An Integrated Approach to Customer Enablement

Customer Enablement
In today’s age of cut-throat competition, technology products have emerged as a great enabler of business success. What is also true is that the sale of technology products, especially SaaS products do not end with the purchase itself. The customers of today are not just looking at vendors or product sellers. They are looking for partners who can help them provide a differentiated experience – one that is integrated and coherent in the narrative of their business journey. While most companies focus on customer enablement and customer centricity, it is becoming increasingly clear that the very definition of customer centricity is now being turned on its head. It is no longer just about familiarizing a customer with the product that they have purchased but more about providing a customer success experience…and in order to achieve that they need to not only hear the voice of the customer but to gather the mind of the customer and what they really want.

Customer Centricity – There’s change ahead

The metamorphosis of post-sale customer service from a responsive and reactive function to one that is more proactive and enabling is now complete. Organizations selling SaaS products now have to identify ways to help their customers achieve speed at scale. However, what is also a reality is that the present day customer enablement is a fragmented experience. You have, on one hand, multiple teams to help out the customer – you have the customer success teams, the product teams, support teams, and product marketing teams as an example. But these teams are working in silos with multiple disconnected apps to reach their customer. This siloed approach causes data fragmentation that limits everyone’s ability to enable the customer at speed. The world of SaaS products gives us immense flexibility – whether it is to scale the product or even to jump ship. With many vendors flocking the market, organizations today have to focus heavily on customer retention. After all, research suggests that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%! Going by these numbers, it becomes evident that organizations have to now focus a great deal more on their customer enablement initiatives and take them from being fragmented and siloed to integrated and organic. And to enable customer enablement, you have to enable your product first.

In-product enablement – what’s that? The story of product extension

The customer today has to interact with different teams to meet their needs. They have communication coming in the form of emails and newsletters using Marketing Automation, and products such as Mailchimp, etc. They have separate feedback forums (Survey Monkey, Typeform etc.)  where they can talk about what they need from the product. There are separate apps that function as knowledge repositories (Zendesk, Helpdesks etc.) and education portals (Walkme, LMSs, Custom Portals etc.). However, at this current time, most of these functionalities are driven by different teams and are disconnected as well as limited in their management. The customer, in the end, needs ease of doing business. She wants all the information in one place. She does not want to coordinate with different teams or apps to address her demands and queries. If all these different teams can fit under one umbrella, then it is possible to enable the customers appropriately and consequently contribute to their business success. The focus of organizations, therefore, should shift towards in-product enablement, one that provides an omni-channel, in-context, and personalized experience for the customers, when they need it. With an in-product approach, organizations can communicate with their customers, assist them with Smart self -help, best practices and FAQ’s. They can listen to the mind of the customer and take feedbacks and surveys and also educate the customer with personalized guidance as well as formal training…basically bring everything of relevance to the customer together one platform that is delivered within the product itself and deliver engaging and immediate service. What such an in-product app does is that it extends the basic product itself and makes it more personalized and contextual to the demands of the customer and helps in driving 1-1 personalized enablement at scale. One such product is Flype, which helps in extending the value of your customers’ existing systems in a device agnostic manner by simply embedding a widget. With the help of this widget, the users of the product can be assisted in context. It helps product companies take relevant actions based on the customer health and other associated tracking analytics, bring internal content to life, and create an extensive knowledge and help repository leveraging existing assets. Once your product sale is complete, having a strong customer enablement initiative in place ensures that your customers stay loyal to your brand. And for that to happen, they have to feel like guests visiting you and not hostages. Like Lumiere, the candelabra from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, says after Beauty has been acquired by the Beast, “she is not our prisoner, she is our guest!” and that “We must make her feel welcome here.” The same goes for your product as well. So are your customers your hostages or your guests? Take the time to look at your customer enablement initiative to assess that.