Jill Favro Sawatzky, Chief Customer Officer, Thought Industries
Welcome To CS My Way
Welcome to this exciting new space—CS My Way—where you can learn from the best in the industry and get ahead in Customer Success and beyond.
Each week, I engage in conversations with top executives — Chief Customer Officers, VP/Head of CS, founders, and CEOs. Together, we discuss how they drive success for their customers.
💡I always learn a lot from these exclusive interviews, packed with massive value, practical examples, key takeaways, and best practices from each leader.
I hope they’ll inspire you to build world-class CS organizations and accelerate your career in Customer Success and beyond.
Today we explore all things Customer Education and its critical importance for CS in today’s most innovative businesses.
Thank you, Jill, for accepting my invitation.
The stage is yours!
About Thought Industries
“At Thought Industries, we're all about making external training modern and engaging for customers. “
We provide a platform where companies can create interactive online courses and training for their customers. It's like building a personalized classroom in the digital world, tailored just for their needs.
A major use case for us is companies training their customers on the products they’ve bought.
Whether it's a new software or a complex service, we make it easier for them to understand and use it to its full potential.
This way, companies using Thought Industries see happier customers, getting more value from their purchases.
So, in short, we're helping businesses teach their customers in a fun and effective way, turning them into savvy users and fans of their products.
We have many customers, too, that are large training companies.
The learning IS their product.
So for them, the front-end learning experience is a huge priority for how they present themselves in the market.
They're able to use Thought Industries to customize and deliver a personalized, industry-leading learning product.
Becoming Chief Customer Officer at Thought Industries has been quite the adventure!
My journey has been fueled by my passion for customer success and a relentless pursuit of learning.
I started my career in Project Management in Professional Services at IBM.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to transition into a role where I could help existing customers achieve value over their entire journey.
“These were the early days of Customer Success, and I built the first CS team at IBM when it was not very widely known yet.”
The field of CS evolved over time as did my career as I stepped into roles that challenged and expanded my understanding of how to drive customer value.
After IBM, I moved into Director and VP roles at Citrix, PROS, and Commvault.
“I've always believed in the power of education as a cornerstone of customer success, and this belief has been a guiding light in my career. “
As the Chief Customer Officer, my role is multi-faceted and dynamic.
It's not just about overseeing a team.
It's about nurturing a deeply customer-centric culture.
“I'm responsible for ensuring that every interaction our customers have with our platform adds value to their experience“
This means constantly evaluating and evolving our approach to customer education.
We work closely with our product development teams to ensure our offerings meet the changing needs of our clients and keep an eye on the market to anticipate trends.
It's a balancing act between being a visionary, a strategist, and an executor.
The structure of our Customer Experience (CX) team is designed to foster seamless collaboration and agility.
and Customer Education.
It also includes a new team, which we call the Technical Investigations Team. This team ensures that nothing falls through the cracks for our customers.
Their job is to find solutions for customer challenges that may be outside the scope of any of the other teams.
The entire CX team is the heartbeat of our organization, ensuring that every client gets the most out of our platform.
Our team works in close concert with our product development, sales, and marketing teams, forming a cohesive unit aligned with our goals and strategies.
This structure ensures that we're quick to respond to market changes, agile in our approach, and always focused on delivering the best possible experience to our customers.
Company Specific Insights
In my role, I've focused on demonstrating the direct correlation between customer success and the financial health of Thought Industries.
“Implementing strategies that improve customer engagement and satisfaction have a ripple effect that leads to increased customer loyalty, higher retention rates, and ultimately, a positive impact on our revenue.”
My approach involves not only providing top-notch customer education but also using data to track and measure the success of our initiatives, ensuring that we're always moving the needle in the right direction.
The Evolving Landscape in Customer Education
It’s been a constant evolution, and since I joined Thought Industries, I've witnessed significant shifts.
There's been a move towards creating more interactive, personalized, and user-centric learning experiences.
Adapting to these changes has meant investing in technology that allows us to deliver adaptive learning paths and leveraging data analytics to get deeper insights into user engagement.
It’s not just about keeping up with trends.
It's about leading the charge in redefining how customer education is perceived and delivered.
Driving Customer Adoption
Strategies for Adoption
It’s about understanding the customer's journey and crafting experiences that resonate with them.
It starts with quickly getting our customers to value with streamlined onboarding.
Think of this as the express lane to getting customers up and running.
It’s about making the onboarding process as smooth and intuitive as possible. This includes clear guidance, step-by-step tutorials, and readily available support.
We also tailor our educational content to meet the specific needs of different user groups.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s more like having a custom-fit suit.
We make sure that the content is relevant, engaging, and directly applicable to the tasks our customers want to accomplish.
“Once customers have mastered the basics, we introduce them to more advanced features.”
It’s like showing them the hidden gems of our platform.
As we educate them on these features, we help them get even more value out of their investment.
Focusing on reducing the Time to Value and implementing these strategies had significant improvements in customer adoption and satisfaction.
“Customers who see the value in our platform quickly are more likely to engage deeply and become long-term users.”
Balancing Personalization and Scale
Thought Industries focuses on personalized learning experiences. How do you find the balance between personalization and scalability, especially when serving a diverse range of customers, from midmarket enterprises to Fortune 500 companies?
Finding the sweet spot is one of the biggest challenges in customer education.
We address this by leveraging technology such as AI-driven recommendations, which allow us to offer personalized content at scale.
Our scalable content management system can serve a large number of customers, from mid-sized businesses to large enterprises efficiently.
This approach makes sure that each client receives a learning experience that feels just right for them, while we keep the ability to serve a large and diverse client base.
Can you share a specific success story where the implementation of customer education significantly contributed to a client's growth, retention, or overall success?
There are many success stories at Thought Industries, but one that stands out involves a software company that recently experienced transformative growth and retention by implementing our platform.
They offer both free and paid content across many of their different customer groups from large enterprises to individual consumers.
They also offer a huge range of formats in their training program - everything from virtual labs to certifications.
After tailoring the learning paths and content to their specific audiences, the client saw a significant increase in user engagement.
That’s the power of effective customer education and its impact on business success.
Here are the topics we’ve covered in the 2nd part of our interview:
Impact on Retention
Thought Leadership In Customer Education
The Importance of Personalization Beyond Content
Evaluating Customer Education Platforms
Building A Learning Community
Transitioning from On-Premise to Cloud
Continuous Learning for Customer Success Teams
The Role of Customer Success Managers
About The Current Job Market & Layoffs
Key Metrics for Customer Education
Jill's Tech Stack
Her Leadership Philosophy & Recommendations
What are some common challenges organizations face when implementing customer education initiatives, and how has Thought Industries addressed them?
I’ve got a long answer for this question because it’s such an important part of my role.
Here are the biggest ones that I’ve observed: …