Many of you know by now how passionate I am about customer centric organizations.
Through the clients I work with and the organizations I led, I have consistently seen the incredible results that occur when companies transform to a customer first focus.
We have talked a lot about how to design a customer centric framework but what happens when a company is ready to execute on that strategy?
How does the business enable its employees to deliver a remarkable experience to customers that is consistent with the brand and the value proposition that it sells?
I sat down with my good friend and former colleague, Melissa Madian, a frontierswoman in the field of Sales and Customer Experience (CX) enablement, over a glass of wine to find out exactly that.
Melissa, what do we need to know about customer enablement, especially as it relates to Customer Success?
[Melissa]: If you think about the customer journey at the highest level, a potential customer engages with your company pre-sales in different ways (usually via various online channels), then they become a prospect and interact with your sales force, and then they become a customer and work with your post sales organization as they implement the product.
There is a lot of focus on sales enablement currently, training your sales force to be effective and effectively talk to the customer. The problem is that not enough companies are paying attention to enabling post sales folks.
This is all a loss to the customer.
To highlight the problem, I like to use the analogy of a relay race. If the customer is the baton, they start with Marketing, then are passed over to Sales and finally are handed off to Customer Success.
If Sales has the baton and passes it over to Customer Success, then the Customer Success Manager (CSM) needs to be able to successfully grab that baton and run with it.
If Customer Success organizations are not properly enabled then they will more than likely drop the baton or, if they grab the baton, they won’t be able to run with it effectively.
[Kia] So to summarize, there is not enough focus on Customer Success right now and so the baton is being dropped often?
[Melissa] Yes, exactly.
Why does that matter? Why is that important?
[Melissa] Especially in a SaaS organization, if the customer does not feel they are getting a consistent experience when they are engaging with Sales and then over to Customer
Success the customer will start to feel a bit of regret in making the purchase and they could potentially not deploy the software or churn after a certain period of time.
So, you want to maintain this holistic customer experience from the point in time when they engage with your brand right through to potentially creating a customer for life.
In order to do that, you need to have that consistent experience across the board and make sure that all the people that are interacting with the customer are saying the same thing and speaking the same language.
Consistency is key to driving a holistic customer experience.
[Kia] And that consistency is important because that builds trust, it builds credibility.
[Melissa] Yes exactly.
Do you think people know what customer enablement is? Can you give us a definition?
[Melissa] I don’t think they do. Sure.
Enablement as a whole, or let’s call it customer experience or customer journey enablement, is essentially empowering customer facing functions with the training, process and tools they need to be successful in growing the business by building the relationships that create customers for life.
You have all these folks touching the customer, how do you make sure they have the understanding, the tools and the knowledge they need in order to effectively communicate with your customer in a way that is going to build your brand and make them happy customers.
[Kia] The obvious reason why effectiveness is so important is that the customer will otherwise experience that.
[M] That’s right, the customer experience will be different based on who they are talking with if there is a lack of consistency.
If your sales person says one thing and then your CSM says something entirely different, the customer starts to wonder whether they are dealing with the same company.
There is a dissonance created in the journey.
[Kia] Right. Enablement is not just training someone to do a job then, it’s also about training the organization to understand the brand and how to represent the brand properly.
A lot of people may think enablement is training…
[Melissa] … it’s more than that. Training is obviously a huge part of it, because you need to train the people talking to the customer, but it’s also brand consistency and making it obvious to everyone within the organization how to use tools effectively to deliver that brand consistency.
And without hesitation.
That is, in the moment of truth, does a person know what they need to do with the particular customer and do it in a split second and know which tools to use in order to service the customer.
This is especially true for newer CSM’s that do not have the depth of experience that more senior CSM’s can rely on.
It’s important to equip everyone in the organization, especially these newer CSM’s, with the toolbox and knowledge of how to use those tools effectively.
How much do you factor a customer journey into an enablement program?
[Melissa] In a perfect world the journey would be mapped and I would build an enablement experience around that journey.
A lot of organizations have not mapped their journey, and maybe they are not ready maturity-wise to map their journey, so they may have very specific enablement program elements such as training CSM’s to talk about the product or answer questions about the company at trade shows, or with specific skills development required for example.
But ideally there’s a journey mapped and then you build an enablement program that maps to that journey.
So then at each stage of the journey the CSM knows exactly how to interact with the customer.
[Kia] Mapping to the journey, I love it!
Stay tuned for next week when Melissa and I chat about the fundamental pillars of a solid enablement program, how to recognize a healthy and not so healthy enablement program, and how to make the case for enablement.
Melissa’s expertise is in applying the principles of modern marketing to the development of the skills, knowledge, behaviours and processes of the customer-facing teams so they excel while growing personally and professionally. Born fabulous, she has been in Sales and Marketing for most of her career, combining her background in Engineering with creativity, executive leadership, organization, drive and determination. She is a Marketing Nerd and a specialist in Marketing & Sales Alignment, Sales Enablement, Customer Experience and Professional Training programs. She also really, really loves cats. Connect with Melissa on her website, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.