Here, what we try and do is we try and connect all of our customers to these communities and to make connections within themselves, we want them to have value creation to self-sustaining connections. So if they're interacting and they're happy, there's a lot more us checking in every single day, because what we're giving them and the value that
we're providing is having a self-sustaining impact in what they're doing. Welcome to Retention Talk. I'm Neal Disci, and we're talking to the best minds in the world of product and customer success to bring you actionable strategies on reducing churn and boosting retention.
And this week, we've got a little bit of a special episode for you all. We are talking to the crew over at Knowledge Hook, who's going to dove deep into how they have a unique approach to customer success.
Today, we're going to talk about how knowledge hook makes sure that they deliver value throughout the entire customer lifecycle, how they leverage community building for group onboarding and driving sales. And lastly, pay careful attention to how they leverage impact stories and how they actually use their customers in their content to make windows easier.
Let's dove in with Travis and the rest of the crew. Cool. Yeah, appreciate everyone being here, Travis, if you want to kick things off for just like an introduction on who you are, your role. And so we can sort of go around the horn and go from there.
Awesome. We'll do it. Thanks for having us. Neil Benjamin, it's great to meet you guys. With me is Megan and Chad. My name is Travis and the CEO of a company called Knowledge Of. It's the K to 12 software that focuses in supporting districts across a number of regions.
And with me, Megan and Chad, they lead in our customer success strategy. And it just made sense to to bring them on. Megan focuses on when a district purchases knowledge. OK, there's a number of implementation needs that we have to consider.
And Megan leads that strategy. And and then, of course, every year we're assessed based company, we have to be able to effectively demonstrate the value of knowledge. And so the entire renewals process as well is critical to our success.
And Chad leads that I'm excited to share. I won't get out giving away too much. Like, you know, we've looked at a lot of Sast companies and how customer success is done today. And I think we've had some pretty cool breakthroughs and some really innovative approaches that we've taken.
And I don't want to give out too much. I'll let Megan and Chad take it from there. But, yeah, you know, feel free to ask questions and depending on what aspect of retention we can respond. That sounds great.
Travis. Travis, Megan, Chad, thank. Thanks again for for being here. So I think I got Travis's introduction. Megan and Jeff, real quick, if you want to just say your full name and your role, that would be just helpful.
So so we have that on our end. My name is Chad Buey and I'm the director for programs and outreach knowledge, OK. My name's Megan Greene, and I'm the training and learning lead for knowledge, OK? Excellent. Cool. What do you think is something that most companies do wrong when it comes to retention that you guys have particularly
figured out? So I'll quote a quarterback a little bit just to get this going. I mean, there's a lot of things you can talk about with retention. Obviously, at the end of the day, you have to have a great product.
Right. But today we're going to talk about, you know, something outside of the product, really great customer success program. And there's a number of challenges that we ran into. You know, when we first started, you know, we obviously thought of customer support.
Many, many tech companies were influenced by some of the thought leadership around moving from customer support to a paradigm of customer success and thinking about proactive onboarding, that sort of thing. But, you know, we ran into some challenges there.
I'm going to kick it off to Megan to speak to that. And then maybe Chad could talk about some of the challenges that we ran into in the traditional way that tech companies do Renault's in terms of sales calls.
And then we can talk about what our solutions are. Yeah, of course. So traditionally, even when I first started working with knowledge, OK, we were doing traditional customer success in that we were doing proactive onboarding, onboarding our product with all of our districts.
But it comes to a point when we've been working with the same districts for quite some time, and we're offering them the same onboarding. So we thought it would be important to try and change the way that model works.
And it's still proactive. But we're offering even more than just onboarding now where we have a we have our traditional onboarding, but we also have something called the community of practice, which is an ongoing engagement for teachers to engage in mathematics, not just about our products, but just some of the thought leaders inside of the mathematics world
and really making sure that we're offering value outside of just that traditional first onboarding that potentially many of our teachers have already seen in many of our districts have already been through. So we really tried to change the script on how we're we're engaging our customers throughout their journey with knowledge hook.
