In the first episode of the Playou series on customer education, you will learn from Radim Hladiš and Daniel Ladra – co-founders of Playou – what customer education actually is, how we perceive it, what it is good for and what it entails. Or listen to the first episode of our Customer Education Podcast Series.
Daniel, what is your role in Playou?
I take care of customers and I am responsible for the production of (mainly) audiovisual content.
What is it that you like about your job? Why are peaople interested in customer education projects?
There are many reasons. The most important one is that what we do is related to communication, and videos are the most effective format for that at the moment. That’s why people approach us, because they have topics and projects that they need to explain to their customers in order to increase sales. There are many objectives and projects, but the key is always to communicate what a particular customer needs and to communicate it in a way that is interesting to the target audience.
In the beginning we did various projects, commercials, TV commercials, basically pure marketing. But all the time we were focusing on educational content as much as possible. After a few years we realized that this is and will be our domain. That was when Playou as a whole started to focus specifically on customer education. How do you personally look at customer education?
When I think about all the projects, it’s mostly about opening the customer’s eyes. Products are often related to a very specific topic or problem that the final customers need to understand before they understand the value of the product. And that’s our job.
Advertising like “buy this, buy that” can never convey this deep value of the product. To me, customer education means explaining the essence of the product to the customer so they can understand “why”. On the other hand, it’s also imparting knowledge of how exactly the product works so that the customer can use it better.
So to teach customers how to use specific services?
It certainly belongs there. But the range of what I can educate customers about is wide. Customer education includes tutorials, which is something that already goes quite deep, and it’s part of the whole process from onboarding to how-to guides. But beyond that is the fact that in order for customers to understand the value of the product they need to know the basics of the industry.
Does it also involve improving something people already do?
Absolutely. There is another side to this. When I help someone, I show that I myself understand it. Customers need a partner they feel comfortable with and that they trust. So if I’m able to help a customer to advance in something they’re already doing, I see that as a huge added value to customer education.
Speaking for myself, customer education is not just about the activities we just talked about (online courses, videos). For me, it’s mainly about the overall approach. It’s the opposite end to advertising, which for me is pressure with uncertain long-term prospects. Customer education, on the other hand, is about making the customer understand as much as possible not only the value of the product, but also the whole brand. To know who stands behind it, what their intentions are and how exactly it works. It belongs to the whole sales funnel from the initial brand awareness to the end. I’m constantly opening the customer’s eyes and building trust. When a company chooses to educate its customers, it completely transforms itself.
I totally agree. There is a nice term for this: “paradigm shift”. It changes the whole paradigm of communication from the classic advertising push you were talking about to a much more natural and friendly form of communication. At every step, I walk the customer through the issues and problems that they’re dealing with at that moment. This, of course, leads to the customer finding out if they really need and want the product, rather than buying it because they’ve heard “buy this” ten times and succumbed, which often leads to the customer returning the product within the 14-day return period.
This is a big topic for SaaS (Software as a Service), which depends a lot on customer care. People have moved into digital space. On one hand we have much better control over them there, but on the other hand it’s harder to maintain relationships, so all communication needs to be more thought through. That’s a huge challenge. At the same time, companies need to handle a large number of people, so content needs to be scalable. One piece of content, whether it’s video or text, needs to be able to serve hundreds of thousands of people.
That’s right. At the beginning you asked me why our customers come to us and this is definitely one of the main reasons. Companies have coaches, but they don’t have a chance to serve everyone in person. The fact that these coaches exist means that companies know that training is important because they are used to do it in person. Now they are looking for a way to move it into the digital world. Because of scalability. They need material that is consistent, works across all branches, can be easily upgraded, scaled, expanded, and serves a huge number of people easily.
You talked about onboarding. Which is a big thing in the software industry, because customers buy some service, they get a license, and then they’re left on their own. It’s a big challenge to keep these customers. I keep them just by making sure they understand perfectly why they’re with me. You don’t want your customers to make an impulsive decision. I’m well aware of those myself, as the credit card is not far away when I go to sleep and then in the morning you’re thinking “Geez, what did I do?”
It’s important that people know why they made a certain decision and how to use a particular product to achieve their goal. A person looking for a marketing tool doesn’t need to play with a marketing tool, but for example needs to launch an emailing campaign. If someone can help him with tha, he will be a happy customer.
Radim, you talk a lot about software companies. Which other industries do you think scalable education fits into?
I think nowadays it fits into almost all of them, although we could certainly find exceptions. Sales are moving to a digital world, and that applies t all sectors, including the big ones like engineering.
The challenge to educate is really everywhere today. Educational content is the closest thing to personal contact. It’s warm and its essence is to help the customer, which is exactly how you build a relationship with a customer in a personal business.
This ranges from small pieces of content such as a single video to building robust portals with many types of content and different courses that can be more or less interactive. Popular and easy-to-consume video lessons, for example, can be part of any project, whether it’s a large customer academy or a simple website for a specific and narrowly focused campaign.
If you want to know more about customer education read other articles from our blog like Why Is It Good to Have Smart Customers and How to Get Them. Or check the next episode of this series How UOL Accounting Increased Sales through Customer Edcation.