25 episodes

CELab is the Customer Education Lab for Innovative Customer Success, Enablement, and Marketing Teams. Our mission is to explore how to build Customer Education programs, experiment with new approaches, and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stop growth dead in its tracks.

CELab: The Customer Education Lab CELab

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 22 Ratings

CELab is the Customer Education Lab for Innovative Customer Success, Enablement, and Marketing Teams. Our mission is to explore how to build Customer Education programs, experiment with new approaches, and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stop growth dead in its tracks.

    Episode 45 - Maria Manning-Chapman - Free and Fee - What Customer Education Professionals Need to Know about Education Services

    Episode 45 - Maria Manning-Chapman - Free and Fee - What Customer Education Professionals Need to Know about Education Services

    In this episode of the CELab Podcast, we’re joined by Maria Manning-Chapman, the VP, Education Services Research at TSIA where we expand upon the TSIA’s “State of Education Services 2020” report - which we covered in Episode 38 of this podcast.  

    Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

    Here, we’re diving deeper into monetization strategies which our listeners and the network that we’re in as Customer Education Professionals are interested in getting more help with.  Customer Education tends to “niche down” from where we end up in much larger, mature organizations where we often have true Educational Services teams.

    1 - Working with Education Services 

    Maria works with TSIA members that span across all stages of maturity.  Some are newly formed Education Services organizations, some are newish – in that 2-4 year range and then there are mature education organizations, been around for 5 or more years.  From a business model perspective:

    About 20% function as a cost center (there is no revenue, or not enough revenue to cover costs) Approximately 20% are breakeven (there is enough revenue to cover expenses, but nothing extra) Roughly 55% are revenue centers (revenue, margin and profit positive)The remaining percentage is mixed models

    In many cases, those who are cost centers are often looking to monetize training and at least move to breakeven.  Those who are breakeven are looking to move to revenue/margin/profit positive.

    2 - Maturity and Monetization

    Most “young” XaaS (“X” as a Service) companies start with free educational programs. Educational material emerges necessarily from Customer Success, Support, and other teams prior to having a named leader.

    Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

    If you’re thinking about education as a business, your job is to always grow the business.  You have to have money to invest in your growth.  Being revenue-generating allows you to fund your own growth.

    Another key concept for all Customer Education professionals need to keep in mind is “the fallacy of free training”.  If we give training away for free - the masses are going to flock, right?  Many people believe that charging for education is a barrier.

    Free training, however, is no guarantee of consumption.  We know that driving consumption drives volume.  Those who know how to prompt students to consume educational material net a higher average number of training days consumed annually and a higher number of online learning hours consumed annually.

    So … it’s c

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Episode 44 - Chip Ramsey - Start with Science

    Episode 44 - Chip Ramsey - Start with Science

    In this episode we talk with Chip Ramsey - Founder and CEO of Intellum and one of the early pioneers in our field with the first ever platform for Customer Education.  We talk about the transition to creating a great platform and how Chip says to "start with science" to make amazing material that helps both your customers and your business.

    Many Customer Education Professionals may know Intellum as the platform that powers incredible customer and partner education and customer experience programs such as Facebook Blueprint, Google Academy for Ads, Google Retail Training, Twitter Flight School and most recently have acquired Appitierre, who make the Evolve rapid-dev content tool.

    Transitioning to Customer Education from Internal Enablement

    Chip’s early ventures into education originated in the Compliance arena (in the United States, organizations such as OSHA focus on this).  With fields such as manufacturing, people can easily get hurt when they don’t have access to quality educational material.  In the late 90s, Chip realized that he could:

    Use the Internet to train peopleTrain people affordablyMake consistently high quality materials

    With customer-facing products you realize that you don’t have a captive audience.  This starts increasing the scope of development pretty quickly.  It requires taking a broad audience and personalizing a catalog, making certain things public and searchable, but also gating certain elements.

    Even more, with a customer-facing platform there’s naturally more focus on the consumer experience.  A customer opts-in to the experience so it has to be in some way pleasurable, but we also want that experience to be just as high quality for the employee.  Everyone deserves a better experience.

    State of Customer Education

    Fast-forward to today.  20 years later - Customer Education and the world are in a very different place.  The cloud is normal and expected and we’re now living in 2020 where COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world.  The nature of doing Customer Education is very different and many businesses have moved their programs online.  So what’s the state of customer education today?

    The Peloton Concept

    A key with Customer Education is to help people to transition from physical to virtual.  This started before the pandemic, but we’re seeing it more throughout the market.

    One amazing example of where we’re headed is demonstrated by Peloton.  In their world, both Live and Content co-exists and excels at manifesting  year-round relationships with their customers.  They are adding content, and adding value at all times.  Which brings us to a key point: Be a trusted destination for your customers to master certain knowledge or skills.  Peloton excels because you feel like you’re part of something when it’s live!  On-demand feels just as good!

    Another example lies with creating virtual conferences for people. Gainsight did an amazing job with Pulse (Pulse Everywhere), scaling up to 18,000+ people.   Intellum has scaled to even 100k people.  Virtual is different, but people get to take part in the event

    • 50 min
    Episode 43 - Mailbag - Part 2 - Where Does Customer Education Belong?

    Episode 43 - Mailbag - Part 2 - Where Does Customer Education Belong?

    Part 2 of our Customer Education Mailbag episode continues the conversation with our listeners.  How do Content Developers become more self-sufficient with their LMS? How many people can we expect to join a new program? Where does Customer Education Belong? Listen in to find out!

    This podcast and website are not about our opinions and perspectives.  We focus on our community of Customer Education professionals.  All of us are learning and growing from the experiences we have helping learners understand our products, particularly for Software-as-a-Services companies where that product is - quite literally - changing under our feet.

    If you have a question, email us at learn@customer.education!

