How Customers Want to Learn a New Skill

Identifying and Measuring the Key Moments of Truth in the Customer Scenario® Pattern of Acquiring a Skill

April 30, 2009

Customer scenarios fall into patterns. It‘s valuable to know these patterns ahead of time so that you’ll know what kinds of customer and operational metrics to elicit. Then you can focus on how to differentiate the experience, products, and services you offer to help customers reach their goals. This report focuses on the moments of truth and metrics in a typical outcome-based acquiring a skill scenario.


This report looks at patterns found in the customer scenario of acquiring a skill, which is an example of an outcome-based scenario.

Although the details of the situation for each customer are as different as the types of skills the customers are looking to acquire, there are recurring patterns that occur in this type of scenario. We have identified four key showstoppers that will stop customers in their path to successfully acquiring the skills they want:

  • I can’t find training appropriate for me
  • The lessons are too expensive
  • I can’t keep up with the lessons nor achieve the goals of each lesson
  • I am not proficient in the new skill at the level I had hoped within the timeframe I have set

We call these the customer’s “Moments of Truth”—aka “showstoppers”—if you don’t address these issues crisply, you risk losing your customer to another training provider or, if you provide training on your own product, to another supplier.

Once you recognize the common moments of truth, you can identify the types of customer metrics and operational metrics that measure how successful you are at meeting your customers’ ultimate goals. Then you can focus your co-design activities on how to differentiate the experience, products, and services you offer to help customers reach those goals.

Identifying the metrics allows you to recognize:

  • How the customer will be “grading” you
  • How you grade yourself in helping the customer be successful
  • How you can identify and measure business opportunities that can result from providing a great customer experience


Education versus Training

One of the most memorable conference sessions I ever attended was on training, and the reason I enjoyed it so much was hearing the following statement from the presenter:

“Here’s an easy way to understand the difference between education and training: imagine your high school is providing a course in sex; do you want your teenaged daughter to get sex education or sex training?”

It made the difference clear to all of us listeners: Education is about learning how to think about something, the concepts behind it, and its relevance to other aspects of your life; Training is about acquiring a demonstrable skill.

Although many of the same moments of truth might apply for educational pursuits, this scenario pattern report will look at finding and taking the training for the skill set desired. We’ll look both at planned training and just-in-time training (which is getting the training you need at the moment you need it, even if you didn’t know you needed it before).

Outcome-Based Scenarios

We talk about lifecycle-based scenarios or event-based scenarios; acquiring a skill is actually a third type of scenario: outcome-based, where the goal isn’t necessarily tied into a date (although it may be). Other examples might be a “losing weight” scenario or “planning for retirement.”

Looking through the “traditional” (at least for us) lens of the customer lifecycle, the “acquire a skill” customer scenario pattern traverses a number of lifecycle stages, including the explore (look at the training options), select (choose the best one for me), buy (pay or sign up), and use (take the training) stages. (See Illustration 1.)

The Customer Lifecycle

 The Customer Lifecycle

© 2009 Patricia Seybold Group

Illustration 1. Acquiring a skill touches on a number of stages within the customer lifecycle.

Similar for Products and Services, B2B and B2C

Whether you are an individual consumer or a business buyer, you want the same thing when you are looking for training. You want it to be easy to find, take, and complete the right training program for your needs. If it isn’t easy to find the right training and to realistically complete it successfully, many people will procrastinate acquiring skills that will improve their quality of personal or business life. You want to make sure that your customers are successful at achieving their training goals in the ways in which they want.

This Customer Scenario Pattern fits a variety of training situations. Later in this report we’ll take this pattern and apply it to two business scenarios and two consumer scenarios, to wit:

  • B2B: Becoming proficient at a skill in order to receive a promotion
  • B2B: Receive just-in-time training on new government regulations to be effective on the job
  • B2C: Take tennis lessons to improve skills
  • B2C: Learn Italian before a trip to Italy

Moments of Truth in Acquiring a Skill

Although there are always variations on a theme (based on the specific customer situation and goals), there are four key moments of truth that show up in some manner in every upgrade scenario...(more)

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