Monday, December 22, 2014

Interview on the Frontleaf Blog: Customer Success Requires Customer Training

It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Tom Krackeler, co-founder and CEO of Frontleaf. We discussed the importance of customer training in customer success and in helping customers learn software, achieve desired outcomes, and ultimately renew.

Here is a short excerpt from the interview and then I link to the full post. 

We all know intuitively that customers who are well trained perform better. The problem is that training is hard. It's time consuming to develop, and it seems like as soon as your awesome training program is complete, your product changes and it becomes obsolete. This is a big reason why so many enterprise software companies, especially Cloud/SaaS platforms, under-invest in training their customers.

There is another reason, too. The perception that the costs of providing a top-notch training program outweigh its benefits. Of course, this is just a perception, and not a data-driven conclusion, because companies are not very good at using data to measure the success of their training practices.

[Read the Full Post]

Monday, December 8, 2014

There is only one week until the gun goes off at the Woodside Ramble 50K. Five weeks ago, I set some goals to help me get ready for the race. I want to summarize my goals and provide an update on the status of each.

Goal #1: Lose 12 pounds (2 pounds per week)

Status: I started the period at 175.5 pounds. On Sunday, at the end of week 5, I weighed 166.9. My goal called for me to weight 165.5, so I am 1.4 pounds behind schedule. In order to get to 163.5 by race day, I will have to lose almost 3 1/2 pounds in a week. That might not be such a good idea the week before at 50K. I will just focus on eating good foods, and maybe I'll get to 175+.

Goal #2: Eat 1,400 calories for day + workout food

Status: I am not going to fire up an Apache Hadoop server to analyze this. Let's just say, I stuck to this goal about 85% of the time.

Goal #3: No eating after 6pm.

Status: I mostly stuck to this. There were times when I ran at night, so I ate. So, let's just say, I did ok at this.

Goal #4: Run one 21 miler.

Status: Nah. My longest was 18 miles. The day I went out for my 21 miler, I stopped at 10. It was just not going to happen. I was tired, and I decided to listen to my body and begin tapering a week early, rather than gut it out and risk injury. I do feel rested, but I also feel less confident in my endurance.

Goal #5: Five weekday trail runs of 10 miles.

Status: I did this on my normal trail at Rancho San Antonio Park

Goal #6: Complete Peak Week of 50+ miles.

Status: Nope. The Sunday i cut my 21 miler short was the week I did not meet this goal.

Overall, I did a decent job here. I did not achieve 100% of my goals, but I believe I am lot more prepared for this race because I set these goals and went after them.

Now, all I have to do in the final week of eat healthy, stay healthy, and rest well. And all I have to worry about is this major rain storm that threatens to turn the race into a slow, sloppy mess.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Major Role Customer Training Plays at Salesforce.com

At Dreamforce 2014, I was able to land a virtual interview with Wayne McCulloch, the Senior Vice President of Education at Salesforce.com. Here is the transcript to that interview.

Question 1: I saw a LinkedIn update that 10,000+ people were taking part in Salesforce training during Dreamforce. How many training sessions were offered at Dreamforce and how many people participated? All at the conference/any remote? What were the broad topics covered?
  • During the conference, we ran 100+ Hands-on-Training classes / workshops, attended by more than 11,500 people (several thousand were also on the waitlist for seats).
  • 27,000 hours of Hands-on-Training delivered (~13 people years of training in 1 week).
  • We administered Certification exams to over 1,000 people.
  • Topics covered a wide variety from developer and administration training (basic to expert level), Sales/Service/Marketing/Platform/Community cloud training, and business and technical enablement.
  • We also ran our annual Salesforce-on-Salesforce track, which had 43 separate sessions sharing our experiences, learning, and best practices around using our own technology to run our business. Close to 5,000 people attended this series and it is always the first sessions at Dreamforce to sell out.
Question 2: Obviously, with these kinds of numbers, Salesforce takes customer education seriously. How strategic is customer education to growth at Salesforce?
 
It is critical. Education has never played a more important part in customer success than in a cloud-based organization. Salesforce is known for innovation and the best way for a customer to have their employees take advantage of this continual innovation is through continual education. Customers that learn to connect with their customers in whole new way through the Salesforce Platform will see their companies succeed at a whole new level and thus Salesforce will succeed only through our customers success.

Question 3: As Salesforce moves from a sales company to a customer success company, what role will education play in customer success?

Customer success is made up of a number of ways, and disciplines education is one of those key areas. If you think about the trend of services convergence, you see that education is being integrated into other aspects of our Success Services team here at Salesforce. For example, professional services value is enhanced when combined with education assets, or our Premier Support offering has education assets embedded in the value proposition. Education spans all components of customer success.

Question 4: Has Salesforce seen a link between education and customer success? In other words, is there some link between customers who engage in the training and their adoption of Salesforce or in achieving their own outcomes?

Here at Salesforce we have some of the smartest data scientists around. They have done numerous studies on this, and we have real concrete data on this topic. The data clearly shows that customers unlock much greater value out of their investment in Salesforce and adopt the platform more deeply when they engage with Salesforce University.

In the latest analysis of customers we can see that customers who send students to Salesforce University training see much higher adoption (across the board in terms of maturity and size segment), increased productivity, increased service levels and better ROI. Interestingly, some of the highest impact is on small companies – a small investment in training has a HUGE impact on their ROI and adoption.

Question 5: What does the education team look like at Salesforce? How large is the team? Into what function does education report? How does salesforce.com use training partners?

Salesforce Education is one of the fastest growing teams at Salesforce due to the increasing demand for learning skills and best practices in the ecosystem. If you want to increase your chances of gaining a great job today, Salesforce is a skill you have to have. From academic institutions, to customers and partners, to helping 10,000 returning veterans get trained and certified in Salesforce, Salesforce University has never been in more demand than today. Our team is made up of professionals across all education disciplines. Salesforce University is partner friendly and has nearly 100 training partners worldwide that can resell, deliver, or build content or a combination of these options. Salesforce University exists within the delivery organization of Salesforce – the organization that represents all customer facing employees.