    Gordon Mak

    “Do you have any tips to enable IDs and Content Developers to be self-sufficient in refreshing content in the LMS without being dependent on the LMS admin or take LMS admin training? I ask this because Covid-19 has forced many companies to leverage cloud storage services, and to store their course content like SCORM and video files in the cloud. Wouldn’t it be nice if updated course content files didn’t need to be re-uploaded into the LMS manually? I would love to hear if anyone has found a reliable solution.”

    Many customer Learning Management Systems now provide roles that aren't the equivalent of a full Administrator, but rather focused on content management.  For example, you can assign certain courses to individuals and allow them to upload/modify their own content, but an Administrator still needs to publish.

    If you’re using a separate cloud-based CMS for video (like Wistia) or SCORM (like Articulate’s cloud products), it’s possible that the way some Learning Management Systems embed content, you could swap out the core assets in their respective systems without touching the LMS. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen super elegant solutions for this kind of problem.

    We would point out that when we bring up “Admin Training” that triggers a bit of concern.  Most well-designed LMS products are simple to pick up.  At most, you can do some social learning with peers - such as an internal doc that explains your process.

    But then again, do you want many people mucking about in your system?  The more people you introduce, the more potential there is for someone to make an error.  

    Alex Forbes

    “Alex Forbes, Thought Industries. Based on our State of Customer Education report, when launching a customer education program for the first time, what percent of learners should they expect to join?”

    Note to Readers: We Episode 39 of the CELab Podcast summarizes Thought's Industries' State of the Customer Education report. Check it, and other episodes out for a clear picture of where Customer Education is in 2020!

    Well … It depends!

    If we go back to the TSIA report on

    • 45 min
    Episode 42 - Customer Education Mailbag - Part 1

    Episode 42 - Customer Education Mailbag - Part 1

    Early listeners will remember that we used to do a segment on the show called “Customer Education Mailbag” where we would answer a quick question at the end of the episode, usually unrelated to the main topic. 

    We’re finally brushing the dust off all those envelopes and open some of the letters that have been coming in. We actually asked our listeners to record their questions, so listen into this episode to hear it in their own voices!

    We hope to do this periodically, so if you want to send in your questions you can contact us in our Slack Community or send us an email at learn@customer.education!

    Michele Wiedemer

    “Hi this is Michele Wiedemer. I’m a freelance instructional content developer based in Dallas TX, I’m wondering how you decide to design hands on activities for on-demand content, and whether to use things like hot spots or other rapid e-learning capabilities, vs. a lab environment with exercises” 

    We agree hands-on activities and interactivity are really useful for driving learner retention and making courses more engaging.  But how do you approach these decisions?

    Learner Effectiveness

    Learner effectiveness is one frame - What outcome are you teaching to? Hot spots may be effective but lower on Bloom’s Taxonomy, identifying parts of a UI, exploratory interactivities. Lab environments with exercises are probably more effective for higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy where you’re having people complete real-world scenarios

    Also think about feedback loops - hotspots only provide the prescriptive feedback you wrote into them, but lab environments provide actual and possibly unintentional feedback.

    Production Cost is a Different Frame

    This is a different frame. Usually it’s cheaper and quicker to build hotspot activities, especially if you have a rapid development tool or if your LMS supports them.  Lab activities are more costly; you may need a virtual lab platform, and you need to build in time to “play-test” the scenarios of interest to your customers.

    Learner Investment

    A learner will be in and out of most hotspot activities within a few minutes, however, labs are designed to be more intensive, usually when you’re driving deeper learning.

    Linda Schwaber-Cohen

    “Hi this is Linda Schwaber-Cohen calling in from Seattle WA, I work at Skilljar in Product Marketing and Customer Education. I’ve noticed that both of you tend to build training programs that are free for customers and I’m wondering why. Is that a personal choice or have you worked with executive leadership to determine your monetization strategy and make that decision?”Click here to hear Linda on Episode 14 of the CELab Podcast!

    In our past lives, we’ve typically built programs from the ground up.  But it’s important to meet our companies where they are.  

    Customer Education May be Free in Early Growth Stage Companies

    With Venture-fu

    • 46 min
    Episode 41 – Intellum and Forrester show how to Increase Revenue and Improve Customer Retention Through Customer Education Programs

    Episode 41 – Intellum and Forrester show how to Increase Revenue and Improve Customer Retention Through Customer Education Programs

    Our next “State of the Industry” report review comes from Forrester and Intellum with their 2019 paper: “Increase Revenue and Improve Customer Retention Through Customer Education Programs”. This report differs from previous ones in that it focuses on how Customer Education programs can contribute to revenue and customer retention. Customer Education is growing, driving a measurable impact in bottom-line revenue, customer retention, and support costs.

    • 34 min
    Episode 40 - Skilljar - 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends Report

    Episode 40 - Skilljar - 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends Report

    In this episode we look at Skilljar’s 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends report. This report is one of the most comprehensive to-date featuring insights from over 250 customer and partner education teams.  Come listen to our response to this report’s insights related to COVID-19 impacts, budgets, target audiences, training formats and engagement, completion rates, monetization strategies, and more!

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

jeff.wayman ,

Real Professionals Investigating the World of CE

Customer Education is a field that is rapidly growing. Unfortunately resources are scattered, and even the name can mean many things or many different people. CE Lab is a place to get concise, objective, and extremely helpful information related to building, growing, and nurturing customer education in your org, regardless of size or scope.

JeffK90s ,

Great resource - valuable takeaway every episode

I started listening to this podcast about a year ago. Our customer training program has benefitted greatly from the advice of Adam and Dave and the excellent guests they have on the program. Highly recommend to anyone looking to improve their customer education programs.

Ronccc ,


Great listen!! Worth the time!

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