to, you know, every couple of days. And unfortunately we just don’t have a consistent experience I wish I had some insight to offer you but we’re struggling with the same things
Theresa Manzo [00:13:14]:
I actually might be able to offer a perspective here. I work for a fast company, And we have the 2 different tiers of service. We have the those kind of, those automatic customers who pretty much the service that they purchase is they do it themselves. They have to onboard themselves. They have to do certain things. And we started out, Kind of applying a well, here’s the resources. Make sure that they’re aware of them and let them go at it. And we saw kind of difficulty getting those customers to be successful in the long run.
Onboarding sessions and scaled resources for customers.
Theresa Manzo [00:13:51]:
So we ended up starting to do 1 in too many sessions. We have a tier of, CS coaches that don’t do 1 on 1 service specifically, but they offer these onboarding sessions to kind of get The customers from that handoff from sales into that success mindset of where do they start? Because our product can be very complicated depending on which pieces they have purchased. So we wanted to kind of give them a good Activation start. Like, let’s get you ready to launch a product. And then we offer, scaled resources for them through a training, support guide, our community as well so that we can keep them connected with each other and keep them moving along. And then we started kind of seeing that that wasn’t enough. We know that our are other accounts where they get that 1 on 1 coach service do better. And our self starter customers, which that’s kind of the tier that we call them, weren’t doing so well even with those one to many resources in those one to many sessions.
Personalized strategy review sessions lead to customer success.
Theresa Manzo [00:15:03]:
So we started offering these 1 to 1 services as well, and we started to see a really big uptick. We don’t do it to all of them, of course, because that would be unscalable. But we’ve offered these kind of, like, strategy review sessions to get them Continuing to use the product and using it in the right way so that they can plan their product from what they’re trying to achieve what they need to use to get there to how do they measure success. So kind of giving them the skill set they need to be successful and it just happens to be using our product to get there. So we found that we were starting to see a heck of a lot more success that way where we give them not necessarily that one to 1, but the the skill set of how they can do it themselves. And so it’s kind of like training to train them, along the way. So We’ve definitely started, kind of evolving it over the last couple of years, and we’re starting to see some improvement that way when it comes to those scaled services. Not necessarily saying that this will work for every company, but, sometimes it’s about teaching them how to teach themselves, to get to that point and just giving them kind of the skill set that a SDS coach would need to be able to help a customer and get them there along the way.
Theresa Manzo [00:16:22]:
And we we noticed that worked with our, more of 1 to 1 touches customers. So we’re like, okay. Well, let’s figure out how to do that with the with everybody. So, yeah, There’s still definitely challenges and we’re still working on kind of training our different tiers of coaches to to work with these different tiers of customers, but We are definitely starting to see more success that that way.
Cristina Levenetz [00:16:46]:
That’s great insight, Theresa. Thank you for sharing that. And The the teaching them how to teach themselves, is it, where did you find those SMEs to to help with that, because I so I just started at at this new company, and something that, I’m thinking like, oh, I’m gonna have to go to, like, maybe some solution engineers because there’s no resources on the on the CS side that are gonna be able to help with that that or just, you know, learn learn myself and, kinda teach that. Just curious on how it’s that’s played out at your company.
Theresa Manzo [00:17:26]:
So we experimented over the last couple years of the best way to try to take this down. And we had first tried with a third service that really works in value management. And that wasn’t as successful as we thought. So we actually hired somebody who Specifically focuses in value management. This is what he is been trained to do. He used to work at Salesforce. He came to us and he’s like, okay. Let’s start with the basics.
Theresa Manzo [00:17:59]:
Let’s figure out what are the things that actually, Get a customer to be successful and to be able to talk about that success easily internally and externally. So he came up with a series of principles to get them there. And what we noticed is in meetings where he was sitting with our higher touch accounts, We were seeing higher retention rates. We were seeing less, churn examples of, like, sponsor loss or value realization. So when we got him in there, we realized, okay, well, we need to work with, How do I put this? We have a, category of SME at our company that works in, psychology. So we call it people science, but they actually help us think of, kind of how you tie business objectives to people objectives which is kind of where we sell our software and how you get them to be successful with that. And so we worked with our people science and our value management person and created Training for our coaches on how to specifically talk to these pieces of how do you get a customer to tie their what they’re trying to achieve with our product to their own company’s business objectives in a way that makes sense. And then they can quickly and easily launch and measure to get to those objectives and talk about the outcomes that they see.
