What is the Hardest Part of Creating Customer Training Content?

In episode #11 of New things in Customer Education, Rupal Nishar and Rishabh discuss how customer satisfaction and smooth onboarding can lead to rapid growth.
I speak to a lot of SaaS founders and they say that we’re losing 6-8% as churn monthly due to poor product usage.

So, quite curious how you guys manage onboarding? Do you have onboarding software or do you create a lot of educational content for your customers to make it more self-service?
Well we are in the process of hyper-growth currently, so we are institutionalising. From an onboarding perspective, we have content but we’ve just got into setting up the infrastructure for what scalability should look like.

I think that is our biggest challenge i.e. How do we go from X% of customers to 5-6x growth. What are some of the foundational things that we need to have in place from a process perspective so as to scale to the kind of volume that we’re up against? Over the next few quarters that is the biggest challenge.

We haven’t done any in-product training, it isn’t self-paced but what we do a lot is training where a lot of material shared is when a customer comes onboard and our CS and implementation team shares that with the customer.

It’s quite self-sufficient but we do a lot of hand-holding as part of onboarding which is very high touch. We need to step away from that eventually and make it more consumable, more digital. That helps them be more self-sufficient as early as we can.
Since you mentioned digital and training content, what’s the hardest part of creating this content?
The hardest part of creating this content is not the content itself but it’s the wrong audience or the wrong content creators. Let’s say that we have bits and pieces of the data that are created by folks that are either more technical or adoption focused or product-related.

What we really need is a Content Manager, a person who is responsible from a training perspective who has in the past created the content. Sometimes it’s doesn’t always have the same sort of communication because it’s coming from different places within the organisation.

So we need somebody who will unify all of this and then understand the concepts of the best way to build out whether it’s a drip campaign with onboarding or how to share new releases. I’m having these conversations that we need to bring in somebody who is a content creator and can wear that hat, fit in that box.
Telling isn’t teaching, these are two separate skill sets and a regular product guy or even a support guy could tell that this is how you solve a problem or do something which can make the customer win.

A lot of people get lost with that engagement factor, maybe function with the content is great but because of the poor engagement, poor production quality, you lose the consumption.
Yeah absolutely. So we have not hired anybody in that space, we’ve been focusing very much on the immediate building blocks of what CS should look like. We really didn’t have some of the elementary basic things, our first CS ops person was hired maybe four weeks ago. So we’re starting to build in the infrastructure, we have great CSMs but we don’t necessarily have the infrastructure to standardise everything.

We’re also going through the process of getting all our CSM and some of our key customer-facing folks certified in CSM or in communication. As an organisation, we’re trying to invest in unifying frameworks and making sure the building blocks are there because for us it’s not a matter of when some of these things are going to explode.

Sales are curious for me, it keeps me up at night, how are we going to consume some of the brands that come in, how many more headcount do we need.
It’s really tough because you’re fighting your daily battles and trying to build a team. It’s just too much on somebody’s plate!
Yeah but it doesn’t matter where I sit in the organisation. I always tell people that we all have a role to play and a part of it is not a top-down phenomenon. I think the one greatest thing about this organisation has been the culture.

I always tell this and this sentiment across the board is within each individual contributor who we’re building a leader, so they can make their own decisions. They treat this as their own company, how would you go about making the decisions, what would you do, what would you change.

So it’s a whole different level of engagement that comes to the table, the folks that we’re bringing in by being very transparent on where we are and where we’re headed. I had the opportunity to work in other SaaS organisations but this is one of the best leadership teams I’ve seen by far in a very long time.
So, if you were to advise SaaS companies mostly small to midsize, what would be your top 2-3 pieces of advice on how to cut down customer churn?
I have multiple philosophies around cutting down churn. I think the experience has to be natural and frictionless. If we think about a customer then they are like water; they want the path of least resistance when it comes to adopting or experience.

So, from a customer’s perspective, it has to be as frictionless as possible. And from a churn perspective, take a very different approach, maybe there are other folks that may even be getting in new customers.

I think there is an element of risk assigned to it and with the assumption that what do we need to do as an organisation to prevent the customer from joining right from the onset. So I think there is a healthy level of scepticism and not popping the bottle of champagne, so to speak that I have a new logo that goes across the portfolio. I think that has always helped me know that even if a customer is what we think is the right ideal customer profile and hits all the checkboxes still always double-check and know what you don’t know he is.

If not now then we are 2-3 degrees of separation away from managing that risk. One example is that we brought in a logo, there’s an executive sponsor, an operational team but my advice is don’t focus on that immediate team. Make sure that as a secondary line of succession because if you’re the primary point of contact or if your economic buyer wins the lottery then you don’t want to go about and re-establish those relationships.

So you have to be very proactive with managing those risks and thinking about the unknowns. I think another piece of advice is that we look at churn with a very negative connotation but I think there’s a lot of richness in the experiences that a customer has had that can help you understand what changes do I need to make internally from a people processing technology perspective.

So you don’t end up either crashing the car or raising the red flag early on when it comes to managing churn. Looking back and being reflective on what’s happened is important as these are real nuggets of learnings that you can apply to the organisation to prevent that to align with the customers. I think one of the biggest things is creating a sense of community which is critical.

If your customers feel like they’re part of something bigger and there is a network of them that are either connecting at local user groups. If there’s a sense of community then they can engage, share ideas and connect with each other. I think that’s one of the most valuable and effective ways for your flywheel to move and to essentially have very organic growth. So I think it’s important to create a sense of community.
Treat churn as training data and try to learn from that churn so as to optimise your systems operations, is it?
Right. I think there’s so much that we can talk about when it comes to churning and but it’s important to reflect on things that they are to be your point as neutral. You can see things the way they are, one of the things that I see the organisation doing is what we’re doing here, which is one of the early programmes that we kicked off called a customer listening campaign and an executive alignment programme.

Having been in other SaaS organisations and the alternate advisory boards for other SaaS organisations, we don’t have a very good listening post as we listen to update the roadmap but we don’t actually listen why.

So we’ve carved out this programme where all our executives are assigned a portfolio of customers where they are going to be engaging with the right economic buyers which is agenda lists. Hearing from them what’s working, what’s not working and how can we do better and build those relationships.

I think we need to have better-listening posts across the organisation, top-down, bottoms-up, operational or from support i.e. from all of these different functions. They paint a much richer picture of where the customer is, where they want to go and what we are missing from whether it’s a product-related thing because it’s not about having the best product. I don’t think that’s something that we’re striving for.

That’s the best product but you want to be on the front lines of this where you want to be ahead of the curve and you’re defining the curve. So to be at the edge, you have to have the right listening posts and a healthy level of risk-taking since you’re ahead of the curve.
Listening is a life skill. Active listening well pays. It solves a lot of problems.
Yeah we do reviews on an operational basis beyond these internal meetings. So when we are going through implementations and updates on projects and accounts. I spent 5-8 minutes of the call before talking about the soft skills is a reminder for everybody else. It’s how to listen for some sort of risks.

What do you do with some of these elementary things, ask a question and then put yourself on mute? Just let people talk and don’t wait to respond. This is not a bad thing, people want to have an impact especially if they’re good at what they’re doing when they want to chime in.

So just pause and don’t say anything if you need to ask a question that person speaks and let them get through what their message is before you go online. Something as simple as speaking last gives you so much valuable insight into what everybody else around the room also thinks especially when you’re in leadership.

I think a leader should generally speak last and you’re what everybody else has to say, before forming their opinion, so it’s like the soft skills. I think that makes a huge impact, especially in SaaS.
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