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High Touch & Low Touch Customer Success: Automation vs Personal or Other Factors at Play?

Low touch customer success
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Oftentimes, Customer Success Managers face a common doubt in their work life. What engagement model to use for their customers? Or, what is the optimum frequency of touchpoints they should maintain for the best results? There are indeed multiple factors at play. E.g. A low touch customer success is useful for low servicing cost and reaching out to a wider audience. On the other hand, a high touch customer success helps you give a personalized experience. 

In the last few years, customers of SaaS world have totally changed the ball game. Now they need better service from the companies more than ever. Companies need to be constantly in touch with their customers for them to stay subscribed. A research by Gallup shows that fully engaged customers represent an average premium of 23% in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth.

So, before deciding which engagement model is better suited for your need, let’s first understand the difference between the two.

High touch vs Low touch vs No touch customer success

At first impression, the difference between high and low touch seems to be very obvious – automated vs manual. But there is more to it.

A high-touch engagement model requires more of your personal attention along with strategic methods employed towards serving customer. It is more costly to maintain, hence it makes more sense to use this model for high-value customers. This is also helpful for those cases where the customer needs are more complex than the others.

A high-touch engagement example would be giving a walk-through of a new product feature in an e-meeting or a personal presentation to the client.

A low-touch engagement is mostly automated. You can use a customer success platform to monitor as well as engage effectively with a large chunk of customers. You can send them automated emails that provide tips and recommendations for driving further engagement into the product.

A low-touch engagement example can be sending an email to the group of customers who are not using a particular feature in the product. This mail can show them the benefits as well as how to use that feature.

A no touch customer success is the engagement process wherein no human intervention is required in the real time to execute the touchpoint. This is one step further from the low-touch engagement.

A no touch engagement examples include online forms, auto-scheduled emailers, chatbots, etc. Customers are the only human interaction in these touchpoints.

How to decide which model to use?

low touch or high touch
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Smart CSMs maintain a high touch low touch customer success model to cater different customers. It all depends on factors like the customer portfolio, number of customers, number of appointed CSMs and many others. They make a right combination of personal and automated communication to engage with customers at various levels. 

There is no “one-size fits all” solution for all SaaS companies. But below mentioned are the few factors that will help you decide the same for your case.

During onboarding

The structure of your onboarding process is a major deciding factor. How complex is your product installation? If your customers can configure the product through the instruction manual then a low touch should be enough. Just sending them the training material or help tutorials should suffice to get started. It is mostly used for the less complicated products in SMEs or B2C segments.

Strategic discussions

But for the enterprise customers, low touch (or tech-touch) is not enough. Strategic discussions are also covered as a part of onboarding. CSMs usually get into the discussions with clients to understand their thought process behind using the product. They find out what business value are they seeking? 

In these initial meetings they set up the business goals to be achieved through product. The customer expectations should be set up too. All this information needs a high touch personal engagement.

Hybrid model

For higher efficiency a combination of high touch low touch customer success can also be used. Instructional videos or manuals should be enough for the technical setup that needs step by step clear instructions. Whereas the CSMs can utilize their personal time for the goal alignment with stakeholders. This hybrid approach will ensure the optimum cost of the client engagement.

Post onboarding

After the customer is onboarded, a low touch should be maintained for some time. You have given enough attention to them during the onboarding. Hence, leaving them for a little while would allow them to sink-in to this new relationship. It will also give them some time to try their hands on the product. From the CSM’s point of view, this is the best time to monitor the usage pattern of the customer.

Product adoption

After good enough time, approaching them for further enhancement of product usage could be beneficial. This should be done through email tips. Your email should be personalized for each customer. It should have a clear focus on what more they can achieve from your product.

Understand challenges

If they are right on the track of product adoption a low touch engagement is good enough. But if they are lagging, then the CSM must step in to understand their challenges. Based on those meetings, they should present the solution to improve the customer’s health score.

Customer Segmentation

It is always wise to employ different engagement strategies for different customer segments. It makes sense especially when you are serving a large group of people. Let’s say you are sending an email to a customer every week with a blog post and industry insights. The same email can be sent to other customers as well who belong to the same industry. This will save a lot of your time, efforts and cost.

Based on revenue

Segmenting customers based on their generated revenue is also useful. You can give a more personalized service to those with higher revenue. Whereas for the larger chunk of low revenue customers, you can use automated communication. 

Based on likelihood of churn

Customers who are most likely to churn can form another segment. This would be your high-priority segment. Just relying on automated communication is not enough for them. You need to look at them individually to understand their challenges that prevent them deriving value out of your product.

Based on Customer age

Different customers are on different phases of their customer journey. New customers may have different needs than an old customer. Hence, same automated engagement cannot be employed for all. For the customers who have adopted the product, a low touch customer success is enough. Whereas the new customers need more attention. Hence the CSM has to give individual attention to them until they become habituated to the product.

Implementing High touch and low touch customer success

Having decided which engagement model is useful in your case – I am sure there must be a combination of both – you must consider the following steps for the implementation of these models.

Low touch implementation

While implementing low touch customer success, you should be careful that the customer must not feel the same. They should feel as your valuable customer all the time irrespective of their financial worth to your organization. Hence, careful considerations should be made by doing the following.

  1. Create customer persona: Customer personas are different from buyer personas. These are the daily users of your product. Hence, you need to consider their role, profile, experience and background to know them thoroughly.
  2. Create customer segments: It should be done based on their stage in customer journey, their product adoption level and maturity. Customers at different levels need varied communication. Giving them an appropriate experience is what you should aim for.
  3. Create of list of activities that can be automated. Not everything must be left on tech-touch to execute.
  4. Test and improvise your communication channels. If e.g. webinar is able to perform a task better than sending a video tutorial then follow that approach.

High touch implementation

High touch engagement is more than just conducting meetings. Since you can implement this model mostly for high value customers, you need right strategy to demonstrate the value you are adding to them. Below are the steps you must consider to implement this model.

  1. Help the customers resolve issues creatively when they raise an issue that cannot be solved by the current version of your product.
  2. Be a strategic partner to your customer and push them to evolve their business processes to a better state.
  3. Conduct important milestone meetings and show where they are currently and what they are going to achieve.
  4. Understand the customer’s voice and be a customer advocate to your own organisation.
  5. Managing timely training and relationships with the customers to ensure product adoption at every new release.
  6. Document all the important points discussed with clients in a meeting and share them with your peers and superiors.
  7. Conduct quarterly business review meetings to highlight what you have achieved along with the challenges you overcame.

Wrapping up

High touch low touch customer success strategies are not in opposition to each other. It is the combination of both that is useful at different times. A CSM must be adept in deciding when to reach the customer in person or through automated communication. 

But one rule is common. For anything generic, a low touch customer success is enough. And for dealing with valuable or at-risk customers, the high touch model is useful. Most of your proactive approaches can be executed through automated engagements. 

By using a customer success platform you can easily gauge the impact of your engagement efforts directed towards different customers. As long as they are in the green zone, a generic automated communication is effective to keep in touch. 

Remember a thumb rule which will always help you decide the frequency of your touch points. Every time you interact with your customers, it should add some value to their business. Now, for adding value you may need just one time communication or a series of meetings. If your goal is clear as to what you want to achieve from your customer, your engagement strategy would take shape by itself.

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