Training program, assets, hired external SME.
Theresa Manzo [00:19:34]:
So he created a Training program with our enablement team, and we’ve been training our coaches to be able to talk to this. We’ve been creating training materials that we can have those coaches use and we’ve been trading, creating assets that we can use with customers so that they can easily understand those steps in the process as well. So it’s, It’s been a long year of trying to get us to that point. We’re, of course, still trying to make sure it’s efficient, but We, we ended up hiring an additional person for our value management team that was able to help bring that in. So we specifically tried Many different ways to do it. It turns out we need a SME hired externally to come in and create a program for it. So that’s kind of well, that was our experience. Yeah.
Theresa Manzo [00:20:30]:
I think you have to find the right person, to do it, but value management actually was the the way that we went about it.
Mary Green [00:20:38]:
And, Theresa, hi. I’m Mary. I speak to you. What what does your company sell?
Theresa Manzo [00:20:48]:
We are a employee engagement where. I don’t know if everyone, this is my 1st time joining this meeting. I actually, my coworker suggested I stop by for this one. I don’t know if we talk about our companies that we work for. I’m not really sure
Mary Green [00:21:08]:
how that goes now. Yeah. You can share you can share where you work. We’re very laid back. Okay. The conversation.
Theresa Manzo [00:21:17]:
I work at a company called Culture Amp. We do employee engagement software.
Mary Green [00:21:23]:
Theresa Manzo [00:21:25]:
so you have you’re you’re seeing a little bit of the sauce that you’re making.
Mary Green [00:21:29]:
Yes. Sheetal? Is that her name? Yes. Yes. I just talked to her earlier today. No. I think that’s very helpful. Like, And, like, what you’re talking about here is really customer education, to some degree, and I find that coming up more and more in customer marketing and just anything really post sales because there’s so much overlap with helping customers be successful. It’s educating them.
Mary Green [00:22:05]:
And sometimes the education is around our product, And that’s a lot of times where I think customer success is very helpful or, you know, traditionally helpful. But For me, from a community background, I think it’s about helping them be successful in their jobs and their careers and what they’re doing and, like, what they’re pursuing in that strategy and such, and that opens up a whole bigger, a much bigger world of what we can teach, but I like the approach of trying multiple things to see what works because every audience seems to be just different enough that You have to try different things to see what’s going to work for them.
Theresa Manzo [00:22:59]:
Exactly. We, I have been in the customer success world before this position. And while I’m in customer marketing, I’m kind of a unique Title where I focus on adoption and engagement about getting the customer to stay a customer. And We hadn’t really approached it from that perspective before, so there was a lot of experimentation over the last couple years of what works, And trying to do thing think think think about things outside of the box. Education is a huge part of, are successful customers. We have a complete, a training site just for them. But we also are We realized that wasn’t enough. We couldn’t just have these, like, one to many trainings.
Theresa Manzo [00:23:49]:
We also wanted to think about, How can we evolve our customer success coaches as well to get to the point where we have trainers, we have Those that think about strategy. We have those that implement the product. So we had to start really thinking about what was best for the customer to be successful. And how do we change ourselves to get to the point where they are more successful because of that?
Mary Green [00:24:15]:
I love that. Thinking more about the customer. Like, it just seems so well, duh, like, type of thing, but it it’s true. I’m yeah. Sorry for that. Duh. But you can tell I’m from the movies. No.
Mary Green [00:24:32]:
I think that’s really helpful. Christine had asked. I’m not sure if you saw. She asked if your organization has a customer education part, but, actually, she asked Christina. So but does Culture Amp have customer education as well, or does that fall under different kind of departments.
Developing educational portal and scaling customer services.
Theresa Manzo [00:24:57]:
We do. It’s not necessarily in customer marketing. It’s part of our customer experience team. So we have an individual, Liz, who, started this year and has really been developing our educational portal, our What we call culture of training or CAT. And I’ve been working very closely with our CX team in the things that we do where we have, like, scaled customer experience. We have skilled training. We have a lot of the scaled services, but we also have our coaches who are doing the the 1 to 1 touches and where we can, where I help them out as well. So it’s kind of a it’s it’s a weird mishmash of well, yeah, that may not be a traditional role that we play,
Theresa Manzo [00:25:47]:
But we’re all involved in each other’s business.
