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By Fraser Deans

On 2015-04-09

Are you responsible for educating your customers and you just don’t know it?

We’ve discussed the importance of customer education before here at Nickelled. Educated customers are able to extract the most value out of your product increasing satisfaction and decreasing churn. But with so many people and roles involved in the life cycle of a customer with your business it’s hard to know at whose feet the responsibility for customer education lies.

Which roles are responsible for customer education?

Sales development reps, account executives, customer support reps, customer success agents, marketing managers, product managers – all these people interact with your customers on a daily basis throughout the customer lifecycle.

Traditionally marketing managers and sales teams work with your customers before they become customers. Once they become customers the customer support team then picks up the interactions to ensure they are delivering the most from the service.

However, in this new age where great customer service differentiates competitors has become a serious marketing consideration, the involvement of roles in the customer lifecycle is not so clear cut.

Similarly, customer education is not a single phase in the customer lifecycle, as it was in the enterprise software training of yesteryear – it’s a continuous process. Agile product development means digital products are continually improving and going from strength to strength: the introduction of new product features, removal of unused features and changes in product direction. Each change has the potential to disrupt your customers if they aren’t educated as these changes come online. Awareness of these new features as well as education of how to make the most of these features is critical.

No longer is it good enough for your customer support team to silo themselves to reacting to support queries or it is good enough for your marketing team to keep pushing customers into your company without an active approach to aftercare (and ongoing) support. There’s an argument that cross-functional teams should straddle all departments involved in the customer life cycle ensuring happy customers.

The straight answer to who is responsible for educating your customers is… well... everyone. Customer education starts when a prospect first hears about your company, your sales and marketing team will answer questions like: “what does this company do?”, “how can it benefit me?”. When that prospect turns into a customer, your customer support/success teams will need to answer: “how do I do set up an account?”, “do you have this feature?”. And if a customer grows out of your service your churn team will need to assist with questions like: “is there a way to export my data to service x?”. Constant customer education.

Tech for better customer education collaboration

Choosing products and services to deliver excellent customer support has always been an important task. Now that separate marketing and customer service teams are working with a common goal, to provide better customer support that will provide in turn provide new business, we must consider how will these services help us collaborate to better support our customers.

Previously organisations would have struggled to move customer information to where it was needed, siloed in filing cabinets or spreadsheets of a single department. Now, technology can move this information to empower teams to stay on top of their support issues and customers concerns.

As we know, customer communications are vital to delivering excellent customer support. Shared inboxes are an effective way of keeping the whole team informed of the communications that are ongoing with your customers. Tools like Help Scout allow your whole team to help in customer support or just keep a close eye on what your customers are saying.

Similarly, wikis are a central repository of information that be can shared internally and updated by anyone. Effective wikis can provide your team with comprehensive product and customer information at their fingertips.

An up-to-date and comprehensive CRM system is essential for tracking customer communications and delivering customer education when it’s needed. Combining a CRM system with drip marketing campaigns can be extremely powerful for the constant delivery of customer education resources – whitepapers, webinars, videos etc.

We recognise the importance of blurred customer service/marketing teams at Nickelled too. This week we released a simple but important feature that allows our customers to invite their colleagues into Nickelled to build, edit and manage their interactive guides: customer support reps, marketing managers, product managers. As well as helping customers with their support issues, Nickelled’s interactive guides are a fantastic way to deliver product training internally to your co-workers and employees.

Information within shared inboxes, wikis, interactive guides and CRM systems doesn’t have to be limited to your employees though. Consider sharing these collections of information more effectively with your customers so that they can self-serve. After all people now prefer to help themselves using help/FAQ pages than contacting a customer service rep via phone.

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