Yeah. Yeah, I think that's great. And so we kind of went from, you know, customer support to customer success to now customer communities. And one of the things that the customer success team was doing is we had people broken down to specific set of segmented into a handful of customers per per customer success rep.
But instead of that model, we moved to one where for onboarding, it's more like south by Southwest or in Toronto. We have this thing called Elevate Toronto. We've launched commuter practice under that brand. We we have a series of mini conferences with speakers that teachers essentially are interested in listening to.
And part of that community practices, it's all online. It's it's integrated with our software. And it allows for districts to be able to provide fresh new outreach at a regular touch points. Speaking to the problem that Megan kind of touched on earlier.
Some of these districts have been with us for some time and like they can every year talk about knowledge and onboarding. And so we centered the program around can you use a practice? What are the latest best practices and speakers?
And we always tied back to the connection between that and how the tool can support you when it makes sense. And it's been a pretty good success from that way. And now Megan used to have to travel. She used to travel to these districts.
Now it's about organizing a paradigm shift. It's almost like a different sport. Yeah. So this has been hugely helpful for us. And Chad could speak to some of the issues around renewals that we tackled and, you know, and now approach differently.
That was awesome, guys. I think I went there was a couple of things I went on back there. And by the way, I forgot to mention this at the beginning. I was born in Mississauga. I spent a couple of years of my childhood in Toronto.
Big fan in the city. So love connecting with Toronto based companies. I really resonate with your mission. And it sounds like, you know, you guys cater to school districts, and I can only imagine what the sales cycle is like.
And by the time someone is ultimately ready to implement, you know, obviously you guys are putting a lot of work to even get there. Something you guys mentioned was like proactive onboarding, right? Really, really an emphasis on good onboarding.
You guys segment your customer base with CSM. Tell me more about what that looks like and not only what you do, but like how do you measure success? How do you know when someone on board is successfully? What metrics do you track and how do you sort of improve that over time?
I can talk to that, but Chad also could talk about as well. We've kind of moved away from that segmenting piece because we found that it just wasn't going to be scalable at this point. Each of us are focusing on different parts of of that cycle, as Travis alluded to earlier with me talking about onboarding and Chad
focusing on renewals. But basically, what traditionally what we would have done is we would have made sure that we connected at the district level. So we did our district level training. We'd work with their their upper level math teams, and that would be kind of a trickle down effect, training with principals, teachers, et cetera.
What we've tried to do now is actually shift that we still do work with the district level. We'll have some trainings for them, but we try to make sure that we're doing it in a group setting. So we're we're shifting our model to helping to implement for malty districts at one time.
So offering them these community of practice events that has that built in implementation, onboarding for their teachers, for their principals, and even some for their system leaders, and really focusing on how to successfully implement the tool at that specific level, because each level of the product is different.
What a teacher needs and understands and sees in the classroom is very different than your district level offerings. So making sure that we hit all of the different levels of implementation is really important. And then the way that we track those things is we track like traditional members in how many teachers are on on board it, how
many teachers are using the system. But we also track how many teachers are engaging with our community of practice, how many new people are joining us for those community of practices. And that's another really important feature, because it means not only are they interacting with the product, but they're also interacting with the brand that we're building.
Yeah, I think I think in terms of of what we're building with these kind of communities, the big thing to realize is no matter what type of business you are, no matter what you're doing. Everyone has has one goal and that's connecting the customer to value.
Now, that's what we're trying to do and everywhere we go. So when you think about the twenty first century and you want to think about what is valuable to a consumer today, the number one thing that you see across everywhere is connections.
That is so huge. And I think this last year has proven that to all of us more than anything. So here what we try and do is we try and connect all of our customers to these communities and to make connections within themselves.
We want them to have value creation to self-sustaining connections. So if they're interacting and they're happy, there's a lot more us checking in every single day, because what we're giving them and the value that we're providing is having a self-sustaining impact in what they're doing.
Right. So it's just kind of a mindset shift. We don't want to feel kind of chained down by what's been done before. OK, here's the problem. Fix specific problem, right. It's not saying that we don't need that or that was wrong, but it's about finding ways to improve on that.
