How Firefly Learning managed a 6x increase in product usage during EdTech boom
When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the globe, closing physical schools was one of the first steps many countries took to slow its progress. Just as many companies were forced to shift to distributed work environments, educational institutions found themselves pivoting to remote instruction to ensure students could continue learning.
London-based Firefly Learning is one of the EdTech software platforms powering this new learning landscape, and the surge in demand pushed their usage to unprecedented levels. Suddenly, Firefly’s head of product, Lars Dyrelund, and product ops lead, Samantha Benson, found Firefly’s teams onboarding six months’ worth of new users in a single week, while many current but less active customers became much heavier users of the software.
“Firefly saw a jump in usage six to seven times that of our normal peak season in September where many of our schools return from holiday. This happened overnight,” Dyrelund says. “I don’t think anyone could have foreseen just how quickly the situation shifted and usage escalated.”
To adapt in real-time, they turned to Pendo.
To ensure the platform continued running smoothly and reliably, the first thing Dyrelund and Benson needed to do was get a deep look at exactly how all those new users were interacting with it so they could focus resources on the parts and features users found most valuable. Pendo’s analytics provided that.
The Firefly platform is designed to be flexible so that users can customize content to their needs, but certain ways of doing that can stress Firefly’s back-end systems when there is abnormally high traffic. After establishing a good barometer of usage, Benson used Pendo guides to tactically nudge users into optimal workflows to lessen the load on those systems.
“We’ve been using paths to see schools’ user journeys from their dashboard, which indicates where users are getting stuck and where they need guidance. We’re using guides to drive users to explore a wider variety of features as well as providing examples for more effective workflow,” Benson says.
Pendo guides have now become so mission-critical for the company as they respond to the evolving crisis that Benson has begun holding daily Pendo guide meetings to field requests from across the company.
When a large number of support requests start to flow through Zendesk for a particular issue, Benson quickly builds in-app guides to provide solutions to targeted segments of users experiencing the most commonly reported problems. And when the spike in usage led to brief service disruptions, Firefly quickly built in-app messages to direct users to the company’s uptime page. Another guide connecting users with the Firefly Community Forum saw visits to that resource increase by 51%, Benson says.
All of this helps alleviate what would have been a massive burden—the team estimates support requests could have increased 400% over the normal volume without in-app communication.
Now, they’ve turned their attention to scaling up their onboarding process to accommodate the surge of new customers. “With the coronavirus, schools now need something that’s working across their entire school—yesterday,” Dyrelund says.
It’s nearly impossible to train all those users through one-to-one interaction that quickly, but Pendo guides can automate the process and deliver the content en-mass right in the app, allowing users to support themselves.
“We’re moving new users onto the platform at a staggering rate at the moment and Pendo will be a key here to help us onboard new users and ensure they get a great user experience and value out of Firefly,” says Dyrelund.