Creating Revolutionary Products is One Thing; Ensuring Your Customers Can Use Them is Another

October 23, 2017 Appirio

By Julie McDonald, VP Sales, Cornerstone for Salesforce

For most companies, rapidly innovating your products and services isn’t a massive challenge. Getting customers to rapidly adopt and use those services with confidence is. After all, how profitable is that new feature, offering, or update if no one understands how to use it?

In an era where customer experience is king, leading companies are creating continuous, long-term customer enablement paths to ensure product adoption, and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Less advanced companies often view training clients as an afterthought — something that was necessary but perceived to be too resource-intensive. Free, one-on-one, personalized phone service morphs into vague online forums, where customers must execute time-consuming web searches, all to find answers that are “close enough.” And FAQs — while still a crucial element of customer service and training — are often the default (less-than-helpful) help option. Customers become frustrated with products (often due to user error) and discontinue use. They also tell their colleagues, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers about their terrible experience.

Conversely, long-term enablement initiatives give customers a chance to engage with — and learn to love — your products, which is effective for retaining clients and (even better) creating brand evangelists. Unlike short-term training strategies that are more focused on FAQs and support cases, client enablement focuses on delivering information to clients, at the right time, using the right channel to help them achieve their goals. According to 2017 research by the Brandon Hall Group, customer enablement initiatives can have a “huge impact on customer retention and positive net promoter scores, and is also linked to sales outcomes.” The survey showed that companies reported measurable business benefits from enablement programs:

  • 69 percent increased awareness of products/services.
  • 65 percent improvement in customer relations.
  • 65 percent maximized customer retention.

So what now? Knowing that extended learning opportunities are beneficial to your customers and business is one thing. Taking action to create a successful customer enablement program is another.

The first step? Develop a strong strategy that integrates these three key elements:

  1. Learning is continuous and structured to build skills and capacity over time. As customers gain experience and are ready for new knowledge, the content you provide should respond in kind. This requires planning with the end in mind, namely, how to facilitate a logical skills progression. Rather than overwhelm customers with lengthy videos and PDFs, consider “dripping” learning by providing bite-sized, relevant lessons over time. This helps with retention and encourages continued engagement.
  2. Learning is just-in-time. In addition to more formal courses, customers will still need answers to questions as they use your product or engage with your company. Just-in-time training delivers knowledge and solutions as customers need it, when it’s most relevant. This not only reduces frustration and thereby sustains engagement, but studies show that knowledge that is gained in the moment of need is retained longer.
  3. Learning is aligned with customer goals. Your organization’s goal is to keep customers using your products over time. But customers have goals for your products, as well. Tapping into these aspirations and creating training that enables customers to achieve milestones can be a powerful engagement tool.

Visit Cornerstone for Salesforce at Dreamforce 2017 (booth #215 in Moscone South) to learn more about how you can best enable your clients. Can’t make it to Dreamforce? Visit our website at csod.com/salesforce.  

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