Customer enablement is a fast-growing function within B2B organizations. In fact, today’s customers expect their vendors to help them achieve business success, not just sell them a product. With the rise of the SaaS business model, customers can switch products much more easily than in the past, and vendors must now continuously earn their subscription renewals and expansions. For this reason, B2B companies must now provide a differentiated and effective customer success experience, or suffer the consequences of poor product adoption and ultimately churn.
At Skilljar, as we did more market research, we realized that nobody has mapped customer enablement tools in the same way that industry landscapes exist for sales, marketing, HR, video, and other software categories. Our customers are trying to understand the benefits of different solutions in this dynamic and fast-growing area of the enterprise. The question is, how do you know which tools and technologies are the right fit for your team’s needs?
So we decided to create our own - enter the Customer Enablement Landscape. In this blog post, we’ll break down our view of the B2B customer enablement space into eight key categories, outlining the definition and role of each one.
Continue reading to learn more:
Training and Certification
Trained customers renew their product and service subscriptions at a higher rate. Data from Skilljar customers shows increased recurring revenue, renewal rates and customer health for trained accounts. On top of this, 64%+ of survey respondents say that learners use their product more after receiving training (source: TSIA). With these results in mind, it’s easy to understand why so many companies are eager to implement training and certification technologies.
Tools within this category include training platforms like Skilljar, along with certification testing services and badging.
In-app guidance is like a GPS that you’ve pre-programmed for your customers. These tools provide users with friendly prompts to keep them on track. For instance, a pop-up message, which includes a link to a relevant support article, may appear when someone is on a certain web page. In addition, software companies often use this type of wizard to walk customers through new features by surfacing instructions while a user is establishing a new workflow.
The tools in this category promote a holistic training ecosystem. Students are able to learn a new skill, and then immediately apply it within your product. This type of just-in-time learning can help customers establish a new workflow, or reinforce what was learned in a longer training course.
Customer communities give students a forum to learn from each other and ask questions as they come up. With a community in place, organizations are also able to drive increased advocacy and reduce inbound support tickets. It’s a win-win situation.
While features vary across products, communities usually provide some aspect of gamification (like a leader board) and offer a multitude of social engagement tools. Detailed analytics can help you tie community engagement to product adoption or customer referrals (source: Training Industry).
Advocacy tools help organizations leverage their existing customer base to drive word-of-mouth marketing. They often encourage participation by providing users with rewards, discounts, and a sense of community.
The idea behind customer advocacy is that your prospects trust their peers. Before making a purchase, they’re looking for authentic recommendations - i.e. testimonials, stories, reviews, and referrals - from current users. Advocacy tools like Zuberance, Influitive and Crowdly provide the platform for you to demonstrate this social proof. This has become a crucial part of the customer acquisition and retention process at many organizations. Think about it this way: happy customers who participate in advocacy programs will likely continue to engage with your brand and drive others to do the same.
Support has always been a huge component of customer enablement, but with the rise of social media, it is now more important than ever. Today’s customers are used to receiving fast responses to their queries and complaints. For this reason, it helps to have both a knowledge base and support ticket system in place.
While these tools are valuable to include in your tech stack, they are entirely reactive (i.e. someone realizes they need help and will either write to you or search for an answer themselves). Consider implementing them alongside other more proactive options.
This category could also be described as customer success software. The primary goal of these companies is to help their customers reduce churn, and drive additional revenue through renewals and expansions. With these tools at hand, customer-facing teams can quickly identify healthy and at-risk accounts.
Customer success teams can set parameters for specific health scores, which then help them prioritize certain activities and develop a playbook based on a variety of factors. Companies use this information to activate members of their customer success team and give them clear next steps for each leg of the customer journey.
“How likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague?” This question is a prime example of how customer-facing teams are using feedback at their organizations today.
Feedback is essential for any teams looking to continuously improve customer interactions. In fact, this type of software is designed to collect relevant customer experience data, including Net Promoter Scores. As a result, customer-facing teams can categorize users into promoters, passives, or detractors, and respond accordingly. This helps you understand how satisfied your customer base is as a whole and benchmark off industry standards. On a more granular level, data from surveys can feed into customer health metrics, and help you understand the satisfaction of an individual customer/account.
Marketing & Messaging
You might not think marketing automation systems like HubSpot, Marketo, and Eloqua belong in the same category as messaging tools like Intercom. But from a customer enablement perspective, they serve the same purpose. Essentially, these technologies allow you to get the message out to your customer, so you can encourage ideal behaviors and drive engagement with your product.
For example, if someone has not engaged with training recently, you can send an in-app message and/or an automated email reminder promoting your new offerings. Another option is to create drip campaigns at the start of the customer lifecycle to keep your content top of mind.
The customer enablement space is relatively new, so it can be difficult to navigate. That being said, this post is just an overview of the available options. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that your team may not need to utilize tools within all eight categories right away. Before making a purchase, consider what will equip your customers to get the most out of your product, and whether you can demonstrate ROI to justify the additional spend.
Are there any companies we missed? Let us know in the comments!