Having all the right people on your Customer Education (CE) team can make it much easier to produce the content your customers need to be successful. As a CE leader, you want to create a high-performing team, but it can be hard to find and retain CE professionals in a highly competitive world.
So, how can you attract and retain the best people for your Customer Education team?
Look for more than the usual skills
Your best CE people are that rare combination of skills: geeky enough to understand the most complex tech systems, with the heart of a writer and a teacher. They need to explain the complex in plain language, yet be engaging enough manner to keep customers coming back for more.
It's rare to find someone with just the right blend of those traits and skills, so CE managers must broaden their searches. "You'll need to recruit either strong technical people (and train them on how to do instructional design), or strong instructional designers (and pair them with strong technical SMEs)," says Pat Durante.
Bob Lucas agrees, though he prefers hiring for the latter, as "it's easier to train someone on technical (skills) and certifications than on effective collaboration and clear communication."
Identify those that will stay
As part of your recruiting process, you also get to identify CE candidates that will stay with you once they're hired. It's not enough they have the technical or instructional design skills and experience. You've got to dig a little deeper and look beyond what's in the resume.
"A resume tells a story," human resources executive Regina Hartley explains in her TED talk, Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume. She goes on to explain that a varied resume may indicate a lack of consistency or collaboration. "It may also signal a committed struggle against obstacles."
Another thing to look for in a resume for a committed CE professional is to see what they do outside of work. If they volunteer on a regular basis, participate in a team sport, or invest their personal time in something they care about, it's a good indication they have the mindset to stick with something that’s important.
Engage your CE team differently so they stay
Once you've found the best CE pros for your team, it's time to think about how to keep them. Find ways to engage them at all levels so they stick around. Sure, you'll lose some as CE teams are not immune to job churn. Everyone looks for better pay, the opportunity to learn new skills, and better benefits and lifestyles. But if you're able to foster commitment to the team and the business, you'll retain more than you lose. "My goal," Lucas explained about his CE team, is to inspire the desire to ramp up faster, establish cross-functional relationships quicker, and grow in the role so they can work outside their comfort zone if/when we need them to."
Another way retain your CE team is to communicate its impact on the company's bottom line. Sometimes it's hard to see how the CE team impacts business results, especially when you're only ever being asked to produce more with less. "If we can show our teams the impact of what we do," Durante said, "we'll command more respect (from the business) and resources, (which) leads to more engaged employees."
Attracting and retaining good employees is a challenge in the technology industry as a whole and CE teams are no different. Not only must you search for the right learning design skills and experience, but you also need CE pros who have the right level of collaboration and "soft" skills. You take the time and effort to look for those special people because you understand the importance of customer education to the success of your company. Successful customers are loyal customers.
What tactics or philosophies have you used to attract and retain your CE team? Share in the comments.