Virtual training

Customer Training Professionals are Feeling the Pressure

The CloudShare Team

Nov 16, 2023 - 5 min read
Customer Training Professionals are Feeling the Pressure

In advance of this year’s CEdMA Europe Conference, the association and CloudShare jointly conducted a survey of its members regarding the state of customer education and the use of key technologies.

The results were presented at the conference. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights here.

The “yeses” have it. The pressure is on. As you see, a third of the respondents say it always is.

“Access to technologies that enhance the learning experience has never been greater, but the need to justify training spend is also at an all-time high. Over the past 16 years I’ve spent as software industry training leader, I’ve found that rising to that challenge requires careful assessment and alignment to ensure your efforts match your organization’s priorities. With the pressure mounting, we all need ways to ensure that alignment and strategic focus.”

Brenna Strickland, L&D leader

What else did we learn?

Budgets are an issue

Given the pressure to step up customer training performance, you would probably take some comfort in knowing you’ll be able to secure more budget for the coming year. But chances are, you won’t.

The least popular response, coming in at only 13%, is “the budget will increase.” More respondents report it will decrease, while 72% don’t yet know or anticipate a budget freeze.

Changes in Training Budgets from 2022 to 2023

Our The State of Virtual Software Training 2023 Report included a question about budget changes specifically for virtual training from 2022 to 2023. As you can see, the results differed slightly by company size but indicate budgets above $50,000 stayed the same, or in a few cases, increased.

What’s the biggest obstacle to getting a bigger budget? Our research suggests training organizations continue struggling to align their goals with those of the business at large.

How well training KPIs align with business goals

Only 20% of our survey respondents viewed their training program KPIs as very well aligned with business goals.

“Customer education teams don’t work in a silo; they interact with many different functions of the business to help solve a wide range of challenges. To achieve success, the goals of customer education need to align with the overarching objectives of the company.”
“In fact, the success of your customer education program hinges on executive support and buy-in, which can only happen if you make sure you share a vision. If your goals aren’t aligned, you’ll end up doing a lot of work that isn’t relevant to what the business is doing right now, and you’re not going to get the executive support that you need to keep scaling and growing your programs.”

Excerpt from The Customer Education Playbook
by Daniel Quick and Barry Kelly

Are you happy with your training technologies?

We’ll start with a mainstay of training tech stacks, the LMS.

There’s not much to see here. More training pros report to be happy than unhappy but most are neutral.

CloudShare is happy to report only 3% are unhappy with their virtual IT lab. The survey responses were anonymous, so we can’t say what percentage are (or are not) using CloudShare, but it appears existing virtual lab technology delivers strong customer satisfaction.

Percentage of organizations using virtual lab environments

We’re also pleased to report our 2023 research indicated a majority of training organizations are using a virtual lab environment for software training. A good number more, 29%, plan to do so.

Which training technology features matter most?

When asked to rank important training/learning management system features, user-friendliness rocked the top spot. Additional features that registered with a majority of the respondents include scalability, analytics, customizability, and integration.

Apparently, respondents favor technical features. Stability ranks first. Connection speed and interoperability rank slightly below, hovering around 60%. Interestingly, “over-the-shoulder” capability, a favorite feature amongst CloudShare customers, prompted 45% to check the box.

Is AI taking hold in CE?

We asked this question while conducting a webinar on AI in customer education and did so again in our survey.

At the far ends of the spectrum, few are petrified but also not power users. Most are kicking the tires and aiming to learn more. Surprisingly, only 28% have identified potentially helpful use cases. This is sure to change in the months to come.

If you’re interested in learning about potential use cases for AI in customer education, read our recent article, 12 Ways to Propel Productivity in Customer Education with AI.

Creating content ranks highest, but you can see respondents see AI playing a role across a variety of functions.

We believe you can enjoy the power of generative AI by giving it a seat, so to speak, at your course planning meetings. A practical way to begin is by informing your tool of choice with course objectives, students’ learning needs, personas, and desired outcomes. The tool may not hit one out of the park immediately, but it’s likely to give you a plausible outline that you can mold into a structured curriculum.

“This area has serious potential to help build the use of AI in learning experiences. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are already infiltrating the work we do to build course outlines, or write course summaries for websites, or generating quiz questions for the end of learning modules. And those tools, in combination with video and voice, make powerful time-saving allies as teams are continuously asked to do more.”

Excerpt from 5 Ways AI Supercharges Learning Experiences,
by Kristine Kukich, Thought Industries

Whose responses have we looked at here?

To get a handle on the universe of training professionals who chose to participate in the survey, we asked numerous qualifying questions and learned:

  • More than 70% are in the software business.
  • 70% work for companies employing over 1,000 people.
  • 48% have a P&L customer education model (and 35% have a hybrid model).
  • 75% generate annualized education revenues of $1M or more.