Customer Success Models: How to Choose the Right One for Your SaaS?

Customer Success Models: How to Choose the Right One for Your SaaS? cover

What are the most common customer success models? What factors should you consider when choosing one for your SaaS business to provide the best assistance to your customer?

These are the main questions we discuss in this article.

Let’s get right into it!


  • Customer success models are frameworks that help organizations ensure that customers can use their products effectively to realize their goals.
  • Customer success is a more proactive and holistic approach than customer support, customer service, or account management.
  • A high-touch customer success model is highly personalized and requires a lot of direct interactions with the customers.
  • A low-touch model relies on automation and self-service resources to onboard and support customers with little direct CSM involvement.
  • A hybrid model combines elements of the two models to tailor the assistance to user needs.
  • High-touch customer success models are more suitable for complex products that require customization and lengthy training.
  • Initially, high-touch CS may be necessary, while the low-touch model will be enough later in the user journey.
  • Product-led companies tend to be low-touch while sales-led companies – are high-touch, at least in the beginning.
  • If you have limited CS resources, the low-touch model is more suitable as it’s more efficient and cost-effective.
  • In SaaS, the low-touch and hybrid models are more popular, while enterprise software – very high-touch, so consider your industry when choosing the model.
  • The choice should also reflect customer preferences.
  • Want to see how Userpilot can help you execute your customer success model? Book the demo!

What is a customer success model?

A customer success model is a customer-centric framework focusing on building strong, long-term relationships with customers to help them achieve their desired goals while using your product.

By doing so, customer success teams increase customer satisfaction and retention, drive account expansion, and promote customer advocacy.

The customer success manager role involves:

What customer success models are not?

Customer success is often confused with other functions that also focus on customer interactions and satisfaction, like customer support, customer service, and sometimes account management.

Here’s how they’re different:

  • Customer support is reactive and focuses on issues that have already happened, while customer success is proactive, and its goal is to prevent minor problems from escalating and helping users achieve their long-term goals.
  • Customer service focuses on delivering high-quality service in response to specific customer requests or problems, whereas customer success is a more holistic approach covering the whole user journey. It’s not only about dealing with issues but also anticipating user needs, offering solutions, and guiding them toward successful outcomes.
  • Account management focuses on sales-related goals like renewals, upselling, and cross-selling. In contrast, customer success is less about sales and more about nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship and helping existing customers realize the full value of the product.

Different types of customer success models for SaaS companies

Customer success models differ in the level of personalization and involvement of the customer success teams, with the high-touch model on one of the spectrum and the low-touch one on the other.

1. High-touch model

A high-touch model in customer success is highly personalized and hands-on and involves close and frequent interactions between the CS team and the customer.

Its main characteristics include:

  • Personalized service tailored to specific customer needs and business goals
  • A dedicated customer success manager (CSM) assigned to each customer and responsible for ensuring they get the maximum value out of the product
  • Regular communication, in the form of check-ins, in-person status meetings, site visits, and reviews, to discuss progress, challenges, and plans
  • Custom solutions tailored to specific customer requirements

The high-touch model requires a significant investment of time, effort, and resources. As a result, it’s very difficult to scale and typically reserved only for customers with a high lifetime value or of strategic importance to the company, like big enterprises.

2. Low-touch model

The low-touch customer model relies heavily on technology and automation to deliver customer success services to a large number of customers.

The main characteristics of the model include:

The low-touch model is less resource-intensive but highly efficient which makes it easier to scale. However, it doesn’t give customers the same level of personalization as the high-touch model.

3. Hybrid model

A hybrid customer success model combines elements of both high-touch and low-touch approaches.

This model is based on the idea that not all customers require or prefer the same level of interaction. For example, a lot of SaaS customers prefer self-service support which doesn’t require direct contact with a CSM.

Instead, the hybrid model aims to allocate resources more effectively by customizing it to the needs of individual customers or customer groups.

What it looks like in practice depends on the product and the business or the customers.

For instance, you may offer a higher-touch approach to your enterprise customers paying the big bucks and requiring a highly customized solution, while providing only self-service resources to the users on lower plans.

How to select the right model for your customer success strategy?

Now that we know the differences between the 3 customer success strategies, let’s look at the factors to consider when choosing one for your business.

Product complexity

Product complexity is one of the main factors.

More complex products usually require higher customization and more hands-on support. That’s because it’s much more difficult for users to experience their product value or learn how to use them effectively.