Theresa Manzo [00:25:50]:
It’s the only way to
Theresa Manzo [00:25:51]:
make sure that we’re all working towards the best customer interest we can.
Mary Green [00:25:55]:
Yeah. And I’ll just say this year specifically, there has been a lot more movement in the adoption area in customer marketing. So I’m seeing a lot more of more conversations around increasing adoption, even impacting revenue just in this past 12 months for customer marketing. So it sounds like you’re a little bit ahead of the curve.
Unexpected success from blending previous experiences creatively.
Theresa Manzo [00:26:28]:
Yeah. It was something we weren’t quite expecting to to do when we started out a couple years ago. I got a lot of what do you do again? When it started. But just from my previous experience with customer success and of course, I used to be a UX designer and run product as well. So I had a lot of that experience, and I’m like, I brought this forward into customer marketing and advocacy. And I was like, you know what? Let’s try let’s try things a little differently. Let’s see what works. So we’ve definitely seen some, long term success happening because of the kind of the the the new ways of looking at things.
Mary Green [00:27:13]:
Yeah. That sounds great. Christina, did she answer your question well?
Cristina Levenetz [00:27:19]:
Yes. Absolutely. That was really that was really helpful. Yeah. And that that education side, we do have a robust, a robust team, and we’ll definitely be leveraging that for our kinda autopilot low touch tier of customers, and then this has given me good food for thought of how to approach the the high touch, tier. And we definitely I wish we had a value engineering team. So I’m gonna have to source internal SMEs and and see if we can get a a proxy to value engineering team.
Mary Green [00:27:59]:
And being this is customer marketing and, You know, advocacy as a part of that. There’s the idea of finding customers that want to do Customer led tutorials and things like that too. I think it tends to add a level of Trust to the, the education because it’s not just the company saying, here, go do this because it’s going to have help you be successful with what we want you to be successful with. It’s another customer saying, I just wanna share this because it worked really well for me, and I wanna give back. And customers want to hear from each other, so Put them to work.
Cristina Levenetz [00:28:45]:
Oh, yeah. Could not agree. Could not agree more. That was definitely something that I joined this, this company. It’s called AirSlate, and it’s workflow automation. So there’s, like, a, sign now, which is, like, an Adobe sign type product. And that’s definitely my my first, One of my first big projects, finding customers that would be comfortable leading, You know, workshops, either virtual or or or in person. Right? Because it’s just that much more valuable when you hear it from a colleague like here.
Mary Green [00:29:30]:
That’s great. Let’s see here. I saw somebody else. Does anybody else have any questions or thoughts on onboarding and how it’s played a role in your customer marketing or how you’ve tried to influence onboarding, and adoption and try to, like, help your goals by working with the, adoption and onboarding teams. Oh, bye, Daniel.
Theresa Manzo [00:30:10]:
This is Taylor.
Mary Green [00:30:13]:
Hi. Hello. It’s been a while.
Theresa Manzo [00:30:16]:
I know. I know. My life has, Yeah. Work has been crazy, but I’m so glad we’re talking about onboarding today. I would love to hear from anyone else who works at a company that’s kind of in the dev tools space or, otherwise, like, a highly technical product. I have been wanting to build out an an air coverage onboarding campaign for a long time. Most of our customers are not on our SaaS product. They’re on an on prem product, which just adds a whole level of complication to all of this.
Theresa Manzo [00:30:55]:
Basically, what it means is that we have no data to understand, like, where they are in the onboarding process. And we have a ton of investment in professional services and, kinda similar to, Teresa, what you were saying. Right? Like, Like, what we have found, we have the data. Our customers who have who purchase professional services are extremely success or often successful. But our customers who don’t, it takes them over a year just to get something up and running with our product. I mean, it is it’s extremely long time to adoption. So what I’m trying to balance is, what can we provide from a marketing standpoint? Right? Very much, it’s gonna be one to many. I love the idea of, You know, education or, like, scaled tutorials, something like that.
Theresa Manzo [00:31:50]:
But I’d love to hear if anybody has been in this type of situation, like a highly technical tool, very long onboarding period. Like, what do we what levers can we pull from a marketing standpoint, that can help with this.
Mary Green [00:32:06]:
Where where are you with what company are you with? Yeah. I’m at
Theresa Manzo [00:32:10]:
a company called Kong, we are in the, like, API management space.
Mary Green [00:32:15]:
Theresa Manzo [00:32:16]:
you just smiled. Are you familiar with Kong?
