Originally published on inSided.com on January 22, 2021.
Today’s customers have high expectations, and in SaaS, selling never really ends. B2B buying cycles are long and complex and a whopping 77% of buyers feel like the process is very complicated and time-consuming.
Plus – speaking of high expectations – B2B customers want a personalized experience throughout the journey and 65% will jump ship if you don’t deliver.
Yup, the stakes are high.
But as the number of customers increases, how can Customer Success deliver engagement that still feels personal, at scale? Often referred to as one-to-many, tech-touch, or digital-led; scalable strategies reaching multiple customers seem to be the answer. However, they are even harder to personalize, if at all possible.
TLDR; it’s possible.
But first, let’s talk about why existing tech-touch strategies often don’t work.
Existing tech-touch strategies often start flawed
The idea of a tech-touch strategy is to deliver (automated) value-driven communications that have a positive impact on multiple customers at a time.
However, a lot of Customer Success Managers these days think tech-touch strategies are a way of segmenting lower ACV (Average Contract Value) accounts from higher ACV, high-touch accounts.
Sounds like a great plan to effectively delegate CSM focus and resources, doesn’t it? But the result is often that some customers feel less important than others and that the overall customer relationship suffers.
So, why wouldn’t you spend more of your CSMs’ time on higher-value customers?
Well, because this strategy is flawed, and eventually – it will fail. Here’s why:
- A single customer might not be the most valuable, but the summary of ARR when adding all of your “smaller” long-tail customers together most likely outweighs that of the bigger ones – or at least makes up for a sizable part of your business. Not investing in a proper strategy to reach all of them might be a big mistake.
- Defining customers that require your CSMs’ time the most as the ones with simply the highest value (ACV) in your CRM, is not a sustainable approach in the long term, let alone data-driven. Some of these customers might equally benefit from a tech-touch strategy, or they might not even want the high-touch personal attention from your CSM’s.
- Smaller businesses grow fast, especially in SaaS. That’s why you don’t want to leave the impression that you only start caring about customers when they represent a certain value to your business.
- It’s 2021, and we’re largely remote. Everyone is utilizing a lot of different channels to talk about or to your business, most of which are not staffed by your CSMs or even within their control. Because of this, you have to make sure you leave a lasting impression, making a well thought out Digital Customer Success strategy mandatory for all customers.
Let’s settle this once and for all: tech-touch or low-touch customer success is NOT a sustainable way of segmenting customers. It’s a digital-led strategy to cater to the needs of ALL customers through different channels.
So, keeping that in mind: how can you develop and scale a digital-led customer engagement model without losing that all-important human approach? What do you need to keep in mind?
Let’s take a look.
Creating a digital-led, personalized, and scalable Customer Success strategy
A digital-led Customer Success strategy will look different for every business. This is because it should largely be based on the full customer lifecycle, and that’s unique to your company or CS team alone. However, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration.
A “quick fix” means you’ll lose valuable interactions
A lot of Customer Success teams spend little time building the actual digital strategy, thinking about its goals or how to measure them. They will just add some channels to check the box, and never look at them again or measure any results from their efforts.
The unexpected outcome of this is that they actually end up sacrificing the opportunity of creating a more customer-centric and personalized approach in favor of speed and (debatable) efficiency.
Eventually, this leads to customers not interacting with these channels at all as they are poorly optimized – creating bad customer habits in the process.
So what should you do instead? Well first, you have to make sure to have some best-practices in place:
- A knowledge base of company-curated content to answer the most frequently asked questions (you don’t want your CSM’s repeating FAQ’s all day).
- Monthly emails with your latest recommendations, updates, customer best practices, or other inspiring content.
- Automated communication when customers reach a certain phase or (don’t) reach certain goals within your product(s). E.g. if a customer hasn’t adopted certain features after a period of time.
- An automated Customer Satisfaction survey to gauge customer happiness and get feedback.
These are a given, all very valuable and definite must-haves for any modern SaaS business. But when you “just” set them up quickly to tick the box and have a channel in place, they won’t set your one-to-many strategy apart as a driver of value for your customers or your business.
The lesson here is: Don’t do something just because it’s best practices, fast, or because everyone is doing it. Do it because you know you’re adding value to the customer relationship.
One-to-many channels should add value, or you shouldn’t have them
A tech-touch (Digital Customer Success) strategy should add value to the relationship with your customers, it shouldn’t necessarily aim to replace a certain step or offer a simple alternative to your CSM reaching out personally.
