3 Customer Success Touchpoints You Should Be Automating

Joe Di Grande is the Founder of Joe Does Tech Touch and a member of Vitally’s Success Network.


The primary value of automation is the ability to do more with less. Ideally, we want to scale our efforts while still providing a great client experience.

But doing this requires an actual Customer Success strategy and having the right customer data. Often, CS teams buy technology thinking the tech will solve their problems for them. That’s not how it works, unfortunately. Strategy and data have to come first, and then you can empower those things with technology.

I believe that every touchpoint in an account lifecycle can be automated to some degree. Here are some tips that I often recommend to Customer Success teams that are thinking about building out their tech-touch and digital CS efforts.

What should you automate first?

When you're deciding where to start your automation efforts, focus on the tasks that are the most repetitive for your team. What’s taking up your time, but not your brainpower? 

If you're finding yourself sending contract details over and over to customers, is there a way that you could templatize that action and create a snippet or canned response? If a new customer comes on board, do you have an automated flow to welcome them and introduce them to their CSM?

These touchpoints are easily repeatable and consistent, which means they don’t need to be manual processes.

Here’s another way to put an easy win on the board: Ask yourself, “Do we already have an article or other educational asset that would help the customer in this moment?” 

If a certain question comes up consistently from customers during onboarding or implementation, make sure you work with your team to develop a piece of content that addresses it, and get it into a template to deploy whenever it’s needed. There’s no reason your CSMs need to answer the same questions over and over again.

Again, as long as an action is repeatable and at least somewhat scalable, it’s a good candidate to be automated.

Automating the “Launch Phase” (Onboarding and Implementation)

Welcome emails are the touchpoint everyone should be automating during the onboarding stage, and data is very important here.

There are two different buckets for welcome emails: The key decision makers, and the actual end users of your product. The decision-makers are the ones who have been having the conversations with your team — they’re your advocates from the start, and they know who’s signing the contract and who’s implementing the product — so it's very important to stay in sync with your new business team for that knowledge transfer.

You might not know just from a user persona who these decision-makers are until they register, so you'll need to decide who would be the most valuable to segment, based on your product. Once you do figure that out, you’ll segment them out in your CSP or in your product itself and create automated welcome emails for each persona, from the contract signer to the company’s Ops lead or end user.

These emails could be anything from just a quick introduction to a timed cadence of educational emails firing off in the background. 

Once that’s in place, you can have events getting sent to your CSP letting your team know which actions the new customer has completed. Did they complete the academy training? Did they connect their email to your product within X amount of time? Did they connect and try out the different features?

As long as you’re already tracking this data, you can create a centralized source of automated updates for the team to leverage.

Automating Education and Product Updates

Sending surveys is important, but so is letting customers know how you’ve applied their feedback. Did that feature ever get released? Is there now an article about this in the academy?

Start by tracking surveys and requests in your CSP or CRM, bucketed by user segments. You could organize it based on ARR to see which requests could result in the most business impact, as well as job titles and user persona to get a better understanding of who’s being affected.

Then, create a contact view or a report and automatically launch a message to the segment when an update has been made or a piece of content has been released. 

One challenge is that different teams own the content creation and distribution functions at various companies, so you have to make sure that your Marketing, CS, Sales, and Ops teams are in close communication. (Tip: Having a point-person from each team meet on a monthly basis to collaborate on this process can make a world of difference.)

It might not be perfect, or perfectly automated, but investing the data development time in order to flag the right updates to your customers will result in a much better experience, and fewer one-off requests.

Automating Renewals

Automating parts of your renewal process is beneficial because it forces you to have a consistent strategy for renewals in the first place.

Granted, every company is different, and different segments require a different approach. But if you can pre-determine the rates or pricing that your customers are going to renew on — if that’s already baked into your CRM or your CSP — you can send renewal communications to customers automatically. 

Additionally, if you have a predetermined negotiation strategy in place, these options and responses can be laid out in templates or snippets for your team to leverage. This will not only help with saving time but also with consistency.

If you handle renewals through your own software platform, you might just need the customer to confirm their billing details, or maybe sign a new contract, but that can all be automated.

Again, you’re doing all this so your team can focus on the human element. Your CSMs would still have to intervene on customer escalations, for example, or any scenario that actually requires a human, helping hand. But if you can streamline renewals by running a process that you trust, you can then pay more attention to other parts of your book of business or further engage with key clients.

This goes back to the core of tech-touch or digital CS, which is, "How do I give more time to my team to take on more accounts and also focus on bigger opportunities?" At the end of the day, CS is still sales. So maybe your CSMs need to be heads-down on negotiating and figuring out upsell opportunities. But once these repeatable engagement touchpoints are automated, your team suddenly has a lot more time back in their day.

Automation Pitfalls to Avoid

Anything could be automated as long as there’s value to the customer. But there are some dangers to look out for if you’re new to digital CS.

First and foremost, you have to be able to trust your data 100%. Before you put any of this into motion, you need to know exactly how your data is being updated. Is it being automatically updated through an API connection or direct integration with the solutions that are feeding that data in, or is it based on an internal process?

When I say process, I mean, "How trustworthy is our sales team and/or CS team in updating the information in their CSP or CRM? Are they trustworthy enough that we can launch automation? Or do we need to take a step back and tighten that up before we can do a fully automated campaign?"

If you're unsure, take baby steps. Run segmentation reports in your CSP or CRM to confirm the accuracy of your data. Are there blank values for certain data types or is old data being populated? 

If you run into these issues, don't fret! Manually adding your audience to a "semi-automated" play or sequence — where a rep has the ability to review the data values in the sequence (or at least in the first email) prior to sending — will give you the ability to test the overall process and strategy before you launch a larger fully automated campaign.

Speaking of data, you want to be mindful of who you're reaching out to based on local privacy laws. For example, make sure your automated communications are compliant with laws such as CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and that your terms and conditions and privacy agreements allow you to do the things you actually want to do.

And finally, your top customers still deserve a special touch, even in the new reality of scaled digital CS. For renewals over a certain threshold of ARR or annual contract value, you’ll want to be mindful of what you’re sending out so that your best clients don’t feel like just another name on an email list.

Ready to Get Started?

Automation can be a dramatic unlock for Customer Success teams, not just because it eliminates repetitive tasks that drag down your team, but because it forces CS teams to give serious thought to their strategy and data clarity.

Please connect with me on LinkedIn if you have any more questions about Customer Success automation, and browse through these great resources for more tech-touch and digital CS inspiration:

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