Last week I sat down with my good friend and former colleague, Melissa Madian, a frontierswoman in the field of Sales and Customer Experience (CX) enablement, to understand how businesses enable its employees to deliver consistent customer experiences that are true to a company’s brand.
We talked about what customer enablement is, especially as it relates to Customer Success, why it’s important and how critical the customer journey is for the success of an enablement program.
This week Melissa shares with us what the fundamental pillars required for a solid enablement program are, what a healthy and unhealthy enablement program looks like, as well as her advice for making the case for enablement.
What then should every organization have as a foundational enablement program for Customer Success? In other words, what does a solid, fundamental enablement program look like?
[Melissa] At a really high level I look at enablement as three pillars; ongoing enablement, onboarding and recruit
1. Ongoing enablement: to ensure people already in their roles are effective. That is, providing them with:
Product and Services Knowledge
Skills (e.g. diagnostic skills)
Process and behaviours required for the CSM to function effectively within the organization (e.g. storing customer data in a CRM, etc.)
2. Onboarding: to ensure new CSMs are equipped to do their role and know what they need to do in their first 30 days to do their job effectively. I would also sub bucket this pillar into Knowledge, Process and then later Skills
3. Recruitment: to ensure the right people for the role and the organization are hired. In other words, defining the profile of the ideal CSM that matches the organization culture, the processes and skills needed for the organization. A lot of companies don’t determine a process or profile for hiring the right people into the role. If a company doesn’t define that, then how will they consistently be able to bring in the right person to do the job? This is what this pillar is all about.
Should companies at various stages of development have different enablement strategies? In other words, are there different levels of CX enablement maturity that organizations should strive for?
[Melissa] Yeah, I think the pillars are absolute regardless of the maturity level of the company.
What a company does, how it applies those pillars and the level of effort will differ depending on maturity.
For instance, for a smaller start-up, a company will likely want to focus on getting the people already in the seats strong and up and running with the ongoing pillar versus a larger company that may have all three pillars in place so they can tackle all of them in parallel.
But the pillars are the pillars regardless.
What’s the biggest mistake companies make when they set out to create CX enablement?
[Melissa] Companies focus too much of their effort onboarding new people and forget about updating the knowledge and skills of their existing employees.
I think the effort of the two should be reversed.
Ongoing training should be done to ensure that everyone in the organization is up to date on the latest product features and has the latest skills, not just the newest employees.
The second biggest mistake companies make is not doing any kind of enablement at all.
That is not going to be good for anyone.
The third mistake is not doing a proper customer journey.
Otherwise the enablement program is not aligned to the customer’s actual journey.
[Kia] I love it! The importance of aligning to the customer journey is popping up again.
[Melissa] Yes exactly! It makes so much sense though. If a company is not aligning to the customer’s journey, then what is it enabling?
What do you look for when you’re assessing the health of an enablement program?
[Melissa] I look for the three pillars and whether people are actually doing what the enablement program outlines that people should be doing.
For example, if a company is using an Learning Management System (LMS) are people taking the training?
I spot check folks by having managers check whether people are actually doing in practice what they practiced.
How do you recognize a good enablement program?
[Melissa] The easiest way is to observe what the Customer Success organization is doing.
First of all, if they have two of the three pillars in place, I know they are already ahead of most organizations.
They’ve got something strong in place for CSM onboarding and ongoing training to continually refresh the CSM’s skills and behaviours.
I also look for consistency.
If everyone is doing things in more or less the same way across the organization, and ideally aligned to the customer’s journey, then I know that the organization has a pretty good enablement program in place.
[Kia] Very interesting. That’s the interplay between enablement and the customer journey.
Enablement’s role is not about defining the process per se (the organization needs to understand and define its customer journey) but a strong enablement program depends on the process, hence the tie to the customer journey.