Let’s talk about the differences between a low-touch and high-touch product.
Let’s talk about the differences and why you might choose one or the other.
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Hey folks, Sean here and today what I
want to talk to you about are the
different type of product companies you might build.
When I say different type, what I
mean is low touch versus high touch.
There are some key differences between the type of
experience that you might create for both your customer
and the type of product company that you’re going
to build for both yourself and your team.
And I’m going to start by kind of categorizing each
in terms of what are some of the more important
or typical characteristics you might see in each of these
and then sharing some examples with you.
I also want to talk about how you can become
more of one or the other as and you don’t
have to remain in either of those categories indefinitely.
So when I say low touch product
company, typically from a strategic perspective, what
that means is you’re creating a customer
experience that is typically product led.
And when I say product led, what
I mean is your customer’s first experience
with your product is typically the product.
As in they will go right into using
the software and that’s kind of their first
experience with your product and your company.
Also from a pricing model perspective, low touch products often
leverage simpler models as in customers might pay the same
amount on a given month or year in order to
gain and maintain access to your product.
Now, an example of a low touch product I would
like to use is Calendly, something I’ve used for years.
I get a lot of value out
of it and it’s relatively simple.
Calendly, if you’re unfamiliar, helps you with essentially that
what can become a merry go round of trying
to figure out how to get everybody synced up
so they can meet at a time that’s mutually
available for both of them.
So it helps you with managing your calendar but
the use of the calendar product is rather simple.
As such it fits well into
the low touch product category.
Now, on the other hand, a high touch
product from a strategic perspective, you’re usually leveraging
a model similar to being Sales lead as
in your customers first experience with your product
is actually through your team.
So they will meet with sales team or
someone to figure out what onboarding them might
look like or qualifying them as a prospect.
Because a high touch product is typically
more complex, it’s got more moving parts.
The whole experience is difficult to kind of
just dump a customer into and enable them
to be able to figure it out.
Also the product itself isn’t the
only thing that’s more complex.
Almost everything is the pricing model as well
as in gaining and maintaining access to a
high touch product typically involves multiple components.
Maybe an implementation fee may be ongoing costs.
There may be contracts with commitments
that may go beyond a year.
So the contracts may be
relatively inflexible and rigid.
So those characteristics typically speak to what we
consider to be a high touch product.
An example of a high touch product in
this instance might be something like Salesforce.
If you’ve never used Salesforce before,
it’s a heavy duty CRM.
But they as a company own a
ton of other products as well too.
So navigating kind of their
environment gets complex fast.
As such, some of your early contact with a
company like Salesforce, if you’re interested in a product
like that, is usually with someone on their team.
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Now, like I said earlier, just because your
product is delivering one or the other of
these type of experiences or falls into either
category, either low touch or high touch today,
doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to stay there.
I’ve seen products make a successful transition from
one to the other and you’ll often see
products trying to do that as they are
kind of figuring out product market fit.
So the most straightforward way to think about
it, if you would like to be one
or the other that’s why I described those
characteristics and some examples of each first, because
depending upon your experience with those products or
your ability to familiarize yourself with them.
That may or may not be.
It might become clearer for you in terms of
the type of product you’d prefer to build versus
the customer experience that you’re looking for and the
experience that you’d like for yourself and your team.
There are different implications depending upon which of
these two paths that you choose and you
don’t need to wait to choose this.
I think more often than that makes
the most sense to think about this
almost essentially right out of the gate.
But let’s assume you have some traction and you have
an established product with paying customers as well too.
Transitioning from one to the other or taking advantage
of the respective strengths of each is also possible.
Now, the easiest way that I typically think about
how to do that really is the core component
of that is the product experience, as in how
complex is it to use your product.
In order for a high touch product to
become more of a low touch product, you’re
going to have to simplify the experience.
So you might need to do things like cut way back
on in terms of what your product is capable of.
That might mean removing features or building
a new version of your product that’s
actually dramatically simpler than it was before.
This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy.
There’s obviously some engineering involved here.
But what you can do is if you kind
of got out of the gate with more functionality
than you were expecting to and you have some
early traction, what I’d recommend you take a closer
look at is where are you having that traction?
As in where are your customers the most active with
using your product and what are they getting the most
value out of soft, circle those features and essentially do
a quick mental calculation in terms of what percentage of
what your product is capable of.
Are those features where they’re getting the
most value and using the most frequently?
And can you create a simpler
product experience around just those features?
If you can, that’s where you have
great potential to convert essentially a high
touch product into a low touch product. I know that.
On the other hand, if you have a low touch
product and you kind of want to go beyond where
you are, some often may want to do that.
Depending upon if they want to raise their prices
or they want to scale their product company, things
like that, low touch products are less likely to
go further in that direction, so to speak.
If that’s the case, then you want
to have a better understanding for how
you want to continue your product experience.
And if you’re fulfilling a good regular experience
of performing research and discovery, that will help
you better understand what features you can add
to your product experience in order to add
and provide more value for your customer.
And if you’re doing that, over time, your product
may become more complex, which might make sense in
terms of transitioning to more of a high touch
product as opposed to what you might have been
before, which was a low touch product.