5 Customer Success Trends That Scream for Data Democratization Image

5 Customer Success Trends That Scream for Data Democratization

By Gainsight Team

Leading customer success (CS) organizations use data to drive strategies and tactics that help customers achieve their desired outcomes and, ultimately, renew or expand their subscription. 

I know what you’re thinking—using data to drive business outcomes, what a novel concept. 

But setting the sarcasm aside, there is a big difference between talking about data-driven customer success and actually pulling it off. What data points, from what sources are helping drive decisions? Who is collecting, organizing, and analyzing this data? Who is consuming or sharing it? 

Helping CSMs, executives, and other customer-facing stakeholders leverage data to deeply understand customers and guide them to value often falls on the shoulders of a single Customer Success Admin or Operations role. This presents a major challenge of operationalizing a data-driven approach to customer success. 

Although some admins can support a data-driven customer success strategy on their own, many more are burdened with analysis and custom report requests. At best this creates a long backlog of requests for the admin or operations team. At worst it leaves customer-facing teams without the data they need to do their jobs well.

Being data-driven is just theoretical if the wheels fall off where the rubber meets the road. 

For this reason, many organizations are turning to a new approach to empowering customer-facing teams to be data-driven. The approach is called data democratization.

What is data democratization in customer success?

Data democratization is the shift away from centralized, strictly gated access to business data, reports, and dashboards in favor of granting access and report builder permissions to the end users or consumers of the data and reports. 

Data democratization removes the middle person responsible for building reports and dashboards and allows end users to get the data and analytics they need on demand.

In customer success, data democratization means going beyond pre-built reports and dashboards by granting CSMs the ability to build their own custom reports and dashboards and share them internally or directly with customers. This need is common when preparing for a quarterly business review, analyzing a customer’s key initiatives or answering questions not outlined in pre-built reports and dashboards.

Data democratization does more than simply open all reporting permissions to any user. When done well, data democratization:

  • Creates a non-technical experience appropriate for non-admin users
  • Grants the appropriate level of access to the right people (Goldilocks state)
  • Favors contextual data sets over unlimited access to raw data
  • Ensures sensitive data (especially customer data) is protected

As the customer success industry and individual CS organizations continue to evolve, so has the need for data democratization within the CS team and cross-functionally. Here are the five trends we continue to see driving Customer Success teams towards data democratization.

1. Your customer data is growing—and it’s better than ever

Customer data is bigger than ever. Leading customer success platforms integrate with key business systems such as your CRM, support tools, product analytics, and more in just a few clicks. You can use CS technology to then layer on survey data and AI-generated customer experience analysis. Tie all of that into a comprehensive health score, and you’re in a great position to be data-driven.

However, more data can also mean more complexity and requests to the admin responsible for helping CSMs and other non-admin users get the reports and dashboards they need.

Why data democratization?

Data democratization provides a new pathway for your teams to take advantage of your gold mine of customer data. By allowing CSMs to customize or build their own reports and dashboards the second they need them, you remove roadblocks to being data-driven.

2. The center of your customer ecosystem is CS

For many organizations, the CRM has long been the system of record for customer data. However, CRMs are designed for sales, not driving a successful post-sale relationship.

For this reason, successful customer success organizations turn to a dedicated customer success platform to ingest and analyze customer data, operationalize CS best practices and drastically reduce churn. Leading CS platforms even have tools designed for cross-departmental collaboration and streamlined customer communication.

This has turned the customer success platform (rather than the CRM) into the center of an organization’s customer ecosystem. The CS platform has become a vital source of data and analysis for Customer Success teams, Sales, Services, Support, and Leadership.

Why data democratization?

As the customer success platform becomes the system of record for cross-functional teams, they expect the same level of access to reports and dashboards as they are accustomed to from the CRM. Data democratization delivers a scalable way to put the organization’s best source of customer data in every team’s hands the moment they need it.

3. Time is valuable for admins and CS Ops teams—protect it

Admins and CS operations (CS Ops) professionals are the unsung heroes of exceptional Customer Success teams. Not only do they help operationalize processes and workflows to help CSMs (and customers) succeed, but they are also the keys to bringing new customer success strategies and tactics to life. 

If your admins or CS operations are bogged down with a backlog of report and dashboard requests, you aren’t simply slowing access to vital data, you’re also impeding progress on strategic initiatives.

Why data democratization?

Data democratization alleviates the pressure of reporting requests submitted to admins and CS operations, allowing them to focus on initiatives that will help your Customer Success team scale, improve the customer experience, and increase NRR.

4. Personalized CS is possible at scale

Hyper-personalized customer success is already a proven and effective strategy for high-touch and strategic accounts. With advancements in customer success technology, personalized customer success is more scalable than ever—even if you operate a low-touch or pooled CSM model. 

However, the more personalized your customer success strategy (and customer expectations) get, the harder it is for generic reports and dashboards to stay relevant for each customer.

Why data democratization?

Data democratization gives CSMs the ability to build and share personalized reports and dashboards on demand. This allows you to leverage automation to personalize customer engagements at scale while still allowing CSMs to customize reports and share results with customers at their discretion. 

5. CS professionals leveled up their skills 

It’s easy to forget how young the customer success space really is. At Gainsight, we’ve been building customer success software for over a decade, but for most organizations, the customer success function is even younger. 

Just a few years ago, customer success roles were among the fastest growing positions in the United States. As the customer success industry and individual teams matured, so have the skills of CS professionals. Today, many CS teams are loaded with team members with years of experience solving customer problems, coming up with unique solutions, and mastering customer data. 

Why data democratization?

Data democratization empowers your CSMs with the tools and responsibilities of owning their customer data. While in the past, CS leaders may have been reluctant to overwhelm new CSMs or a new CS team with reporting and data tools, today’s CS professionals are more prepared than ever to champion a data-driven approach to customer success.

Self-Service analytics democratizes customer data in Gainsight

Gainsight is designed to help organizations of all sizes adopt a data-driven approach to customer success. Self-service analytics democratizes customer data and reports by giving CSMs and cross-functional leaders a simplified way to build their own reports and dashboards to suit their unique needs.

Instead of managing every data point, report, and dashboard or giving non-admin users access to all report builder permissions, admins configure and curate a report builder experience appropriate for non-admin users. 

This gives CSMs, executives, and cross-functional teams the power to build and share reports and dashboards they need without having to submit requests to the Admin or learn the complexities of all data objects and architectures.

Want to learn more about Gainsight and Self-Service Analytics? Take the product tour or request a demo today!

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