And by focusing on customer connections and setting up these positive communities for growth, we are kind of changing the mindset so that the consumer is getting value constantly just by being a part of what we're providing. So I think that's kind of mindset shift that we've kind of gone through as a company and in terms of how
we're providing value to our customers. Gary, this is this is super cool. So I didn't realize to what extent you guys like the CSO. Org was responsible for this sort of community building. I've seen this obviously, you know, live in marketing functions before to to engage prospects and sell to people.
But I find it really, really interesting to see us is focusing on community building to sort of deliver value on an ongoing basis, needing less handholding from from the actual company. Right. And to your point, sort of reinvigorate them with our brand and value over and over again.
How does that parlay into Sajad and maybe others have thoughts on this? How does that parlay into the renewal conversation, because on one of the spectrum, you have very reactive customer support. And on the other, you have completely self serve.
This isn't involved at all. Right. How do you balance those two when it comes time for that conversation around, you know, renewing the customer? Well, the first thing you want to focus on is, is what are they looking for?
What's the consumer's journey? What do they need to be successful where they're at? And and that's kind of what we focus on when we have those meetings. We get ahead of what we know they're going to ask for.
And we provide that value through these different communities that we've kind of created. Right. So when we meet with them, if we know that they've been participating in a lot of the different things we've had, if we know that we're connecting them to other people who are helping them along the way, if we know we can provide
value in that area, that almost outweighs everything else we're doing. And that makes it a very, very easy conversation. I'm not over here trying to convince you of anything. You're coming to me and saying, hey, listen, this is amazing, how can we do more of this?
And that's kind of how we approach renewals. We just want to make sure that we have something that is so impactful in their everyday life that it become just a part of everything they do. Let me prime up chat a little bit with this set up to really highlight a few key, interesting things that he's he's leading
there, you know, at the end of like a year end, you have, you know, in our case districts. But this is very similar to any B2B model. You have to put together a renewal package of life. How is the product usage looking like?
You know, what does renewal for next year look like and how that conversation and hopefully, you know, with customer success, proactively onboarding. In our case, teachers in any B2B case, the organization's employees, you probably have some really great metrics.
But typically what happens, at least the best of what we've seen out there, is a business case or a business proposal that tries to demonstrate the ROI that they've delivered that year and hopefully results in the district wanting to expand their account licenses, their seed licenses for the following year.
There are two people, as you likely know, already. You know, in B2B sales, there's an economic buyer who sets the budget in priority and the technical decision maker. And usually it's a technical decision maker looking at that business case.
And and sometimes the economic buyers in the room, it's a one and done experience where they basically read this report or PDF file and say, OK, this is great and let me get back to you. Or maybe they make the decision there, but you get varying responses.
Right. And people need time to review and digest and they need to trust that, you know, the integrity of the results. Right. And so there's all these elements. And so for us, we noticed that just it's looking to third party validation like researchers to help confirm the, you know, the results impartially.
And also, we noticed that traditional reports and impact studies or whatnot are one and done PDF reports that they might look at and then move on and just it might collect on their desk and they may forget to revisit the renewal discussion, even though there might be value in the organization.
Economic buyers and technical decision makers were responsible for procuring caspase tools have many things that they have to juggle. And so we wanted to tackle, just like in the practice, which is an ongoing engagement that never gets old.
We wanted to tackle this problem. And so maybe Chad can sort of share how we went about doing just that. Yeah, for sure. We designed a program of value translation. Right. So we have instead of a technical buyer at the top trying to make an evaluation of of what's going on, maybe below them, and then trying to
communicate that what we've done is we've had the actual consumer who's who's using our product, being able to talk about how it's supporting them. Right. What what is it doing? How is it helping them meet the goals of that technical decision maker?
And so when we do that, that translation piece makes that conversation a whole lot easier. So it's not just a one off PDF, but it's actually someone meaningful within the company discussing the value of what's going on. That's why we kept on talking about before about.
But that value creation that we have in terms of if we know that the technical decision maker needs this tool, how are they going to be able to make the economic decision maker buy in? And so creating that value piece that translates it for them is immensely valuable within the company.
