What is Customer Success Enablement?
From launching new accounts to helping existing customers achieve their goals and securing renewals, Customer Success teams have no shortage of responsibilities.
With so many demands on a CSM’s time, it’s not surprising that leadership teams are ramping up investment in tools and resources to better support Customer Success teams.
The concept of “Enablement for Customer Success” has developed out of this need.
To get a better sense of what Enablement teams do and how their role has evolved to include Customer Success, I spoke with Anna Cockell, who’s built enablement teams at hyper-growth startups and now works as Head of Enablement at Envoy.
What does Enablement do?
The primary mission of Enablement at Envoy is to make sure the Sales, Success, and Support teams are able to do their jobs, and do them well. This includes giving people access to the right tools and training teams on how to use them, documenting our internal processes, and helping everyone better understand our products and buyers.
We look at our work as 3 core functions: 1) onboarding new hires, 2) managing processes, and 3) providing ongoing training.
Sales, Support, and Success hires get a lot of face time with the Enablement team during onboarding as we train them on our products, introduce them to who our customers are, and set them up with our internal tools and processes.
We implement new processes and evaluate existing ones.
This could be formalizing how critical information is communicated between teams (e.g. Account Executive to Customer Success Manager account handoff), or maintaining existing operational infrastructure (e.g. encouraging proper Salesforce data hygiene).
We’re always looking for opportunities to allow our customer-facing teams to spend less time on administrative overhead and more time doing the other aspects of their job.
Rolling out new products and features requires ongoing training and education.
We often work closely with Product and Product Marketing to create new pieces of training and materials. We’ll also bring in outside resources if we identify a need to build or deepen the team’s skills in a specific area (i.e. storytelling).
Which products or tools does your Enablement team use?
- WorkRamp – onboarding / learning platform
- Confluence – internal wiki
- Salesforce – CRM and productivity tracking
- InsightSquared – track ramp time and productivity
- Looker – data visualization
- Dooly – streamline Salesforce entry and note-taking
How do you encourage customer-facing teams to adopt processes they might show initial resistance to?
This is a constant struggle. At the end of the day, empathy goes a long way.
I understand that as an Enablement person, my job is to “make you do this thing,” but the team’s job is to sell, support, or onboard our customers.
To remove some of this tension, whenever we ask something of the team we always explain the “why” behind the decision. And if there isn’t a compelling “why,” it makes me question if we should be doing it in the first place.
For instance, if we’re adding a new Salesforce field to collect feedback for the Product team, the “why” behind this request is that we need a way to consolidate customer requests to build a case for developing features customers want. At the moment, it’s annoying to put one more thing into a Salesforce field, so we have to make the case for how doing so will benefit them and the company. Tools can also help streamline these processes, such as using Dooly for quick Salesforce entry and updates.
When it comes to processes such as customer handoffs, creating templates is a great way of making the workflow as easy as possible. From there, if people aren’t following the process, I can point to all of the resources at their disposal and discuss where they might be experiencing friction.
How did Customer Success Enablement emerge as a separate function at Envoy?
Initially, I was doing everything.
As the Sales, Success, and Support teams grew and became more complex, it became clear the needs of each team were unique.
We now have one person focused solely on Sales enablement, and another focused on Support and Success. These people can embed themselves within each team and understand what they need, build trust, and act as the point person for ongoing training, process creation and management, and so on.
They act as the advocate for that team within Enablement, which ensures one team isn’t given more attention or resources than another.
What is unique about Customer Success compared to other customer-facing teams?
I think what really differentiates Success from Support and Sales is that CSMs have to be both proactive and reactive.
They’re proactive in that they’re leading onboarding calls, project managing the initial post-sales relationship, and activating new users.
But they still get pulled into reacting to everyday customer issues.
If there’s a bug or something breaks, the customer won’t hesitate to reach out to their CSM to try and find a resolution versus emailing or chatting with our general Support team.
We design both onboarding and ongoing pieces of training to address the need for CSMs to be able to handle situations where they need to be either proactive or reactive. The specific needs of the Success team are taken into consideration when we develop our onboarding and ongoing training programs.
Here at Envoy, our Success team doesn’t manage customer negotiations. When it comes to upgrades, the AE gets looped back into the conversation to handle that conversation.
This means that if we were to design a training for the Success, Support, and Sales teams around negotiation tactics, it won’t be relevant for 2 out of the 3 teams.
Contrast that with training around project management, which would be applicable for all teams, especially the Success team.
What advice would you give other Enablement teams who want to better support their Customer Success colleagues?
If you’ve only ever done Sales enablement, don’t assume that Success thinks or operates the same way as Sales — they don’t.
Success teams focus on a different point of the customer lifecycle, they have different problems and approach things from a different perspective, and they even have different motivations.
Take the time to understand the Success role at your company before you try to build out an enablement program to support them.
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A huge thank you to Anna for sharing her insights and wisdom!
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