What is customer enablement and why you need it: A guide
Customer enablement is critical to business success. When you educate and empower your audience, you enhance their experience and create loyal fans.
Published April 5, 2022
Last updated May 25, 2022
When you invest time and energy in your customer support efforts, you’re investing in your company’s future. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 73 percent of company leaders say there’s a direct link between their customer service and business performance.
So, it’s essential to ensure consumers are satisfied with their experience. How do you make that happen? With a customer enablement strategy.
What is customer enablement?
Customer enablement refers to the processes and strategies companies use to enhance the overall customer experience. It’s all about providing buyers with the tools, training, and resources they need to successfully use your products or services.
SaaS and B2B organizations (especially those with subscription models) often require customer enablement. With many B2C products, the need for education and follow-up information usually isn’t necessary. But with B2B products, the quality of customer enablement in the form of demos, onboarding, and community forums adds value to the purchased item.
Customer enablement works best when you take a collaborative approach to customer service. Agents equip users with the materials needed to achieve their goals, and buyers provide companies with feedback. If all goes well, customer satisfaction and loyalty will increase.
Some describe customer enablement as the “other side of the coin” to sales enablement. Instead of focusing on the assets sales reps need to close deals, customer enablement focuses on customer needs—the goal is to help buyers get the most out of your product or service.
Why do businesses need customer enablement?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer service has increasingly become a significant business differentiator, according to our CX Trends Report. 81 percent of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood they’ll make a repeat purchase. And 70 percent say they’ve made purchase decisions based on the quality of customer support.
81% of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood they’ll make a repeat purchase.
Customer enablement is a key component of excellent customer service, and changes to
tools, processes, and resources must begin now. Our CX Trends Report revealed that more than a third of U.S. companies believe they’ll experience a 25-percent increase in customer engagement over the next two years.
In this demanding environment, your support agents can’t answer every one-off question and continuously troubleshoot software issues. Agents must take part in your customers’ education to help them make the most of your product or service. Consumers also generally prefer solving issues independently when the right tools and references are available to them. Our report found that 70 percent of customers expect a company to have a self-service portal or content available to them.
5 customer enablement best practices
We could create a list of customer enablement tips, but the truth is, successful enablement doesn’t require a grab bag of tactics. Simplify the process by organizing customer experience enablement into three main categories:
- Build customer communities
- Educate customers
- Encourage and implement customer feedback
- Make it easy for customers to get support
- Help customers find success throughout the customer journey
Build customer communities
Online customer communities give buyers a place to tell their stories and build emotional connections with other users and with your company. They also allow users to learn from one another by crowdsourcing answers to questions and sharing their thoughts.
“A customer community can take many forms,” says Nicole Saunders, Zendesk’s director of communities. “It can happen synchronously (such as a meetup) or asynchronously (such as an online forum or email list).”
Provide customers with a community forum or other online space to troubleshoot issues with like-minded users, and you’ll reduce the need for them to submit support tickets. In turn, you’ll reduce your agents’ workload—freeing them up to handle complex customer issues and create enablement resources.
These types of communities can also enable two-way conversations between your customers and your business, fostering brand advocacy.
In addition to offering self-service resources—like knowledge bases, FAQ pages, and blog posts—provide comprehensive training, demos, and video lessons to help buyers achieve their goals. When customers feel confident using your product or service, they’ll likely become more invested in it and your brand as a whole.
At Zendesk, for example, we have a robust training program for users who want to become more proficient in using our products. We even offer certification programs that allow you to reach your desired level of expertise.
When implementing your own product education and training programs, use gamification features—such as badges and leaderboards—to encourage customers to complete them. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can opt to create explainer videos, demos, and webinar recordings on YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, or a native video player on your website.
Encourage and implement customer feedback
When you provide avenues for your customers to share their experiences, you give support and customer success teams the data they need to make improvements. Soliciting consumer feedback also helps you discover any knowledge gaps among your customers, so you can determine how to strengthen your enablement initiatives.
A Net Promoter Score® (NPS) survey is an effective way to collect feedback. The NPS metric measures customer loyalty by asking the user if they would recommend your product or service to others. Most surveys also include a comment box where respondents explain their choice.
This feedback provides powerful insights into your customers’ level of engagement with your products and services. Your teams can use this data to tweak the portions of your enablement process that may be confusing users.
Make it easy for customers to get support
One of the best ways to enable your customers is to make it easy for them to get help when they need it. Bad customer service frustrates customers, or worse, leads to churn.
You'll want to make sure your customers can reach you on the channels most convenient for them. For example, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Instagram DMs, let customers get help over the same channels they are already using in their personal lives. You'll also want to ensure your support teams are set up to deliver fast responses as slow reply times can hinder the customer experience.
Help customers find success throughout the customer journey
Customer service reps react as problems come up while customer success managers work to fix issues before they happen. They proactively look out for their customers’ business, suggesting new and innovative ways to keep them succeeding with your products. After someone becomes a customer, customer success picks up where sales leaves off. They help onboard customers and become your customer's mentors. CSM's main goal is to get them started as fast as possible and monitor their satisfaction as they grow.
CSMs also continuously check in with their clients to make sure they’re consistently using the products and meeting their goals for your service.
Make customer success enablement work for your company
Your customers are your best marketing tools, sounding boards, and revenue drivers—business triple threats. You must take the necessary steps to incorporate your buyers into your customer support process. Prioritize customer success enablement so your users have everything they need to take advantage of your products or services.
Knowledge base software is key when it comes to educating and helping your customers. Once you create the tools and materials for your enablement programs, this software allows you to build a searchable directory of the content. Knowledge base software typically offers analytics and reporting, too, so customer service leaders and agents can discover how buyers interact with the customer enablement resources.