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28 October 2021

4 Expert-Backed Best Practices For Scaling Digital Engagement Through Automation

by Emily Ryan Reading time: 7 mins
automation framework

Assemble An Effective Automation Toolbox

Automation is an indispensable component of a strong digital scale engine and a key driver for business growth and efficiency in near equal measure. Don’t just take our word for it. 97% of enterprise organizations agree that automation is vital to digital transformation and an important factor in achieving business outcomes (Camunda, 2020).

Successfully scaling through automation is both a technical science and an art. A successful digital process automation can’t be achieved by a single person nor without a diverse set of automation tools. Enterprises need to invest in the right team, technology and resources to achieve sustainable growth that drives Net Dollar Retention

In this article, we share 4 expert-trusted principles to successfully scale your growth engine through a best-in-class automation program.

1. Leverage & Amplify Your Marketing Resources

As a discipline, Marketing creates and distributes content with the intent of sharing high-level subject matter expertise, promoting future events and  generating user engagement. While this approach is suitable for Marketing, Customer Success (CS) should not emulate and rely solely on Marketing content. Instead, your CS team should use the Marketing content calendar as a means to amplify, scale and personalize these engagement opportunities with customers.

Consider the manner in which your high-touch Customer Success Managers (CSMs) engage with customers. These CSMs always share opportunities and resources with your customers in a way that is direct, personal and encourages consistent engagement with the ecosystem. A CS team should try to emulate a similar motion at scale, working in conjunction with the Marketing calendar to amplify these opportunities, while leveraging their ability to speak to the customer one-on-one.

Marketing messaging is often broad strokes and surface-level; Customer Success engagement needs to feel personal and direct. It should be clear without doubt that a real person is communicating with your customer, even when they’re not. This is why Marketing material should be used to supplement targeted messaging, but should not form the basis of your digital engagement strategy. That’s not to say that Marketing can’t be a partner in your automation efforts. In fact, there are members within the Marketing team who are experienced writers and program designers, with access to email delivery systems, whose skills you can leverage to build powerful engagement programs while infusing the proper CSM tone and voice.

2. Simplify & Personalize Your Content

Marketing is a good starting point when it comes to sourcing shareable content, as are support and community articles. To truly engage your customer with CS-tailored content, we encourage you to take this one step further by offering published adoption guidance resources in the voice of the CSM via a dedicated resource hub. Through use case guides that function similarly to self-contained success plans, the customer will have access to detailed information about what the use case is, what resources they will need, and how they can achieve and measure success. This adoption-focused resource hub can be gated as a means to collect more data points from your customers, or offered for free to empower all users to adopt your products. 

In regards to the messaging of the content itself, simplicity is key. Whether you’re engaging with the customer in-product, through an app or by email, keep it simple by defaulting to rich text instead of HTML, remove images and logos from the message and try to personalize it as much as possible. Remember, CS engagement is its own voice; this message should and will be different from your Support, Technical, Community or Marketing involvement. As a CS leader, you need to combine simple and straightforward messaging in a first-person voice with content that is designed to drive Value-Based Outcomes through product use cases and measurable results. At its core, this is how your CS motion fundamentally differs from your Marketing, Retention Marketing or Product Marketing motions.

3. Bring Your Digital Engagement To Life With The Right Team & Tools

When it comes to a process automation, a common misconception is that you can simply “set it and forget it.” Whenever a digital engagement motion is delivered by a Post-Sales team, we find that companies often under-invest because they either can’t afford the time and energy that it takes to maintain and support the ongoing ecosystem, or they assume that generic emails will suffice for every step of the customer journey. This can be a very costly mistake to make, as under-investing can potentially cause more harm than good. To scale your automation program properly, investing in the right team and tools will ensure that this motion feels like a living, breathing member of your organization that can be updated, adapted and optimized over time based on product developments, feedback and new data

When it comes to tools, you need access to an email platform that can handle one-on-one and one-to-many communication. This platform must feed directly into your Customer Success motion, so you can get all the important information where it needs to be: in front of your CSMs. Be mindful about your country’s spam laws and make sure all communication adheres to any existing regulations and guidelines. 

Your technology is only as good as the team that operates and manages it. You need to have an individual or team that is dedicated to building and maintaining the technology aspect of your automated  ecosystem. This will ensure that the responsibility of mapping communications to critical value points on the customer journey and creating content, whether that includes the emails themselves, the data that drives your outreach or the adoption resources, are all accounted for. Having a team behind your process automation is the gold standard; together, they can quickly override obsolete triggers and activate communication flows in response to new developments, ensuring that your engagement plan is optimized to your customer’s journey.

4. Start Small And Iterate Over Time

One of our most fundamental principles for rolling out a scaled process automation is to do no harm. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s the Hippocratic Oath. If your customers have not yet been engaged or your program is in its infancy, slow and steady is the way to go. You shouldn’t rush into the market and bombard your customers with content that doesn’t add value. With this approach, you’ll immediately erode their trust and find yourself relegated to the spam folder. Taking on a do no harm mindset, start with small, targeted and thoughtful steps that allow you to test your content and messaging. Along the way, we advise that you gather as much data and feedback as possible to drive improvements in your messaging and your overall program. Keep in mind that this data will take time to collect; we recommend waiting at least 2 quarters, or 6 months, before taking action and making any major changes to your strategy.  

Remember, you can also leverage automation insights to help your high-touch CSMs be more efficient. Some platforms even provide features that allow for email templates to be accessed by your team, reducing the time required to draft messages that customers receive regularly and providing a semi-automated option for your high-touch team.

The Fast Track To Growth

A successful digital process automation requires amplifying cross-functional resources, investing in the right team and tools and taking an iterative approach to growth. Scaling through automation will enable your CSMs to serve your customers more effectively, improve the operational efficiency of your existing workflows and invigorate shared value realization for your company and customers.

Data is the gas that fuels effective and efficient automation engine. Are you optimizing your data to drive maximum value? Discover how to master your customer data management and level up your organization.

Emily Ryan

Emily has nearly 15 years’ experience coordinating teams across Sales, Post-Sales and Product/Delivery to ensure successful customer interactions. Her unique expertise applying Customer Success Strategy to effectively establish, analyze and scale great customer-centric teams means her impact is not only to corporate revenue and retention, but to the health and productivity of the teams she empowers.