High Touch or Low Touch? Maybe That’s Not the Right Question

There’s an assumption in our industry about customer success (CS) that says that companies wanting to establish CS organizations need to quickly decide on the type of engagement model they’ll deploy for their various segments. The debate typically argues the merits and demerits of a high touch strategy versus low touch. The answer always boils down to people (high touch) versus technology (low touch).

Man wrestling robot arm

Intelligent and helpful examples of blended models have been proposed, but it seems that the more variations entertained, the longer it takes to come to a conclusion that the company feels suits their needs. Therefore, close attention is directed at determining which customers will receive high touch and then relegating everyone else to low. Or maybe a model is designed that sees a well-defined high touch, an ill-defined and very squishy medium, and a low that looks like, well, just about every generic campaign ever designed and executed by a marketing organization.

Confused? So are your customers. And, by the way, they may also be insulted.

man scratching head

Would you be able to tell?

While the segmentation exercise offers speed and certainty for the company, it tends to reinforce preexisting biases and often suffers from faulty logic. In the end, this can result in very limited value to the average customer that can take many months to play out. And (here’s where temperatures rise) this applies even with a company’s most strategic customers.

A rebuttal to my point (I can hear it being yelled) is that vendors must preserve the ability for their highest ARR (annual recurring revenue) customers to be successful at all costs and that high touch programs offer the level of attention those customers expect and require. That’s fine, I get it. But if you honestly probed the subject of what level of attention those strategic customers expect and require, you might be surprised. Your customers’ definition of what constitutes success is likely different than your assumptions.

Let’s expand on that point.

Customer Success High Touch as It Is Normally Delivered

  • People, usually very experienced: low CSM to customer ratio.
  • Informed oversight of implementations, onboarding, upgrades. They also share, to some extent, governance of the account relationship with sales.
  • Quarterbacking of escalations; act as “single throat to choke” (I can’t stand that phrase); do whatever it takes to get the customer out of crises.
  • Conduct regular cadence of check-in calls.
  • Deliver occasional business reviews focused mostly on the customer’s support experience and what’s coming from product management.

The Value in That Approach

  • A human relationship, a name
  • Immediacy, responsiveness, customer account, and, inconsistently, business knowledge
  • Security
  • Comfort, familiarity
  • Some sense that by meeting there will be an improvement in the support experience and a clearer picture of how the solutions impact the customer’s business

In our Voice of the Customer program, we’ve explored this topic and have learned that, sadly, customers are often left frustrated even when CSMs deliver consistently against all those items listed above. Why would they still be frustrated? Don’t they realize the amount of effort and energy the CSM is expending to serve them?

Actually, they do.

Time and again, I hear from executives who say they love their assigned CSM, and that they do X, Y, and Z (the items listed above) phenomenally well. It’s just that they feel their own teams have not made enough progress with adopting the solution and they wish the CSM could get in front of the challenges. In a nutshell, they feel there isn’t enough proactive guidance to help them achieve their goals.

Before any competitors read this and declare a scoop, let’s all be honest and admit that our company is not unique in this regard. My own experience with previous employers, big and small, my time spent in a research firm talking with hundreds of executives, and the research from industry firms (e.g. TSIA, SiriusDecisions, IDC, Forrester, etc.) have all made the correlation between the limitations of existing customer success models and persistent high rates of churn. Those findings are also supported in the countless stories CSMs tell at conferences and meetups. There just hasn’t been enough demonstrable future-oriented business impacting value in the existing dynamic. That’s why we’ve rolled out a new model to address the imbalances of that dynamic.

We believe that what’s been missing all along has been customer-generated and controlled data, data that we should be able to consume to turn back around and provide more relevant and personalized service.

As a relevant aside, it might surprise you to read that for B2B enterprises, the world of global financial trading offers good guidance on this topic. Whether an engagement is high touch or low, the engine that powers the engagement must be a firm layer of customer data-driven insights and appropriate automation that acts upon it. We believe that philosophy will reveal what’s missing from high touch and will make low touch a more powerful and relevant experience for all customers.

What we envision is this.

Customer Success As It Should Be Delivered to ALL Customers

  • Business knowledge for the customer as job No. 1. We should be able to answer the question, “How can this Oracle solution help me solve for _____?”
  • Highly responsive, clear, and professional communications.
  • Information and guidance ahead of need.
  • Deliver service that says, “We understand you, we understand your business, and we’ll be your advocate within Oracle.”

