What is High Touch vs. Low Touch?

In many cases, Customer Success Managers face a common doubt in their workplace: What engagement model should they use for their customers? Or, what is the correct number of touchpoints they should maintain for the best results? 

There are quite a few factors at play here. 

For example, a low touch customer success is useful for low customer support cost and reaching out to a much wider audience. However, on the other hand, a high touch customer success helps you give a more personalized experience. 

Over the last few years, customers of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) world have completely changed the expectations of the approach. 

Today, consumers need more hands-on interactions from brands more than ever, with a constant line of communication — high touch service is the modern way to avoid churn. Plus, most surveyed businesses agreed that it’s more cost effective to try and retain current customers than trying to acquire new ones.

So, before going into which engagement model is best for you and your growing business, let’s first get a good understanding of the difference between high touch vs. low touch. 

The Basics of Customer Engagement

We already know quite a bit about the customer journey — how it’s made up of numerous touchpoints, from search to buying decisions to post-purchase support. And, we know that providing a memorable customer experience at each of those points is critical to not only building a solid reputation for your brand, but also maintaining it. 

However, the unfortunate truth is that the value of customer engagement is often underestimated, even though it’s vital to nudging customers toward conversion along their journey. 

You see, customer engagement is all about encouraging your customers to interact with and purchase from your brand over other brands. And if you do it right, you’ll grow your brand and build customer loyalty, ultimately driving revenue. 

In fact, there is actually a driven — and proven — correlation between the level of customer engagement and business profitability. According to research, companies who improve their customer engagement can increase cross-sell revenue by 22% and up-sell revenue by 38%.

Despite the incredible financial impact engaging with customers can have, some brands are still not putting effort into customer engagement at any point in the sales funnel, and if they do, they don’t have a concrete strategy that commits to either high touch or low touch techniques. 

What is the Main Difference Between High Touch and Low Touch?

Over the years, these two popular approaches have been pitted against each other.  This often happens as brands transition from high touch to low touch when scaling their business, or, conversely, from low touch to high touch when they realize all of their expendable funds are going toward customer acquisition just to end up with a high churn rate.

But why are these two pitted against each other in the first place? Why are both not seen as equal techniques in an all-encompassing customer success strategy?

In fact, taking a hybrid approach actually is one of the best strategies to use — but, the only way you can do this effectively is to know the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

What Does High Touch Involve?

The high touch approach involves providing a personalized experience to your customers by catering to their specific wants and needs throughout the customer journey. This not only elevates the customer’s experience but also ensures a strong long-term relationship between the brand and the customer. With this effective approach, the sales representative may gauge the customer’s specific needs prior to the decision stage and pitch solutions to their pain points accordingly. 

Efforts to reach out and connect during any point of the sales process are generally well-received by the modern consumer, so developing a connection early on and maintaining that level of service throughout the journey can make a solid impression that later equates to customer loyalty. 

However, the truth is that this customized, one-on-one level of service is not always scalable — and it’s definitely not cheap. 

What Does Low Touch Involve?

Also known as tech-touch, this effective strategy involves digital engagement and the use of non-designated customer success associates as needed. 

Essentially, there is very little human interaction with the customer, but automatic check-ins are frequent and managed by a CMR-type software. This data-driven style of proactive management helps customers to feel valued, and lets them know help is available if they need it. 

This approach frees up customer support agents so they can tend to high-needs clients or specific high-touch situations. Pre-programmed temperature checks can also be implemented as a part of a retargeting strategy.

As amazing as the low touch approach may seem, the drawback here is pretty obvious: without at least some human interaction, customers may begin to see the brand as cold or distant. 

Even more, they may begin to view the brand as uninterested in actually solving their problem. It’s also difficult to forecast churn when you’re not able to talk to your customers directly.

Is One Method Better Than the Other For Certain Markets?

Smart Customer Success Managers (CSMs) maintain a hybrid high touch-low touch model to cater to different customers. It all depends on various factors like the number of customers going through the sales process at once, customer portfolio, the number of available and appointed CSMs, the industry of the business, and more. 

You see, the truth is that there is no “one-size fits all” high touch low touch ratio for all SaaS companies. 

One approach is not necessarily better than the other by default because every brand has a slightly different target market, and where one brand might benefit greatly from a mostly low touch approach, others may benefit from a mostly high touch approach. 

Whether or not a high touch model would fit better compared to a low touch model is entirely up to the product or service being offered and the desired outcome. 

If your product or service is generally user-friendly enough that installation, implementation, etc. can be done by the user, it’s often best to go with an engagement model that doesn’t overwhelm the customer with aggressive — and sometimes annoying — communication. 

If your product or service is designed as an expert-designed solution for novices to the subject area, a high touch approach may be better received since your consumers are working with something they don’t have much familiarity with. 

One of the best tactics you can use to decide which model is more appropriate is to step back and take a look at your sales funnel — is it weaker at the top of the funnel, the middle, or the bottom? Weaker conversion at any point of the journey may indicate the need for a high touch approach just in that stage, while you might be able to get away with a low touch everywhere else. 

So, before diving into either a high touch or low touch approach, really think about who your customers are (think customer persona). 

Real Life Example: How an Online Shop Could Take Either Approach

By now, you understand the difference between high touch engagement and low touch engagement, so let’s take a look at a quick example.

Let’s say you have an eCommerce web store that sells custom t-shirts in bulk for companies, non-profits, sports teams, etc. Your store, while it does have its own Shopify backend, also has Facebook and Instagram to help with advertising efforts. 

A high touch engagement approach may involve having each new customer work with a designated designer from the very beginning of the process to help walk them through the design process, ordering process, manufacturing process, and fulfillment. The designer would work with them every step of the way to ensure that the custom order is not only fulfilled correctly, but that any potential pain points are addressed as soon as possible. After fulfillment, the designer may follow up within a week of delivery to ensure all the shirts fit and look as planned. 

A low touch engagement approach may involve having an automatic pop-up message come up on the site as the customer is browsing shirts or even as they’re mocking up a design. The message may say something like “Hi! Do you need help with anything?” and the customer can then either reply free-form or select a pre-designated response to get further assistance from a human support agent. 

The Takeaway

High touch and low touch customer success strategies are not in opposition to each other — you should use a combination of both that is tailored to your specific customer persona, journey, and product experience. 

But one rule is common: for anything generic, a low touch approach is more than enough. For dealing with valuable or high maintenance customers, the high touch model is most useful. 

By using a dedicated analytics program like Kissmetrics, you can gain valuable insight about the impact of your engagement efforts to help you figure out which approach is best for their specific needs, even if those needs differ per-cohort. 

Kissmetrics gives you the information you need to acquire qualified prospects, convert more leads into paying customers, and reduce churn — everything you need to ensure the success of your growing brand. 

If you’re ready to get started, click here to Schedule a Demo with Kissmetrics, and see how product and marketing insight can help you drive revenue. 





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