Today, most customers expect a lot out of the buying process — more than ever before. They don’t just want to be shown a product and told why they need it; they’re looking for an in-depth customer support experience that guides them to success with the product or service. This experience should empower the customer, enabling them with the skills and knowledge they need to get maximum value from the product or service.
This is especially true of SaaS customers. B2B SaaS products are some of the most complex products of all, which means the quality of your business’s customer enablement experience is a critical differentiator.
An effective customer enablement strategy can do a world of good for your business. Customer enablement helps build customer loyalty. When customers are equipped to succeed, they get more value from your products or services and are more likely to remain fans of your company for a long time to come. Effective customer enablement tactics are also essential for driving business growth.
Let’s examine customer enablement in detail and evaluate some of the best ways to enable customers at your organization.
What’s Customer Enablement?
First, let’s establish a basic customer enablement meaning:
Customer enablement is the process of improving the customer experience by equipping customers with the skills, knowledge, resources and tools they need to succeed with your products or services.
Customer Enablement Vs Customer Success
Customer Success is related to customer enablement, and many people use the two terms interchangeably. Technically, customer success is when customers are able to use your products or services easily and get significant value from them. Customer enablement refers to all the actions you take to lead customers to that successful state.
You might also hear people use the term “customer success enablement.” This is usually just another term for customer enablement. “Sales enablement” is slightly different, however. Sales enablement refers to the processes you use to help sales representatives sell more effectively, including equipping them with the necessary training, tools and resources.
Customer Enablement Importance
Customer enablement is an extremely important part of most B2B SaaS business models for numerous reasons. Some of the benefits of investing time and resources into better customer enablement include:
Enabling customers is, by definition, all about decreasing time to value. By providing customers with the resources and tools they need in order to use your products or services successfully, you create a shorter path to value. In other words, customer enablement helps your customers recognize how your product or service can improve their lives in less time. A shorter time to value contributes to nearly all the other benefits below.
Boost Product Adoption
When customers are equipped with enablement materials to help them achieve a shorter time to value, they are more likely to adopt your product faster. Product adoption is the process of the customer learning how the product or service can benefit them and fully incorporating it into their tool set. An effective customer enablement strategy helps customers succeed with your products or services and access their full value quickly, which almost always leads to higher rates of product adoption.
Improve Customer Retention
Better customer retention is another common benefit of a well-executed customer enablement strategy. SaaS companies often have complicated products with steep learning curves or complex implementation processes. A robust customer enablement strategy can help SaaS customers adopt products smoothly and start seeing value in a shorter amount of time. This can make customers less likely to churn early in the customer journey. By providing exceptional customer enablement resources throughout the rest of the customer journey as well, you can ensure customers feel continually supported, which can contribute further to higher retention rates.
Build Customer Loyalty
A highly successful customer enablement program can go beyond improving customer retention and nurture customer loyalty as well. Customer enablement creates a smoother customer journey and helps the customer achieve more value from the product or service than they could have otherwise. When your customers have easy access to extensive resources and tools and your teams are there to support them every step of the way, they often appreciate the gestures, and above all they’re likely to be very happy with the high quality of the customer experience. This helps foster a positive, lasting relationship between your brand and your customers.
Customer enablement best practices can also help drive and sustain growth for your organization. Customers who have great experiences with your products and in their interactions with support representatives are more likely to keep coming back and giving you more business. Likewise, customers who get a lot of value from enablement resources like blog posts or training courses are likely to think of your brand often and possibly recommend it to other businesses in their network. Enabling customers for success is a great way to promote your brand through word of mouth, and it can also encourage existing customers to stick around and make more purchases — both of which can help boost your bottom line.
Customer Enablement Best Practices
To achieve benefits like the ones we’ve listed here, you need to understand some of the most important customer enablement best practices. Here are a few of the most effective pieces of advice you can follow to improve customer enablement at your company:
1. Educate Your Customers
One of the best ways to contribute to customer enablement is investing in customer education. By providing customers with resources to help them learn about your products and services, you give them the ability to be self-sufficient product users. This means they’ll be able to get more value out of the product or service day-to-day. They’ll also likely be better at troubleshooting small issues. This can result in less strain on your customer support resources.
There are many different actions you can take to improve customer education. One of the best ways to incorporate better customer education is with a learning management system like Gainsight Customer Education. You can use it to create a scalable customer academy that provides customers with convenient access to valuable resources and training materials.
2. Streamline the Support
One of your top customer enablement priorities should be maintaining an excellent customer support experience. When all else fails, customers are going to contact customer support for assistance. It’s crucial that you have a well-trained and well-equipped customer support team ready to enable customers to overcome issues and get back to the product or service’s value.
3. Prioritize Community
Developing a healthy community among your customer base is also critical to customer enablement. Providing locations like online discussion boards where your customers can interact, share tips or frustrations, give each other troubleshooting advice and more can be a great help to customer success. Not only does it provide a way for customers to access a much wider pool of expertise, it also encourages continual engagement with your brand and its community. A thriving customer community is also good for driving business growth.
4. Use Feedback to Your Advantage
One of the best ways to enable customers is to listen to what they have to tell you and respond intentionally. It’s usually a good idea to provide customers with plenty of ways to share their feedback with you. For example, you can use customer education software like Gainsight Customer Education to include surveys at the end of onboarding courses. Listening to customer feedback is necessary for identifying problem areas in your customer enablement strategy you might not have noticed otherwise. There’s no one better than your customers to tell you how you could be equipping them to be more successful.
Customer Enablement Tech
Building an effective customer enablement strategy is difficult without the right tools for the job. However, there’s more than one method you can use. Here are a few examples of the best customer enablement tech that can help you build and execute a successful customer enablement strategy:
A learning management system (LMS) like Gainsight Customer Education is one of the most effective tools for enabling customers (especially SaaS customers). An LMS gives you immense control over the way you deliver your enablement material to your customers, and can also provide advanced analytics tools to help you track and improve your enablement efforts.
2. Help Centers
Online help centers can also help improve customer enablement. Customers can use a help center to look up answers to questions or learn how to use certain product features. This can be a very useful means of quickly finding needed information.
3. In-app Guidance
Some customer education software makes it possible to integrate tutorials or helpful tips directly into the product itself. This tactic can provide a smooth, intuitive customer education experience that empowers users to learn as they go.
4. Virtual Training
Virtual training is customer education that happens via remote training courses. Typically, in virtual training courses, an instructor leads a group of learners in a live-classroom setting via virtual communication technology like Skype or Zoom.
5. Support and CSMs
Never forget that the backbone of your customer enablement strategy is your customer support agents and customer success managers. Without the right team of people to drive customer enablement, the best tools in the world would do no good; however, in the hands of a highly capable team, customer education software can serve as one of the most effective customer enablement solutions.