3 Reasons Why I Love Low Touch SaaS

posted on 18 Oct 2020

I am a Stripe fanboy. Back in 2014, I remember being mighty impressed at the ease with which we were able to implement a seemingly complicated thing - the billing infrastructure at Zinrelo - using Stripe. Right from the discovery to on-boarding, the API docs to the error messages, everything with Stripe was a cakewalk. And not a single time did we have to interact with a human being at Stripe’s end. After a couple of years, I had a similar experience with another product - Intercom. Integrating Intercom and the whole product experience in general was exceedingly simple requiring no human interaction.

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Later, when I learnt about different SaaS models as a Product Manager, I realised that the model that both Stripe and Intercom followed was called a Low Touch SaaS model.

A Low Touch SaaS model involves building and marketing a product in such a way that there is minimal or no human interaction required throughout the customer journey.

Since then, I have been exploring Low Touch SaaS models and looking at products I interact with from the lenses of Low Touch SaaS. I'm increasingly convinced that Low Touch SaaS model makes full use of the software technological brilliance that humankind has achieved to create superior product experiences.

Here are 3 reasons why I love Low Touch SaaS:

1. Exceptional Onboarding

The seeds of churn are planted early. Hence it is extremely important to smooth out the onboarding process and make customers feel like they did the right thing choosing the product. The sooner a product can deliver the "wow" feeling, the longer lasting the first impression is.

Low Touch SaaS model compels products to have their onboarding process ruthlessly optimized to provide a very hassle free and low-friction experience. This is usually done by ensuring that all the touch points are simple to understand, have self-help solutions such as guided help flows, clear error messages with actions to rectify the errors,user guides and finally help centres that help users easily find a solution in case they get stuck. Products need to continuously improve the onboarding experience to reach the optimum efficiency by tracking user behaviour and optimizing those areas that lead to user's discomfort. Unlike High Touch SaaS that many times rely on human support to help with onboarding, Low Touch SaaS model emphasizes on users having an exceptional onboarding experience without any human interaction.

2. Product Focus

The goal of every SaaS product should be to provide that "Wow" feeling to the user while solving a significant problem for the user and helping her upgrade her life. Since Low Touch SaaS wants the product to do this in such a way that users have minimum or no human interaction, the entire focus of the organization shifts to making the product better. Every new enhancement or feature you introduce in the product needs to ensure that the experience is completely self-service.

In a way, Low Touch SaaS model makes you apply JTBD framework to identify the job that the user is trying to do and develop an experience to help user easily do that job. This requires the discipline to consider the support documentation, explainer videos , help texts and workflow guides to be a part of the product. Low Touch SaaS model also encourages data-driven decision making by using metrics to better understand user behavior. Low Touch SaaS considers product as a primary vehicle to acquire, activate, and retain customers thus fueling product-led growth.

3. Scalable Customer support and Cost Efficiency

Low Touch SaaS model relies on the software’s website, email marketing, and more often than not a free trial for the software as the primary sales channels, the costs for which are fairly less compared to humans doing sales. Most Low Touch SaaS products have a scalable customer support that relies on in-app help resources with humans as the last resort. This is achieved by optimizing workflows that might require human intervention, by making educational resources readily available within the product where users might need it, whenever they need it. Low Touch SaaS mandates a lot of automation yet keeping the ability to personalize communication (change log, announcements, New announcements, Billing reminders, usage reminders) whenever required. This kind of automation helps keep the headcount in check and thus the cost of operations. The goal of Low Touch SaaS is to allow users get what they want without having to interact with a human for the longest possible period of time. While it may seem like a difficult task, the long-term efficiency, retention and cost-saving benefits are significant.

Low Touch vs High Touch

Usually, companies moving upmarket tend to transition from Low Touch to High Touch primarily because of the nature of the customers (usually large organizations) they go after. Such organizations prefer require proofs, case studies, metrics, demonstrations to multiple people, due diligence with security and other compliances. These organizations value frequent personalized communication about how the product is adding value to their business.

There are quite a few products that serve as great examples of Low Touch SaaS. Basecamp, Slack, Atlassian are a few companies that have seen great success with Low Touch SaaS model. Although Low Touch SaaS seems like the ideal model for SaaS products, there are other strategic factors that companies take into consideration while deciding whether to go with Low Touch SaaS with minimal human interaction or High Touch SaaS with high degree of human empathy that comes with one-on-one interaction.

Next time you use a High Touch SaaS, try mulling over what it would take to make it a Low Touch SaaS. Similarly, try to jot down a few factors that you think must have lead to the product using High Touch SaaS model.

Until next time…
A

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P.S :
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