What is Customer Enablement? A SaaS & B2B Guide to Tools

What is Customer Enablement? A SaaS & B2B Guide to Tools

March 29, 2024
Customer Success
Training Strategy
customer enablement hero text

When companies take the time to help their customers understand how to use their products, they can take advantage of tremendous sources of value creation. Not providing enough guidance means customers might not benefit from their investment or find the product too difficult to use. Therefore, they will likely abandon the product, negatively impacting retention rates. Conversely, a robust customer enablement program is a lifeline, ensuring clients thrive by making the most of their purchases. This guide discusses the fundamentals of customer enablement and details the essential tools and strategies for a successful framework.

What is customer enablement?

Customer enablement is a strategy in business, particularly B2B and SaaS companies, that focuses on equipping customers with the tools and resources they need to be successful with a product. Key customer enablement components are Customer Education, support and assistance, community engagement, customer feedback loops, and success planning. The overall goal of customer enablement is to empower customers to get the most value from their purchase.

What is the difference between customer enablement and customer success?

The main difference between customer enablement and customer success is that enablement equips customers with the tools to succeed, while customer success ensures they achieve their goals.Think of it this way: enablement sets customers up for success, while success is the desired destination.

Why is customer enablement critical for B2B & SaaS?

Customer enablement is particularly crucial for B2B and SaaS companies for a few key reasons:

  • Complexity and customization: B2B and SaaS solutions are often highly complex and have the potential for deep customization. Customer enablement ensures clients can fully use these complex features and tailor the solutions to solve their pain points.
  • Better onboarding: Effective customer enablement ensures new users understand how to use the product from the start. This leads to a smoother onboarding process and reduces initial confusion.
  • Competitive differentiation: Offering superior customer enablement can be a key differentiator in the crowded SaaS market. Companies that invest in their customers' success can stand out from competitors by demonstrating a commitment to selling a product and ensuring it delivers value.
  • Reduced support costs: By proactively enabling customers through training, resources, and self-service options, companies can reduce the frequency and complexity of support tickets. This improves efficiency and reduces costs, enhancing customer satisfaction by empowering users to solve problems independently.

Effective customer enablement tools

Here are some practical customer enablement tools you can leverage to empower your customers.

1. Video hosting

Video hosting tools (e.g., TechSmith, SproutVideo) provide a platform for your organization’s video and visual content. You can easily embed rich media within your training courses. By incorporating videos, you can cater to diverse learning styles and offer engaging formats for knowledge transfer.Imagine including virtual product walkthroughs or interactive explainer videos directly within your courses. This visual approach can enhance the learning experience and improve customer knowledge retention.

2. Marketing and messaging

Think of these tools as your communication toolbox. They help you craft targeted messages for different customer segments.One key element in customer enablement is continuous education and customer training on your product. Using tools like in-app messages or automated emails, admins can directly encourage customers to engage with training materials—especially those who might not have recently done so. For example, an automated email could highlight new features or offerings to re-engage customers.Download our guide for more on marketing to your customers.

3. Communities and advocacy

These tools go beyond simple communication and create online spaces where customers can connect, share experiences, and ask questions. Imagine a forum where users can help each other and even create content—these communities can become breeding grounds for brand advocates who promote your product.Features vary across products, but communities often provide some gamification (such as a leaderboard) and social engagement tools. Detailed analytics can help you tie community engagement to product adoption or customer referrals. Advocacy tools help your organization leverage your existing customer base to drive word-of-mouth marketing. These tools encourage participation by giving customers rewards, discounts, and a sense of community. Advocacy also supports new customer acquisition. Before purchasing, most organizations look for authentic customer recommendations, such as testimonials, stories, reviews, or referrals.Explore how inSided and Skilljar integrate to streamline community engagement and customer education.

4. Knowledge management and help centers

A comprehensive knowledge base is your self-service option for customer enablement. Most often, your existing and new customers can access these materials independently and in real-time. A help center is handy for simple, to-the-point questions and answers about using your product. Many Skilljar customers have a primary help center, resource library, or knowledge bank as part of their Customer Education efforts. The more extensive help centers serve as both marketing and customer support functions. There are many help desk software options, which often integrate with your customer support ticketing system.

5. In-app guidance

In-app guidance tools provide contextual help within your software. For instance, a pop-up message with a link to a relevant support article may appear when someone is on a specific page. These in-app tools are also helpful for walking your customers through new features by surfacing instructions or tutorials.The tools in this category promote a holistic training ecosystem. Your customers can learn a new skill and immediately apply it to 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.

6. Virtual training and webinar streaming

Virtual training platforms allow you to host live webinars, Q&A sessions, and recorded training materials for on-demand access. This flexible knowledge-sharing approach caters to diverse learning preferences and busy schedules, ensuring customers receive the in-depth training they need.

7. Content authoring

Depending on how your training teams develop educational content, authoring tools may be helpful. Content authoring tools are software solutions that enable you to create multimedia content, most commonly delivered through eLearning courses. Lessons built with an authoring tool can include slides, images, text, videos, animations, and audio.