Kristine Kukich [00:32:19]:
Of course, I’m familiar with Kong.
Theresa Manzo [00:32:21]:
Oh, heck yeah. Not the dog toy company. I always have to tell people that that would be a lot more fun. This is, like, API management. It’s not that I mean, it’s interesting. But
Kristine Kukich [00:32:33]:
It was one of the tools I always recommended when I was talking about APIs back in the old days.
Theresa Manzo [00:32:39]:
Open office hours and Discord for user success.
Kristine Kukich [00:32:41]:
But just for information, I think, One of the most successful well there’s 2 things I think that that led to be more successful with that particular type of user is open office hours for sharing and a discord community. Yeah. Those 2 things just by themselves helped with, so that it was a a mutual sharing society because you don’t have the capability of Clearly identifying usage through metrics to figure out where people are in the product and what they’re doing. If you can get them to, To be a part of those communities, either the live sessions or, asynchronous through Discord, it it does help you kind of figure it out a little bit better in terms of stats so that you can belt build better plans around, potential on demand usually, delivery because that type of user Goes in for the quick win, not for they don’t they don’t usually want to spend days or even hours at a time training initially. They want answers to questions quickly and then they want to be able to move on to the next thing. But you might wanna look, Taylor, the guys at MongoDB.
Theresa Manzo [00:34:13]:
Kristine Kukich [00:34:14]:
Yeah. Take a look at their, online university.
Theresa Manzo [00:34:20]:
Oh, that’s good. I haven’t looked at theirs. Yeah. I mean, I think the good thing is for our situation, the good thing is that we have a really large open source community of, like, individual users. So we have a lot of community and education and support built around that. We have gotten a ton of pushback from our enterprise, sales, sales reps around getting our enterprise customers, like, our paid customers involved in community With our open source users, this will probably surprise no one. They are sure that if, paying customers hear that somebody’s able to do something for Free. They’re immediately gonna stop paying for the thing.
Theresa Manzo [00:35:07]:
I don’t think that that’s actually true. It doesn’t work out that way, but This is what I’ve had pushback getting our customers integrated in our broader community where we already have a lot of this infrastructure. So But I love that, and I do think that’s the answer. Like, I I’m pro that.
Kristine Kukich [00:35:28]:
I think it’s just That user group is that level of user is they they love to talk to each other about their latest hack, about their shortcuts that they were able to find, and they love to share that kind of stuff. So providing them with every opportunity to do that will will certainly helps. And it and I agree with you. I don’t think that, that that sharing open source with on prem is necessarily a bad thing Because they they serve different purposes, really.
Theresa Manzo [00:36:04]:
This is great. Well, I don’t wanna I don’t wanna totally, You know, rabbit hole the whole conversation, Christine. Maybe I will follow-up with you via the selection me, and I would love to get some more of your thoughts on, like, this type of customer in particular. Because, man, I’ve been trying to build out this onboarding sequence for, 18 months And have not gotten very far. So,
Kristine Kukich [00:36:30]:
happy to help you.
Challenges with onboarding enterprise and free users & integration into community.
Mary Green [00:36:31]:
No. I think you I think you present A case though that is very interesting for the group because, one, like you said, you’ve been trying to build this out. For me, I’ve noticed that a lot of times with an audience like that, the email’s not super effective. So I wonder about that onboarding process and getting them involved in that Community. So are these people that are because you’re saying you don’t want to you can’t mix the communities right now, bringing the enterprise and the people that are using it for free. So is it the people that Our enterprise are struggling to, to get through that onboarding in a year, or is it the free people that are struggling to get onboarded? Yeah.
Theresa Manzo [00:37:25]:
Yeah. It’s, it’s the the paid folks, so people who are paying users, who Or at companies. Right? It’s b two b. So paying companies who haven’t purchased additional professional services or maybe they have purchased professional services, but, you know, they are still struggling. And I think it’s less that we can’t incorporate them into the community, but more that I’m trying to build the business case for why why we should do that. Right? So I think it’s more about Some of this is, like, on on me, to build the business case about why it’s gonna be more valuable than risky to integrate them into our broader community, because the community infrastructure exists already, which is great. It’s just not it doesn’t it’s not inclusive as much of this user group. So,
Mary Green [00:38:26]:
I think something that has worked for me in the past, not specifically with this audience, but just in general with b two b SaaS is trying to build a bit of a sense of community within smaller groups of customers. So if without it being a forum or a discussion place, even like monthly calls or something that these people can start to build some connection with each other, without so that you can build up that use that case, that business case for bringing them into the entire community. Does that make sense?
