Accelerate your Digital CS program and build a strategic roadmap to digital-first Net Dollar Retention.  Learn how in our latest guide.

Back to all customer success articles
22 October 2021

The Blueprint To Scaling A Powerful Digital Customer Engagement Model

by Kevin Meeks Reading time: 6 mins
engagement model

Scale Today, Grow Tomorrow

In recurring revenue organizations, few things are as critical as growth. But, as an enterprise matures, the more pressing concern is scale. How can a business not just grow, but grow exponentially? The answer may lie in your engagement model for your downmarket, among your Tier 3 and 4 customer base.

Tier 3 and 4 customers have a substantial impact on retention rates, but are often the most neglected customer base in enterprise organizations. In order to exceed your Net Dollar Retention (NDR) targets, you need to deploy a scalable customer engagement model that helps you and your customers ascend to the next level of exponential impact and growth. 

In this article, we uncover the foundational blueprint you can leverage to build a digital customer engagement model that drives scalable and sustainable revenue growth.

1. An Interconnected Customer Journey & Experience

A complete and accurate customer journey map that encapsulates your customer’s point of view is the basis of a successful scale engine. With this valuable resource, you can ensure that your team is targeting the right content, to the right person, at the right time. 

To create a customer journey map that is relevant and functional, we recommend focusing on your customer’s critical moments. Not everything is important to your customer, so you need to find the moments in your customer’s journey that are truly going to move the needle for them. Simply put, less is more; start small with 1-2 touchpoints and iterate over time. Your products and customers are constantly evolving so you need to tend to them, and their journey, regularly. Armed with this valuable information, you can ensure that only the most relevant content is reaching your customers.

2. Empowerment Through Data-Driven Insights

Data is the fuel that powers your scale engine and takes the guesswork out of customer needs. Every foundational element of this scale engine requires data, either to start or to iterate and evolve over time. Without a solid data governance model equipped with complete and accurate information, you will not be able to build a digital engagement program that effectively and successfully scales your Tier 3 and 4 customers. 

While date and time-related data points, such as your customer’s launch date and renewal date, are a good starting point, you need to get more granular as you build out this program. Measures that align with use cases in your product, show product engagement or lack thereof and/or quantifiable insights that help you know where your customer is on their journey, will allow you to drive customer engagement that is based on the customers’ needs. This will ensure that the right content is reaching them through the right medium, at the right time.

3. A Strong Digital Touch Model

Think of your digital engagement model as an extension of and complement to your company’s Marketing initiatives. A strong digital engagement model is designed to amplify your marketing messages, such as announcing upcoming events or sharing resources, and incorporates these initiatives at scale. However, avoid falling into the common trap of doing more Marketing; leave this responsibility with your Retention Marketing and Product Marketing teams, and focus your attention on leveraging your existing resources. 

To connect with your customers across their journey, you should use a combination of proactive and reactive engagement. Proactive actions can take the form of tips and tricks on how to get started with your product or a survey to check the customer’s temperature. Reactive actions include ad hoc responses that can be manual, semi-automated or fully automated. For example, if your customer’s usage is declining, you can automate a reactive get well plan at that point in their journey. While you want your digital engagement in your Tier 3 and 4 motions to be automated and simple, it should also be personal. Crucially, this motion should be in the voice of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) and feel like it’s coming from a real person. To facilitate this, use data about your customers to add a layer of personalization that can be automated because then your customers will see the value in the content that you’re sharing and be encouraged to engage with it. 

While email is a key component of an automated program, you must also engage with customers within the product itself. Emails are only opened by a certain percentage of customers and while the customers who open and read your emails will be able to leverage your content to drive their usage and use cases, getting open rates to improve can be challenging. Instead, take your nurture campaign and retention capabilities and incorporate them directly into the product. This approach is a much more effective way to drive digital engagement at scale; if you can serve your customers where they sit, you’re going to have a higher success rate.

4. A Strategic Human Touch Component

While responses from your customers to your outreach may be few and far between, your reply should come from a real person. That person, which we recommend to be one of your CSMs, should be equipped with accurate and up-to-date data about the account in order to respond thoughtfully and thoroughly. It is a common misconception that digital engagement is 100% tech touch. While this approach is heavily focused on tech touch, you still need to have some CS team members directly engaging with customers at scale. 

We recommend that you have dedicated team members to support the customer in the event that they do need personalized assistance. However, this doesn’t have to be the same person. For instance, a pod or team of CSMs can handle the same customer if they are all equipped with the same up-to-date information. If you’re taking this approach, be sure to set clear expectations with your customer that the outreach is coming from a CS team. For more complex and ongoing issues, it’s best to assign a single person to that customer for the duration of the engagement. 

Connecting Your People, Processes and Data To Drive Scale

Your Tier 3 and 4 customers represent untapped revenue potential that can be the key to exceeding your company’s NDR targets. While these customers may not need the same level of personal engagement with CSMs, an extensive digital engagement model will allow you to rightly service them and help them realize continued value from your product. 

A successful digital engagement program relies on complete and accurate customer data every step of the way. Discover 4 critical steps you can take to optimize your data analysis for deeper customer understanding. 

Kevin Meeks

Recently serving as CCO at Apptio and VP Customer Success at Splunk, Kevin joins Valuize as Industry Principal with over two decades building and leading enterprise Pre-Sales and Customer Success organizations in the B2B tech industry.