8. Certification programs

Incorporating digital credentials into your training program offers a powerful way to achieve two key goals:

  • Increased engagement: Digital credentials can motivate learners by providing a sense of accomplishment and recognition for completing training modules. This recognition can drive them to continue learning and mastering new skills.
  • Verified skills: Depending on the complexity of your assessments, digital credentials can serve as a trusted verification of a learner's acquired technical skills. This can be valuable for them (showcasing their expertise) and employers (identifying qualified candidates).

We also have a comprehensive guide to badges, certificates, and certifications.

9. Support

Customer support has always been a cornerstone of customer enablement, and the rise of social media has amplified its importance. Customers expect quick responses to their questions. While a knowledge base and support ticketing system are valuable tools, they primarily address issues after they arise (reactive approach).Part of an effective customer enablement strategy involves ensuring customers can access quick answers independently, freeing up the support staff to focus on more strategic matters. Some of the most popular support tools are Zoho Desk, Tidio, Jitbit, LiveAgent, and Freshdesk.

10. Customer success management

Customer success management (CSM) tools like Totango, Custify, and Gainsight empower your team to fight churn, increase customer retention, and grow revenue through renewals and upsells. These tools provide the insights needed to:

  • Identify at-risk customers: CSM tools help you quickly pinpoint accounts that might be considering leaving. This allows your team to focus their efforts on proactively addressing customer needs and preventing churn.
  • Prioritize customer engagement: Set health score parameters to identify which customers need attention most. Based on these scores, your team can create targeted action plans tailored to each customer's situation.
  • Guide your customer journey: Leverage insights to activate the right members of your CSM team for each customer interaction. This ensures that the following steps are clearly defined throughout the customer journey.

11. Feedback

"On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us?" This simple question, known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), is a powerful tool used by customer-facing teams today.Feedback software goes beyond NPS, collecting a range of customer experience data. By analyzing this data, you can categorize customers as promoters (loyal customers), passives (neutral), or detractors (unhappy customers). This reveals your overall customer satisfaction and allows you to benchmark against industry standards.

How does a learning management system (LMS) drive customer enablement?

While traditional customer enablement tools focus on providing resources and support, an LMS takes a more structured approach. An LMS is a software solution that training organizations use to deliver and track training activities, usually emphasizing eLearning.Depending on the platform or a company’s specific training needs, LMS features might include:

  • Course creation and management
  • User registration
  • Content delivery
  • Discussion forums
  • Social learning tools
  • Assessment and testing
  • Certification and badging
  • Third-party integrations (e.g., eCommerce, payment, etc.)
  • Multi-language support

While historically built for internal use, an emerging market within the SaaS LMS ecosystem comprises platforms focused specifically on customer and external education. These platforms focus on the learning experience and integrate with business systems that support the customer journey.

Customer enablement strategy best practices

Here are five best practices to consider when building your customer enablement strategy.

1. Personalize customer onboarding experiences

Personalizing customer onboarding experiences means treating each new user like an individual, not a number. To achieve this, you can gather data through signups or surveys. This data could include their goals, experience level, or what they hope to accomplish with your product.Customers who feel understood and valued by a brand are likely to spend more, with 68% saying they'd pay extra for that personalized treatment. Customer enablement plays a key role in meeting these expectations by treating customers as individuals.

2. Create role-specific enablement content

Tailoring your education content to specific user roles is key. A marketing manager working on a social media campaign has different needs than a salesperson focused on closing deals. Role-specific content ensures customers get the most relevant information quickly. This targeted approach saves them time, avoids irrelevant details, and empowers them to excel in their specific role using your product.

3. Leverage interactive learning tools

Use quizzes, games, simulations—anything that keeps your customers engaged and actively learning. Interactive tools make the process memorable, leading to better information retention.

4. Establish a customer success check-in schedule

Take your time with problems. Schedule regular check-ins with your customers to see how they're doing, answer questions, and identify any roadblocks they might be facing. Proactive communication builds trust and helps customers get the most out of your product.

5. Use customer success stories

Showcase customer success stories where potential and current customers can click through different parts of a story to understand how your product can solve specific problems. Remember, real-life examples resonate with people and inspire them to achieve similar results.

Take customer enablement to the next level with Skilljar

Effective customer enablement hinges on providing customers with the knowledge they need to succeed. This is where customer training and education help. By developing engaging training materials, you equip customers to use your product to its fullest potential.Skilljar is a leading platform designed to empower you to deliver excellent customer education. It allows you to create a variety of content formats, catering to different learning preferences. Skilljar’s automated workflows and personalized learning paths streamline onboarding and ensure customers get up to speed quickly. Skilljar is your central hub for crafting a best-in-class customer enablement experience, particularly for SaaS and B2B companies.Get a demo to see how Skilljar helps you create a solid customer enablement program that empowers your users.Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for 2024. It was originally published in 2017, and revised in 2021.

Ready to take Skilljar for a spin?

Take an interactive tour of Skilljar, or book your demo with our team.