Theresa Manzo [00:39:16]:
It does. It does. Yeah. I mean and we have you know, for Right? We we have a customer advisory board and we have seen that. You know, as we’ve invested more in that, it certainly has been helpful in building that community. I think where where we struggle is, I think where we struggle is with the The resource I mean, I’m sure this is not a surprise to most people. Right? They’re, like, the resourcing. Right? Who is going to do this work? Are we willing to pay, are willing to allocate budget, which is extremely stretched and limited to support this level of customers, or are we willing to just sell them once and hope they get value, and then maybe they don’t, and that’s fine too.
Theresa Manzo [00:40:01]:
I think that has sort of been the implicit That’s been the implicit attitude for a long time, and as I’m sure many of you are, I’m starting to hear a lot More about how important retention is, and expansion and cross sell. Everyone’s really, really focused on that for 2024. And I’m, of course, over here, like, yeah. Where have you guys been? Like, that’s been important. So, I think it’s I think it’s about it’s about so many moving pieces coming together.
Christa Niering [00:40:38]:
Theresa Manzo [00:40:39]:
And Just, again, like, as with everything in marketing, like, experimenting, iterating, trying something, seeing what works, and then You know?
Plan open office hours to build community.
Mary Green [00:40:48]:
And do they are have you already done the office the open office hours that Christine was talking about with this group? I’m just wondering because For me, like, open office hours or roundtables with a specific topic can be pretty easy to plan and pull off without the same level of it’s a webinar or a fireside chat with all of these people that have to show up. And you can kinda test with, you know, a group that started 3 months ago and bringing them together with A monthly call, kind of encouraging them in the call to connect outside of what That call is so that they have friends, community, a network to tap into to help with that onboarding process. That that’s kind of what my idea with, Like, building a sense of community among these people is just you know, are you interested in meeting other customers We’re in a similar space than you. If yes, then drop them in a group. Send them an email. We’re gonna have this monthly call. And get on with a few questions yourself or somebody internally can ask a Couple of questions, but, generally, just like this call, people will come in with questions and others hop on and share.
Theresa Manzo [00:42:19]:
Yeah. No. I love this idea. So we have run programs that are, like, small group Kind of moving small group small cohorts of new customers through a series. They are slightly more webinar y, though, and what we experienced with that was, what you often get with webinar series, which was there was a ton of attendance and engagement in the first few, And then it really dropped off for the later ones. So, I love the idea of pivoting that program, into something where it is less You know, I think we called it office hours, but it really was more of a tutorial. But pivoting that to something that is a little bit more of an open forum and more focused on getting the customers to connect with each other rather than us talking at them because we have a lot of, you know, async materials that they can use Mhmm. For that part.
Theresa Manzo [00:43:19]:
So I I do I really like that idea. I will definitely think about that.
Mary Green [00:43:24]:
Yeah. There’s just something about bringing these customers together. When I worked at Outreach, we had a similar open office hours, webinar thing. And for me, I was just like, if it’s open office hours, then why am I coming and it’s a webinar? I’m not getting the ability to input my own questions and what’s happening with me right now. And while some of the webinar was helpful, it’s really this having more control over your time, hopping on a call knowing you’re gonna be able to ask a question that pertains to what you need answered now and meeting these other people that are just like you, and you can reach out to them. And as I’ve been talking to more, b two b SaaS companies about building a sense of community in these calls. It’s not just, you know, Taylor’s talking to Christina and Teresa, but Connect with each other. Jump on the LinkedIn after this and talk to each other and follow-up because we all want community in some way, at least on this call.
Mary Green [00:44:34]:
And I think those people that, you know, use the APIs and Kong and things like that, they they do want to talk to each other, very often because they’re they’re very intelligent people, and they like to share the things that they find. So I think that’s that’s why I’m explaining the, the idea of letting these customers connect more, but within a program that you can really control by not having them in that community quite yet and get some feedback, get some ideas in that business case to say, Hey. When we put these people around other people, they implement in 6 months instead of a year, things like that. Yeah. So thank you for hopping on and asking your question. Does anybody else have a question? I see, Morgan, that you’re talking about user groups for customers to connect. I’ve done a lot of community work in the past, which is kind of anything from user groups to, cabs and large communities on forums and stuff. So I’m happy to talk about that if Nobody else wants to continue talking about onboarding.
