How to Effectively Enable Services Teams for Success
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The customer journey spans beyond the act of selling. After customers buy a product or service, there is still work to be done to ensure they derive value from their purchase. Pre-sales and sales teams set up the framework for post-sales functions to enable ongoing customer success. Services teams play a vital role in crafting the final stages of the customer experience by ensuring customer satisfaction and success.
These unique teams require different approaches to enablement than pre-sales teams, as they are fundamentally different in nature. With the right approach, enablement can foster long-term success for services teams that will, in turn, result in increased revenue, customer satisfaction, and cross-functional alignment.
“At the end of the day, if you’re only focused on sales and you’re not making good operational and enablement investments in your customer success teams, then you’ve got a hole in your boat,” said Anna Jensen, senior enablement specialist of customer success at Glassdoor.
The customer journey does not revolve around monthly quotas. While revenue is one important outcome of a smooth customer journey, it does not constitute the entirety of the customer experience. After the initial sale, the customer needs dedicated support and attention from post-sales teams, which means services reps need dedicated support from enablement to maximize success.
Customer success and services teams play a fundamental role in shaping customers satisfaction and retention. To shape the best customer experience possible, it is vital to ask how enablement can expand the ability of services teams to reach their goal of helping customers succeed in meaningful ways. Here are three tips to keep in mind when establishing enablement programs for services and customer success teams.
Understand Unique Goals of Services Teams
Although investing in services enablement drives revenue, revenue is the overarching end goal that is influenced by many other direct goals of services teams. For example, customer success teams focus on ensuring customer satisfaction, success, and ultimately, retention. With genuine support from services reps, the customer builds post-sales trust for the company and product.
When services teams meet their goals, revenue is inherently produced. In fact, companies that focus on the customer experience drive revenue up to 8% higher than their industry counterparts. Additionally, 73% of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially than their competitors, and 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand. By building long-term customer relationships and trust, services teams build revenue through strong industry knowledge and immense dedication to the customer’s journey, especially post-sale.
Although both pre and post-sales teams are focused on revenue, they have different functions and purposes in terms of the customer relationship. Often, sales teams are product generalists. This means they need to understand the products and their features, as well as the value the product provides and the problem it solves. In contrast, services teams are driven by thorough and comprehensive industry knowledge that pertains to specific customers.
“[Sales teams] are speaking to the why behind that product, whereas their services teams need to go much deeper in product knowledge,” said Jensen. “They need to be able to speak to the what and how, and most importantly, they need to position themselves as trusted advisors. That means showing up to every client interaction, and bringing credible specific product knowledge to the table.”
Rather than asking questions primarily around revenue generation, services teams are asking how their efforts will make the customer’s job easier and their experience more enjoyable.
With these differences in mind, enablement can work with services teams in a prescriptive manner to work on their goals. By addressing specific customer needs and the ways service teams can work to meet those needs, enablement can foster success for both the customer and services teams.
Enhance Cross-Functional Alignment
With a thorough understanding of the goals of services teams, cross-functional alignment becomes more attainable. When the goals of individual teams become unified, teams collaborate and work in tandem to achieve them. With effective alignment, customer success becomes a focal point of every team across the customer journey, spanning from pre-sales to services teams.
“When we diagram out the customer journey we should see a series of interlocking circles between marketing, sales, product, and services,” said Jackie Quint, head of sales and customer success at Hitch. “It has to be this well-orchestrated dance among the pre-sales and the post-sales teams.”
By aligning teams on the value of customer experience in the developmental stages of account plans, the focus shifts to business needs and customer outcomes which can, in turn, demonstrate how each team plays a role in achieving those goals.
When marketing, sales, product, and services effectively communicate and align their respective goals, the outcome is a focus and value placement on customer success, which encourages teams to meet or exceed their goals. To achieve this, practitioners can focus on eliminating knowledge silos and communication roadblocks through centralized processes, goals, and terminology across all revenue-facing teams.
“The best way to foster alignment is really to develop a common language around the customer life cycle,” said Quint.
Alignment can be made more achievable by implementing streamlined processes, such as a centralized set of reporting dashboards. When the information of each team is easily accessible and organized intuitively, cross-functional teams are in the optimal position to collaborate.
“When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it can create confusion,” said Jensen. “It can create redundancies and, worst of all, it could give our customers the impression that we’re not communicating with each other.”
An important piece to this kind of alignment is reframing the narrative that it is most efficient to create tools and resources that are hyper-specific to a team. While it is important for teams to have some role-specific guidance, enablement often does not need to create role-specific processes and programs from scratch across revenue teams. Rather, enablement can help empower collective success by engaging cross-functional teams in shared goal-setting, and tailoring existing programs to effectively support each audience.
Understand the Business Impact of Services Enablement
Effectively enabling service teams for success involves a thorough understanding of services enablement’s business impact. Tracking metrics such as customer engagement and satisfaction in addition to understanding broader impacts on revenue is fundamental to a deep comprehension of services enablement. To understand the tangible impacts of services enablement, it is important to ask guiding questions.
- Are services teams taking what they learn from enablement and using it on the job?
- How have customer behaviors changed as a result of services enablement?
- What are the big metrics that track customer success?
By examining the answers to these questions, a strong sense of clarity can arise regarding the scope of enablement on services teams, and what that means for the customer experience.
“There is really no linear sales process leading to a linear post-sales process,” said Quint. “It’s an integrated customer journey. It’s really more like an orchestra than it is a series of solos. It’s best when everyone harmonizes. If we can really just keep that customer value and the outcomes that they expect at the center, revenue will follow.”
An important aspect to understanding business impact involves scoping everything from the reaction to learning and all the way up to the results. By framing enablements’ role in a more comprehensive manner, the specific impacts that enablement has on services teams and customer experiences can be pinpointed and more thoroughly understood. While looking at revenue retention or customer dollar retention metrics are important, they do not encompass the entire picture. The post-sales experience is integral for customer success and retention.
“The core mandate of enablement is to positively contribute to customer lifetime value by increasing customer investment and decreasing cost of sale,” said Jensen. “We know retention is an essential part of lifetime value, and we know customer success is a central part of retention.”
The post-sales experience of customers is shaped by customer success and services teams. With such an impactful role in the customer’s journey, there must be effective enablement initiatives for these teams. By establishing clear goals, emphasizing cross-functional alignment, and tracking key metrics to analyze business impact, enablement can succeed in helping services teams scale customer success and retention.