As more companies have Customer Success (CS) teams onboard new customers to their products, they're unintentionally missing an opportunity to drive revenue by adding Customer Education programs up front.
Yes, they ensure new customers have initial training, but they often leave customers with a "Call me when you have a problem." Customers are looking for more guidance than that, especially when they're new to your products and solutions. They don't want to deal with you only when they have a problem. It's essential to create and sustain positive engagement opportunities with them and your company.
By encouraging customer success teams to talk about Customer Education (CE) programs at the start of the process, it helps drive more revenue for the business, but more importantly, CE initiatives increase engagement and loyalty rates within customers.
Benefits to bundling CE with CS
The first benefit to bundling CE with CS is that it gets customers up to speed on your product more quickly and then helps them extract value right from the start. When customers receive precisely the value out of your products you said they would, right from day one, you benefit with reduced churn.
Secondly, the bundles alleviate pressure on your smaller customers. These companies are often the most demanding because they don't have the same level of internal IT support as large enterprise customers. They often rely on a single person to use the product internally, and since they don't have anyone else to ask for help, they turn to your CS and support teams more frequently.
Thirdly, you increase deal sizes for both initial and renewing customers. Sales teams sell more quickly because bundles decrease the time to value customers have with the products (the side benefit is the increase in their bonuses due to larger deal sizes). Returning customers often renew the whole deal when the subscription is up because it is an easy, all-in-one cost: software plus training.
Getting started on bundling CE with CS
The first stop in bundling CE with CS is to identify the customer journey. Many think the "customer journey" is the domain of the Marketing team, but in reality, everyone who has contact with customers should know and understand it. Customer journeys outline the entire experience a customer has with your company and also describe how to sustain the relationship after they're fully onboarded.
CE pros are well-positioned to create journey maps because they're aware of the complete customer picture. Other teams may focus on only their portion of the journey, but CE is aware of the entire picture, due to interacting and collaborating across the organization. While CS teams should be aware of the whole journey, they are often so focused on that initial onboarding portion they forget about the rest and can be stuck in reactive customer interactions. Their work should set the foundation for and guide customers to success at every stage of their journey. CE pros can help widen CS' view of the customer journey, which sets the stage for further collaboration between the two teams.
Think like a product manager
Donna Weber, Marketing Trustee for CEdMA and President at Springboard Solutions, explained how she develops products that bundle training, CS advisory services, and professional services consultations. She advises to think about bundled products like a product manager would. Take the time to develop product, pricing, marketing, and selling strategies for these new bundled programs. This helps get traction within the company and get buy-in from the CS, Sales, and Finance teams. "I have created three tiers of packages that customers could buy," she explained. "We made them renewable, like software subscriptions."
Chase down the revenues
One challenging area Donna mentions is chasing down revenues. “When creating bundled packages, make sure Finance allocates the CE money to your team.” Because the CE cost is often bundled in with CS and other services on an invoice or subscription, it's up to the Finance team to strip out the CE portion and allocate it back to CE. No matter if CE is a separate line item or a percentage of the overall deal cost, the revenue still belongs to the CE team. Use it to fund other training initiatives, internal training needs, software purchases, and more. Donna guides, “You also want to identify CE as a revenue generating center for the company, but you can only do that if it's allocated correctly.”
CE + CS bundles can be a key differentiator
Tech companies are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Combining CE, CS, Services, and Support programs can be a great way to do that. Developed and branded well, they can increase revenues for companies (and CE teams) across several important business indicators and make your company stand out in exceedingly crowded tech market.