“You cannot buy engagement, you have to build engagement”. Whether or not your SaaS company provides huge customer success, it is substantial that a customer engagement model oversees proactive engagement with clients. In this blog, we will cover the distinctive engagement approaches across onboarding and retention.
What is a Customer Engagement Model?
So, the customer engagement model is basically a structure and a more specific process that a business can use to maintain the ongoing relationship with its customers. Although it is a process that has only post-deals/sales, we accept that a holistic engagement model should start at the very first interaction with a potential client. Typically in SaaS, there are two major portions of the customer journey. One is the onboarding phase and the other part is driving adoption and value creation.
For a few SaaS companies, the onboarding doesn’t require in-person assistance- the low-touch way! While most of the post-onboarding processes can happen in two different ways. One is a high-touch model to drive customer success with many touchpoints and check-ins during the customer journey to renewal. Another one is a low-touch model that uses strategies like product usage, engagement, and health scores to just respond to customers at risk.
Types of Customer Engagement Model in SaaS
Depending upon the frequency of the touch-points to suit the different kinds of customers by the company, let’s examine the different ways in which organizations follow their customer engagement model that eventually helps them grow their business.
High Touch Onboarding
The moment your customers decide to purchase your product, it’s time your business should focus on providing a better customer experience. A complex enterprise software, that sells a somewhat complex solution, uses the high touch model. This high-touch onboarding model typically needs to drive enough revenue to cover the hands-on resources through the onboarding process. Customer Success Managers own the process and take full responsibility to onboard the customers. They would either give the orientation by themselves or appoint an appropriate technical staff for helping the customer start using the product.
Low Touch Onboarding
Lower-priced, higher-volume products and solutions, which are usually less complex use a low-touch onboarding model. This model doesn’t need manual intervention. And the configuration of the product is through the vendor’s website. It is usually carried out by initiating the configuration through online links sent over mail or directly on the vendor’s website after the customer has made the initial payment. The training materials used are user manuals or video tutorials that will guide the customers about the product.
High Touch Post Onboarding
A Customer Success Manager (CSM) manages the ongoing success of the customer using this customer engagement model. Wherein the customers will come via online mode or a fully dedicated human resource.
Enterprise customers who pay heavy revenue for using the product to cover the cost of 1:1 CSM appointed to engage the customer on all aspects of the product. In this SaaS customer engagement model the CSMs act as customers’ peers rather than being a seller in the journey of the customer’s usage of the product. Here, it is a major responsibility of the CSM to help their customer realize the value of the product and help them use it seamlessly until they adopt the product.
Low Touch Post Onboarding
This approach involves communication with the customer happening through automated alerts and emails. Herein, a need-based CSM can be appointed only for time being to a customer account.
After onboarding, the general channel of communication becomes digital or online methods rather than manual. This method involves a one-to-many approach because the cost of assigning a single CSM to handle a customer account cannot be justified by the revenue generated by the customer.
Hybrid Customer Engagement Model
As per the business requirement, many SaaS companies go for a tailored SaaS engagement model that best suits their approach to engaging with customers.
There are four general hybrid approaches depending upon the customer and vendor’s profile for their SaaS customer Success. Either of the four combinations suffices:
- High Touch Onboarding / High Touch Post Onboarding
Enterprise software companies, generally, adopt this hybrid model. So once a SaaS deal is closed, a CSM will work with the customer to ensure long-term growth and success, using the high touch post onboarding model and working with the customer through implementation, renewal, and beyond.
- High Touch Onboarding / Low Touch Post Onboarding
Companies having a complex product or service,that has multiple buyers coming in the process, use this model. Here the customer is managed using a sort of low touch approach or a maintenance approach where the account is managed digitally via automation, alerts, and targeted communication.
- Low Touch Onboarding / High Touch Post Onboarding
Businesses wherein the customers can easily sign up for a product or service via a website apply this one. But requires more training and ongoing resources for success in the long term.
- Low Touch Onboarding / Low Touch Post Onboarding
Low-cost applications or services companies have an intuitive product and is usually automatically charged either on a monthly or annual basis. They use this hybrid engangement model.
Some companies may apply a primarily high-touch approach, but supplement it with some automated emails and training materials. Ensure to make live onboarding support or training available for customers who are struggling with successful onboarding. Anyway, the ultimate goal is to drive high engagement from new users.
The next big step, after onboarding, involves setting up a process that will help you ensure ongoing engagement and success within your platform.
Retention models should aim to educate the customers and help them know your product.
- Helping with monitoring engagement to understand the health of the customer relationship, and
- Ongoing engagement of users to continuously improve your product.
If you can successfully make your product a regular and important part of your customer’s workflow, eventually your product will become a sticky product for your customers. Let’s take a look at CSM-driven retention models and automated models.
CSM-Driven Retention Models
The nature of your product and the cost of the contract dictate the resources that you can allocate to retention strategies. Assigning a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) to each account helps in executing a common high-touch model. The cost and complexity of your product drive the ratio of accounts per CSM. For very high-value contracts, a CSM may only manage a handful of customers.
These CSMs will work directly with customers to ensure that they are getting value from the product. CSMs will monitor usage and experience metrics for their owned accounts and then create programs customized to the needs of each account. So if one account is showing unhealthy usage metrics, the CSM may increase their interactions with that account to get them back on track.
A CSM-driven model makes the interactions between product and customers more human, strengthening this relationship and ultimately increasing engagement and lifetime value.
For less complex, lower price point solutions, automated engagement models can work well. The goal is still to drive ongoing engagement and retention. Automated retention models will include monitoring the engagement and health of the account and delivering continuing education and support.
In CSM-driven models, CSMs monitor the engagement and health of each account. An automated model will likely use software to monitor engagement across a large volume of accounts. This type of software is
- mostly self-serve based possessing self-help tutorials,
- automated onboarding tools, and
- emails to take the customer through the journey.
Exception-based reporting processes can flag any accounts that are showing dangerously low engagement and in need of extra attention.
Automated email nurtures can provide continuing education resources to customers. And tools like chatbots can automate much of the support process. Automated channels such as email, or better, right in the app can deliver product announcements. The key is to make sure that you keep your users aware of changes to your product. Show them why they should care, and provide the information necessary for them to understand and use the new capabilities.
The high-touch onboarding requires investing in human capital for service assurance and solution customization. Low touch onboarding would require investment in hiring skilled developers to design and implement powerful automation tools and machine learning algorithms. An amalgamation of both, blended carefully to provide an enriching experience for the customer would result in customer satisfaction. This would ensure more business for the organization. Since a satisfied customer is more likely to return to you with more business.
P.S. – The main image has been taken from pexels.com