Blog Post

Drive Better Results—and Work More Efficiently—With Organizational Education

Robyn Hazelton
March 2, 2023
educating your customers, employees, and partners

Imagine this scenario: 

Your company launches a new product, and tickets start coming in faster than your customer support team can handle. Agents are stressed, customers are upset, and suddenly you have an expensive problem on your hands.

You decide to solve this problem through customer education. After all, if customers understand how to use the new product, they won’t submit support tickets, right? 

So you do the hard work of understanding learner needs, creating educational content about the new product, and uploading all that content to your CEP (customer education platform). But while you do see some reduction in tickets, customer education doesn’t fully solve the problem; tickets are still coming in.

If your goal is to reduce tickets, you should, of course, educate your customers. But don’t stop there! 

Your customer-facing employees (customer success managers and customer support agents) and your partners—who sell your product and service your customers—should also consume the vast majority of the content you created. This way, everyone’s product knowledge is aligned, everyone’s using the same vocabulary, and everyone’s working toward a common goal.

Educating all three audiences as part of a holistic education initiative is the best way to help your customers achieve the desired outcomes. 

While educating all three audiences might sound like a lot of extra work, it doesn’t have to be. Much of the content you create can be shared across audiences. Additionally, more and more organizations are adopting a single-destination organizational education platform (OEP) that allows for audience segmentation; no more uploading content in multiple places.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

What is organizational education?

Organizational education is the strategic practice of planning, creating, and delivering digital learning content to employees, customers, and partners—with the goal of achieving specific business outcomes. Organizational education also requires measuring the business impact of educational initiatives, then updating the plan, content, and modalities as needed.

You can also think of organizational education as a strategic approach to learning that stretches across the entire business; it’s the antithesis of siloed education initiatives. 

Why siloed education initiatives don’t work

Some organizations create education initiatives and training content in silos: 

  • Employee education initiatives might be led by the HR department and delivered through an LMS (Learning Management System). 
  • Customer education initiatives might be led by the education team and delivered through a CEP (customer experience platform). 
  • Partner education initiatives might be led by the partner success team and delivered through an LXP (learning experience platform). 

Unfortunately, when different pockets of the business operate separate education initiatives, it creates complexity and redundancy—as well as resource waste. For example:

  • Three different teams create net-new content, when a good portion of any given course or certification could be shared across multiple audiences. 
  • Three different teams pay for three (or more) different learning platforms, when they could buy a single platform that allows for content to be segmented by audience.
  • Three different teams maintain content within those various learning platforms, when they could be making updates inside one learning destination. 

In addition, when there’s no centralized approach to education within an organization, ad hoc education initiatives tend to sprout up, headed by well-meaning employees who seek to solve problems. 

Customer success decides to run monthly webinars to reduce customer churn.

HR says, “Hey, let’s build a certification to close employee skills gaps.”

Partner marketing launches a sales training email sequence. 

While the effort is commendable, the reality is that ad hoc education initiatives drive poor results. In 2022, Intellum surveyed 502 workplace education decision makers and found that companies with ad hoc education initiatives are least likely to report increased revenue.

It’s not surprising. Learners are unclear where they should go for answers (Knowledge base? Email? Support ticket? Website? LMS?). And when unskilled employees create learning initiatives, few are grounded in proven education best practices. 

What organizational education looks like in practice

First, the business will designate an education owner and executive sponsor. This doesn’t mean other teams can’t be responsible for executing different parts of the strategy. It simply means that there’s a qualified accountable party, as well as executive support, to ensure success. 

Next, the education owner and relevant stakeholders will look at their business problems and determine which ones can be solved through education. (Not every problem can be solved via education; for example, if your customers are churning because of late product delivery due to supply chain difficulties, customer education isn’t the answer.)

Then, the team will look at which audiences need to be educated. Remember our customer support ticket example? In addition to educating customers, it also made sense to educate customer-facing employees and partners. But certain problems—such as employee skills gaps—might pertain to that one audience only. 

Next, it’s time to deploy the education to your different audience personas. This is a complex process that might include: 

Finally, measure learner outcomes and business outcomes. If you set out to reduce customer churn, did that happen? What percentage of churn decrease is attributed to your initiative? In terms of revenue, what was the ROI of your education program? 

We’re here to help.

Ultimately, organizational education is about creating strategic education initiatives and personalized learning experiences for multiple personas inside one learning destination. In doing so, you’ll take your learners on a journey over time (e.g., Novice, intermediate, expert), and your internal team will benefit from reduced complexity and duplicate work.

Any organization, regardless of their maturity, can adopt an organizational education approach. 

If you’re interested in organizational education, contact us to learn more. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.

About the Author

Robyn Hazelton headshot
Robyn Hazelton
Vice President of Marketing and Growth
Robyn is the VP of Marketing and Growth at Intellum and helps to ensure that every interaction an individual has with the brand is as awesome as possible. An experienced and trusted leader with a history of consistently impacting revenue, she's always talking about funnel management and biased toward action.