So broadly, to begin with one of the key issues which a lot of customer success leaders tell me is the product training content always lagging behind the product and media production being a pain and you are one of the largest Academy kind of platform for a software company.
How do you handle this issue? Have you had you faced such situation before?
Yeah, so for video production for our product training specifically we take a really, what I like to call a lean approach, which is our product training we started to break it down into its smallest entity so if you think about your learner you’re trying to learn a product you know, we could put together a 30-minute video about all the different features all those different things, but what we really try to bring it down is into these like smaller chunks so keeping those product videos like two or three minutes as a maximum, so that when we have to update them for example, We don’t have to update these larger entities we sort of focus on the smaller piece, but then it also enables us to bring that product training directly to the product.
So, being able to embed it within that experience so if you’re a customer, you can do with the product as well as learn with the product, or you can learn on Hubspot Academy depending on sort of where you are from a learning perspective.
So we kind of take that Lean approach to those like product focused trainings and that video production, bringing it down to those smaller entities.
What are the problems in that case, which you aren’t able to solve yet?
I think one of the things that we’re still really focused on is we have so many different types of learners at different stages of beginner, intermediate, mastery of certain products being able to speak to all of them in our product training.
So something that we’re starting to test is being able to call out is this more like a beginner piece of content, or is this more of a mastery, and then changing the formats accordingly.
So instead of using maybe that same sort of structure of like a two to three minute video, maybe we have text based content and video based content and kind of doing a few of those different elements to speak to those different learners in their different mastery stages.
You really don’t know what kind of learner your customer is, if he is auditory, is he a visual learner? Does he love reading and the best way to do it is exactly like how you told. Do multiple format, content within the same course, so have a PDF copy of the text and sometimes just auditory, sometimes just videos with text and that generally helps 95% of the people. So, I think it makes sense.
One more thing which we did for one of our clients, a Walmart subsidiary in India, an advanced sort of personalization as the same course is not great for beginner, intermediate, advanced, so they took a quick test, a 5-10 minute test and based on the result of that test, they would allocate that if the learner is more suited for a beginner course or if the learner is pretty good at it but might want to look at the advanced course.
Yeah, it’s a really great way if you have that functionality to do like what we would call like a learning assessment, like, take a few answer to a few questions tell us what kind of learner, where you are in the journey. The other approach that we’re taking right now is actually prescribed learning paths.
On our website we have, a sales rep course for beginners or a course on how to master the fundamentals of being a sales manager or something like that. And so it also enables someone to sort of self-select something that we find is even folks who are beginners might not identify that way, you know, maybe they’ve been using the CRM for a long time so they don’t feel like they’re a beginner, but maybe they’re a beginner in our product, and so being able, for them to kind of go through a few pieces of content and see where they’re at, kind of helps them in their journey instead of us telling them like no, you’re a beginner you got to start here, it gives them that optionality of really putting themselves in that point of view where they can start to begin their journey where they see fit, but then we have sort of options if they need to go back or move forward.
What else would you recommend to a software company who are not as mature as Hubspot and are early to mid-stage company, who are just starting up their Academy, how should they go on creating content?
The biggest recommendation I have is being able to have balance in your team structure and flexibility because, you know, I truly believe that any company can sit down and create amazing educational content, you’re the experts on your product, and you’re the expert on the services you provide.
You have those resources internally, but where I see a lot of people get stuck in building their Academy is they either have too many content creators, and they don’t have enough like, systems administrators, or content editors to support the content creation, or vice versa.
They have a lot of people talking about strategy and they don’t have enough people creating content. And so, when your kind of right, maybe you’re a little past the beginning stage, you’re not yet at full scale, but you’re right in the middle is building out your team, so you have folks that are creating content, but also able to support the update of your content.
That is such a huge importance, particularly when you’re creating product training is that it can’t just be net new every time you go to create content. It can’t be from scratch, you want to be iterating and so if you have enough content creators, to be able to do that maybe five individuals creating content, you want to at least one in house Content Editor, one in house systems administrator to help to start to do that organisation.
What I also see as a benefit to that is then whoever’s leading that team can start to really dive into the data, how is it impacting monthly recurring revenue, how is it impacting your customers retention and the product, because they have the layers underneath them to do the day to day operations and they can start to pick their head up and look around, something that is such a pitfall is everyone’s creating content, it’s all hands on deck, all the time, and you’re not taking those natural pauses to understand the data, understand the impact, particularly for folks, where you constantly are adding new products that was something that HubSpot Academy dealt with early, HubSpot was growing, we were adding more products and features which was great, but we couldn’t support it all with our structure, we needed more support on both sides to keep things going.
So, it’s maybe the insatiable answer but like look at your team structure and make sure it’s set up for success for the like long term growth.
I’ve looked at a lot of small to mid-type of SaaS and they don’t spend a lot of time in gathering data. But I think it’s a right point.
What else you would do apart from the educational content to cutting down customer churn, which are the top three things you would see that this is what you should do?
Yeah, it’s a great question and when I think about how to reduce that churn. The first thing understands in your customer lifecycle, where the churn is happening.
So is it happening most often in an individual’s first 12 months in their first 18 months, you know where is that kind of apex of the issue to identify what’s going on before that happens, because that’s how customer education is going to help customer churn, if you can figure out what happens in the months leading up to the churn, you can start to build that up, something that we did an analysis on years and years ago was, you know, We needed to introduce customer content and customer education right at the start of onboarding and almost pre-sale, so that a customer was being set up for success before they were even thinking about implementing their teams into it, they were really getting situated in our product with some of that training and helping them get set up for success. So, understanding where the churn is happening is a huge aspect of reducing it.
I think the second piece of that too understands more of is the churn happening because of friction with the product or is it friction within the way in which they’re engaging with it. So, customer churn, there’s always going to be some elements that are product lead some elements that are human lead but understanding where those folks are feeling the friction.
Hubspot actually invested in what we call like the voice of the customer initiative where we started to gather that data directly from our customers of, you know, tell us on a scorecard how we’re doing, where are you experiencing the friction, and again, customer education can play such a great element there, because then we can go in and say, Oh, you’re experiencing issues with navigating this, here’s some training on it, or on the inverse as well if like some of those products are more difficult to understand, we can again insert that training.
I’d say that the last thing for reducing some of that customer churn is also thinking about how your customers are evolving over time, you know the playbook that you were using three years ago, is probably out of date at this point. And so, staying on top of the market, and the people that you’re reaching out to you know your sales team is doing an awesome job bringing folks in, but they’re also tapping into new networks and new markets and staying on top of that evolution that’s happening so you can be ahead and not behind on what those new customers who are coming into your company need.