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How Teachers Pay Teachers Accomplished a 16% Retention Boost using “Tech Touch” through Catalyst

Teachers Pay Teachers boosted retention 16% across 2,600+ customers using Catalyst for tech-touch customer success.
Stefan Palios
September 1, 2022
Customer Story

The Metrics

  • 2,600+ Tech-touch customers
  • 16% Increase in retention
  • 100% Team adoption of Catalyst


  1. Beginning as a marketplace where teachers could purchase resources individually, Teachers Pay Teachers created a subscription offering for school districts.
  2. With over 2,600 new accounts to manage, the account management team needed to shift from high-touch to tech-touch.
  3. Leveraging playbooks, automations, and integrations for tech-touch customer success within Catalyst, Teachers Pay Teachers led to a 16% boost in retention.

The challenge

Teachers Pay Teachers needed tech-touch workflows to serve customers as it grew

Teachers Pay Teachers began as a marketplace for teachers to create, buy, and sell resources to other teachers. Katie Rivard, the Account ManagementLeader, said the company estimates more than 7million educators — including 85% of PreK-12 U.S.teachers — use TPT to save time, engage students, and learn from each other.

In 2019 the company expanded its business model. Instead of teachers paying for resources individually, the company established subscription contracts with school administrators. This change meant more resources for teachers but also added a new type of customer: school administrators who need tech-touch customer success. 

“We have around 2,600 school administrators on the platform, with each Account Manager responsible for 300-400 accounts,” said Katie. “We needed tech-touch to service these customers at scale.”

The Account Management team also realized that the marketing team was sending out emails that sometimes led to customer confusion. As a result, Katie wanted to ensure that any new platform they brought on gave them visibility into the entire customer lifecycle; not just product usage information and health scores but also journey-mapped emails and other communications. 

Ultimately, Teachers Pay Teachers chose Catalyst to help them handle scale without needing to hire full-time resources to administer the platform.

“The majority of our customer base is tech-touch and we needed a platform to empower that”

- Katie Rivard, Account Management Lead, Teachers Pay Teachers

The solution

Teachers Pay Teachers leveraged automations, integrations, and permissioning in Catalyst to scale tech-touch customer success

Teachers Pay Teachers implemented Catalyst with the help of both the Catalyst onboarding team and the company’s Salesforce administrator. In particular, they leveraged a few key features to get up to speed quickly:

Integrations: In partnership with the company’s Salesforce administrator, Katie was able to set up an integration and pull all relevant customer data into Catalyst. Then Katie built a central-view dashboard so every account manager could easily see critical information about their accounts. 

“Integrating Salesforce into Catalyst helped us bring a renewed focus on our data warehouse and Salesforce instance to ensure we had the right data coming in, and that that data was being properly visualized and actioned.” said David Brown, the Salesforce Administrator at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Automations: The AM team built out playbooks, templates, and customer journeys in Catalyst. They also leveraged Catalyst’s email automation to scale their customer communications rather than manually copy-pasting from a Google Doc, as they’d been doing previously. In all, 26 playbooks actively run through their Catalyst instance based on targeted segments, where the customer is in their journey, and what each customer needs. 

“I love that Catalyst has helped me organize my days with so many accounts,” said Krystal Torres, an Account Manager at Teachers Pay Teachers. “I can see where they are all at, what communications are necessary, and easily make custom tasks based on what stage the customer is in.”

Permissioning: All CS communications now use Catalyst’s email automation feature, which includes the ability for AMs to approve messages and see emails that go out at different parts of the journey. In the past, the marketing team handled all customer communications and the AM team only learned about it after the fact. 

“I love being able to see and approve emails going out at different parts of the journey,” said Katie. “We couldn't see the customer journey clearly before Catalyst.”

Between automations, integrations, and permissioning, the Account Management team has saved a lot of time—time they were able to fill with more proactive outreach and care for customers who needed it. 

Katie is the internal superuser of Catalyst, but she is able to take on this work on top of her regular job—Teachers Pay Teachers doesn’t need to hire a full-time administrator to get the value they are looking for from the platform.

What’s more is that Catalyst is a cross-functional platform for Teachers Pay Teachers. While the Account Management team members are the primary daily users—with 100% of the team using the platform—the Product team uses it to track customer feedback, Product Marketing Managers pull Catalyst data to inform their regular executive check-ins, and the Operations team uses customer data in Catalyst to ensure ops are geared to servicing their growing customer base. 

And these changes all had a huge impact on retention: the company measures retention in quarterly cohorts and, comparing the quarter pre-Catalyst to the quarter after implementation, saw a 16% increase.

“We’re able to diligently track and capture product feedback in Catalyst,” said Katie. “When an Account Manager makes a note, they can tag the Product team, who then sees the information in a Slack channel and can transition it to JIRA. Customer feedback from Catalyst is now an important way the Product team prioritizes their work.”

“The day we got Catalyst was an exciting day. Before, things would fall through the cracks. Now we have customizable workflows for each individual Account Manager and each individual customer”

- Krystal Torres, Account Manager,Teachers Pay Teachers

What’s next

To continually improve, Katie hosts “Catalyst Work Labs” meetings regularly with the Account Management team. During these meetings, AMs can indicate what data or reports would help them better serve customers, which Katie is able to easily make using Catalyst’s drag-and-drop user experience. The company also has an internal ticketing system where AMs can make requests for new data, dashboards, or reports within Catalyst—Katie then pulls the relevant information.

This focus on continual improvement and customization is a key part of Teachers Pay Teachers’ next goal: scaling up tech-touch support even further. 

Now that the company’s playbooks are working with school administrators in the mid-market segment, Katie is working with the AM team to build even more journeys and playbooks to support school districts in the enterprise segment. While this segment will always have the CSM personal touch, adding tech-touch means customers can choose whether to self-serve or reach out for assistance, giving them more options and ability to solve problems.

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