Customers won’t magically get value from your product. They need to actively start using it, and that means changing people’s behavior. Customer success (CS) enablement pros are the ones driving that change.
It’s a big job.
CS enablement teams need to equip customer success teams and managers with what they need, to help the product’s end users succeed. At the same time, they’re working closely with other business functions, like Sales.
All this adds up to producing a ton of content, and too often, juggling multiple platforms and tools. CS enablement teams might be using Google Sheets, Asana, Notion, and Zendesk—all at the same time!
There’s also a lot at stake. Customer retention and contract expansion are critical to building annual recurring revenue (ARR), and making it in the competitive SaaS world.
Here’s what she had to say about how CS enablement teams can stay on top of their game.
Customer success enablement vs. customer success
Customer success enablement is the meta version of customer success. Customers are still the end focus, but you’re also focused on the CS teams themselves. How can you help them help customers get faster time to value?
In practical terms, CS enablement involves developing tools, processes, and knowledge that CS teams can use to help customers—and to work better themselves.
CS enablement has two main branches:
- Customer enablement: Creating tools, processes, and resources to help customers
- CS team enablement: Creating tools, processes, and resources to help CS teams help customers
This includes developing customer-facing resources like high-touch onboarding experiences and product education, plus internal content and processes, like manager upskilling programs. CS enablement professionals might be creating new content and programs, or improving what’s already in place.
These programs are designed not just to retain customers, but to help them get more from the product.
Roles and responsibilities of customer success enablement
Put broadly, CS enablement realizes outcomes like:
- Building and updating customer onboarding programs
- Developing customer success plans
- Creating templated client portals or client dashboards
- Creating, organizing, and distributing product training resources
- Developing training and upskilling resources for CS teams and managers
- Analyzing customer outcomes and tracking customer success metrics
All this translates to producing a ton of content and juggling a lot of different tools. It’s common for CS enablement teams to use internal project management systems, client onboarding spreadsheets, knowledge bases, and more.
CS enablement and sales
CS enablement also works closely with Sales and Customer Support teams to develop a deep, holistic understanding of what customers need from their products.
Sales is about getting to know the prospects’ needs, and how the product can meet them.
Once that prospect converts into a customer, CS should take over and continue that same process. Ideally, Sales and CS enablement should build deep partnerships and work together to create one seamless client-prospect relationship.
Customer success enablement best practices
CS enablement teams are doing the most. They need truly amazing tools and processes to make sure all their hard work translates into great results.
Here are the top customer success enablement best practices we recommend.
1. Think partnerships, not handoffs, with Sales
By the time a customer gets to CS, Sales has invested a lot of time into getting to know your customer, and explaining how the product will solve their problems.
Now, CS needs to deliver on those promises. Why wouldn’t you facilitate deep, ongoing communication between these two teams?
There are so many ways that Sales and Customer Success can work together—and many are mutually beneficial. Sales teams are a wealth of insight into customers’ needs, goals, and pain points that CS enablement can use to improve their programs.
On the flip side, Sales can use the strength of CS’s onboarding and training programs as a selling point to close deals.
For example, Loom’s CS team joins in on sales calls to preview the onboarding process.
“One of our AEs will tap into our CS team when they're getting close to closing a deal,” said Brittany Soinski, Loom’s CS Enablement Manager.
“We know with confidence that if we can hop on a call, we're able to really confidently say, ‘Hey, we have a best-in-class onboarding ready to go for you. It's gonna be totally customized for you. We know exactly what it takes to get you guys wildly successful with Loom, and we've made it really easy for you to do.’”
By previewing the onboarding process, CS can help Sales address any objections that might come up around how easy it will be for the buyer to get their organization to adopt the product.
2. Build relationships with key leaders at your customers’ organizations
To kick off each new customer relationship, set up casual discovery calls with one (or a few) key leaders. This could be a team lead or manager—whoever has the most in-depth knowledge of the business function you’re helping them improve.
