By Kristen Hayer
Employee training is often an afterthought in customer success, with many organizations taking a “throw them in the pool and see if they swim” approach to CSM onboarding. Fortunately for those companies who do invest in education, studies show that employee training results in engagement, retention, loyalty and ultimately, revenue.
If you decide it’s time to build out your CSM onboarding or ongoing education program, there are proven methodologies that drive stronger knowledge retention and long-term skill development. Here are three approaches to consider as you design your customer success enablement program.
Address different learning styles
Different people learn in different ways. You may have noticed that some of your team members need to see something or write it down in order to remember it (visual), while others respond best to a discussion (auditory) or hands-on project (kinesthetic). Groups will typically include a mix of these different learning styles.
With your own team, you have the ability to tailor learning experiences to individuals. While onboarding content should be consistent, providing multiple options for learning that content can help new employees get up to speed faster. As team members move beyond onboarding, look for indications of learning style preference and provide opportunities for each person to grow in a way that works well for them.
Train in bite-sized chunks
Ever been to a seminar where they tried to cover 8-10 topics over the course of a day? How much did you remember afterward? Most people will have forgotten 70% of what they learned within 24 hours. How do you fix this? Teach individual topics in bite-sized chunks, an approach often called micro-learning.
For your team, this might look like a book club where you cover a chapter a week and really focus on that content. It could look like a class on a specific topic with follow up exercises to solidify learning. Sometimes, workshops or seminars make sense from a team-building standpoint. Make the most of those by focusing on a few topics and going deep. For onboarding, break up training into modules and give new employees time to absorb the information in between.
Teach skills through moments
A solid base of customer success skills across your team is what you’re shooting for when you build a CS enablement program. Skills are most easily learned when they are presented in line with how they will be used day-to-day. Most people have heard about “teachable moments” in parenting or “teaching through storytelling” in school. These practices align with the idea that people learn best when they can relate the skills they need to how those skills can be used in real life.
For your customer success training program, consider key moments in your customer’s lifecycle or the activities your CSM will be responsible for. Teach core skills like goal-setting, discussing business outcomes, engaging executives, and balancing time through the lens of these daily interactions. This provides skills together with application, and makes the learning more practical.
Keeping these best practices in mind as you build out your CS enablement program will help you drive long-term skill development across your team. The more you can address a mixture of learning styles, right-size your content, and find teachable moments, the more engaged and productive your team will be. It’s worth the investment.
Want to learn more about building and developing your team? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops designed for success leaders. Topics include Hiring Top Performers and Onboarding new CSMs. For more information on these and our other classes and workshops, please visit TheSuccessLeague.io
Kristen Hayer - Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success goals and metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington.