How to Reduce Support Costs with Customer Education and Onboarding


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Historically, companies have evolved into siloed functional units such as Support Services, Professional Services, and Education Services. In today’s world, innovative companies are increasingly converging their post-sale functions to create a holistic and integrated customer experience. A particularly high-impact opportunity for collaboration is between the Support and Customer Education Teams. Companies like Zenefits, the human resources and payroll software platform, have seen firsthand the benefits of connecting these two teams.

Over the past several years, Zenefits’ customer base grew rapidly, with hundreds of new customers signing up each month. Unfortunately, this growth was accompanied by a related increase in support tickets and repetitive queries that overloaded Support Agents. In an effort to reduce this burden and decrease the overall number of “how-to” type questions the Support Team received, Zenefits turned to its Customer Education and Onboarding Team for help.

Based on existing customer data, Zenefits identified several commonly-asked questions and used those queries as the basis for educational resources. Available through Zenefits’ online customer training portal, these articles, videos, and tutorials both provide customers with self-service support and offer easy-to-share materials for Customer Support Agents to use in lieu of time-consuming, one-on-one calls. Within just one month of releasing these Customer Education resources, Zenefits’ Support Team saw a five percent reduction in “how-to” based tickets.

As evidenced by Zenefits’ success, joint efforts between Customer Education and Support Teams ensure that customers feel they have the necessary self-serve resources to be successful, while Support is able to prioritize higher-value customer needs.

Best Practices

Based on our work with Zenefits and hundreds of other leading software and technology companies, we’ve uncovered four best practices that facilitate collaboration between Support and Customer Education teams.

1. Develop Content based on Support Ticket Trends

According to Zendesk’s recent benchmark report, sophisticated companies see upwards of 20,000 support tickets per month, with TSIA reporting that 48% of these support inquiries are “how-to” in nature. Thoughtfully designed training modules can help proactively address these common issues, thereby reducing support ticket volume.

If you’re seeing a high volume of support questions about a particular product feature, consider creating educational content that walks customers through the ‘why’, ‘what’, and ‘how’ of that feature. This content will help your Support Team reduce the time (and related costs) that they spend addressing questions about the feature. Your Support Team can then allocate this time saved towards addressing more complex and higher value issues.

2. Offer On-demand Learning Options

Research from Forrester has found that customers prefer to use self-service and on-demand channels as opposed to connecting with an actual Support Agent. Offering product education content on-demand is a great way to decrease customers’ reliance on Support. An on-demand library of content enables a self-service model in which customers can access new and refreshed content anytime and anywhere.

This content can consist of recorded webinars, video walk-throughs, quizzes, worksheets, and articles. Consider bundling several related assets into a training pathway so users can address their own needs in a structured and intuitive manner.

3. Architect Onboarding Content for Product Updates

Onboarding is best approached as an ongoing process as opposed to a point-in-time exercise. The need for this process is driven by the evolution of both customer needs and the product functionality that you offer. Software products in particular often have frequent updates, and every time you release a new feature, customers need to learn how the functionality relates to their needs, and how they can apply it.

In the past, companies have used special calls or in-person training sessions to share product updates with customers, both of which are not scalable. Through the development of new courses related to product updates, companies can create content once and distribute it to all of their customers at once, eliminating the need for 1:1 training or in-person onboarding.

4. Integrate with Other Business Systems and Tools

In addition to proactively addressing the challenges often faced by Support Teams, the integration of Customer Education data into Support platforms also help provide a fuller picture of customer health and engagement. One way that modern Customer Training Platforms like Skilljar are tackling this is by offering integrations that connect education data with Help Desk software, such as Skilljar’s Zendesk App, which surfaces a customer’s training activity to Support Agents.

When Support Agents know what training a customer has already taken, they can better understand the customer’s level of platform knowledge and refer back to training modules that they may remember. The Agent can also provide targeted recommendations to address knowledge gaps and resolve issues with fewer back-and-forth interactions.

Integrations between training and Support also keep education top of mind for Agents. As a result, they refer more customers to training, which expands the reach of your program. Over time, referring more customers to training can also influence their behavior and help to reinforce a self-service mindset.

Getting Started

When Customer Education and Support teams work together, they can build an onboarding process and a Customer Training program that accelerates time to value, addresses common pain points for customers, and enables more impactful customer support.

To get started, consider a similar path to Nintex by digging into the “how to” category of support tickets and documenting the common themes that arise. In situations where the Support Team at your company doesn’t have ticket data to support this effort, you may find that another effective way to uncover this insight is through your help center’s page view and search query data.

And if neither of these options is available, work with your Support Team to start creating ticket categories or connect with a service that can help you track page view analytics. Not only do these collaborative efforts benefit your internal teams, but they also make for positive, meaningful customer experiences.


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