For simpler products with a flatter learning curve, on the other hand, self-service resources will do just fine. As a result, the low-touch approach is all you need.

Stage of the customer journey

However, the fact that your product is complex, doesn’t mean that high-touch is all you need.

For instance, it’s possible that after the initial implementation and onboarding, there’s no need for such a highly personalized approach.

Instead, a low-touch approach will be sufficient for dealing with occasional customer issues and in-app communication will be more effective at reaching end users than face-to-face interactions.

In other words, you may need to offer different levels of customer success at different stages in the customer journey.

Customer journey map
Customer journey map.

Product growth model

The growth model of your business is another factor to consider.

Product-led companies use the product as the main driver of customer acquisition.

Users get to experience the product value first-hand before becoming paid customers. As this model needs to support a large user base, low-touch customer success is the only viable and sustainable option.

In contrast, sales-led companies are by definition high-touch, at least initially. To close deals, they rely on outbound tactics and personalized 2-way interactions between the sales team and the prospective customers.

Growth models
Growth models.

Customer success team capacities

Sometimes the capacity of the customer success team is the key factor that determines which model you choose.

The high-touch model is resource-intensive, but if you have the money to hire enough customer success agents to provide 1-on-1 support to your customers, go for it.

If, on the other hand, you’re bootstrapping and the cash is scarce, you will have to rely on a low-touch engagement model.

Customer preferences

Another important consideration is what kind of customer success model your customers prefer.

Increasingly, more and more customers prefer self-serve onboarding and support so that they can explore the product and resolve issues on their own without having to talk to an agent.

However, while this may be true for most of the adoption curve, the more conservative customers may still prefer the traditional high-touch approach.

The easiest way to find it out is by collecting regular customer feedback. To make this inclusive, use a range of methods, like email and in-app surveys and interviews.

When you reach out for feedback in larger organizations, make sure to get insights from all stakeholders. That’s because the decision-makers may have very different preferences from the end users.

In-app survey
In-app survey created in Userpilot.

Industry standards

Industry standards are yet another factor to bear in mind when choosing the customer success model.

For example, if you’re in the specialist enterprise software sector, the high-touch model is pretty much the norm because of the product complexity, high cost, and strategic importance.

E-commerce platforms, on the other hand, tend to be very low-touch because of a large customer base making lots of simple transactions, while in the SaaS space, you’re more likely to implement the low-touch or hybrid model.

Best practices for executing your customer success model

Let’s wrap up with a few tips on how to perfectly execute customer success at your SaaS:

  • Understand your customer’s journey, needs, and preferences to tailor the approach.
  • Align customer success with other departments, like sales, marketing, and product, to ensure consistency and overall positive customer experience.
  • Constantly monitor CS performance by tracking customer success metrics (e.g., customer retention rates) and collecting customer feedback.
  • Be ready to evolve and adapt if your metrics are not up to the mark or you identify changes in customer needs.
  • Choose the right tool stack, including a customer success platform and a training or onboarding tool, to automate and streamline your processes.

How can Userpilot optimize customer success management?

Userpilot is a product adoption platform used by SaaS organizations to drive customer success.

For starters, it’s a comprehensive user onboarding tool that allows you to onboard new users and maintain their engagement.

For example, you can create onboarding checklists and interactive walkthroughs and deliver contextual in-app guidance through multiple UI patterns, like tooltips, modals, or slideouts.

These are easy to customize (no coding required) and benefit from AI features like the writing assistant and localization.

Userpilot for customer success: user onboarding
Userpilot for customer success: user onboarding.

Userpilot also offers A/B testing and flow analytics so that you can make better-informed onboarding decisions.

The analytics features go well beyond that. They allow you to track and analyze user behavior at all stages of the user journey so that you can better understand your customers: their needs, wants, and pain points.

Userpilot for customer success: product analytics
Userpilot for customer success: product analytics.

For a more complete picture of customer needs, you can also collect customer feedback via in-app surveys and feedback widgets.

Just like the onboarding flows, these are easy to create and customize with the visual editor and you can trigger them for specific user segments.

Userpilot for customer success: survey template library
Userpilot for customer success: survey template library.


Choosing the right customer success model is essential to maximizing customer value, promoting customer happiness, and ultimately retaining customers.

While a few sectors and products require a very high-touch approach, for most a low-touch or hybrid model will be most appropriate.

If you want to find out more about Userpilot and how it can help you refine your customer success model, book the demo!

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