We believe all our customers deserve the best service, and we also believe that the best can only be provided by getting close to our customers, by listening to them, by partnering with them, and by improving our capabilities based on what we can learn from them. We have confidence this is the right approach because we hear our customers express this desire in the comments they make in our customer satisfaction surveys, during the in-depth interviews in our Voice of the Customer program, and from the insights we glean and extrapolate from engagement data collected in our digital interfaces.

Whether it’s high touch or low touch, our new approach means we’ll provide consistent, and proactive, expert guidance.

Customer success should not be about heroically supporting and leading the charge against escalations. Don’t get me wrong, customers applaud that and are grateful for it, but they’d much rather the escalations never happened. They believe customer success should become more instrumental in preventing escalations from ever occurring. 

man shaking robot hand

Customer success is about simplicity and speed, it’s about clarity of process structure and language, and it’s about an accountability for those deliverables that will drive momentum toward the achievement of customer business goals.

That’s what customers want. That’s what we’re going to deliver.

Check out our recent announcement of our new service model.

Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Do the Right Thing for Your Business … and Your Audience

This week was all about doing the right thing — being cool, kind, ethical, and respectful. Not in spite of your business goals, but to support them. Because it turns out, most people would actually rather do business with someone who isn’t a complete tool. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about content authenticity — what
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Are You Using The Right CMS Platform?

CMS is short for Content Management System – and it’s easy to understand why many novices find the term confusing. Broken down, it sounds like a specialized tool, something you might use to store and organize materials before putting them online or saving reference materials. In reality, though, CMS platforms are everywhere. WordPress is a CMS and so is Drupal, and there are dozens of others. Once you understand that every website is dependent on CMS infrastructure, the importance of such tools becomes clear.

With that in mind, then, how do you know if you have the right CMS platform? Consider these 4 factors as you navigate this complex marketplace. The right host is the one designed for your niche, so stay outcome-focused as you assess your options. It’s all about results, after all.

Think Support

For those who are relatively new to web design, the level of support available for a given CMS platform can be a big factor when selecting one for your own site. For example, WordPress is the most popular CMS because it’s used not only for business sites but also for many free, personal pages – it has over 24 million installations. Because so many people are using the platform, then, there are tons of support boards online, as well as a robust customer service team.

Compared to WordPress, a CMS like Drupal has only 1.3 million installs and Typo3 and Concrete5 follow Drupal at a distance with 500,000 and 140,000 installations, respectively. Though the users for these platforms are passionate about them, you’re far less likely to find beginner-friendly support for these systems.

Know Your Field

Just like WordPress is ideal for personal and small business websites, some other industries have niche CMS platforms. For example, in 2015, all Australian government departments were made to migrate online. In doing so, it became clear that most of the sites were very similar. In order to save money and reduce redundancies, local firm Bliss Media helped the government streamline the process by developing govCMS, a single CMS platform that could be adapted for any Australian government site with both PaaS and SaaS options.

Of course, many other governments could likely make use of govCMS, not just those in Australia, but this was decidedly a targeted solution. If you ask around within your industry, you’re likely to find similar solutions exist.

To Host Or Not To Host

Most CMS systems offer multiple hosting options, specifically designed so you can keep your system onsite and host it through your own servers, or you can just buy the software and run it remotely.

For most businesses, SaaS is a better option than on-site hosting because you aren’t responsible for server failures, the software is typically more flexible and always up to date, and the company takes care of the IT side of things. Even advanced web designers can benefit from SaaS – and these systems grow with your audience.

Study Security

Finally, security is a top concern for web users today, so if you’re using a platform without proper protections, you’ll see your user base decline. Some CMS systems support security plugins, while others allow you to restrict different users access settings. Make sure to ask plenty of questions about your security options before settling on a CMS so that you don’t wind up facing a user privacy scandal.

There’s no single CMS system that’s right for everyone. Instead, it’s important that you understand exactly what your end goal is and pursue it through your choice of platform. Take your time and don’t jump into a decision just because you want to get your site built. This decision will impact your site’s performance in the long term.

The post Are You Using The Right CMS Platform? appeared first on SpyreStudios.