“Our job in customer success is to package everything up really easily to help our admins, champions, and stakeholders to communicate this change effectively,” says Brittany.
“It's much more effective coming from them than it is from us. So during onboarding, we're very focused on enabling them to enable their own teams.”
Listen more than talk in these conversations. What does their working life look like? What’s a typical day? If they could wave a magic wand, how would they make it better, and why can’t they do those things right now?
The goal isn’t to hard sell, or even talk much about your product. Instead, you’re looking for unique pain points and blockers.
Later, you’ll return to those, when you’re explaining how your tool can make their life better.
3. Focus on your customer’s North Star goal
Through these conversations, you’ll be able to discover each customer’s North Star metric. What would success with your product look like for them?
Always circle back to this metric, and position the product around how it will get them there. Choose training and onboarding materials tailored around it, and focus on achieving this North Star metric in any success coaching sessions or conversations.
Track progress carefully, and after helping them achieve a goal, recap and reiterate it. If they’re interested, you can even do a case study on how you helped them realize their goals.
Remaining focused on realizing the customers’ own vision for their success means that you’re laying the groundwork for renewals well ahead of time.
4. Measure success with utilization, allocation, and activation
At Loom, Brittany’s CS enablement team can measure success with three key metrics—license allocation and activation, combined over time into utilization rate.
License allocation: How many of a customer’s purchased seats have been assigned.
- e.g., If a customer has purchased 100 seats, but only allocated 60, that’s a 60% allocation rate
License activation: How many allocated seats are actively being used
- e.g., If 30 of those 60 allocated seats are logging into the tool and real activity, that’s a 50% activation rate
Utilization rate: How these metrics change and progress over the length of the contract
- e.g, If you were at 60% of seats allocated, and 70% of the way into your contract, that’s a utilization rate of 0.86 or 86%.
The goal is to get every customer’s utilization rate over 100%. That indicates they have onboarded more people to the tool and are applying it to more use cases.
But every team will have a different definition of what a good utilization rate looks like for their organization. The key is to establish a standard of what good looks like, and then track which customers are lagging behind an ideal rate.
This is a proactive way to work towards renewals consistently, not just when existing contracts are about to expire.
These metrics can also gamify success for your internal CS team. They don’t have to wonder how they’re doing—they can see precisely which accounts are on track to achieving good utilization scores, and which are falling behind.
📺 Watch: Here's an explanation of utilization rate from Brittany on our show, Grow & Tell.
5. Move from onboarding into activation and training programs
Repeatable, scalable onboarding is the foundation of a good customer success program. But it’s only the first step.
If you want customers to keep expanding how they use your product, they’ll need ongoing education and coaching—and CS teams will need to keep listening to their changing needs.
As each customer relationship progresses, be prepared with activation and training programs that will help them achieve their unique goals.
6. Make content visual, intuitive, and user-centric
Your customers are busy professionals. They need your product to get more done—so make sure the resources you’re giving them don’t feel demanding or mind-numbing to complete.
Focus on visual, interactive content wherever possible. Use video tools like Loom or product screenshots to visually walk customers through new processes.
The ultimate goal of all your content should always be actionable takeaways and behavioral change. What do you want customers to do after absorbing this material?
Work backward from that desired outcome. If you’ve uncovered a North Star metric, and gotten to know your customers through informal discovery calls, you should know exactly where you’re helping them go.
7. Offer both guided and self-serve content
Not every customer will have the same needs or the same level of comfort with technology.
Offer your customers guided programs and courses, but also self-serve, on-demand content they can access when they need it.
For example, you could create a knowledge base where users can seek out the specific information they need. Then, complement it with regular webinars they can drop into for in-person training.
8. Integrate Sales and Customer Success into one smooth, unified experience
Sales and Customer Success might feel like two different business functions. But from the customer’s point of view, they’re just stages of the same business relationship.
