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Today’s customers expect (and sometimes demand) a never-ending wheel of attraction, engagement, and retention after purchasing both the simplest and most complex of SaaS offerings. So, when the volume of customers creeps up, and we’re focused on deploying a tech-touch heavy approach, how do we stay engaged with the personal element of our customers? And when our most highly engaged clients demand our attention, and everything is white glove, is that the right strategy?

In SaaS, the sale never really ends.

It’s safe to say cloud computing is revolutionizing the business world. Software as a service (SaaS), now available to the masses through cloud computing, allows for scalability, reduction in costs, and self-service for customers. We love this monumental shift in thinking for obvious reasons (who doesn’t love customer-focused business growth?), but perhaps a less obvious reason is because we’re obsessed with sales funnels.

That’s right, we want low cost and simple ways for reaching more potential customers than ever before, bringing them on as real customers, and then letting them enjoy what we’re offering. We’ll do this again and again until there are no more customers left to acquire.

The problem with traditional interpretations of the sales funnel is that it implies an end. It creates a false (and business-damaging) belief that once you’ve acquired the customer you can move on. It negates the idea of a symbiotic relationship.

Our recommendation on how to do this effectively and efficiently: find the perfect balance between high touch and tech touch.

The Battle: High touch vs. Tech touch

Continuously, these two approaches are pitted against each other, often as companies transition from high touch to low touch when scaling their business. Or, from low to high when companies are sick of spending so much time and effort gaining customers only to lose them to avoidable churn.

Why are these two pitted against each other to begin with? Why are both not automatically seen as equal partners in an all-encompassing Customer Success strategy?

If you examine them closely, you’ll see that each approach has their benefits and drawbacks, and spoiler alert: they’re most effective when used in a hybrid approach:

  • High touch – Helping customers on a human level through various stages of the buying process and lifecycle. It involves a much higher participation, and usually relies on one individual or team within the company to maintain direct, personal, and frequent contact with accounts.

Humans crave the kind of interaction that only other humans can provide, so developing a connection like this is integral to keeping your customers. However, it’s not always scalable, and it’s not cheap. Providing this level of service to everyone is difficult to say the least. On the other hand…

  • Tech touch – There’s very little human interaction with the customer, but check-ins are frequent and managed by software. This data driven kind of proactive management can help customers feel valued and ensures they know where to go to solve their problems, should any arise.

The good: this system relieves pressure on human interaction, freeing up staff for high-needs clients or specific high-touch situations. Quick temperature reads for previously un-contacted customers are made available, and avoidable churn can be side stepped by proactive action and management.

The drawback here is obvious: without at least some human interaction, customers may begin to see the company as distant, cold, or removed. Even more, they may begin to see the company as uninterested in their success. Forecasting churn can also be difficult when you’re not able to talk to your customers directly.

A Use Case: Using a blended approach in Onboarding

The most crucial step and predictor for the success of a customer is their onboarding experience. We all know the difficulty of purchasing something only to hit a roadblock before we’re off the ground. If processes are murky or it’s difficult for customers to see the value of the product or service, they may end up churning.

That’s why human interaction and guidance at this stage is the most vital. That said, it can be expensive, particularly in a Freemium or Basic model. So, how do you leverage the efficiency of tech touch without ignoring the human experience?

  1. Use your tech-touch workflows for more basic and administrative tasks. The simple stuff. Customers are pretty good at poking around on their own, with a guide, so long as your product is relatively intuitive. Look into in-app notifications as they can can provide real time and engaging digital support while your customers are learning to navigate the basics.
  2. Use a high-touch approach for more strategic conversations with customers. These conversations center around the customer centric elements: Why did they buy it? What is their specific use case? What are their current pain points? What is confusing for them? How do they get buy in from the rest of their organization to purchase more licenses? This is the meaty stuff you can’t get from a tech-touch only strategy.
  3. If you decide on a tech-touch only strategy, make sure customers can call support to reach a person: Sometimes the ability to provide proactive help to all customers simply isn’t an option, and when that’s the case, staffing a support line for reactive help is a critical element. Don’t leave them stranded!

Post On-boarding

Once a customer is more familiar with your product or service, they’ll need less assistance, and a pivot to a tech touch strategy will be there to make sure they receive updated resources as they come.

Individual Customer Success managers can reach more customers and create a more proactive, helpful environment for those customers with the aid of automation. For example, check-in emails can be triggered and sent automatically, allowing for more frequent check-in and pulse-checking. When necessary, CSMs can respond personally.

Tech touch and high touch aren’t in opposition. The two are symbiotic partners, and using both strategically allows for CSMs to provide a proactive Customer Success experience while also offering personalized, individualized attention where necessary.

At ESG, we’ve made this concept our business – using virtual Customer Success managers (vCSMs) that are badged to your individual business – tasked with learning everything about you and your customers, and there to help you when you need it.