Conversion Rate Optimization: Getting the right “yes”

As a marketer, you must have a thick skin when analyzing your own webpage because, generally, you are not dealing with an eager customer. Chances are, you are dealing with a jaded customer who has been disappointed before by broken promises from other marketers and who is tired of endless ads that don’t deliver. You have to overcome this negativity by building trust through a series of incremental steps that lead to a macro-yes.

So, your presentation can’t be the same as your competitors — it must be better. Your reasons can’t be the same as other brands — they must be more compelling.

Using the MECLABS Conversion Index [C=4m+3v+(2i-f)-2a], Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, focuses on two negative components that are driving down the response rate on the ZOPA homepage to give you ideas for fixing your own homepage. He reveals where there is friction that is causing psychological resistance for potential customers of the online personal finance peer-to-peer lending company, and he shows the elements that are causing customer anxiety — thereby driving down the response rate.

When you’re trying to improve the performance of a website, you can either add, remove or change something. Watch this Quick Win Clinic to get ideas for what you should add, remove or change to improve results.


4 Strategies for Business Success (and One Company Getting It Right)

4 Strategies for Business Success (and One Company Getting It Right)

In this era of millennial marketing, social marketing, and influencer outreach, there are simply thousands of strategies your business can use to get where you need to go. Fortunately, we don’t have to think up these strategies on our own, but can look over the shoulders of businesses who have succeeded in paving the way for the rest of us.

PeopleHr is a company who created a human resources software which makes managing a workforce fun again for businesses. Looking closer, I began to realize this company is a pioneer in their own right because they’ve also paved the way for four different business strategies we can all emulate. Here are the strategies you could take to your company and start seeing results fairly quickly.

1. Know Your Customer

The first rule any business owner should understand is the art of knowing your customer. While it’s exciting for some new business owners to want to sell their new wares to the public, they sometimes forget to be excited about the people they’re trying to target.

Know thy customer, and you will begin to see your business flourish like you’ve never seen before. The reason for the “flourishment” is because you spent enough quality time getting to know your buyers. You create personas for them, you begin to understand their wants, needs, and goals. You know the problems they’re facing, and you have a solution you can present to them.

The business is a relationship. The folks over at PeopleHr explained it like this: “Just as with any successful marriage, the more you know about a person, the more likely you are to develop an intimate relationship with them, which reaps love.”

Treat your customers this way, and you will always see them coming back. Not only will you know and understand them, but they will know, like, and trust you and your brand.

Know thy customer, and you will begin to see your business flourish.
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2. Maintain a High Standard of Excellence

Whether you are a business of one or 500, you need to maintain a high standard. This is one of the reasons Coca-Cola created success for themselves at an early stage of their business.

Every action and reaction develops something new and exciting within your business. Make sure yourself and the rest of your team always react with this high standard of excellence because you have targeted people out there who are watching your brand.

This is the best time to influence them and create a culture of loyalty and trust within your community. As long as they continue to see you centered around this mantra, you will always be protected.

3. Create a Personal Experience

Once you get to know your customers, you begin to see which marketing strategies are more desirable for them. People love targeted strategies designed especially for them. They can always tell.

Customers equate brands with experience—this is why the customer experience should always be your top priority when planning a marketing strategy. On a whim, the customer can destroy your good name, or build it up.

However, the customer is always set to relive the experience over and over again with your brand as long as you continue making it personal for them on some level. Cater to their wants and needs, and continue solving problems.

4. Create Engaged Employees

What I liked the most about this company was the fact that they focused not only on the consumer side of the business, but also the inner workings with their employees.

From the beginning, I noticed something special about this company. They want their employees to have fun with what they’re doing. Take a look at their employee handbook—this is awesome!


This is just one of many great ways they keep their employees engaged and educated about their business. In fact, they have another great way to engage your employees to get the most efficient results for your business.

As you probably know, engaged employees are people who understand how to love what they do. If the employee is constantly engaging with the brand, they are good communicators and also brand ambassadors for your company. These employees work just as hard on Monday as they do on Friday, and they are always there with a helping hand.

Keep your employee engaged by making them feel special and appreciated. Good work gone unnoticed can take its toll on an engaged employee, and you never want to overlook this aspect of your business.

Your business needs to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps you have tried to do so through educating or entertaining on social media. Maybe you have shared some personal storytelling events which you thought were of good use. Either way, something’s not working, and you need to rethink your strategy.

