Blog Post

How to Set the Right Metrics for Your Customer Education Program

By:
Shannon Howard
Published:
October 5, 2023
Updated:
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When it comes to measuring the impact of your customer education program, not all metrics are created equal.

To prove the value of your learning programs, it's important to focus on the metrics that matter most to your business.

In this blog, we’ll talk about how to do just that.

Start with Your Business Objectives

While we might have learning objectives for content or team-specific goals, these ultimately need to roll up into overarching company goals and strategic initiatives.

For most companies, these goals tie to new revenue, customer retention and growth, and customer or employee satisfaction.

Understand the Problems to Solve and Biggest Opportunities

These objectives can be achieved in multiple ways, so it’s also important to understand the problems to solve and the biggest opportunities available that education might be able to help solve. 

To determine the business problem to be solved, you'll need to connect with your stakeholders. Who has a say in education at your company? This could be the CEO, Product leadership, Customer Success leadership, or Marketing and Sales leadership, depending on your charter. Take time to connect with these leaders and understand what business problems they see that need to be solved and what they see education positioned to do.

Understanding the problem to be solved will help you focus your goals and initiatives on what matters most to the business right now.

Common Business Objectives Education Can Help With

1. Improve customer retention

Research shows that roughly 65% of a company's revenue comes from its existing customers, through both retained revenue and expansion of existing contracts. If customer retention starts to dip, revenue takes a hit.

Customer education plays a key role in customer retention through improving customer satisfaction, product usage, and customer engagement. In addition to helping your customers be better users of your product, the inclusion of customer education as part of their contract is seen as a value-add beyond what your product alone provides.

2. Improve customer satisfaction

If your company issues a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey and discovers that customers are largely unhappy and unwilling to refer, this can be a serious indication of potential churn. 

Your company may want to invest in customer education as a way to improve customer satisfaction. The more your buyers understand your product, the more likely they are to feel confident about using your product and satisfied with their experience.

3. Improve product adoption

Poor product adoption can also be a potential indicator of churn. Typically, the more of your product a customer uses, the more likely they are to retain. 

You might measure product adoption in different ways: Frequency of use, breadth or use, and/or depth of use. (Research from our 2023 report showed that nearly 25% of companies said their users use less than half of their product’s functionality.) Consider that there are likely different personas using your product that may impact each of those usage types. Looking at the account as a whole can be helpful in seeing the bigger picture of usage.

Customers who use more of your product are also more likely to expand their contract and advocate for your product through referrals, case studies, or other advocacy activities.

If your company has identified that product adoption is low, education can be a potential solution to address this issue.

4. Decrease headcount spend

Many companies start out training and supporting their customers through 1:1 interactions. As the company grows, and the number of accounts grows with it, customer education can play a key role in providing scalable resources that decrease the need for more support staff or more customer success managers.

5. Improve the quality of marketing leads

There's a saying in marketing that “an educated buyer is a better buyer.” When people understand the industry, the problems they're looking to solve with your product, and how your product can help, they’re more likely to buy. If lead-to-opportunity conversion rates are low, that might be a problem education can help solve.

HubSpot Academy shines as a perfect example of a program that introduces prospects to HubSpot’s inbound marketing methodology, as well as to their product. This education program has resulted in not only more qualified leads for HubSpot, but also more advocates increasing brand awareness and lead generation by sharing their certifications or recommending HubSpot to other marketers.

Frame Your Objectives Within the Context of Larger Business Objectives

Whenever you talk about your education programs and results, you want to reiterate how these impact overarching business goals. (The Intellum Framework can be a great resource for mapping this out and communicating your plan.)

For example, if you have a certification program for your product, you don't want to talk solely about certification completions. If your hypothesis is that a certified customer is more likely to use more of your product, retain as a customer, and advocate for your business, explain how certification completions are tied to customer retention and new revenue.

Final note: Focus on what matters to your leadership team.

As customer education professionals, we’re passionate about and proud of the work we do—and we have every right to be. But our executive leaders won’t have the same perspective. Their view expands out further.

Our responsibility is to level up our metrics to the things that matter most to them—things like revenue growth, customer retention, employee engagement. Instead of expecting them to get excited about certification completions and the number of monthly active learners, we need to start speaking their language and talking about the ROI of customer education (which can take different forms!). This is how we show the impact of customer education and earn the right to more budget, headcount, and additional resources. 

About the author

Photo of woman wearing a red shirt with a black sweater with her arms crossed.
Shannon Howard
Director of Content & Customer Marketing
Shannon Howard is an experienced Customer Marketer who’s had the unique experience of building an LMS, implementing and managing learning management platforms, creating curriculum and education strategy, and marketing customer education. She loves to share Customer Education best practices from this blended perspective.
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