Last week we hosted a panel discussion on creating a low-touch engagement model. The discussion featured Boaz Maor (CCO at talech), Selena Papi (the Director of Customer Experience & Engagement at Talentsoft), and Brian LaFaille (Global Head of Customer Success Strategic Programs at Google).


The conversation was packed with tactics and advice, and you can watch the recording here (or listen to the discussion on the go here). Below you’ll find a (lightly edited) excerpt from one of the highlights of the discussion, when the group shared their thoughts on how to move customers from high-touch into a low-touch segment.


A special thanks to inSided for co-sponsoring this event with us. 




Chris: How do you transition customers that are used to high-touch into a digitally-led engagement model? How do you set expectations properly so they have a good experience?


Selena: Customer Success teams need to lead with the “reason” the transition is happening. Are customers being transferred because a company is changing its customer relationship strategy and segmentation? Or is the customer downsizing and reducing the number of licenses? The approach will change based on the reason why the customer is moving into the low-touch segment. 


And the communication should be transparent: share the reason why the transition is happening and focus on the benefits of the new, low-touch experience. 


I’ll share an experience I had with one of my vendors that was very poorly handled for contrast. The company reached out to me via email saying, “Starting today, Selena, you don't have the right to a CSM anymore. Attached is the pricing list for a CSM. Otherwise, you’re moving to low-touch.”

Chris: Oh no. 


Brian: That’s bad. That’s really bad. 


Selena: I agree. If a customer is used to a high-touch approach, you cannot just move them with an email to low-touch with no empathy or explanation. Your high-touch CSM needs to explain the transition, proactively communicate this change ahead of time, and be considerate about the changes involved in transferring from a high to low-touch digital experience.

Boaz: I have two suggestions on that point. The first is, it's very common to grandfather existing customers in who become used to a certain price. Most companies change pricing schemes as their customer base grows. As long as you're a fast-growing company, it doesn't matter if you grandfather a small percentage of that customer base. The same goes for level of service. If you have customers who get used to a certain service level, leave them be as your processes change and as your company moves forward. It will take care of itself. 


My second point is, the experience Selena had was the perfect example of what not to do. You don't email a customer and tell them you’re reducing the level of service. 


You call them and say: 

  • “I have a better level of service for you. It’s the same level of knowledge, but with fewer meetings and less time required from you.” 
  • “We're all working remote and know we can be better. Here are all the new tools I have for you.” 
  • “You don't need to log into a face-to-face training anymore and waste time. Here’s a learning management system. We curated the content for you and you can watch it five times at your leisure. By the way, share it with your friends.” 

It's more, not less. The “more” is in the scaled mechanism as opposed to the one-to-one. It's almost common sense, right? You don't need to be a Customer Success expert for this.

Brian: That soundbite of you Boaz is so good. Just put that on repeat and let that sink in. As you are moving customers from a one-to-one motion, it should not be that you're taking the service level down or away. You're supplementing it in a different way. You're giving the choice to users: the choice to watch videos on YouTube, the choice to use a learning management system, the choice to engage with a CSM if they want to. 


As you bring down the number of accounts in a CSM portfolio, you simultaneously have to ramp up your digital experience. As a customer, if resources are ripped away, like in Selena’s case,  I would have PTSD and I’d churn from that account. To be honest, I have very high expectations of my vendors. 


Boaz: Exactly. If you enable customers more with a learning management system for example, and they don't use it, that's not their problem. It's yours. What you offered didn't work. Offer something else. 

The point is not, “How can I minimize service?” Rather it's, “How do I optimize results?” If the customer doesn’t buy into what you offered, then fix it, change it, or do something different. 


Brian: That's so good. On that point, Boaz, going digitally-led means giving users the choice to pick from a learning channel that resonates best for them. There are individuals from our customer base who have implemented Looker previously. They just want emails and they're very docs heavy—they don’t want to talk to a CSM, they just want the docs. There's no need for us to get involved there. But there are other customers that want more of a one-to-one experience. We can offer that if a customer chooses that path. 


Another piece I want to call out is that before any changes happen towards implementing a digitally-led engagement model, you need to have internal enablement about the pivot. Other teams, department heads, and leadership need to be bought in. They need to understand the benefits of the transition and who to align with if not the CSM of an account. The company as a whole has to see the benefits of a scaled approach and know that motion will help the company scale. 


The second thing is, the transition cannot transpire like this: “Oh, we decided that in Q1 we're going to move all of our customers under 50K into scale. Then we're going to send an email about how they can pay for a CSM if they want.” No. You have to wait for a natural point in the customer lifecycle to make this transition. 


At Google, we use the renewal to make a change and we position it with very positive language: “Hey customer, you've graduated. As a CSM, I can't do much more. You're using the product in a mature manner, your license utilization is high, you just renewed, and we've got all these different offerings to support you. Congratulations. You got to the next phase of maturity.”



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