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Low-Touch SaaS Models: A Customer Onboarding Guide

Low-touch SaaS products and engagement models need to provide seamless customer and data onboarding experiences.

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Customers need the right level of support through every step of their product journey. What your company provides will depend on your preferred customer engagement model.

For high-touch products, this usually means responsive customer success managers and personalised support. Low-touch SaaS products need to provide an outstanding self-service user experience from the very first click.

Every touchpoint you have with a customer or potential customer shapes how they experience your product and brand. If your product is complex, poorly-explained or glitchy, you’re likely to lose people. If you bombard your customer with an excess of irrelevant attention, they’re also likely to churn. That’s why it’s key to focus on smooth onboarding and smart segmentation right from the start.

While customer experience is deeply important, good onboarding is also about enabling your teams with good data. But before we get into details of how you can do that, let’s back up for a minute and examine the main differences between high-touch and low-touch SaaS.

Differences between High-Touch and Low-Touch SaaS models

What are the key differences, advantages, and drawbacks of high-touch vs. low-touch SaaS models? Let’s take a look.

High-touch vs. low-touch

High-touch SaaS is where your product relies heavily on traditional sales teams and personalised guidance. In essence, high-touch means a lot of people are involved in the process. This can include salespeople, trainers, customer success managers, and customer support teams. CRM company, Salesforce, is a great example of high-touch SaaS, with huge teams working to win and retain clients. The key benefit of high-touch SaaS is that customers feel valued, guided, and know where to go for support. The drawback is that for smaller companies, high-touch is feasible only when customer numbers are low. It’s hard to maintain that level of attention at scale without hiring accordingly.

With low-touch SaaS products, customers can navigate the product by themselves without needing help from salespeople or customer service teams. This self-service model allows customers to understand the product and quickly find what they need easily. The low-touch experience should be intuitive, user-friendly, and well-supported with self-service reference materials and help articles that can be used in the event of difficulties. Atlassian, which makes Jira, Trello, Confluence and others, is a successful example of a low-touch SaaS product where customers can onboard themselves.

A key benefit of low-touch SaaS is that intuitive onboarding flows and in-product functionalities give the customer everything they need. When it’s well set up and running smoothly, low-touch feels effortless. A drawback of low-touch SaaS is that, without human oversight, problems can sometimes go unrecognised, and companies can lose customers without even realising it. This is another reason why it’s so important to set up a smart onboarding flow that serves both customers and the company.

Pricing is a key area that fuels the high-touch vs low-touch debate. Low-touch products tend to have tiered pricing, e.g. basic, standard, and premium, which means that prices are set from the start and are clear for prospective customers.

High-touch pricing is negotiated on a customer-by-customer basis. Salespeople tend to tailor the offering to the needs (and buying power) of the individual customer. This is generally geared towards enterprise users who often need multiple licences and additional services such as on-premises deployment.

Sales Process

These days, everyone is familiar with the low-touch sales process. It’s often based on a free trial period during which the customer can explore the product. They might need to give their payment or contact details in advance and usually have to actively cancel before the trial period ends if they don’t want to become a customer. Marketing will usually focus on the convenient, no-commitment nature of the free trial, and emails and push notifications will encourage users to test out the product.

The high-touch sales process is far more traditional. Cold outreach, customised demos, and multiple calls over weeks or months display the benefits of the product and demonstrate customer-centric service.

Customer Onboarding

For high-touch SaaS, the customer onboarding process follows on from closing the sale. In-person meetings, demos, webinars, training, or video chats guide the customer through the process, and in most cases, a customer success manager will be assigned so that clients have a go-to person if they run into obstacles or questions.

Great UX that centres simplicity and makes next steps obvious to customers is usually the hallmark of successful low-touch onboarding. The onboarding process can be supported by the likes of FAQs, videos, emails, and detailed blog articles.

Data Onboarding

Data onboarding is where customer information is gathered, whether input manually or imported from another product or application. Often, this means that data arrives from different sources in various formats. These formats then need to be consolidated so the data can be effectively used and protected.

