By Kristen Hayer
Want to train your customer success team? Good thinking, because according to a recent study from Gallup, 87% of Millennials say that development is important in a job. The majority of employees now consider ongoing training and development critical to their decision to join or stay with an employer. Bottom line: If you want to attract and retain the best people, training needs to be a part of your plan.
What if you don’t have a training budget? Organizations that are young or small may need to prioritize other spending over employee development. Older organizations may not have adjusted to the change in demographics that is driving this shift toward ongoing training. If you’re a manager who faces a limited employee development budget, you’ll need to get creative in order to retain the top customer success professionals on your team. Here are 5 ideas:
Cost = Roughly $20 Per Book
Any of my former team members who are reading this article are laughing right now because they know that this is my all-time favorite training hack. Most of them went on to their next job with a sack full of books. Book clubs are great for development, but they have the added benefit of being a wonderful team-building tool. I recommend meeting weekly, for 30 minutes, to have a discussion on one chapter. If your company is alcohol-friendly, schedule this toward the end of the day and share a beer at the same time. Always ask, “What did you learn from this chapter that we could apply here?”
Cost = Free!
Webinars can be a great training tool if you choose the right ones and leverage them in the right way. First, make sure you choose a topic that is relevant to your team and the challenges they face. Second, make sure the webinar is presented by an organization focused on content rather than selling. You don’t want your team to sit through an hour-long sales pitch, so check out some of the other webinars from the company before you commit. Last, but definitely not least, have your team attend the webinar as a group (if possible) and discuss it afterward. Attending together creates the expectation that you are there to grow, and limits multi-tasking, which is a learning killer.
Cost = Again, Free!
Who doesn’t love a great podcast? Podcasts are available on pretty much any topic you can imagine, and are easy to listen to in your spare time or during your commute. If you live in a major metropolitan area this is probably a good option, because much of your team will be commuting to work. Treat this training tool like a book club – choose a podcast and discuss it together as a team after everyone has listened. Podcasts have the advantage of being self-contained, so you aren’t committing to as much content as when you have your team read a book.
Cost = Another Free One!
If you don’t have a training budget, neither do your peers. Consider other departments within your company that might be interested in learning about customer success, and talk to those managers about trading some time and expertise. Your team would probably be delighted to learn more about your product, engineering, marketing and sales teams, since some of them have aspirations to move into those groups down the road. Those teams would benefit from learning about customer success, and you might just create a more customer-centric culture while you’re at it.
Cost = Lunch
Several companies I work with host “lunch and learn” events where they bring in customers to talk about what they do, how they use the solution, and how best to engage with them. You can get amazing intelligence from your customer base, plus give your customers a chance to share what they do, all for the cost of lunch. This makes for a great team-building and relationship-building session, and gives your team insight into the mind of your customers. If you don’t work near many of your customers, you might need to add some travel expenses to the cost, but I would argue that it’s still probably less expensive than formal training and incredibly valuable.
Give these creative training ideas a try, but be sure to take the time to measure results. Did the performance of your team improve after reading a book? Was a podcast responsible for a cool new initiative? If you can demonstrate value, you might be able to advocate for an increase in your training and development budget in the future. Either way, make continual training a priority and keep your performers happy!
Are you one of the lucky ones with a training budget? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers both online training and onsite workshops to help you build a top performing team. Check out our coaching and training options at www.TheSuccessLeague.io