Yeah. So we have this thing called impact stories, which is like coming out of our community. Megan helps rally around the platform committee. Best practices emerging from that are these really wonderful stories. And we work with some really creative artists to interview to.
Highlight how people are putting research into practice in their classroom, which is the high level at the highest level, that's the value that we're bringing. And these stories are done in these bite sized social media like formats. And then we have like third party researchers and prominent math leaders in the regional communities to review and help highlight
the parts that actually are demonstrative of, you know, best practices being used in the classroom. The silent hero and all that is knowledge, OK? It's not the focus. It's in fact, we have to like remove all this content from these videos where they're literally talking about how much they love the product because it's not meant or intended
for marketing purposes. It's meant to highlight great examples of people who are putting research into practice. But at the same time, as Chad pointed out there, it kind of demonstrates the value of knowledge, but it's doing so by a program that the program itself is of value.
And so the researchers and math leaders that are trusted in the community and their involvement is critical for us because they would always, you know, it brings in that sort of brand integrity in the process to impartially look at these things and, you know, really comment on, you know, what kind of impact dialogic is having.
And the beauty of this structure is, you know, Jide for every account, like, you know, I was just looking at the portal the other day and like every account is getting, you know, three or four touch points of stories emerging from the community, you know, regularly throughout the year.
So by the time we get into the renewal conversation, people actually economic buyers, technical decision makers, even if the economic buyers are in the room, they would have seen these things. They would have tweeted about it. They're actually getting local press coverage.
They're getting in their district regions, and they're actually being written about in their on their district social media and bulletins. So it's getting a lot of internal recognition, this program, and it has multiple touch points throughout the year.
And it never gets old because every year we're just highlighting a different set of stories. So by the time we get to the renewal, you know, we don't have to be making, you know, sort of reminding people what the value of knowledge is, because that's happened along the way.
And we're talking about what the plan is for next year. And if the economic pie is on the room, they would have seen these stories, these impact stories, and they're able to get behind something as well. Yeah. And these these stories kind of spread themselves.
Right. So once it goes out and one person sees it, they share it within their institution. We don't need to know every single individual stakeholder to get it, because once it gets shared, once it starts getting passed around and that value almost multiplies because more people are seeing it more often as it goes throughout the year.
Got it. That's that's super clever. Rakas, if you're leveraging your customers in your content, not only does that content help with new customers, it also gets them more about it and and really explicitly see the value that you guys are providing them making that renewal conversation easier, obviously.
I'm curious. So like you guys are clearly very disciplined around having a focus on retention, and that starts from the onboarding all the way to renewals. What data do you guys essentially track and and optimize for to know if you guys are succeeding, you know, in driving retention?
We have two things. We have internal tools. A lot of this is all vertically integrated. But what we start off before the data or we start off is with our storyboards around our key stakeholders in B2B sales, as you know, in district is very similar to district sales.
You have three people, you have the end user who ends up using the tool that your organization procurers, and you have the economic buyer and the technical decision maker. So we have these detailed storyboards of what is their journey.
And the journey is not just about their journey through knowledged, but their journey in general. What are their peaks and those in their experiences, what are the problems that they're facing? And then through that storyboard, there enters knowledge.
You get certain parts of the journey. And this is not just the journey of the product, but their buyer's journey as well. We are very, very I don't know what the right word is, but obsessed around like understanding that journey.
We have story cards that we've created, especially during remote culture that are shipping out. But each team on customer success knows the journey for teachers, for district leaders. And then from there and what we're tracking is in terms of data, it's like what are some of the metrics that we have?
Because a lot of our tools are online. A lot of these expressivity is a lot of it's trackable for each of these touch points. The knowledge that plays a role in their journey, you know, especially the online touch points, obviously there's there's offline parts that are captured in these storyboards.
But the online parts, we have cohort data points so we can see, you know, where there might be a conversion issue, where there might be a bottleneck. And we have also rituals once we have that data, once you see the bottlenecks.
