Webinar Q&A: Why High Touch and Tech Touch Should Be Friends, Not Enemies

July 20, 2021

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy, Customer Success Tools, Digital Customer Success, Voice of the Team

ESG’s own Madeline Evans, Britt Layman, and Marley Wagner joined last week’s ChurnZero webinar to discuss how high touch and tech touch engagement models can co-exist in Customer Success. Watch it here if you missed it!

They answered a number of audience questions during the session (recapped here on ChurnZero’s blog), but there were so many great ones, they didn’t have a chance to answer them all. So, I pulled together some of the still un-answered questions for our experts to respond to. Happy reading!

What are the most reasonable timeframes for internal notifications to CSMs on decreasing health scores or usage that won’t be too overwhelming in the 1-to-many approach?

Madeline Evans (ME): My recommendation would be to prioritize your health scores and usage KPIs. For example, a health score or usage drop from an escalation may hold more urgency than a recent low NPS rating. Consider notifying your CSMs via internal notifications on high risk KPI health score decreases. You can send out less urgent reminders to CSMs to review customer health scores in a regular cadence; for instance, alerting CSMs to review health scores in preparation for a customer status or service review.

How much is too much automation? Some concerns around customers feeling like they are being spammed.

Britt Layman (BL): Depending on what you’re automating, and who else internally is emailing the customer, it can definitely start going the way of spammy if you don’t have a good handle on an outreach schedule. The other thing is what you’re sending. If you’re automating check in emails, you should probably only do a few of those a year. Product updates, like Marley talked about in the webinar, aren’t likely to be considered spammy because their focus is on information and education. Outside of that, one major thing to think about when automating is the number of actions you automate to the customer aren’t the only automations. As much as you automate to the customer, consider automating activities to your CSMs. Scheduling/automating QBRs and touchpoint tasks can be simple ways to help time manage accounts so the CSM doesn’t have to comb through their full account list each day or week. Automate post-call notes from a CS tool or even email into your CRM. Take back that time spend copying records over and let the CSMs focus more on that next set of action items.

We tried sending out a Customer Satisfaction Survey to our clients and would like to know some strategies to get higher number of responses. The survey has built in feature that indicates if the client opened the survey or not and seems many do not open.

Marley Wagner (MW): If you’re struggling to get customers to open your emails (survey or otherwise), the first place to start is with your subject line and the “from” name and email address. Is the subject line something that catches their attention or indicates what they’ll find when they open the email? Does the email appear to come from a person or company they’re familiar with, or is something generic that they may overlook? Review your current setup and try testing a few different versions until you start to see improvement.

How we should approach on prem customers, where we don’t have visibility into their usage?

ME: Consider developing health scoring based on customer sentiment, engagement, and other key customer events. For example, are these customers opening or clicking on emails you’re sending? Are they visiting your knowledge base or customer community, or submitting support tickets? While this tends to be a more manual approach, CS tools can be leveraged to help put reporting and planning in place based off these steps and events. Pinpoint key customer milestones and consider triggering based on the data you do have access to.

How do you recommend approaching managing the health of an account when CSMs have 200+ accounts?

BL: Ideally you want to start with some kind of health scoring, which is a composite of many variables including that CSM “gut check,” but also usage of the tool or service, overall product adoption, feedback surveys, etc. Having a way to see that health for customers at large and also see changes over time can trigger the red flag moments when a customer is entering a dangerous health zone. Regardless of number of accounts, using data to drive a health score can give you an idea of where time spend might need to be outside of the automated customer journey. Not all customers will have low health all at the same time, so you can adjust to accommodate more time spend for those accounts whose health is dipping. Once health does drop, you may find yourself really scrambling to try and undo any damage, so being intentional with your outreach is vital. An example might be if you have a lower profile account that is a churn risk because of low product adoption and low NPS, plus you might not have time to engage every month, but if the CS tool you’re using can give you an idea of that waning health and trigger a CTA, then you’ll be able to focus some on relationship building and also identifying those risk areas with the customer and spend time with them regrouping on how to be successful together moving forward.