Whether high-touch or low-touch, onboarding data is always sensitive. You need to have a watertight way of importing customer data like payment or personal details. In short: the customer needs to trust you, or they’ll churn. But it’s not just about customer trust and data privacy. Segmenting your customer base right from onboarding means you can effectively meet a range of needs over the short- and long term. It will also save you from sorting messy data at a later stage.

nuvo’s data importer makes it easy for you to set up segmentation and import and clean data right from the start. Just set up your data target schema, and nuvo enables a hassle-free way to onboard, import, and automatically clean data inputs instantly. You can also import data from a range of different file types like XLS, CSV, JSON, and XML, and they’ll all seamlessly integrate into your system and output format. Because nuvo is directly embedded in your software as a front-end library, all data processing happens in your browser before being uploaded to your server. As your data stays with you at all times and is never processed by nuvo, this makes it the most secure and private data onboarding library on the market.

Customer Success (CSM) & Customer Support

If you’ve set up smart low-touch onboarding, SaaS products should see a relatively low churn rate. Customer success and support will rely chiefly on the high-quality resources you’ve created in advance. You can use the same processes and resources as you scale, and your customers will receive the same high level of service. You’ll need to optimise over time to adjust to the market’s changing needs, but you’ll have the lion’s share of the work done without hiring huge teams to support growth.

Like its sales process, high-touch customer success and support is all about showing your company’s human side. Activation is driven through person-to-person contact and training overseen by dedicated account managers. As you can imagine, scaling high-touch SaaS products means scaling the team needed to maintain that level of bespoke support. However, if your team is capable of selling enough licenses, you should still see a solid ROI.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is key to success, no matter which side you fall on the high-touch vs. low-touch debate. If you try to upsell or engage unsegmented customers with irrelevant content, it shows poor attention-to-detail and you’re likely to drive churn. When you know what your segmented customers want from the start, you can give them what they need before they even know they need it.

As your company grows, the reality is that you may have to use a mix of high- and low-touch methods to serve your different customer segments adequately. Low-touch will work for clients on the lower end of the ACV (annual contract value) scale, whereas high ACV customers may require more bespoke attention.

Metrics to Evaluate Customer Onboarding Efforts

Optimising your business as it grows means correctly interpreting and applying insights from the data you gather. If you’re trying to assess the success of your customer onboarding process, you should think about the following:

  • Retention rate (% of customers your product keeps)
  • Churn rate (% of customers that drop out before finishing onboarding)
  • Engagement rate (% of customers actively using your product)
  • Trial conversion rate (% of customers who convert during the trial period)
  • Completion rate (% of people who make it to the end of your onboarding flow)
  • Time-to-value (time it takes people to start gaining value from your product)
  • Activation rate (% of users who get to points that show you’ve retained customers)

Now that we’ve explained the ins and outs of high-touch SaaS and low-touch SaaS onboarding, let us show you how you can easily set up a low-touch data onboarding model that suits your business.

How to Implement a Low-Touch Model with the Right Data Onboarding Solution

Finding the right approach to low-touch data onboarding means integrating seamless solutions that give you the right amount of control and oversight. You need scalable tools that enable your business to make smart decisions, segment customers easily, protect customer data, and optimise your systems without labour-intensive system overhauls.

nuvo is the most secure and data privacy-compliant onboarding solution focused on high-variance data importing, cleaning and validation. You can embed nuvo directly into your software or SaaS as a front-end library in React, Angular, Vue.js, or JavaScript in a matter of minutes.

With a self-service data ingestion process, you can accept a range of different file types and create smart, clean segmentation with ease. By setting the parameters ahead of time, nuvo will save you hours on cleaning data that you’ll then be able to spend on your core product. nuvo customers especially love:

  • Fully customisable styling
  • Highest security and data privacy standards compliance
  • Machine learning supported column matching
  • Advanced data validation and customisable data cleaning functions
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Continuous feature and performance improvements and maintenance.

Book your first exploratory call with our team and get to know how you can easily improve your data onboarding process.

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