But those programs are established. They’ve evolved over time. Like any great customer education initiative, they iterated to build a scalable program. Which begs the question: What should customer education look like in the beginning?
You can start your customer education program in a number of ways: Customer training, in-person workshops, live webinars, short videos, help articles. The possibilities are endless—and entirely dependent on your current business strategy and resources.
We recently sat down with Mindbody to hear about how this B2B SaaS company built its customer education program. Let’s look at where they started, where they are now, and where they’re going. Maybe you’ll get some ideas of where to start in your own organization.
Mindbody provides cloud-based online scheduling and business management software for the wellness services industry. Think about your local yoga studio, wellness center, or hairdresser—all are exactly the type of businesses Mindbody serves.
When Mindbody first launched in 2001, they didn’t start with a customer education program. That would come much later.
Their education efforts initiated from two different teams: Support and Marketing.
The Marketing team at Mindbody knew that many of their customers launched their businesses out of passion—not because they had a strong entrepreneurial background. But having better business chops meant the business had a higher likelihood of success—and that translated to longer-term relationships with Mindbody. With this in mind, they developed content and training focused on educating customers on how to grow their businesses.
In the beginning, Mindbody hosted live events and training. They made session recordings available for on-demand learning. The marketing team also developed a Business Consultant Certification, with the goal of building a network of trained professionals who could support Mindbody customers in growing their businesses.
The other learning track originated from Mindbody’s tech support team. Some internal “gurus” knew the platform inside and out, thus providing tech support for their own tech support team.
This evolved into a hybrid role between customer service, tech support, and product development. Gurus would learn about upcoming updates, then go back and train tech support (commonly known as “train the trainer”).
That hybrid role grew into an enablement and training function, which then expanded to include a learning center team that works on software-based certifications and product education.
Learn more about building a customer education team in this Underscore episode.
Many organizations consider certifications to be the pinnacle of customer education. But certifications aren’t the right solution for every education initiative. A key question to consider is: Would this certification add value to a person’s resume? For example, if your software is used throughout an industry (e.g., Salesforce), that certification is a value-add to an employee’s resume.
Because Mindbody is used by tens of thousands of businesses as part of critical business operations, certifications made sense. Certifications became a way to streamline and scale customer onboarding—while also providing something for employees to add to their resumes. Win-win.
The team knew their customers were often busy small business owners—people who don’t have time to learn a new technology or train their staff on how to use it. That’s where the Level 1: Running Your Software Certification came in.
Level 1: Suitable for all users of the Mindbody platform, this certification is geared toward “learning the basic day-to-day of schedule management, retail, customer management, and more.” The Level 1 Certification serves to onboard new customers, as well as train new employees who will use the Mindbody platform.
Level 2: Mindbody now offers a Level 2 Certification, which builds upon what participants learned in the Level 1 Certification. It’s designed for business owners and managers to learn the ins and outs of business operations. This includes new service setup and scheduling, staff management, client management, creating pricing and products, reporting, and more. (The team made the content available to users while they put the finishing touches on the certification exam.)
Level 3: They’re also preparing to launch a [paid] Level 3 Certification that will allow participants to become Mindbody Software Consultants. The goal of this certification is to create consultants who are well-rounded in the software—so they can help Mindbody customers with implementation and advanced use of the software.
As the learning team rolled out more certifications, they needed a new learning management system (LMS) that gave them more control of their content and allowed them to customize the platform to their brand. Enter Intellum.
The team soon found out that Intellum is way more than an LMS. Whereas an LMS is built to educate one audience (typically employees), the Intellum Organizational Education Platform is built to educate multiple audiences (employees, customers, and partners).
Mindbody used the Intellum platform to build out certifications and to create learning paths and lessons for customers who don’t want—or need—to go through a full certification. By structuring content by Paths and Collections, individual learners gained the ability to consume the right content vs. the full end-to-end certification.
Many fitness and wellness chains have foregone developing their own custom training for employees in favor of Mindbody’s certifications. With this advantage in their back pockets, Mindbody's customers are seeing their competitors fall far behind when it comes to business education.
The team at Mindbody has been revamping their content in preparation for a full campaign marketing their learning content. (You may recall that one of the eight strategic thrusts that make up a customer education strategy is a marketing strategy, which helps to promote customer education.)
To date, Mindbody’s learner success has been driven by word of mouth, organic search, and their onboarding and tech support teams. With more certifications available, they’re ready to pour rocket fuel on their current results.
The Mindbody team is also excited to start implementing Evolve, Intellum’s content authoring tool. With Evolve, they can create simulations and guided product walkthroughs to help their customers more quickly adopt their software. Plus, with Evolve, they can make faster updates to videos, images, and written content when their platform changes.
They’re also planning to set up an integration between Intellum and Salesforce to better track the business impact of their customer education programs.
At Intellum, we’ve turned decades of learning industry experience into a data-driven methodology that combines strategic development with learning technology solutions.
No matter where you are on your customer education journey, the Intellum approach is engineered to guide you through the development, execution, and continuous improvement of a world-class education initiative.