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Give Your Education Customers What They Want (Every Time)

Written by Julia Borgini

Published on July 10, 2017

It's difficult to know what customers want in general, but this is especially true when it comes to their education needs. Customers say one thing but then want another. There's a clear discrepancy between customer feedback and the numbers you gather from your education programs. How can customer education managers balance the two to truly determine what education their customers need and then create the right offerings for them?

Use all available sources of education data, including feedback

Just because customers say one thing and then do another doesn't mean you should ignore customer feedback as a method for getting information. It might be worth taking the information with a grain of salt instead. Feedback can be a good indicator of what they're looking for when they take your education programs and give you good suggestions on what gaps may exist in your programs. That means looking at your current feedback methods and the automatic data you gather/store like signup numbers, completion rates, etc.

Then it's a matter of switching things up to get a different perspective on your customer feedback data.

Try new feedback methods. Changing up the feedback methods might also give you better insight into their true feelings, so take a look at how you've been soliciting the feedback and try something new. Instead of an online survey, try an evaluation form where you ask open-ended questions. Instead of the evaluation form, try quick Yes/No questions they can answer more quickly. Instead of only asking right at the end of the course, why not send a couple of follow-up emails a week and month afterward to see if their ratings have changed?  

Create reports from the data you already have. What system do you use to track course signups and payments? It probably has a ton of data stored in it that you could mine to figure out what your customers' true desires are for their education needs. Create some new reports that break out everything from signup numbers and payments to the age of courses and number of completions. By looking at this information, you'll probably notice some trends about your education programs that give you a better perspective on your programs as a whole. If they match up with your customer feedback, then congratulations! But there's probably a few discrepancies in there that have you puzzled.

Look at all your data regularly

Now that you know and recognize the discrepancy between your customers' wants and needs, it's time to figure out how to balance the two. No easy feat, but as the cliche goes, recognition of the problem is half the battle.  

Set up regular review sessions to compare your customer feedback and internal data. The frequency you do this will depend on your organization and overall business goals, but at least look at the two data sets quarterly until you get a good picture of how things are going.

Create Action Item lists from those review sessions, so you're always moving forward with your education program planning. The lists will help you stay on track with your planning and execution and ensure you deliver what your customers truly want and need.

Hold your education team accountable to those action items. Yes, after all, a list is no good if you don't do the things on it! Even if you're not one of those people who likes crossing items off a To Do list, it can be quite satisfying to see the progress your education team makes on them. (I'm a huge fan of To Do lists and crossing things off them, so motivation would not be an issue for me!)

Review your overall progress with other internal teams like marketing and sales. Education managers should be attending cross-functional meetings anyways, but if not, set these up to go over the information you've gathered so you can align your efforts with everyone else. That way you're all pulling in the same direction, towards those overall business goals.

Over to you

It can be hard for education managers to ensure their education programs align with your tech products and sales goals, but it's especially hard to design them, so they match what your customers want. Customers don't always tell the truth in feedback sessions, so it can be hard to plan out your programs to match what they need. They often say one thing and do another. However, by digging through your existing data and encouraging honest feedback with different feedback methods, customer education managers can get a better perspective on what their customers truly want.

Has your customer education organization found the right balance for your customers? What worked for you? Share in the comments; we'd love to hear about your experiences.

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Originally published Jul 10, 2017 5:12:42 PM, updated Jul 14, 2017