In the last decade, clients of B2B vendors have gained increasing power. Because of this shift, providers have realized that they will only keep and grow their clients through a relentless focus on outcome delivery—a process commonly known as Customer Success.
In this vein, companies have adopted Customer Success Management (CSM) platforms to orchestrate the process from contract signature to customer outcome in a data-driven, proactive, and scalable manner.
Since many companies build in Customer Success from day one of their venture, some firms purchased CSM platforms early on in their lifecycles. At Gainsight, we noticed dozens of companies migrating to our platform as they scaled and we sought out to learn why so we can help future potential clients make good decisions about the right CSM platform for them. In particular, many clients regretted a short-term choice they had to redo quickly as they scaled, so we wanted to learn from their experiences.
In this spirit, we led a focus group on Monday, February 27, 2017 with 10 companies in the last year that switched from another CSM technology to Gainsight as their companies scaled. Our focus group was comprised of software companies servicing a variety of industries, including retail, sales, marketing, and HR. The companies ranged in size from 65 to 430 employees (avg. 170 employees).
We approached this discussion with the goal of answering two key questions:
- What prompted the switch to Gainsight?
- What do you find unique about Gainsight compared to other CSM solutions in the market?
1. What prompted the switch to Gainsight?
It was immediately clear that there were two key themes that pushed these companies to abandon their existing CSM solution for Gainsight. The first theme focused on the limited scale, flexibility, and data access provided by other CSM solutions.
As one focus group participant put it, “We wanted a tool we could grow into as we grew the team, but unfortunately it was very difficult from the beginning with [our past solution]. We had trouble bringing in data, visualizing data, getting the right health metrics configured, and managing multiple products. [...] We sought out Gainsight after a failed reimplementation [with our past solution], and it was a great experience as Gainsight was able to scale with our growing business.”
Similarly, another participant added, “[Our past solution] couldn’t scale with our team, and tracking performance was very difficult as the team processes weren’t standardized.”
On top of the issues of limited scale, limited flexibility and narrow access to data using their past CSM solutions were sources of frustration among the group. As one participant described, “Our existing data in Salesforce was complicated and hard to figure out with [our previous solution]. When we looked at Gainsight, we became excited due to the flexibility of the platform.”
Furthermore, another participant stated, “The data and event information was in [our past solution], but we were unable to report on it in a way that we wanted or view the underlying source information. [...] After switching to Gainsight, we were up and running within one month and all CSMs using the platform are getting great value.”
The second common reason these companies made the jump to Gainsight was the lack of confidence in the data accuracy of other CSM solutions. Based on the responses, it became evident that a Customer Success solution is only as valuable as the data quality in the platform.
Before making the jump to Gainsight, one participant recalled, “With [our past solution], the implementation was all over the place and we never truly trusted the data.”
Another participant claimed that “no one felt like [our past solution] was the ‘source of truth.’ It never worked properly and we couldn’t get [the data] right.” After conducting a thorough evaluation of other Customer Success tools in the market, Gainsight “was an easy rip-and-replace as it was a more holistic solution with the automation and workflow [they] needed—things worked right away.”
2. What do you find unique about the Gainsight Platform?
Similar to question #1 above, question #2 helped us uncover a number of common themes that outline what is truly unique about Gainsight compared to other Customer Success solutions in the market. These themes are best described through direct quotes from our focus group participants and include the following:
- Gainsight’s seamless integration with Salesforce
- Scalability of the Gainsight platform
- Gainsight’s service quality
- Gainsight’s positive user experience
- Gainsight’s thought leadership and best practices
Gainsight’s seamless integration with Salesforce
“Gainsight is the only turnkey product in the end-to-end Customer Success arena that can be bolted directly onto an existing Salesforce org. Gainsight’s natural and seamless integration with the core Salesforce product was the major differentiator as [our previous Customer Success platform] felt like a point solution.”
“We had internal challenges with private information and couldn’t store any non-publicly identifiable data in [our past solution, as it] didn’t truly have a full integration with Salesforce like Gainsight does.”
“With [our past solution], it took three months of effort to try and configure things correctly, but we were never able to get the system to reflect accurate data. We then tried to redo the entire implementation, but had a poor experience as [our past provider] didn’t want to start from scratch. After struggling again, we started the parallel process to evaluate Gainsight. It became clear that Gainsight’s self-serve implementation and native integration with Salesforce would be a much easier and low-friction experience.”
Scalability of the Gainsight platform
“[Gainsight provides] access to all data points in Salesforce and the ability to customize workflows to fit your business regardless of complexity.”
“[Gainsight] enables you to scale Customer Success delivery models” and provides a “complete view of the customer.”
Gainsight’s service quality
“We started talking with Gainsight and had a great experience from first contact. Gainsight’s service was a key differentiator and got us excited to move off of [our existing solution].”
“Dealing with Gainsight vs. [our past solution] was night and day. Gainsight got back to us quickly, was responsive, and the design of the platform was completely differentiated.”
Gainsight’s positive user experience
“We have 30 daily active users in Gainsight today and only had two daily active users with [our past solution].”
“With [our past solution], we had a constant problem with folks abandoning the platform. Unlike Gainsight, [our past solution] became more of a burden than help.”
“Gainsight’s C360 customization is extremely valuable and a differentiator, as we previously had to log into six different systems to get this information. We now have our CSMs claim that ‘Gainsight does my job for me now.’”
Gainsight’s thought leadership and best practices
“Uniquely regarding Gainsight, we appreciated the thought leadership on how to use the platform along with what drives the Customer Success space as whole, how to innovate, and how to bring Customer Success into our company.”
“With [our past solutions], we never got the service or training, best practices, or industry knowledge we needed from them as a partner.”
Whether you’re shopping a Customer Success tool for the first time or you’re re-evaluating your current solution, there are three important questions to ask yourself even if you’re happy with your tech stack—even if you are not currently interested in Gainsight:
1. Is our current solution open, scalable and flexible?
One of the most common pieces of feedback we got in this process was that other CSM tools failed to grow alongside the customer base and the CSM team’s sophistication. Can you project that your existing solution will scale in proportion to your growth goals?
2. Will the data be accurate?
When was the last time you audited the accuracy of your data? As we discovered in this focus group, many CSM teams in growth-stage companies had serious issues with the most fundamental element of any Customer Success solution. Do you trust the data is the source of truth?
3. Do we have access to and are we using the latest CSM best practices?
A software platform—no matter how sophisticated—is only one part of a CSM solution. In conjunction with optimized workflows, strategic segmentation, and tactical outreach, CSM thought leadership and best practices can transform your organization across functions into a customer-centric company.
Please take advantage these three resources to help you if you decide to re-evaluate:
- The Buyer’s Guide to Customer Success Solutions
- G2 Crowd Grid for Customer Success
- Scaling Your Customer Experience Program (Without Sacrificing the Experience)