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User Enablement as an Ongoing Engagement for Loyalty and Success
User adoption of products is pivotal to the success of B2B companies. End-user productivity and engagement, effective product usage and a partner's ability to design, sell, implement and support product-based solutions all directly affect the customer lifetime value and overall revenue of a company. Because of this, B2B vendors prioritize investing in user education and enablement – a continuous process of providing customers and partners with the knowledge, resources and support to maximize the value of a product or service.
Regardless of whether the product is physical or digital, B2B vendors traditionally implement client education portals, knowledge bases and support systems. Some companies employ a modern “all-in-one” relationship management solution while others may integrate several, specialized best-of-breed platforms. Either way, the true challenge of user enablement is ensuring the client and partner experience is seamless. However, in many cases, it is far from ideal, and the issue often is not within the selected tech platform(s) but rather lies within the content approach.
Content that is served through user education portals is often authored by loosely coupled teams responsible only for their respective functional areas (training, support, marketing, etc.). This results in content creation will likely be driven by disconnected goals/KPIs and guided by different practices and standards. In addition, the lack of unified content governance or standardized information architecture leads to multiple locations of similar, yet slightly different, materials ("Where should I go for the correct, most up-to-date information?"). This disjointed experience is often couples with additional elements such as the absence of cross-references (an FAQ article in KB doesn't suggest reviewing an eLearning module that explains the topic in detail); siloed search; and a lack of personalization (e.g., training portal recommends courses to a user without utilizing information about active support tickets submitted by the user or recent purchases).
Users who are accustomed to a personalized Netflix or Amazon-like experience (when the system "knows" them and recognizes their intent) jump between user enablement subsystems, leading to a frustrating experience. Often times, users miss important materials, resulting in scraps of knowledge and slower issue resolution. Enabling a seamless user journey among these types of subsystems eliminates the need to chase the right information. To ensure the user journey is navigable, we must view the solution holistically and improve platform integration by creating a unified content strategy and governance, observing usage data, exchange analytics and enriching the content.
Breaking Down Silos Between Learning, Knowledge, Digital Adoption and Support Systems
A holistic approach can create a unified user journey with immediate access to content, expertise and appropriate knowledge as needed. The approach could involve in-process support with context-based hints or recommendations; on-demand access to knowledge and experts; or a role-based and context-driven personalized roadmap to improve skills.
The ideal solution will be the unified integrated system that delivers the content dynamically:
Each use case is unique and involves different user needs, various combinations of platforms and systems and, typically, plentiful existing heterogeneous content (knowledge bases, wikis, product guides, etc.). To generate a polished user experience knowing each case will differ, we need to be certain that all components of the content lifecycle align, including content authoring, versioning, tagging, delivery and analytics. This can be done through creating a unified content strategy.
The Role of Content Strategy in Creating Holistic User Enablement
An effective content strategy diagnoses the root causes of your content and process challenges. It provides authoring solutions for adhering to content development guidelines, and as a result, prevents inconsistencies and errors. The goal of a unified content strategy is to identify effective processes, technology and content delivery formats relevant to the user’s needs. Let’s breakdown key components of a unified content strategy and how each one works ensure user enablement:
- Content Lifecycle – Proper content strategy development starts with the analysis of the existing content lifecycle from the perspective of the current content engineering and management workflows.
- Information architecture (IA) – The information architecture plays an important role within the content strategy. But the IA is not the structure alone. A proper IA also includes the review of the unified classification, taxonomy and tagging conventions applied to ensure the content discoverability. Executing against this properly can positively affect navigation, recommendations and search.
- Personalized cross-platform content delivery – This depends on the system’s integration for unified data processing. An analytics engine collects user and behavior data, such as who the users are, where they are in the system contextually, what support tickets they had, and what they did for training. These details inform dynamic delivery of the right information at the right time through the right channel.
- Content micronization – Content micronization breaks content into small chunks of information and packages it in an engaging way. This allows the content to be used across all integrated systems. Micronization enables you to make specific recommendations, future-proofing content by updating small snippets.
- “Create-once-use-everywhere” approach for content authoring – When implemented correctly, this approach saves time and resources associated with creating content multiple times for different outlets. It streamlines versioning and curation because a single update to a piece of content can be pushed to all channels with changes applied automatically.
Single-source authoring and micronization can be utilized across various “knowledge hub” components and for any content format. However, to make the content more engaging for users and allow for future upskilling, we recommend applying eLearning techniques when designing your content strategy.
Perceiving the User Journey as a Learning Process
To implement eLearning techniques, we first recommend analyzing the user journey as a learning process. At every touchpoint and interaction with each system, the user can learn something new about the product. If an issue arouses, the integrated user enablement solution can not only help resolve it, but also educate the user on what to do so the issue doesn’t happen again. This approach brings the user experience to a whole new level.
eLearning tactics help to enrich the content with different types and formats of interactivity. The choice of tactics depends on the user journey, systems in place, processes, content strategy and business goals. Usually, the eLearning approach involves a mix of simulations; animations; screen captures; guided tutorials; infographics; sketches; recommendations; tips and hints embedded in the context; and bite-sized microlearning video courses (20 seconds) that cover one learning goal at a time to help the user solve the problem quickly. Through this mix, the content becomes digestible and engaging, improving user experience overall.
However, applying eLearning is not only about engaging the user by providing more media-rich content. If we use eLearning standards for content delivery and packaging, we can also collect additional data–user activity and interaction with content–and use this information for optimization, improvement and targeted recommendations as we move forward.
Continuous Upskilling as a Next-Gen Approach to User Enablement
Perceiving user enablement as an upskilling process is especially important for complex B2B solutions. Vendors, who want to be successful in the long run, know their goal is to enable partners and clients to be efficient and grow. Providers need to help their partners achieve success, so they continue to engage with vendor products and services to do so, which improves the vendor bottom-line.
When it comes to complex B2B solutions, you can’t expect a one-and-done transactional approach. Vendors need to educate their users on how to maximize their performance, tell them what’s new and provide support–all on an ongoing basis.
Holistic user enablement means applying a learning approach to the user journey design and implementing the integrated solution through a unified content strategy. This system should deliver data-driven, interactive content dynamically, educate users at the point of need and continuously upskill them for their productivity and retention. We suggest this approach because it will dramatically improve user experience and engagement, leading to valuable partner loyalty and success.