Customer Success, Part 2: 4 Methods for creating a scalable Customer Success program

This guest post by Francoise Tourniaire is the second in a series that takes an in-depth look into creating a successful Customer Success program. You can catch up with Part 1, Setting the stage for customer success, and Part 3, How segmentation delivers value to customers – and your business

high-touch_low-touchThe traditional idea of customer success is the ever-friendly customer success manager who gets customers set up and comfortable with the tool and checks that all is well on a regular basis, bringing interesting suggestions to improve the customer experience. Sounds lovely, right? But it’s expensive.

It’s expensive because it is a high-touch process: the customer interacts with a human being (the customer success manager), in a 1:1 interaction. In contrast, a low-touch process uses alternatives that allow customers to get what they need with fewer 1:1 human interactions, instead using self-service or group interactions for most of the activities.

Clearly a low-touch customer success process is less expensive, and easier to scale, but can it deliver equivalent results for customer retention? This second blog post of our customer success series shows how low-touch, low-cost alternatives to the high-touch, high-cost, traditional model of customer success can deliver results both for onboarding customers and for ongoing retention efforts.

Leveraging Self-Service

It would be difficult to conceive of a customer success process that is purely self-service, but it is very effective to mix self-service activities with personalized check-ins. Here are three ways to make use of self-service:

  • Online training. This can be short videos, recorded webinars, or full-blown computer-based training if you can provide it.
  • Onboarding plan. Giving customers a list of steps and activities to set up the system minimizes confusion and suggests a firm schedule. It can be delivered in self-service, group settings, and also
  • Just-in-time hints. Customers usually follow a predictable path, which makes it possible to deliver helpful hints, ideally in product, as they start using new features for instance.

Leveraging Group Delivery

Many customer success activities can be done with a group of customers rather than with just one customer. Customers get the warmth of a human interaction but at a much lower cost to the organization.

  • Welcome call. The welcome call introduces customers to the onboarding process and can be a small-group affair, scheduled a few times a week to accommodate several customers at once.
  • Live webinars are great training tools and perfectly appropriate if customers all use the system in a similar manner. They can apply to product training or best practices sharing.
  • Online communities. Communities are helpful for all customers. Consider maintaining a separate forum just for new customers, whose concerns may not match established customers’.

Leveraging Big Data

Mining customer data can help you understand patterns so you can deploy better tools and specific customer success strategies as needed to rescue at-risk customers.

  • Health monitoring. Although not foolproof, customer usage is a telling sign of successful adoption. Customers that are not using the tool at all, or using it lightly or incompletely can be flagged for intervention.
  • Churn analysis. While health monitoring focuses mostly on usage patterns, churn analysis evaluates a holistic set of data across customers to detect patterns of defection – which become opportunities for action. Don’t delay churn analysis until your data is “perfect”: start with what you have, and build up over time.

Leveraging Repeatable Processes

Even when you must use a high-touch approach, a repeatable process improves efficiency and consistency.

  • Scripted onboarding. Rather than asking the onboarding specialists to create a custom program for each customer, script the sequence, ideally by customer segment.
  • Adoption campaign kits. Help customers train and motivate their internal users with pre-packaged materials and suggestions. This can be a pure self-service item, or be a part of a program driven by a customer service manager.
  • Responsive support. What is support doing in a customer success checklist? Well, we would not want customer success to be nothing more than an escalation channel, would we?
  • Business environment tracking. Just like support organizations capture their customers’ technical environments to expedite troubleshooting, customer success organizations should have a structured method to capture relevant features of their customers’ business environments.
  • Targeted, scripted check-ins. Equip the customer success managers with a reason and script to contact customers. Use the outcome of health monitoring data (see next paragraph) to trigger the contacts rather the calendar, at least for lower-value customers.

The high-touch model of customer success is wonderful – for key customers. By leveraging self-service, group delivery, big data, and repeatable processes, you can deliver excellent low-touch services to most customers so you can lavish high-touch services on key or at-risk customers. Tell us how you deploy low-touch programs.

Francoise Tourniaire is the founder of FT Works and co-founder of ChurnSquad. Both companies provide consulting, training, and coaching to create and improve customer success initiatives. Her most recent book, The Art of Support: A Blueprint for Customer Success and Support Organizations, is now available on Amazon. Contact Francoise at or 650 559 9826 for more information.