A lot of the teams just sort of work together to to double click in there and really, really see if there's something about the experience. And often it's always the same suspects. Right. We either didn't understand what was going on in the customer's head in that part of.
The journey and we were too preoccupied with like us trying to achieve a certain outcome. And so when you double click, you can see either like something that needs to be upgraded to sort of honor the journey of the customer.
And as Chad said, like what value are we demonstrating at this stage to make it as frictionless as possible? And we use data that way. And we find that it's been helpful. No, that's great. And it sounds like a common theme that I keep hearing from you guys is like, look, we want to make sure that our
buyers are getting value from the second they hear about us to the very end. And so walk me through your process and really understanding where that value comes from. Is it just discipline, customer research and development? Is it empathy or a strong understanding of educators and teachers?
Like how how do you guys ultimately make sure is to interview customer interviews, trying to learn more essentially around like how you guys make sure you're delivering that value? That's a great question. So for us, it's like it starts off with our user personas, like very specific understandings of what what are the challenges a district leader faces
? What are their priorities? How did you think about it? There's there's various types of district leaders, some of them in terms of certain types of priorities further along than others, depending on the market. And so we have an understanding of those personas, not just at the at the face value of what they say, but what we really
strive for us to think more like psychologists and anthropologists. There's the unsaid needs and wants that are often not always articulated. And so that took time for us to spend a lot of time, make mistakes and learn. But that often is what's guiding the blueprints for our user journeys.
And the type of value we we try to put there is to to address some of those maybe unspoken wants and needs. But to give you an idea of the kinds of value that we deliver, that's very unlike what we're doing right here.
We have our media house and it's focused on understanding, like for our economic buyer, technical decision maker specifically, you know, what type of value, you know, at that stage of the buyer's journey is most important. And we really, you know, launched a series of experiences to reflect that.
But as they move in from there, we can identify whose needs can we add more value all along their buyer's journey. And we have workshops where we call learning experiences. And this is all for, you know, the key folks at the district.
And that usually leads to learning more about the various solutions, that knowledge of cast. But it happens so organically that it doesn't require any selling or marketing in the room. And then from there, when the district decides to use us, that's when Megan and Chad do their magic, because even that is a very organic.
And then because when their organization buys a tool. Right. Like, for example, we're using a specific recording tool for this podcast your organization purchased. You know, everyone's using it, but the decision was made by a few folks and everyone is the benefactor of.
So while the you know, the key decision makers had the time to evaluate the merit of the tool like this podcast tool, the end users, which will be likely the entire organization may not have had gone through that bias journey themselves.
And to me, a practice is really about, hey, we realize the district wants to use this, but we want to make sure that every teacher sees the merit of these things in order for that to happen. We need to build a community that speaks to the best practices that teachers are interested in learning about.
And then from the understanding those best practices, they're more likely to see where knowledge can support them along that line. And then from that point, child kicks in his program to be able to highlight these great stories that are emerging from that community.
And the reason we do that is because the organization that procured the, you know, knowledge, OK, they have varying levels of success in communicating business cases for whatever the initiative they have, because for a number of reasons. You know, leadership changes.
Different types of people and organization have different levels of skill in terms of communicating business cases. So how do we create an ongoing turnkey experience that allows knowledge, X value to be communicated upstream back to the organization in a way that allows a consistent and partial understanding of what it is that knowledge is doing in the classroom
. So that's how the whole thing is tied together. I don't think that was helpful and that was really helpful. Understand from a macro perspective, like what the approaches cures to hear, like Meghan as you're in the trenches and even Chad.
But Meghan, specifically on the onboarding front, is there like a particular customer story where that stands out to you that you guys are really proud of having navigated through or really delivered value to? It would be hard to pick just one, because, again, as you said, I'm in the trenches.
And since we changed our model to add more of the customer communities, I'm one of the only faces and voices that people actually see regularly. So I have so many people that I've talked to. But I think they're like the most important thing to me is that I've trained teachers for knowledge for many years, and it would
always be. Really important to me, when I would see teachers the second time, some sort of training because their understanding and their usage of the program and their own implementation into practice is really what's the most rewarding part of knowledge.
