Convergence, what does it mean? In the literal sense, convergence is when two, or more, things come together and unite in a common interest or focus. Why are service lines and other internal organizations considering convergence, and why now? The short answer is: recurring revenue models (think subscriptions). Recurring revenue models require companies to think differently than they have in the past, with particular focus on driving product adoption, subscription renewal rates, and expansion of the company footprint in each account.
This shift of focus requires organizations that have functioned independently in the past to come together to ensure the success of the customer. A step in the convergence direction begins with partnership, and there are three organizations with whom education services should consider partnering: customer success, professional services and support services.
Customer Success: Training Can Drive Adoption
Customer success is both a concept and an organization. The concept of customer success, as defined by Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures, is as follows:
Customer success is when customers achieve their desired outcomes, through their interactions with your company.
A customer success (CS) organization is the focal point for ensuring that customers indeed achieve their desired outcomes. They do this by facilitating interactions between your company and your customers that enable the customer to derive real value from your company’s products and services. A key interaction in driving this value is training. Training is truly indispensable in product value realization, particularly as it relates to adoption. Based on the results of a TSIA Quick Poll on training and adoption with 2,800 respondents, we’ve discovered that after training, a learner uses the product more, uses more features and functions of the product, and can work more independently, as shown in the graphs below:
Adoption is key to driving customer success and education is key to driving adoption. In addition to providing the actual training, here are three critical practices that ES organizations can employ to strike-up a partnership with customer success.
- Add education services to the customer onboarding agenda.
- Incorporate a learning roadmap, by job role, into the customer success plan.
- Include specific content to be completed in the customer success health check scorecard.
Professional Services: Add Training to Product Installation and Implementation
We also received revealing information from the training and adoption Quick Poll about the top reasons why users don’t adopt the product. The poll allowed for participants to provide any comments, and one of the common comments received was about the lag time between when the training was taken and when the product was implemented. The lag time cited was anywhere from four to 12 months, as exemplified in the following comments.
The middle comment is a bit amusing, as it’s likely that the training had recently been completed, hence the accolades regarding the training itself. It’s a pretty sure bet that a year from now when the product is rolled-out and the user can’t use the product because they can’t remember anything that they’re also not going to remember that it was a good course.
This presents a golden opportunity for education services (ES) and professional services (PS) to partner. Instead of having two separate and disjointed offers, combine onsite training with the PS installation/implementation engagement and build the training into the PS project plan. This should enable delivery of training that is timely – somewhere between two and four weeks prior to product roll-out.
Support Services: E-Learning as a Self-Service Support Tool
Do you know what the number one type of question is that’s fielded by support services (SS)? Based on TSIA Support Services Benchmark data, 48% of all calls received are “how to” questions. Now, if that doesn’t play perfectly into education services’ hand, I don’t know what does. And the perfect way to address those “how to” questions? E-Learning. Why not add an e-Learning subscription to the support maintenance contract?
One question in our training and adoption TSIA Quick Poll asked if, post-training, users could work more independently, relying less on coworkers and customer support. The poll instructions also asked participants to answer all questions based on the training they had most recently taken and to specify the modality of that training.
What I love about the results to this question is that e-Learning is the clear winner. The table below shows the results for each answer option, by modality, and e-Learning received the best overall scores. This is exciting because e-Learning, if built properly, moves into the realm of performance support, which in simplistic terms, provides content at the moment of need. If a user is stuck, he or she can do a “how to” search in an e-learning library and viola! Applicable content is served up. It is this retrieval of content, when needed, that enables individuals to work more independently.
To get started on your partnership with support services, do the following:
- Ask your support services organization what its percentage of "how to" calls is.
- Discuss a premium level offer that includes education and the advantages of doing so.
- Establish the portion of revenue that is education services and that which is support services, or if converged, roll to the top-line.
A key point to make in your discussion with support services is that there is a good chance that the number of “how to” calls will decrease with the inclusion of e-Learning in the maintenance contract. If “how to” calls are reduced, by even 10%, that’s more time agents have to spend resolving more severe and pressing calls.
Convergence, or partnership with other service lines, should be integral to the education services strategy, if it isn’t already. Partnership provides additional routes to market for ES, enables product adoption, and provides a more robust and fulfilling experience for the customer.
Read more posts in the "TSIA Organizational Convergence" blog series:
- "The Year of Convergence"
- "The Converging World of Managed Services"
- "Services Convergence and PS: What's to Become of the 'O' in PSO?"
- "Knowledge Management Convergence: Overcoming Barriers to Knowledge Sharing"
- "3 Examples of Customer Success Convergence"
- "Grow Customers Through Marketing and Services Convergence"
- "Tearing Down Data Silos with Trust"
- "Where is the Line Between Products and Services?"
- "How Field Services is Transitioning to the As-A-Service Model"
About the Author
Maria Manning-Chapman is vice president of research, Education Services, for TSIA. She has more than 25 years of education experience in the high-technology industry. Maria is well versed in the dynamics of running an education services business and has held leadership positions in operations, virtual learning, business development, curriculum development, delivery, and partner management over the course of her career.