learnsignal + Zendesk: Building trust and loyalty with customers

Learnsignal, a digital-first education platform that is disrupting the certification and professional development process for accountancy and finance professionals, offers subscription-based access to online courses, test preparation materials, and 24/7 access to live tutors on any device. But the key to its success lies in its customer relationships.

learnsignal

“When choosing a support solution, you have to take the cost off the table and make the best decision for the customer. Otherwise you’ll be paying for it in the long term.”

Alan Lynch

Head of Education and Customer Services at learnsignal

“Support is the core of everything a company does. Support is on the front line with customers, and if you do not create a good first impression, you will not get the revenue that you need.”

Aiat Gamal

Head of Customer Support at learnsignal

Products used

Founded

2013

Headquarters

Dublin

Zendesk Start Date

February 2020

94%

CSAT

5,000

Students

70%

Mobile users

Accounting and financial services certifications are notoriously difficult to earn, with 60 to 70 percent of students failing the requisite exams at least once. Multiply that by the fact that there are dozens of expensive classes to take, and that most students juggle their studies with full-time jobs, and it becomes clear how important the right teachers and test prep partner can be. That’s where Dublin-based learnsignal comes in.

“Our move to Zendesk was extremely well timed.”Alan Lynch, Head of Education and Customer Services at learnsignalA digital-first education platform designed for working professionals, learnsignal gives accountants the ability to earn professional credentials with subscription-based access to online classes, tutorials, podcasts, practice tests, and 24/7 access to expert tutors. The company’s suite of courses include ACCA exam tuition, CIMA exam tuition, AAT exam tuition, FIA exam tuition as well as CPD courses for industry professionals. Unlike the expensive, inconvenient in-person classes that have dominated the space for decades, learnsignal enables students to learn at their own pace, whether that’s on the train home from work or during a quick coffee break.

One of the keys to learnsignal’s success is its commitment to customer service, which helps students succeed on their own terms. It’s a powerful disruption to the antiquated accounting education system, and the results speak for themselves. In 2020, one of learnsignal’s students received the second highest score in the world on the ACCA accounting exam.

The company, which has served more than 100,000 students in 130 countries, allows customers to take and retake courses as often as they need in order to pass their exams, and when a student has a question about the coursework, a tutor is always available to help.

It’s a level of service that learnsignal’s competition has been unable to match, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Before, professionals seeking additional credits were expected to take costly in-person classes on weekends or evenings. With learnsignal, those students can learn anywhere, at any time.

“The fact that customers can contact us 24 hours a day and get a really quick response from a tutor is totally unique in the industry,” said Alan Lynch, head of education and customer services at Learnsignal. “No other provider has been able to figure out how to do it.”

Trust, honesty, and the art of always being there

This 24/7 access to support is critical for students who often find themselves stressed out and in need of immediate assistance as they prepare for high-stakes exams. Learnsignal also leans into the channels that mean the most to its customers, offering a seamless support experience across platforms for on-the-go professionals, 70 percent of whom access the company’s services on mobile devices.

“Students might connect with us on a mobile device when they’re on the train, and then log on to their computer when they get home to finish a conversation,” said Lynch. “We match our service to our students’ lifestyle and make it easy for them to constantly communicate with us when they move from platform to platform.”

But learnsignal’s success comes from more than just providing flexibility for its customers. Honesty and trust remain key elements of the strong relationships the company builds with students. “I want your experience with learnsignal to be harder than your exam,” Lynch said. “I think our customer experience is based on honesty and straightforwardness, and not being afraid to tell students to do things that we know they don’t like doing.”

Support stumbles—then gets back on track

While trust and honesty with its users drives better outcomes for students, learnsignal applies those same qualities when evaluating how well its customer support team is doing. When the company began, it relied at first on other platforms for support efforts before eventually deciding to reevaluate their customer service solution.

Before making the switch to Zendesk, learnsignal had encountered challenges with finding a support solution that could enable seamless and reliable communication between tutors and students, across channels. The company needed a reliable, battle-tested solution that could also deliver more advanced features customers wanted, such as receiving chat transcripts from the tutors that they could review later as they studied.

“Support sets the tone for the whole company, and our relationship with customers is built on trust,” said Conor Motyer, Course Director. Previous challenges with other support solutions had illustrated just how quickly customer sentiment can turn when students aren’t able to quickly and easily get support from tutors.

Learnsignal knew that it had to act quickly to implement an updated solution, but it also realized that it was important to get things right the first time and not further aggravate customers.

“We couldn’t afford to make a change and have it not work again,” Lynch said.

When learnsignal decided to make the move to Zendesk, the company made the transition in just two weeks, completing the migration shortly before pandemic-related lockdowns started impacting students.

“We went from the decision to move platforms to having our first conversation on Zendesk in 3–4 weeks,” Lynch said. “This wasn’t a long, drawn out conversation. We had to do something quickly and we needed something that would plug and play effectively.”

A change is made, and results follow

After choosing to implement the Zendesk Support Suite, Explore, and the Collaboration add-on, learnsignal began to see immediate results.

“We set up all the basic rules and operations, and our students immediately noticed the difference,” Lynch said. “Customers were commenting on what an improvement they noticed straight away.”

Within weeks, the company saw chat volume increase and a considerable spike in its CSAT score, which now sits at 94 percent. The students who use the platform can now receive tutoring in the channel of their choice—chat, web form, email—and move seamlessly between them without missing a beat. And during an unsettling time, switching to Zendesk gave learnsignal a competitive edge.

“Not a lot of people could say they were lucky in 2020, but our move to Zendesk was extremely well timed,” Lynch said.

Now that the company has stabilized its support organization, learnsignal is working with Zendesk’s customer success team to investigate new ways to deploy Zendesk and help students succeed. It’s also looking into a self-service knowledge base and using Explore to make data-driven decisions about how to optimize staffing as the company adds new courses and services.

If there’s one takeaway learnsignal learned from its support challenges, it’s that going for the cheapest option can cost a company much more than it saves on license costs.

“You have to look at the bigger picture, because the support part is the core of everything,” said Aiat Gamal, head of customer support. “You are the first interaction that the company has with users. No matter what product you provide, if you do not give a first good impression, customers will not receive the support they need.”

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