And working here specifically for me, because I'm a teacher by trade, and to be able to actually help teachers be able to reach their students is honestly one of the greatest joys. And so I can't tell you just one, but there are so many stories of teachers who are just saying this is exactly what I needed and
it is helping me so much to reach more of my students and to make sure that we're helping them. And at the end of the day, that's the only reason that knowledge exists, is to help students and teachers.
That's great. I love I love that. Right. It's like at the end of the day, that's when you trace the value down the chain, right? That's where that's where it goes to raise question. And then we took it to the wrap up here.
I know we're a couple of minutes over time here, but if you know Travis Magin, Chad, you guys we're talking to, you know, your team, I don't know, three or four years ago. What do you guys wish you knew that might be helpful to the audience listening today?
You know, around retention and customer success. Yeah, sure. I think for me, a couple of years ago versus now, it's about who you have supporting you. You do not have the expertize in every single area. So, for example, with this impact program, one of the things that we've done is we are connected to our former newspaper editor
and he's been helping us with press releases and how things look in the media and how to frame certain conversations. So really pulling from different disciplines to support you in terms of where you're at and what you're trying to do to make it better for that purpose instead of you trying to do everything internally by yourself.
I think that's really, really important. And it's really brought a lot of the things that we're doing 10, 20 years down the line. And Travis mentioned before having an external panel of researchers talking about the details of what that value means to them as educators separate from ourselves, that external validation from those type of panels and and
all those type of supports really kind of transforms the way we have our conversations. And I think that was definitely something that we had to learn along the way. And it's been immensely helpful in terms of having other people be able to communicate the value in different areas and for us to be able to take that and
put it together. Super proud of our team. Great job, Megan. The one thing that I would say, like Chad and I have both been with all Chuck for some time now. So even three or four years ago, two or three years ago, for me, Meldrick was very different.
And we did use that typical cIass model. And I think the thing that I wish I had known is that be prepared to think outside the box. And Travis has really led the way on pushing us to think how can we make customer success something totally new and even more important to to our brand and to our
customers. And I think just being okay with stepping out of that box and being encouraged to do so, that's great. Just for the record, you guys have one of the most interesting approaches to this that I've seen. Right.
Just with the emphasis on community, but even some of the other pieces you mentioned. So this is great. Thanks, guys. If people want to learn more, you know about knowledge hook, where can they find you guys to do so?
We have some where we're constantly growing. Our team is, I think, more job postings. I mean, definitely visit knowledge AKAM. Check out our careers page. There's postings there that where we're looking for great talent. As Megan said, we're looking for people, not mercenaries, but missionaries.
People really love the kind of problems that we're looking to solve in education and try to make them both demonstrated here, like we're really looking for. You know, risk takers are creative and good learners that change the way we approach the problem and not just look at like what the industry is already doing today, but how we
can make it better and contribute to the body of work. In this case, customer success. So check out Knowledge Adcom Greers page and really enjoyed having you invite us over and your great initiative you guys are doing. Thank you.
Yeah. Travis, Megan, Chad, really appreciate the time again. Always having, you know, love sharing stories and insights for four audience on on what companies out there are doing for for retention in customer success. So thanks again. And thanks for being on the show.
Awesome. Thanks for having us. If you shout out to the crew over a knowledge of the dropping of that knowledge, probably one of the most unique approaches I've seen that a company has taken to really drive retention and customer success.
It's really interesting to hear about the evolution of knowledge hook from the old days where they would have a very reactive customer support driven way of driving retention to a more proactive, traditional customer success framework all the way to today, where they have such a unique approach in leveraging communities to drive value not only before the sale
, but for new prospects to really onboard and activate them into the product. Second, how they ensure that customers are receiving value throughout the entire lifecycle, from the economic buyer to the decision maker, but even the end user at their schools.
And lastly, what I found most fascinating was how they actually leverage the customers themselves in building content that was actually helpful in reinvigorating the community with the brand and helpful in driving new sales. They found that this made a massive impact to the rate at which they were able to drive renewals for their business.
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