ArticleBest PracticesAugust 12, 2019
3 Customer Success Strategies You Can’t Do Without Powerful Technology Image

3 Customer Success Strategies You Can’t Do Without Powerful Technology

By Christine Friscic

Customer success has become the cornerstone of many companies’ strategy to reduce churn, drive upsell and expansion opportunities, and increase advocacy. And customer success solutions are helping them do this effectively and at scale.

But what enables a CS solution to do this effectively? In addition to all of the individual features and apps, you need a solution that offers the underlying technology with the core capabilities needed to provide a solid foundation for all CS functionality.

When you think deeper than just feature functionality, you need a customer success strategy—and the technology you use to power it—to do three things:

  1. Unify customer data from many different sources and of many different types and formats.
  2. Model unique and complex customer structures to reflect the real-world commercial relationships you have with your customers.
  3. Design and execute customer-oriented business processes.

But why do you need these three technology edges? Let's imagine a world where you don't have each one.

  1. Unify Customer Data: If your data sources aren’t unified, you may be able to pull them into a summary view, but you don’t have a true 360-degree view and all of the other features and functionality of your CS solution won’t be able to access the unified data to be most effective.
    1. For example, it would be difficult to create a health score measure that looks at the number of high-priority support tickets in conjunction with the amount of time until their renewal and update the score for that measure accordingly.
  2. Model Complex Relationships: Without the ability to model your customers in the way you see them from the post-sales perspective encompassing all of the different ongoing relationships you can have within one account, your view of the customer can become convoluted.
    1. For example, you wouldn’t have a good way to monitor health for each relationship and could miss critical signals for a potential risk.
  3. Execute Business Processes: Your data is only as good as what your CS solution is able to do with it. If you have no way to perform powerful transformation processes, you risk missing out on key insights that will help you identify risks and opportunities sooner. And if your solution can't take those insights, understand the right action to take off of them and then drive those actions, then it’s not much different than having your CSMs do everything manually—it limits your ability to drive outcomes for your customers at scale.  

Unify Customer Data

The Challenge

Companies collect a lot of data on their customers, and your customers are well aware of this. In fact, they expect you to use this data every time you engage with them. But this is something that many companies struggle with, and the end result is a disappointed customer who had another poor experience. This is difficult for companies to do because while they have all of this data, it’s often in many different silos and companies have no way to unify it and use it holistically.

Why is this so hard to do? First of all, the data is collected in many different systems—such as your CRM, marketing automation, finance, support, product analytics, and other solutions.

What’s more, is that all of that data comes in different formats:

Type of Data

Example

High-volume streaming data

Usage data on how your customers use your product

Batch data

Data from Support tickets your customers have opened

Unstructured data

Log files that include a record of activity, such as email logs

Semi-structured data

Data from documents shared between you and your customer

Structured data

Typical account data from your CRM

With all of these different types of data, each with varying structure and content, you need to have multiple databases to store each type. From there you then need a way to connect the databases and enable them to work together, which can be a complex problem to solve.

The Solution

Gainsight’s platform is able to do this by employing multiple data stores to accommodate these various types of data. Then we’ve built out an infrastructure layer that connects the data across these different stores and provides a UI that allows you to work across all these data stores simultaneously and seamlessly.  As a result, you can get a true, 360-degree view of your customers, no matter what types of customer data you’re collecting.

Model Unique and Complex Customer Structures

The Challenge

The way that companies typically define accounts is based on a hierarchy structure that comes from their CRM solution. This account definition typically has one or more child accounts with an ultimate parent account. But CRM solutions were designed for the sales process and don’t provide the necessary model for managing customers after the sale.

Managing the ongoing commercial relationships you have within a single customer account requires a different model than this traditional CRM account definition. This is because you can have multiple ongoing relationships that need to be managed individually, and can have different owners within a single account. You also have to manage each of these relationships within the context of the customers without losing sight of the overall account.

If these relationships aren’t represented within your customer model, it becomes very complex to effectively manage the customer across all of these relationships and understand how they play into the customer’s overall success.

For example, a services engagement to help your customer optimize their use of your product might be one relationship that you want to track. That engagement will likely have different measures that impact that customer’s health, and as such, is something that should be monitored separately.

The Solution

Gainsight takes a different approach to how you can model your customer structures within our platform. Our platform supports the traditional account hierarchy model, but then allows you to extend that model to reflect the ongoing commercial relationships you have within a customer account.

Gainsight has built out a standard object model that uses both relational and associative data models, providing the flexibility needed to manage these ongoing customer relationships. Our proprietary relationships model gives you the flexibility to define the lens through which you want to view and interact with the customer.

Design and Execute Customer-Oriented Business Processes

The Challenge

You’ve aggregated your customer data into a single system and modeled it to reflect the nuances of your business. Now you need to:

  1. Analyze your unified customer data to derive meaningful insights.
    1. Your CS solution needs to be able to look at the data holistically in order to do things like effectively measure customer health and understand when and how you should engage each customer.
  2. Drive the right actions based on that data.
    1. This needs to be more than basic task automation. You need the ability to orchestrate workflows that your customer-facing teams can leverage to guide their customers to outcomes.  
    2. Workflows also need to be able to pull in the customer insight to understand which customers need which types of touchpoints, when they need to be engaged, and be able to blend digital and human interaction within a single workflow.
    3. These workflows must be repeatable (i.e. a workflow is created and triggered every time the right criteria is met) so that teams can scale their CS processes.

The challenge is in order to drive outcomes for your customers at scale, you need the ability to do both. While many companies can analyze your customer data, the ability to truly transform it and make it meaningful for customer success is limited. And while many offer basic task automation (when one thing happens, an action is triggered), it’s much more complex to create customer-oriented business processes and workflows that drive the right action at the right time.

The Solution

Gainsight’s platform has an advanced business process automation engine that combines sophisticated data transformation with process automation.


Our business process automation engine ties directly into your unified customer data and unique customer model to derive meaningful insights from your data and drive action from it. It has the power to perform a powerful set of multi-step, in-memory data transformation processes for millions of records within a single rule, making it easy for you to derive the insights you need from your data. Some examples of the types of transformations our business process automation can perform include time and level aggregations, multi-dataset merges, pivots, correlation, standard deviations, and more.

Based off of the insights our platform derives from your customer data, any number of actions can be taken to help you automate and drive efficiency in your customer success operations. These actions include the ability to:

  • Calculate a customer health score: Our platform can analyze all of your unified customer data and calculate a health score and automatically identify potential risks and opportunities in your customer base.
  • Trigger Calls-to-Action: Gainsight offers the ability to trigger a call-to-action (CTA) for the customer owner (CSM, renewal manager, etc.) when the data signals an action is needed.
    • For example, if a customer’s health score drops, you can trigger a CTA that will alert the customer’s CSM and provide the recommended action the CSM should take to resolve the issues impacting health.
  • Trigger a Journey: When a customer meets specific criteria or enters a segment that you’ve defined, our platform enables you to trigger a Journey for that customer that automatically guides them to outcomes using a series of digital and human touchpoints.

With this sophisticated business process automation, you can drive outcomes for your customers while empowering your CSMs to be more proactive and efficient in managing their book of business.

See these three core capabilities in action

CF
Christine Friscic

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