Lessons from TechSmith Customer Education with Doug Brunner

Are you educating your customers effectively?

Video tutorials, blogs, and technical documentation are just some of the different ways you can provide users of your product with the help they need to be successful. But truly empowering your customers goes beyond the material you provide.

Customer education is an incredibly broad topic, with lots to consider from a customer, content creation, and business perspective. TechSmith’s Customer Education Manager, Doug Brunner, shares his thoughts on creating training content that powerfully impacts your customers – and, therefore, your business.

Doug is an educator and experienced instructional designer. He has created tutorial videos for a variety of projects, including Camtasia. Doug also leads TechSmith’s customer education strategy and approach.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post. To listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

The purpose of customer education

According to Doug, TechSmith’s approach to customer education is to help customers solve their problems. The customer education team focuses on empowering customers with knowledge so that they’re successful in completing a task or reaching their goals.

“The way we like to frame it is like [the customers are] hiring our products to help them accomplish a job or to solve a problem.”

TechSmith’s customer education comes in a wide variety of formats suitable for a multitude of learning preferences. There are tutorial videos, articles, in-person training, webinars, and even more formalized training with certifications.

While much of this educational content is stand-alone, some of it also bleeds into the product, for example, in onboarding, and throughout the product experience. This aims to set users up for success from the moment they get their teeth into the product and continue to help them as they learn more advanced techniques.

For Doug, it’s important that TechSmith’s customer education initiatives are rooted in empathy for the customer. His focus is to always start with the customer and understand what they need before pointing them toward any customer education content.

How TechSmith designs customer education user experiences

It’s no surprise then, that Doug’s first step in designing the customer education user experience is to understand the customer, the product, and the relationship between them. Doug suggests asking some questions about the customer to get started, for example:

  • What is the user’s goal?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • Is there a problem they’re trying to solve?

Next, consider their motivations. Perhaps your customer wants to know everything about a product before they start using it or they need an answer to a specific question.

Based on your understanding, you can then start to craft a customer education experience that addresses their needs. So, for example, if your customer wants to know a lot of information, you could point them toward a beginner course. This might include a handful of short videos that give them enough knowledge and confidence to complete their first project.

If your customer is looking for specific information, it’s important to guide them to more specialized content. Tutorials on how to use particular features or technical documentation can help customers quickly solve their problems and be more successful overall.

But how does TechSmith discover its customers’ motivations? Doug says the key is constant research.

“We’re always engaged in some form of research. We’re always throwing up survey questions in front of our users on tutorial pages, articles, and during webinars. We try to get as much feedback as possible for us to be able to really understand if we’re getting the right content in front of our customers.”

What makes a great customer education tutorial video?

Doug believes that customer education tutorial videos are successful when they adequately teach the topic at a good pace. On average, TechSmith’s tutorial videos are between 2-6 minutes long. Each is well planned out and tackles a specific workflow or plan to educate users quickly and clearly.

Most of these videos are to the point, packed with high-quality instruction and a little personality. However, when teaching more advanced skills and techniques, Doug stresses that it’s more beneficial for the user to explain at a slower pace.

“You can’t take an advanced topic, teach it in a really short amount of time, and expect everyone to get it.”

Complex topics can overwhelm users. Instead of trying to cram in as much information as possible, Doug’s advice is to create slower tutorials to ensure customers can follow along and digest the information.

Providing customer education content where people learn

Your customers’ learning behaviors are key to providing them with the customer education content they need ­– in the right place. For Doug, this means finding out where TechSmith customers look for answers to their problems.

“The number one place our customers go is Google or YouTube. They type in their question and expect to find an answer.”

This is challenging for any business as you want your customers to find the help they need without getting distracted by other products and services on the market. You create the best educational content for your products, so customers should use your content. But with the way search engines work, if people turn to Google and YouTube, this may not always be the result. So, it’s important that you’re making your content accessible where your customers search.

“The second most common place that people look for support is directly in the product.”

Doug’s advice is to learn where the key points of friction are with your product. Then you can choose how you smooth out the problem, either with some educational content or by guiding customers to your wider education ecosystem.

Why customer education content is important for businesses

Quick answers and effective education solutions are vital to keeping your customers happy and helping them reach success. TechSmith’s customer education approach empowers users with knowledge and skills, but the reality is that customer success leads to more sales.

“Successful customers are more likely to adopt your product” – Doug Brunner

So, your customer education strategy can be successful on many levels. It can give customers the guidance they need, help your business accomplish its goals, and even become a type of inbound marketing.

The biggest shift Doug sees right now with customer education content is that more and more people are using it before they purchase the product. Early research indicates that 30-50% of people looking at TechSmith tutorials don’t yet own a TechSmith product.

“We are essentially, unintentionally creating inbound marketing content.”

While there’s still research to be done into exact consumer behavior, it’s already changing thinking around how marketing and customer education teams work together. Doug suggests that as we move forward, tutorials and educational content could be used more frequently as marketing materials.

But, ultimately, Doug believes that free customer education and training content is a way to give back to TechSmith customers.

“They’re paying for our products, they’re investing in us – this is a way for us to invest in them.”

Discover everything you need to know about Camtasia, Snagit, Knowmia, Audiate, and more TechSmith products in our tutorials and training library. Explore the library and learn the basics or sharpen your skills by checking out more advanced techniques.

Need help creating training and instructional content? The TechSmith Academy has plenty of free resources to build your ability and confidence. Check out all the courses available here.

Matt Pierce

Matt Pierce is a Learning & Video Ambassador at TechSmith. In this role speaks and teaches about video creation and visual communication. A graduate of Indiana University he has ten years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith. Teach him something @piercemr

Subscribe to TechSmith’s Newsletter

Join over 200,000 people who get actionable tips and expert advice every month in the TechSmith Newsletter.