These four tips from PeopleHr are some original and business-boosting tips you can use to create more opportunities for business in marketing. Learn from these guys and their team to take your brand into success.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

Dial M for M-Commerce: Why Now’s the Time to Swipe Right for Mobile Revenue


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mobile is the first screen, not the second screen. Design and invest accordingly.

Tell me if you’ve heard (or experienced) this one before…

You’re in the market for a new product. You’re on your mobile and you see something in social that prompts you to go online. You hop from page to page and site to site only to become increasingly frustrated with the process because the sites are incredibly difficult to navigate, relevant information is impossible to find, and you can’t complete a transaction without switching screens. Even though many sites/pages are optimized for small screens these days, they’re not optimized for mobile behavior and decision-making.

Did you know that in mobile-first micro-moments (as Google calls them) that 90% of mobile customers are not sure which brand they want to choose and 73% will go with the brand that offers the most mobile-friendly, useful content in each moment?

This is a big problem and it’s only multiplying.

Today’s customer journey is based on legacy rules, processes, and technologies. Mobile is largely a “bolt-on” to the evolving customer experience. From channels to pages to experiences to transactions, the future of mobile commerce is built upon a foundation of the past. In fact, in a recent report I published on the “State of Digital Transformation,” I learned that only 20% of companies were providing mobile-centric content in critical touch points. Yikes!

To flourish, m-commerce requires innovation in perspective and approach. Otherwise, you simply take new technology and capabilities and put them in a box held to yesterday’s standards. To truly innovate, businesses also have to accept what isn’t working today. You have to solve existing problems first before you open the doors that reveal new possibilities. Doing so takes thinking like mobile consumers and personally experiencing today’s journey for all of its challenges as well as its potential. I believe this takes not only a mobile-first philosophy but also seeing the inevitable world of mobile-only customer experiences.

It’s not news that mobile commerce is the future of commerce. All too often however, businesses confuse m-commerce with the ability to transact on smaller screens. It’s more than that of course. It helps to think of m-commerce as inclusive of the entire journey from discovery through transactions to relationship management. Simply investing in technology that adapts existing journeys to smaller screens isn’t enough. It’s as insufficient as it is elementary.  The entire journey must now be re-imagined to optimize discovery, decision-making and engagement. The role each page plays, how they’re experienced, and the functionality embedded along is ripe and deserving of innovation.

The steps that you’ve laid out for consumers of the past have now become obstacles that prevent natural or productive engagement. It’s just not as intuitive as you must think. We’re taking new technologies and potential and forcing customers through processes that are outmoded and to be frank, counter intuitive.


Let me ask you a question. Have you, not just your UX, UI or usability teams, experienced your customer’s journey on individual and across multiple devices? You simply can’t outsource an experience.

While design disciplines require incredible talent and experience, there is a human intuition that comes into play simply by living the brand the way your mobile customer does. It takes empathy to not only “get it” but also feel inspired to create new journeys that are meaningful and useful.

People use screens differently and as such, experience architects must design journeys, transactions and outcomes that are native to the screen and that meet expectations and aspirations accordingly. Mobile customers in large part wish to travel the journey without having to screen hop. And if they do, multiscreening should be seamless, allowing consumers to pick up where they left off while also optimizing desired outcomes based on known preferences, contexts, and states of mind. As such, technology should be invisible.

The era of mobile-first and mobile-only customer journeys are here. It’s time to learn how to thrive in these micro-moments to build and re-build customer experiences so that they’re intuitive, productive and even delightful. Otherwise, we’re forcing customers to conform to touchpoints simply because we can’t conform to their expectations. Guess how long that will last?


Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post Dial M for M-Commerce: Why Now’s the Time to Swipe Right for Mobile Revenue appeared first on Brian Solis.

Brian Solis

Good Customer Service: Are You Doing It Right?

Good Customer Service: Are You Doing It Right? written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Whether you are a B2B or a B2C organization, one thing you already know is that you need to provide quality customer service in order to be successful.

Chances are, your mission statement or company vision includes something about customer service. You may even have customer service-related quotes around the office. But how often, if ever, do you take a step back and evaluate whether or not you are actually providing good customer service?