Mary Green [00:46:00]:
Sophie, you jumped on. I saw that it looked like you were trying to get in. Thank you for coming.
Sophie Johnson [00:46:08]:
Oh, yes. Of course. It’s my 1st time, so kind of just listening in for now, but, happy to be here.
Mary Green [00:46:15]:
Yes. It’s a it’s a merry messy call. I I just threw this together about a year and a half ago, and People seem to enjoy hopping on and asking questions and sharing what they know, you know, that whole idea of we’re all experts in different areas. So Welcome to the call. Jump in if you have anything you want to ask or share. Were you specifically interested in this topic?
Sophie Johnson [00:46:42]:
Awesome. Yeah. I was. I actually just started in a new, customer life cycle marketing role, and I think A portion of my focus is going to be on onboarding eventually. So anything related to customer adoption, Expansion is really gonna be in my wheelhouse, so onboarding is super relevant. So just wanted to listen in and hear some ideas from other folks.
Mary Green [00:47:07]:
Yeah. I think onboarding, adoption, and retention are very big areas Right now for customer marketing, Christine here is very, active in the customer education space as well, which lends to be very helpful for customer marketing because of that adoption, retention, and stuff. So We can ask her, do you have any thoughts for Sophie?
Various onboarding methods for customer education. Training and community key for successful implementation .
Kristine Kukich [00:47:44]:
Oh my gosh, specifically, yeah there’s tons of different ways that you can so that you can work with it. The the onboarding structure In in my ideal world, it belongs in customer education, and we let them create A standard series, and that can be on demand. It can be delivered in multiple, modalities Whether so that you can accommodate well, like, Teresa was talking about her, levels of user. I I think you said 3 in that in there, Teresa. And you can go ahead and build content that is relatively the same, but delivered in different modalities would come The the levels of, of users that you might have, whether they’re all on demand or not, and what what the high touch looks like. But if you if you start there and let that part, build then For me that starts after contract sale and before implementation in the life cycle. Right. So the the first thing they do after a kickoff is they have an onboarding And that structure gives them big picture concepts about the the software, it gives them a lot of activity around decisions that they’re going to be making as part of implementation.
Kristine Kukich [00:49:16]:
It’s not an implementation series at all, it’s really designed just to get them informed of everything that they need and then roll into implementation and then supplement that with additional training in whatever whatever that can mean. Right? Again, multiple varieties of tools, but what you’ll find is there’s gonna be some golden nuggets that will come from the the training aspect of it, and the same with community, we see the same kinds of numbers with community but those customers that get x amount of training or x types of training and again different for each organization, but Those those people tend to adopt and retain at levels that are significantly higher as little as 17% as much as 43% in some studies, same with community, If you have a vibrant community of people sharing information, that too can it can increase adoption and retention. So if I in my ideal world I would I would start there and build out a concept that gets them in with other people right away.
Theresa Manzo [00:50:35]:
That’s great advice.
Kristine Kukich [00:50:36]:
At all levels too, Sophie, all levels, So practitioner levels and champion levels too?
Christa Niering [00:50:43]:
Definitely. That would be Single threading,
Kristine Kukich [00:50:45]:
right, because you don’t want to single thread yourself into into a corner later on.
Sophie Johnson [00:50:52]:
Definitely. That makes sense. My organization kinda just started building out their community earlier this year, and I joined, like, a month ago. So still very new. So excited, I think. Kind of focusing on the right things but trying to get everything built out in the short term and getting by and all of those things as well.
Mary Green [00:51:12]:
How long have you been in the role?
Sophie Johnson [00:51:15]:
A month, actually. So very new. But before this, I was also in customer life cycle marketing, just at a different organization. So just kind of at a different phase.
Mary Green [00:51:26]:
Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I love what Christine has to say about community because most of you know I’m very big on community. And, You know, I love that it has that overlap with helping with all these different metrics for customers and gives them I feel like it gives a little bit more sense of control because while we create a lot of content and provide these spaces where they can go and search for things. I think, psychologically, there’s a bit to be like, Some of it can be difficult because you’re like, well, what do I search for? What’s the right keyword to look for? What what exactly do I need to know? And it almost adds a slight level of anxiety, which people tend to avoid, and It you know, not everyone thinks through. Oh, I’m just being a little anxious because I’m not sure it’s the right word. But when you have a community that you’ve answered questions in before.
