High Touch Customer Success + Automation = Focus


By Kristen Hayer

Doesn’t high-touch customer success mean that the Customer Success Manager is running the show? Absolutely. Doesn’t that mean that there’s no room for tech-touch tactics? Absolutely not. Customer success automation and a high-touch program aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, incorporating technology into high-touch customer success can result in improved focus for your CSMs as well as a more engaging customer experience. Here are 5 things to consider as you think about adding automation to your high-touch customer success program.

Different People Prefer Different Approaches

First, let’s consider the customer: Different people prefer to have different kinds of connection with your organization. While many clients enjoy and respond to regular outreach from their assigned CSM, others will never respond. Some CSMs find it surprising and slightly offensive that non-responders will attend a webinar or engage with in-app messaging. The reality is that different people learn in different ways, and respond to different types of messages. If you vary the format of your messages, you’ll appeal to a broader audience.

CSMs Should Focus on High-Value Activities

Customer Success Managers are busy. They have to balance their valuable proactive work with inbound customer questions and scheduled meetings. This can create time-management issues, unless in-person work is supplemented with some automated communication. Automation can free up CSM time for personal touch-points that drive real value. If your CSMs are having a hard time getting to all of their customers, automation can help them expand their reach. If they are currently reaching everyone, automation can expand the number of customers they can effectively handle.

Repetitive Messages are Easily Automated

There are some parts of any job that are repetitive, and that includes some of the messaging that high-touch customer success teams deliver. Think about where this lives in your customer lifecycle. Is your introductory email the same for each client? Do your CSMs send out notifications about billing issues or reminders about executive business reviews? Look for every message that is consistent from customer-to-customer, and you’ll find places to automate. The messages can still look like they come from the CSM, but they don’t require your valuable resource to push a button.

Customers Like to Learn from Other Customers

Customer forums, advisory boards and events not only provide an efficient way of communicating with customers, they allow customers to learn from each other. An effective, high-touch CSM is seen a trusted advisor, but they are still an agent of your company. Other customers are seen as a neutral source of information about your solution, your company and best practices. Leverage your (happy) customers by inviting them to events that supplement your high-touch customer success efforts.

Some Customers Expect Technology

There’s technology, and then there is TECHNOLOGY. If you have a highly technical solution, you are probably engaging with very technical contacts. IT professionals, engineers, product managers and sometimes even C-level technologists will expect a lot of automation and in-app communication from you. In-person communication can be foreign or even unwelcome to them. This can be disconcerting for your high-touch CS team, so teach them patience and build up automated communications that echo your brand message.  

Does all of this mean that a high-touch program isn’t right for your company? No. Most organizations benefit from a high-touch program for their top customers, even if those customers don’t always resonate with it right away. By supplementing your high-touch program with automated communications, you’ll be addressing different communications styles, aligning with your brand promise, and freeing up your CSM team to focus on developing relationships that offer value to your customers.

Need help segmenting your customers and aligning your success program to your client base? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that works with executives to develop top performing customer success teams. Let us help you design your program. Visit TheSuccessLeague.io for more information on our consulting services and training programs.

Kristen Gray Bio.png

Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington. She currently resides in Silicon Valley with her family and an energetic German Shepherd puppy.