I’m not talking about damage control when you receive a customer complaint. I’m not even talking about a root cause analysis for that same complaint. I’m talking about a soul searching, top-to-bottom, resource-demanding review of how customer service is defined by your organization and whether or not you are actually accomplishing it.

If you’re interested in that sort of self-evaluation, and you should be, here are five important questions to help determine if you’re doing customer service right.

1. What is good customer service for my organization?

Companies that provide quality customer service do so by establishing trust with their customers, communicating sufficiently and timely while also listening, and delivering high-quality service or products.

However, I would encourage you, when determining if your company provides good customer service, to consider what should be an obvious metric: how often you generate business from referrals. If referrals don’t make up a significant portion of your business, find out why. Successful customer service creates life-long customers who share their wonderful experiences with others.

2. Is your organization listening?

One thing is for sure. Whether you are listening or not, your customers are talking. And I don’t mean with their wallets though that is certainly one way they might be talking, or not talking as the case may be. They’re also talking through social media, online reviews and to their family and friends.

Are you listening to what your customers are saying online? Managing your online reputation is an important part of customer service. Gone are the times where customer service happened only inside of your business. Make sure that you have social media accounts managed by your team and respond to your customers there. Which takes me to my next question…

3. No, really. Are you listening?

Listening requires participation. If you’re not actively communicating with your clients, you’re not listening. A recent post on Duct Tape Marketing discussed the 5 levels of listening with the top level being empathic listening. While you might not be engaged in a verbal conversation with your clients, though I recommend it as often as possible, you should still approach any feedback that comes from your clients with the same empathy that you would hopefully show in a conversation.

As an extension of this, if you’re really listening to your customers, what are you doing with the information? A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. That’s a small sample of the actual number of dissatisfied customers.

Therefore, it’s critical that not only do you pay attention to what they are saying but that you make business decisions intended to remedy the problem. I’m talking real solutions; not band aids.

4. Does your customer service scale?

As small business owners and marketers, we have the upper hand when it comes to customer service. Our small size allows us to personally interact with our customers. Even if your business is large enough to have someone that handles your customers, they likely do so directly instead of through a customer service-killing IVR or via an unmonitored inbox.

Definitely, capitalize on your small size and be as customer-friendly as possible. However, I’m betting that you don’t see yourself as a small business owner forever. Your short term plan and long term plans include growth. So how do you scale your customer service for growth?

Don’t forget what made you successful in the first place. Adopt a big business philosophy in all aspects of your business with the exception of customer service. Maintain your current small business approach to customer service and if you’re doing it correctly now, you will do it correctly in the future. Then, align departmental goals around the philosophy and hold them responsible for it.

5. Are your competitors providing superior customer service?

Oftentimes, customer service can be what differentiates you from your competitors and that’s not a good thing if you’re providing poor customer service. Play it safe and assume that they are doing a great job of providing customer service and you need to increase your effort.

Did you know that your customers are likely willing to pay more for quality customer service? I’m not suggesting that you charge more; I’m recommending that you pay attention to the importance your customer’s place on being treated right.

It should go without saying that you don’t provide first-rate customer service because you want to be better than your competitor. You do it because it’s embedded into who your company is at all levels of the organization. If that’s not who your company is then that’s a good place to start making changes.

About the Author

Itamar GeroItamar Gero is the founder and CEO of SEOReseller.com, a white-label digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies—and their local business clientele—all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).


Duct Tape Marketing

What CMOs Must Get Right In 2017 To Succeed as an ‘Experience Business’


Like clockwork, every December, experts voice their predictions and advice to guide us in the coming year. Sometimes I offer my thoughts. Mostly, I spend my time curating emerging and disruptive technology trends. This year however, my dear friend Giselle Abramovich with CMO.com, reached out with an exceptional question and I couldn’t resist…especially since the answer was limited to 25 words.

Digital transformation and becoming a “customer experience business” is clearly the future for marketing. What is the one thing CMOs must get right in 2017 to make that happen?

I wanted to share the answer with you here :

“Customer experience is just that—what customers actually experience. CMOs must act less like executives or marketers to design meaningful, shareable, and unforgettable experiences that matter to real people, not just shareholders, in every moment of truth.” – Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter, a Prophet company; Author, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design


Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post What CMOs Must Get Right In 2017 To Succeed as an ‘Experience Business’ appeared first on Brian Solis.

Brian Solis