When done well, support enablement will result in happier employees, happier customers, and a more polished product.
We often hear a lot about sales enablement, which is the process and practice of ensuring sales teams have the right information and tools to help them sell more effectively. But support enablement is equally important, and it’s often overlooked.
In this article, we’ll learn what support enablement is, why it’s important, and how to make support enablement a part of your organization’s culture.
What is support enablement?
Support enablement ensures the customer support team has the information and tools they need to help support customers and deliver a great customer experience. This includes product training, documentation, admin tools, testing devices, an understanding of processes, and anything else the team might need to answer questions and provide value to customers.
Support enablement ultimately brings teams together to share information and align on a plan for making sure the support team is equipped to help customers use a new product or feature and to answer any questions that may arise.
So what’s the difference between support enablement and sales enablement?
There are a lot of similarities between support enablement and sales enablement. The overarching goal in both is to prepare the teams for success. The difference is the audience involved. Delivering the right information to each audience at the right time is critical to building a great sales and support enablement program.
Sales teams need to be able to tell a story and sell value. They don’t necessarily need to know exactly how a feature or product works, but they do need to be able to speak to the value, and why something is important. Sales teams don’t necessarily need to know the moment a feature is released, in fact, this can often be distracting to sales teams. Bi-weekly or monthly updates are often enough for sales teams.
Support teams, on the other hand, need to be able to troubleshoot issues and be intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the product so they can answer specific questions about features. They need timely updates about product changes so that they’re not learning about product changes from the customers.
Because sales and support have different needs, it often makes sense to have dedicated enablement plans for each team, as the information given to sales isn’t always the information the support team needs, and vice versa.
The importance of support enablement
Why spend your time enabling your support employees? There are a number of benefits, even beyond what you may initially think of!
A good support enablement program creates happier employees. As knowledge workers, there’s a wealth of information we have to have at our fingertips at any given time. Making that information accessible to the right people at the right time is a key part of support enablement.
You can imagine how baffling it would be to be on a support team that’s constantly getting blind-sided by product changes or being asked questions they don’t have the answers to, or even the resources available to find the answers themselves. Keeping the support team in the loop on product changes ensures they’re set up for success. The opposite (an unprepared support team) results in frustration. If the team is not kept in the loop, then they’re constantly reacting to changes and information, instead of being proactive.
Keeping an open line of communication with the support team helps them feel valued, appreciated, and ultimately prepares them to do their job better.
Happier, more trusting customers
When the support team is prepared and ready to serve customers, the quality of service is better. Faster response times and better customer satisfaction scores are a result of a well-trained and prepared support team.
Support enablement empowers the team with the information and resources they need to respond timely and accurately to customers. This ultimately builds trust with your customers as they know they can reach out to your team for help, and they know they can rely on you. That increased trust correlates to increased customer lifetime value, a metric every SaaS company is looking to improve.
Improved product quality and cross-team collaboration
Product and support teams need to stay in sync. This creates an opportunity for customer-facing roles to raise questions and bring a new perspective to a feature, decision, or project. Support enablement allows the support team to weigh in on the launch and this often leads to new information that helps the product team really hit the mark.
For example, the support team might have a good sense of how customers will respond to a certain decision or questions that might arise. Don’t miss out on opportunities to better understand your customers. Bring your customer support team into the mix to ensure you’re delivering the product and experience your customers want and need.
Without a good support enablement program in place, cross-team collaboration suffers and the customer experience often does the same.
4 ways to enable support for success
1. Start with onboarding
According to a recent study, employees who go through structured onboarding are 58% more likely to be with the company after three years. Support enablement starts with onboarding your team in an effective way. You could throw them into the deep end with few resources and have them find their way, or you can have an onboarding plan, internal documentation, and tools in place for long-term success.
Maintaining a library of internal documentation is a simple and powerful way to prepare the support team from day 1. If you don’t already have internal docs that outline processes, best practices, and other important information, start today. Tools like Notion and Guru allow teams to quickly create, share, and manage internal documentation.
2. Make it a part of the development process
Knowledge transfer from the product team to support is critical, yet many teams gloss over the importance of preparing their support team for a new feature. Make room for this in your product development process by requiring support enablement as a part of the workflow before a new feature goes live. You might need customer-facing docs, internal docs, or product training before you ship a certain change – make sure you plan for these things by making them a part of the existing process.
For larger features, that might mean a 30-minute enablement session where you walk through the feature, debugging resources and any risks.
3. Do weekly demos
A good way to keep support in the loop on an ever-changing product is to do regular demonstrations of what the product team is working on.
This is less structured than a dedicated training or enablement session, but it gives the support team and others a high-level understanding of what’s coming. These can be live sessions or recordings that are accessible on a regular basis. Whatever the approach, find a way to keep the team excited and in the loop on what’s being worked on.
4. Have a dedicated channel for communicating product changes
Products are constantly changing, which means support enablement is never-ending. Have a dedicated place to communicate about product changes, and make sure it’s up-to-date and easily accessible. This can actually be a resource for both customers and the customer support team. Launchnotes is a great solution for communicating product changes.
The key to any enablement effort is a proactive mindset. Enabling support teams takes forethought and cross-team collaboration. Put a plan into place and encourage your support team to participate in all enablement activities, and encourage them to anticipate customer questions.
They’re the voice of the customer, hear them out and use that information to create a better product and a better customer experience. When done well, support enablement will result in happier employees, happier customers, and a more polished product.