In our recent webinar with Customer Education industry expert, Steve Mullins, and Skilljar’s Head of Product Marketing, Linda Schwaber-Cohen, we discussed how customer enablement in the technology industry has changed in the last twenty years and how companies can adapt their education and enablement strategy to better support customers throughout the customer journey. 

Push vs. Pull Models of Customer Enablement

Historically, companies sold a product, trained the customer on everything about that product immediately after sale, and that was often the extent of customer onboarding. Training at this point (think the early 2000s) was instructor-led, product-focused, and delivered as a service. Later, in the 2010s, this model shifted to include online, self-guided training, but it was still highly focused on the product itself, and neglected to address the overall job that someone needed to accomplish. While there are certainly benefits to these strategies, much of the content may be irrelevant to the learner or won’t be used until six months down the line, especially in cases where the implementation process may be lengthy. This is what Steve calls a Push Model. The company decides what it is going to train the customer on – in other words, it pushes information at the customer. Unfortunately, in an age of information overload and in the Subscription Economy, this model has limited long-term value.

In more recent years (2010 – 2020), training has shifted from a product-focused mechanism to a job-focused model. Role-based certifications and job/task-related guides made training more customer-focused, more easily consumable, and more relevant. Today, training starts before customers even purchase a product and focuses on the knowledge and skills those customers need to successfully work with a product. This is a Pull Model (it pulls customers in based on their needs), or what Steve calls Enablement. 

Aligning Enablement to Customer Journey   

As Steve elucidated in the webinar, the old enablement model, where customers were inundated with training immediately following the product purchase, and then often, never again, is no longer viable. Instead, companies should focus on enabling customers throughout the customer journey, including pre-sales. With this mindset, Steve identified four pillars of the enablement journey, as you can see in the yellow circles in the chart below: getting started resources, task-based tutorials, job-based learning paths, and then interactive enablement. 

User Journey and Enablement Map

Four Types of Knowledge Content

To support each of these pillars, Steve shared four common types of training: 

  1. Tutorials: These are learning-oriented lessons that are job-based and allow newcomers to get started.
  2. How-to-Guides: These guides are problem- or goal-oriented. In other words, they help user solve a specific issue. 
  3. Explanation: Articles under this category are understanding-oriented, helping users clarify concepts. 
  4. Reference: Guides in this category are information-oriented and tend to be comprehensive resources.

To learn how to unify the enablement experience across these content types and across the customer journey as a whole, we encourage you to view the complete webinar on-demand