The first thing you need to do is figure out where there’s value to add, and how you can best do that. But your job doesn’t stop there, you also need to make sure you’re able to measure the results afterwards.
For example, as a CSM, you most likely already have a good idea of:
- Expectations or agreements from the sales-cycle
- Goals and challenges from the onboarding process
- Metrics, KPIs, and relationship goals defined in a Success Plan
- Common problems from tickets and questions to your support department
- Customer ideas and often requested features by your customers
To which of these can you contribute with a tech-touch strategy? Gather the data, create a 360° view on the customer and figure out how they can benefit from e.g. automation. Doing this exercise also allows you to personalize your efforts enough for it to be effective.
Of course, this requires you to have a good view of your customers and the interactions they have with your team and/or company. Unfortunately, this is a dataset most CS departments don’t have. It takes time and access to tools and integrations. Often, this responsibility falls on other departments, or the tools at hand simply might not be integrated at all.
If that’s you — your view on the customer lifecycle isn’t complete, and it’s probably best to focus on that before you set out to build an intricate one-to-many strategy for all of your customers.
3 tips to get you started with your tech-touch strategy
A few things to note that can help you inspire your own digital-led CS strategy.
1. Focus on the ENTIRE customer journey, instead of a single customer segment
Segmenting customers based on their (ARR) value is taking the easy way out. Regardless of what they’re paying you, they’re all alike in the fact that they’re trying to maximize the value they’re getting from your product(s).
So, instead of value, segment them based on their place in the total customer journey. Whether it’s a customer that’s onboarding, just came out of onboarding, or someone that’s really proficient with your product and is achieving maximum value; they all benefit from a proper, customized tech-touch strategy that caters to their specific needs.
2. Focus on multiplying your touch points – not replacing them
When done well, a tech-touch strategy can be used to efficiently and relevantly increase the number of touchpoints you have with a customer or user — instead of just replacing the “old” ones. Sometimes even including tactics that are close to what you would see happen in a more traditional high-touch approach.
A modern tech-touch approach also aims to involve the user by stimulating them to engage with you and your products vs the other way around. Communication is a two-way street.
3. Have a content strategy in place to reach those “unreachable” customers
Lastly, there will always be customers that don’t respond to your CSMs. They don’t show up for QBRs, don’t reply to emails, don’t have time for a Zoom meeting or simply don’t pick up the phone to speak to your CSM.
While it may seem different, these customers need you, too. Make sure to segment them accordingly, and send them all relevant communication otherwise mentioned in e.g. a QBR.
They might not respond to a CSM, but they probably will consume purpose-driven communication through a channel of their choice (be sure to ask during onboarding). So partner up with your Marketing team and make sure that you’re producing the right content to catch their attention, and help them gain value from your product(s).
What do our customers do? B2B SaaS best practices
We have the pleasure of working with some of the biggest brands in B2B and SaaS, and we get to see some very cool cases when it comes to creating successful digital-led strategies to engage with customers.
- Using a Community Platform as a centralized location for ALL customer success content. Turn your community into a central Hub for all customers. A Customer Success Center, if you will. Making sure that customers can find everything they need in one single location and share best practices with other customers, access training and give product feedback.
- Combining company-curated (e.g. knowledge articles) and customer-generated content (e.g. questions, best-practices) to increase customer self-service — freeing up valuable time as your CSMs no longer have to answer frequently asked (support) questions.
- Creating and closing an open product feedback loop, including the voice of the customer on your roadmap, customers voting on new product ideas to help you qualify them before you invest resources, and getting back to your customers when features are delivered to drive immediate adoption.
- Sending scheduled, automated feature release messages or roadmap updates to stimulate adoption from the customers you KNOW could benefit from that release (as you most likely know what their goals are and how to best help them to get there).
And there you have it!
To summarize: Tech-touch strategies done right isn’t about segmenting your customers based on data points like high ACV. Instead, we propose a more holistic approach where you define the touchpoints needed throughout the customer journey to help them get the most value out of your product, and in turn – drive retention.
We’d love to know what your approach to tech-touch strategies is. Drop me a message on LinkedIn or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ebook: The Technology Stack for Customer Success Teams
- Ebook: SaaS Customer Success: How to keep and grow your customers
- Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Successful B2B User Community
Looking create a single destination for your customers to connect, share best practices, provide feedback, and build a stronger relationship with your product? Schedule a demo to learn more.