Mary Green [00:52:32]:
You have that level of safety psychological safety and comfort, and you can say, hey. I have a question about x, y, z, and it tends to be go over pretty well as far as others wanting to respond. But What let’s see. Morgan was asking about community, and I just wanted to go back to that a little bit. And also what I was saying to Taylor is, you know, there’s a gentleman in London. His name is Richard Millington, and I followed him for many years. He’s probably the online community expert. And just this year, he’s been talking about community everywhere, and it’s this idea that you don’t have to have a discussion forum for your customers.
Build community, connect people, foster relationships, provide comfort.
Mary Green [00:53:22]:
You can bring community and help them build a sense of community wherever they are. So if you’re starting out and you know your customers want to connect, but you’re not able to Open a new Slack for them or start a new forum for them and, you know, bringing on, like, vanilla or something like that can be 50, $70,000, but you wanna give them that sense of connection, giving them a monthly roundtable and Getting them involved, you know, asking them to talk, introducing new people on a call, and thanking them for coming, gives that Adds that layer of community and comfort so that people can start building their own relationships, and It’s everywhere. You don’t have to have your own community. You you can be in other communities. You can Show up in other Slack channels and participate and help your customers and the industry wherever they are, if you have the time, of course. Okay. We probably have room time for maybe 1 more Blurb about onboarding if anybody wants to share. Rebecca, did you have any questions?
Christa Niering [00:54:47]:
Hello. I did have 1 and I have to admit I’ve been hopping a little bit on and off. So I don’t know if this was discussed at all, but one of the challenges I have recently is Onboarding for new contacts and existing customers. Right? So new people start And curious to hear if people have, ways that they are onboarding new new employees and existing customers. Like, to do the same thing as new customers or something different?
Mary Green [00:55:17]:
Yeah. That’s a
Christa Niering [00:55:17]:
Theresa Manzo [00:55:19]:
We we kind of do a mix of things for that. So when we’ve identified a new admin that has joined a company, we will If they’re part of our, like, skilled services, they get our, digital in product messaging, welcome, And, onboarding set of nudges and messaging to get them started. So we automatically just enroll them in those programs. Coaches, a little bit more. It varies on by the coach, but they’ll go in and they’ll introduce them to the the scaled training sources, but also kind of onboard them as a as they would a normal new customer, but As part of the process of our strategy reviews or kickoffs, they just kind of do it again. It’s it’s, We wanna make sure that our we keep our sponsors at each company. So anytime somebody new comes in, we identify them as quickly as possible and make sure that they are onboarded as quickly as we can get them in, whether they’re whatever tier they’re in.
Christa Niering [00:56:27]:
Yeah. That makes sense. We had a really poor g I think it was g two review recently. Someone’s very that, they asked for training for the new employees and support basically said no. So it’s top of mind as I’m digging into, You know, that that public feedback. So thank you. Yeah. I’d like to do something.
Christa Niering [00:56:44]:
It’s hard. Some of our customers pay $0, some pay $100 a month, and some pay many 1,000 of dollars. And while we can’t afford to have 1 to 1 services for free for the really small customers, we also can’t afford not to because, you know, they just get angry and frustrated. They’re not gonna be successful using our product.
Mary Green [00:57:05]:
Did you happen to hear what Teresa was talking about earlier in the call where she has multiple layers?
Rebecca Grossman [00:57:12]:
Mary Green [00:57:12]:
okay. Alright. Just making sure. If not, I was gonna say, I’ll make sure I get you the link so you can listen because I’ve definitely been on calls where I’m in and out and, You know, have dogs or kids distract me and all of that. So but it is interesting that you bring this up because it’s something that I’ve been I’ve seen more conversations about on LinkedIn just this week, and I’ve had this problem. I had a customer that I was helping them with a new with a tool that somebody else had purchased. And I asked the company, I was like, can I get access to your training for customers so that I can just get kind of updated on, you know, using this because I had used it before? And they said we don’t have training, that we just give access to. You go through The onboarding process with your customer success person, and they do it all through these calls where they’ll do presentations.
Mary Green [00:58:13]:
And I was like, that is just Awful. Thank you for coming, Taylor. But we are at the end of the call, and I will share this Probably next week in the community, and everyone’s welcome to join into the community and share and talk about it. And I will see you next week. Bye.