Every time your customer needs to get used to a new virtual environment, you’re adding stress and friction to their journey. That’s why managing the entire client-prospect relationship in one client-facing workspace like Dock is so powerful.
Using Dock as an onboarding workspace or customer portal lets the customer focus on what actually matters—getting to know your product instead of digging through spreadsheets and emails to find the information they need.
On that note, let’s dig into some tools that can help enable your CS team and your customers.
Customer success enablement tools
The right tools are make-or-break to your CS enablement strategy. You’re managing and distributing a lot of content to many different people. Without the right software tools, you and your customers will find it nearly impossible to stay organized.
After investing time and money into creating exceptional onboarding resources at Loom, Brittany ran into this very problem.
How could they be shared with customers in a way that didn’t add friction or complexity to the process?
“We had best-in-class resources, but what's the best way to get them to our customers?” she explains.
“It's really hard to find the right centralized place to house those. Spreadsheets are lacking the really important visual element — we didn't have a way to embed a Loom in there. Project management software is great for keeping track of a project internally, but they’re too heavy when you're trying to work with customers.”
Dock is an all-in-one virtual workspace for both internal teams and customers. We’ve built it as one unified, organized place for the entire customer journey, from sales right through onboarding, training, upselling, and renewals.
Within Dock, CS enablement teams can:
- Create customer onboarding and implementation plans
- Manage internal CS content
- Embed CS content in a workspace to share it with customers
- Host an ongoing client portal, to store everything and anything they need
- Renew or upgrade contracts with order forms
CS enablement leaders will be able to templatize onboarding or activation processes for different customer profiles. Then, CSMs can use the templates to create personalized workspaces for each client.
Dock is intended for personalized, high-touch client onboarding and management. But there’s no reason you couldn’t use it for a simpler CS enablement process, too. For example, CSMs can use Dock to quickly create personalized onboarding portals and checklists.
“With Dock, it only takes us about 10 to 20 seconds to launch a new customer. I just type in their name, and all of a sudden we have this fully personalized template just for them ready to go,” said Brittany.
“Dock saves us a good two hours per customer to just launch an onboarding.”
👉 Read more: For more details on how Loom uses Dock, check out their customer story.
Zendesk is a full-service suite of customer service software tools and a sales customer relationship management (CRM) option. But its smart knowledge base is an especially valuable tool for CS enablement teams.
You’ll be able to load all your educational resources into one centralized virtual space. But they also offer some nifty AI functionality that provides content recommendations, connects information across multiple pages, and links with your help center so that it’s faster for customer support agents to process requests.
Gong is an analytics tool that helps you identify trends and patterns in your customer activity. Gong analyzes all customer interactions, from sales conversations to CRM activity, so you can take action to keep customers and reduce churn before it’s too late.
It’s a pretty advanced, data-heavy tool, but if your team has the analytics skills to use it, it can give you much greater visibility into your customers’ goals, challenges, and overall journey with your product. That allows you to make better customer success decisions that measurably drive revenue.
If high-touch onboarding isn’t a critical part of your CS strategy, and your onboarding is more product-led, Vitally might be a perfect fit.
This is a project management tool designed specifically for customer success. Vitally integrates customer data from across your tech stack right into its CS workspace, to give you a clear picture of how every account is doing, all the time. It’s an internal workspace only, but if you don’t need client-facing capabilities, it’s an ideal solution.
For more CS enablement tools, check out our full software guides:
- Customer Success Software: 6 tools for your tech stack
- Customer Onboarding Software Guide: 24 tools to consider
- Client Portal Software: 5 types of portals you should know
From prospect to power user, set customers up for success
Never forget that your prospects and customers are the exact same people.
From their first demo to their last contract renewal, you want your customers to feel like working with your company is one seamless process. They know where they’re going, your tool will get them there, and they’ve got a supportive team in their corner every step of the way.
That’s why we created Dock, a collaborative, client-facing workspace. It’s the best way to forge deep partnerships between CS and Sales and set every single user up for success.