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Striking the Balance: High Touch vs. Low Touch Engagement Models in Business

Knowing the differences between high touch and low touch engagement can help you build an effective customer support strategy. Read on to learn more.

Good customer experiences can set your business apart. But how much should you engage your customers?

The key to customer success is finding the right balance between high and low touch engagement models. High touch customer engagement offers a hands-on approach, prioritizing deeper customer relationships through direct interactions. On the other hand, low touch customer engagement streamlines interactions with less direct contact.

Your customer engagement model will largely depend on the type of products or services you sell. Still, the right decision is a delicate balance aligning your company’s objectives with customer expectations and needs.

Keep reading to learn more about high touch vs. low touch engagement and how to choose the right model for your business.

What is a high touch engagement model?

The high touch engagement model emphasizes the importance of customer service through direct and personalized interactions with customers. This approach requires more customer hand-holding to provide them with the level of service they expect. In a high touch model, businesses build strong relationships, provide tailored solutions based on a particular customer needs, and offer support.

Many SaaS companies use this model, especially if their solutions are relatively complex with a learning curve. High touch engagement strategies typically involve dedicated account or customer care managers who work directly with the customer to meet their needs and provide ongoing consulting after onboarding.

The benefits of a high touch customer service approach are largely associated with customer relationships and attracting high-value customers. With this model, account managers can deliver highly personalized experiences tailored to the needs of each customer, helping them build stronger relationships that increase loyalty and overall satisfaction.

Unfortunately, these benefits come at a cost. Since high touch models require one-on-one interactions between businesses and customers, they’re time-consuming. Clients may require ongoing support, and your account managers can only handle so many customers at one time, making high-touch engagement models difficult to scale. In addition, because they’re so resource-intensive, high touch models are the most costly.

Examples of high touch customer engagement include:

  • Providing a dedicated customer success manager
  • Offering personalized onboarding, training, and ongoing support
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Highly customized solutions

What is a low touch engagement model?

A low touch engagement model is the opposite of a high touch engagement model and involves less direct customer interaction. Low touch, meaning less interaction, requires automation, AI, digital engagement tools, and self-service resources to streamline communication and engagement.

Low touch customer success models are scalable and allow businesses to handle more customers. Keep in mind that low touch doesn’t mean no touch; you’ll still have some direct interactions with your customers, but there’s no need for account managers. Instead, you might just have a customer service team.

This model is highly scalable because it uses automation and other technologies to handle larger volumes of interactions. This also makes them more cost-effective because you won’t need to scale up or down your operations to meet demand. At the same time, this model is convenient and efficient for your customers, allowing them to find answers to their questions on their own.

However, the low touch customer success model reduces personalization. You won’t be able to offer them tailored solutions because you’re not in direct contact with them. Instead, they’ll use automated systems and self-service tools, which don’t provide the same level of support. Because of this, you can't forge the same type of strong relationships with customers as you would with a higher-touch model.

Examples of low touch customer engagements include:

  • Customer support team
  • Self-service portals
  • Knowledge bases
  • FAQ pages
  • Chatbots
  • Automated emails

High touch vs. low touch customer engagement models: Key differences

The most significant difference between high touch vs. low touch customer engagement models is the level of direct contact with your customers.

With a high touch model, account managers have a select few customers they manage daily, often forming good relationships with them. On the other hand, low touch models rely on customer service teams that don’t get to know their customers as well.

Other differences between high touch vs. low touch engagement models include:

Personalization

High touch engagement models provide more opportunities for personalization because account managers directly interact with customers, allowing them to develop a deep understanding of their needs and preferences.

In contrast, low touch models rely more on technology to provide convenient but less personal experiences.

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Scalability

When comparing low touch vs. high touch engagement models, the former is more scalable because it doesn’t require as many human resources. Instead, technology and automation allow it to serve a larger customer base faster through self-service options, chatbots, and other methods.

Customer engagement

A high touch customer service model allows you to develop more emotional relationships with customers and foster a sense of loyalty, leading to higher levels of engagement. On the other hand, a low touch model prioritizes speed and efficiency. However, that doesn’t mean customers aren’t highly engaged. Instead, they might appreciate the frictionless experience.

Cost

There’s a significant cost difference between high touch and low touch engagement models. Because high touch models require more resources and staff members, it’s more expensive. If you want to scale operations, you’ll need to hire more account managers and pay for their training, salaries, and benefits.

On the other hand, the low touch model is more cost-effective because it leverages technology that can handle larger volumes of customer interactions.

Should you use a high touch or low touch customer engagement model?

Whether you use a high touch or low touch engagement model largely depends on your business strategy, the products your organization sells, and the target audience.

For instance, some financial institutions, IT providers, and professional services companies need a high touch model because their customers rely on the ability to connect with them directly.

On the other hand, brands with simpler products probably don’t need a high touch engagement model. Instead, they’ll prefer the flexibility, scalability, convenience, and efficiency of a low touch customer success model.

Instead of account managers, they’ll have a customer success team responsible for handling inquiries while providing automation and other resources that enable them to use products and services. Its customers may prefer this approach because they don’t need to remain in constant contact with these businesses.

Factors to consider when choosing a high touch or low touch model include

  • Target audience. If your customers have high needs and require personalization and tailored products or experiences, high touch engagement might be best.
  • Business goals. Consider what you want to achieve through customer interactions. If you want to build long-term customer relationships, high touch models might be right for you. However, if you have a broader customer base that doesn’t require hand-holding, you may prefer a low touch model.
  • Resources. If you don’t have the budget or resources to scale your customer success team, you may prefer a low touch model. On the other hand, if you have the capacity to handle the workload associated with high touch engagement and your customers prefer it, you may benefit from a high touch engagement strategy.

You should always consider the factors above to determine whether a high or low touch engagement model is right for your business. For instance, your target audience may prefer more interaction with your company, requiring you to consider high touch tactics, even if you don’t have the resources.

High-touch engagement can be scaled down using some strategies employed by low touch engagement models. For example, you can support customer success managers with FAQ pages and knowledge bases that allow clients to find answers on their own instead of waiting for a response.

Of course, you can also strike a balance between both options and choose a hybrid engagement model that combines the best elements from both. Instead of comparing low touch vs. high touch models, you can cater to the needs of different types of customers. For instance, your high-value clients may require more support, while others prefer interacting less with your business.

Most businesses have different customer segments. Identifying which ones require more hand-holding than the other can help you determine when to use high or low touch tactics. In addition, a hybrid model can be effective as part of an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy.

For example, you can use high-touch engagement strategies for key accounts and low touch engagement for broader marketing efforts to generate website traffic and nurture leads.

Improve engagement with high and low touch customer success models

Your customer engagement model should be considered carefully. The right approach can allow you to build valuable relationships with customers that increase loyalty.

Engage your customers with Mailchimp. Whether you choose a high or low touch engagement model, you can improve the customer experience by creating personalized interactions that resonate with your audience. Try Mailchimp today.

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