Over the past year, high-touch automation has changed the channel marketing game and become one of the best solutions available. High-touch customer service is a hot topic in the channel partner marketing world — and for good reason. As expert Larry Walsh noted in Channelnomics Quarterly (Fall 2022), high-performing partners form 2% to 5% of any channel program. And trends are reducing low-touch channel partners (by as much as two-thirds) as vendors focus on bigger, more lucrative partners. The logical outcome of all this? Amp up the high-touch treatment for high-performing partners, and focus vendor-partner relationships where they’re most rewarding — in ROI terms.
But many high-touch strategic partners are still managed through emails and one-on-one phone calls. Some vendors fall short in providing the best digital experiences to improve collaboration, data sharing, and workflows. High-touch support usually requires human interaction — more labor, time, costs — to service those contacts and follow-ups. And often-inefficient workflows for high-touch service involving human interaction increases labor costs even more.
The use of automation, however, can augment and improve high-touch customer service. Let’s explore these complex problems and see how to overcome them efficiently and cost-effectively.
What does high-touch mean?
High-touch service means a more personalized way of offering customer service. When established or new customers reach out for support, high-touch teams from contact centers help them feel engaged. Small things make people feel special — like when dedicated, specific agents help them work through their issues. This results in a customer who trusts your support and speaks highly of your service. And each satisfied customer could potentially refer others to your company or products.
Typical high-touch support includes tactics such as a dedicated CSM for each client and guided onboarding. Knowledgeable reps give personal strategy sessions and live walkthroughs. Each facet of support delivers personalized service and the company knows the client’s specific preferences. The goal is to make every client feel like a high-value customer.
Low-touch customer service uses a more hands-off approach. Low-touch methods typically have different levels of interaction, with human intervention considered to be the last-ditch option. Emails, self-service kiosks, and instructional videos are considered low touch. One level up from that might be chatbots, either using voice systems or direct messaging. Only if the first two tiers fail does the client get to speak to a live representative.
Realize, though, that a low-touch approach can be very effective. For instance, if you’re reserving a rental car online or applying for a credit card — that’s low-touch service. And it works, so long as the process is intuitive and functions well. It all comes down to making it easy for the customer, no matter what level of support they need. Regardless of your approach, poor interaction, unresolved issues, and unsatisfied customers don’t further business growth.
In the past, high-touch services always had greater labor requirements. For most companies, staffing needs must meet service demands at all times. But modern SaaS tools now allow vendors to increase the efficiency of their high-touch services for better ROI. The greater efficiency of automation means the services can be customized and applied to more partners for the same investment. And handling high-touch support through SaaS can deliver higher strategic value than on-premise software options. Research finds that 70% of CIOs favor SaaS solutions for their agility and scalability.
StructuredWeb, for example, was credited by one partner, AVF, as the only platform supporting a two-tiered distribution model in the IT channel space. The automated channel marketing platform provides the flexibility and scalability to manage and execute multi-tiered channel programs. Additionally, the platform helps create fully-customized and integrated campaigns for top-tier partners, while providing smaller partners with scalable, ready-made campaigns.
StructuredWeb’s platform offers personalized partner portals, automatic co-branding, content translation, and fully customizable assets. More than 20 integrated marketing tactics can provide each partner with extensive marketing support. These enhanced, comprehensive partner engagement tools position vendors for greater and more effective partner market support.
Personal touch software solutions, like StructuredWeb’s, assist vendors in many ways, fostering continued engagement with their best partners. The best SaaS tools also help partners connect with customers. Here’s a few ways automation can help:
- Automated reminders of things like birthdays can prompt reps on opportunities to reach out to customers in a friendly way. Also, reminders can give reps time to send personalized welcome and follow-up emails to offer support and training.
- Personalized partner portals, based on partner needs, create easy-to-use and effective support options. Familiar, intuitive designs foster greater use of the platform, and greater marketing impact.
- Customizable partner enablement provides an experience that streamlines all aspects of channel marketing and sales. Adaptable to partner segments and stacked with flexible tools, this feature helps maximize adoption and engagement.
- Integrated lead management cuts down on disconnects and sticking points between departments. Clear and concise analysis panels show lead scoring, distribution, tracking, notifications, and nurturing, with easy-to-follow data points.
- Robust performance reports can quickly spot signs of partner disengagement, identifying weak marketing efforts and campaigns. Vendors can contact valued partners personally to find out what’s going on and fix it — before it’s too late.
- Custom communications and alerts bring the latest product information to the customer in a personalized, targeted format. Timely notices of new products or services often results in spawning other new business or sales inquiries.
- On-demand training allows partners to provide support round the clock, supporting partners in both local and distant time zones. On-demand webinar series and online chat capability offers immediate support for partners and agencies, whenever they need it.
StructuredWeb’s market experience helps vendors tackle high-touch partners with effective and productive automation solutions. And to help maximize partner adoption, StructuredWeb offers multiple partner engagement experiences. Our platform offers fully-managed, customized, multi-touch campaigns for strategic partners as well as more automated, ready-made campaigns for smaller partners. Are you ready to energize your channel marketing?
Look for my next addition to StructuredWeb’s 2023 Predictions Series coming shortly.