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3 lessons from Indeed Academy about customer education

Written by Bill Cushard

Published on August 23, 2019

Indeed Academy launched in October 2017 to help recruiters get the most out of Indeed and become better at what they do. The original, stated goal was to help recruiters maximize their time, learn new tools, master essential data, and free up time to do more of what they enjoy. To accomplish this goal, Indeed launched its online learning site with 12 on-demand courses so that "even recruiters with mile-long to-do lists can work through the program on their own schedule, at their own speed." I am always on the lookout for stories like this because I find them inspirational. 

You might be thinking you'd like to know about the results Indeed has had over the past year. Colleen Pacanowski, senior manager of Indeed Academy, wrote a blog on the anniversary of the launch and shared a little bit about their experience and some results, which are pretty good.

I'd like to share a few lessons I think many of us can learn from to help us improve our customer education strategies. 

Lesson 1: Teach methodology

One of the most underappreciated learning activities we can offer customers is to teach them our methodology. This could be the methodology for rolling out our software in their organization, or it could be our methodology for how the domain of work gets done using our software. Indeed Academy takes the latter approach.

Indeed was created because the founders had a vision and point of view for how recruiting can be better, and the software they designed is a manifestation of that point of view. One of the ways that Indeed expresses that point of view is through its recruiting method, which is:

Attract > Source > Engage > Analyze

Presumably, Indeed has functionality that helps recruiters improve how they perform at each of the steps in this recruiting method. And Indeed Academy created and organized courses for each of the four steps. It seems like a simple thing, but it makes a big difference in helping customers figure out what learning they need. Indeed customers can easily see that there are courses for, let's say, the sourcing topic, and if that is a topic they need to improve on, they immediately gravitate towards it. 

Not only does Indeed Academy teach how to use features, but it does so in the context of its methodology for how recruiting should be. 

The challenge for you is to think about how you can teach customer your methodology and help customers do their jobs better. A bonus benefit is that the more you can focus your core education offerings on methodology, the less a victim to software changes you will be. 

Lesson 2: It's about the job, not the product

OK. It is also about the product, but the point I want to make is that helping our customers should not be only about the product. 

Pacanowski shared in her blog courses ranked by popularity. The most popular course during the year was The Science of Talent Acquisition. The third most popular course was Writing Job Titles and Descriptions in Indeed

Two points.

First, Indeed ranked courses by completion rate, not by enrollment numbers or by survey data. Indeed wanted to know what courses did people actually complete the most. This is real popularity because it reflects people's actions, not what people say they want. Maybe it's a smaller point than I am making it out to be, but I appreciate that Indeed used completion (real) data and not self-reported data. 

Second, two of the top five Indeed Academy courses are about topics more related to the job than to the product. Indeed customers are declaring, by their actions, that they want helping doing their jobs better, whether they use Indeed or not. Of course they want help using Indeed better. But they also want help being better recruiters. As Bob Hooey has famously said, "If you are not taking care of your customers, your competitors will."

Your challenge is to figure out what parts of your customers' jobs they want the most help with and figure out how to deliver it to them. Before your competitors do. 

Lesson 3: Learn from the data to improve what we offer 

Pacanowski gives us a glimpse at how her teams uses data to know their customers better. First, as I described above, they ranked the popularity of courses by completion rates...probably the most objective data point they could have used. This ideas begs the question, "Why ask customers what they want when you can just look at what they want?" Using this completion data, the Indeed Academy team can make better decisions about what topics to put on the training roadmap for next year. That's being data-driven without being a data scientist. 

The second point here is that Indeed Academy collected industry data on people who took courses. The most popular industry is health care followed by technology. If you couple the macroeconomic statistic that health care will contribute 20% of all new jobs in the economy by 2020, I could make the argument that Indeed Academy should focus most of its efforts on the health care industry. I'm not saying they should, but it does make sense that this should be a strategic point of discussion, which should lead to a deliberate decision. 

At a minimum, this data can help Indeed Academy focus future efforts on the most impactful initiatives. And this is vital in a world of unlimited ideas and limited resources.

Your challenge is to figure out which data points can help you focus your efforts in the most impactful initiatives. 

It's stories like this that are motivating

As busy as all of you are, it is easy to retreat into the belief system that customer education is about training new customers on product features. That is what our customers say they want. That is what our executives believe our customers say they want so that's what they expect. But there is evidence (as described in lesson one, in particular) that this isn't all that customers want.

If your customer education is focused on the product, or if you have been tasked with building a customer education function from scratch, ask yourself, "What can we do do help our customers do their jobs better, oh by the way, using our product?" You might find, as Indeed Academy did, that customers want you to help them beyond your product. You might call that customer success. 


Design your customer education strategy

You may be an innovator or an early adopter, read this article, and want to go all in. I understand your impulse. My Kolbe A Index shows that I am a 9 on the Quick Start categories, which means I am "uniquely able to take on future-oriented challenged." And that I will "say 'Yes' before I even know the end of the question." You might be like that too. I urge you to take a deep breath and go through the process of designing your customer education strategy. Take that energy and direct it towards documenting your strategy. If you do that, it will make execution the easy part. 

For helping going through that design process, download The Learndot guide to customer education strategy design. It will not slow you down. It will speed you up.

Get the Guide

Originally published Aug 23, 2019 6:04:43 PM, updated Aug 23, 2019