How do you incorporate Digital CS within a global company where there are silos and thousands of employees?

ME: This is a common question for global companies with large org structures. Creating a company charter for your Customer Success initiatives is a good place to start. Once you have a clear definition of organizational structure and team role responsibilities when it comes to your overall customer experience, you can begin to map out your customer journey and the internal/external processes that associate with each corresponding team.

MW: And once you have that foundation, I highly recommend creating a customer communication calendar. Sometimes small companies can get away without one, and just sort of “know” when others are sending customer-facing messaging, but there is no way that works in an Enterprise organization. Trust me. It’s worth it.

The dynamic segmentation model eliminates predetermined customer segmentation and instead delivers engagement based on how customers want/choose to be served. This seems like a great way to approach Digital CS and improve overall CX, but how feasible do you find this approach? Do you foresee a rise in the implementation of this strategy?

BL: Dynamic segmentation, or dynamic engagement, takes into account variables like size, impact, and usage of the solution a customer is adopting. The ultimate goal of a dynamic model is to not over-stimulate accounts that don’t need that high a level of engagement, or vice versa, under-engage customers that need more attention. You want to be able to have customers fall inside the “ideal” range you’ve defined so that they’re delivered appropriate content and touchpoints based on what I outlined above. It’s then up to the CSM, to some degree, to determine if more or less human engagement is necessary based on where the customer falls in that segmentation. That said, it’s totally feasible to implement and actually something we’re doing now with a customer I’m working with, where there are three tiers of customers and then three product usage levels, so a customer could fall in a high permutation range of segmentation based on those criteria in this case. The major drawback here is the complexity of the operations and maintenance. When using a CS tool to manage the customer journey and lifecycle, you can keep track of each of the playbooks and journey maps a customer might go down with more or less automation accordingly, but as you scale or change those touch points, that just means there’s more to account for as you go. Having a dedicated admin of the tool and/or operations person to maintain can help those complexities.

How do you incorporate bots into a human touch process? Can they co-exist?

ME: AI chatbot’s are a good example for reference here. In-app and web platform chatbots can co-exist in human touch processes when you have developed a knowledge base or a repository of FAQ’s across your customer base. Chatbots assist to answer quick customer questions by recognizing keywords and even sentiment; and chatbots can co-exist with human touch in that they can redirect customers to an actual human touchpoint when customer questions require more in-depth, high touch assistance.

Do you find any differences in where the balance should be between personal touch and tech touch between either cultures (US customers vs. non-US Americas vs. Europe vs Asia, etc.), or between other factors like stakeholder age, tech vs. business background, etc.? Do some segments of stakeholder respond better to a different balance?

BL: There are absolutely notable differences, but as in most anything, it will range from company to company. I’ve worked with a company that faced challenges with being both global (multi-language support needed, but also major cultural differences in engagement expectations) and also being initially a commodities company before building out a SaaS solution. First building a standard CS model and then adapting it for global use was a challenge in itself, because every CSM had to operate with a variable degree of autonomy, at least until we could identify key common ground to build out some standardized operations and then digital CS elements. Not every customer in every region expected the same service level, so when it came time to build out our digital practice there were some areas we could create a standard journey, but what ended up happening is we built a more dynamic segmentation model where certain regions had tasks and automations assigned based on those more localized needs. A lot of our digital efforts then became about educating internally and providing self-service content to customers as seamlessly as possible. I’ll say that it wasn’t an easy task and was certainly one that required a lot of ongoing support, but once implemented, it made the customer experience much better.

Any suggestions for how to automate outreach when adoption/usage metrics must be collected manually?

ME: Many CS tools allow you to create manual fields and stages for data points pertaining to adoption and usage metrics. Explore using tooling to create defined fields for manual entry. Then, you can build playbooks and workflows around manual entry of those data fields and automate outreach within those plays.

MW: I’d also recommend beginning down the path now of the road to automated data collection for the future. It’s not going to be easy or quick, so the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.


Have more questions for our experts? Submit the form below!

In the meantime, you may want to check out this article on the 4 Phases of Digital Customer Success that was discussed during the webinar.