Welcome to our Change the Game in 5 minutes Series. Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Will Rahim, Senior Vice President, Global Customer Success at Delphix, a global leader in digital transformation. When it comes to optimizing customer success through digital systems and processes, Will is a seasoned pro!
Nick: Will, I’m excited to talk with you about the value proposition of digital customer success. But let’s start with one of my favorite questions: What’s your least useful superpower?
Will: Well, if the fate of the world depended on a drinking game, I’d probably be a good hope for humanity. But let’s hope it never comes to that!
Nick: I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Okay, let’s dig in. Why did you need to change the customer success game?
Will: At Delphix, we had really good people, but we weren’t enabling them to be successful. To be consistently impactful, customer success managers need data for two specific reasons: to prioritize their workday and have more meaningful conversations with customers.
Without that key data, Delphix teams were just chasing their tails. That would be true for an organization that’s double or triple our size. For Delphix to thrive and build a truly world-class CS organization—and more importantly, to deliver value to customers and enable them to achieve their business outcomes through true partnership—we needed more insightful data. How are people using the product? What’s the makeup and outlook at the account level? What’s an accurate assessment of their health?
Nick: Clearly, you knew what the CS transformation goals were. So, what operational changes did you make to achieve them?
Will: Delphix’s health score started off with 20 different factors. But too many signals can make it difficult to focus on the highest-leverage moments and metrics. Controlling and adjusting for each input takes a level of effort that often leads to diminishing returns. My team and I narrowed down the data points to the single digits—only the most meaningful ones. That helped us standardize how we treat customers from region to region and transform the CS organization.
We’ve gone from playing a reactive game of Whack-a-Mole to having a prescriptive approach where the data dictates what we focus on. I’m very happy with the outcome.
Nick: That’s so great to hear. Can you tell us more about the transformation journey? Were there particular challenges along the way?
Will: None of our success happened by accident. I’d been through these types of transformations at other companies, so I knew it would have to be a process. It’s important not to overset expectations because change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just a function or a team or software. It’s a company-wide mindset.
We made it happen by talking to the right thought leaders and getting guidance from a rich network of customer success leaders and innovators. For example, it was made clear early on that we needed a CS operations function that could curate data from across the business. We had to track product usage, survey feedback, NPS, and more. We needed people dedicated to the role so they could provide critical, insightful data to Delphix’s CSMs.
CS Ops was one of my first hires because, without people in that role, we’d have been completely in the dark. It was also pivotal to have someone who’d been there before shepherd us through the process. Today, the Ops team has grown from one person to four.
Nick: How did Delphix’s customer success journey lead you to Gainsight?
Will: Fortunately, the executive team at Delphix bought into the vision of a multiyear process and making the investment needed to operationalize it. The first step of that process was Gainsight.
Gainsight was the platform that could scale alongside the CS team as it grew from a small group to the current team of 75 or so people. I broke it all down into a five-year journey. In year one, we were laser-focused on taking inventory of customers and understanding how they’re doing from a health perspective. The goal was to make renewals forecasting more accurate by the end of the year. In year two, we built Playbooks for account management into the platform to standardize renewals. Year three would be all about identifying the white space for expansion. That’s where Delphix is today.
Nick: How did Gainsight help you change the game?
Will: First, Delphix went from a reactive organization to one with visibility into their global portfolio. Then we made the step to truly operationalizing retention. Now we’re thinking beyond churn mitigation and shifting the focus to driving expansion. Thanks to Gainsight, we’ve become much more proactive and predictive. Our story aligns very closely with the Maturity Model—moving from Insights & Actions to Operationalizing Outcomes.
Our CSMs use Gainsight every single day, logging activities in Timeline and creating and driving Success Plans. Thanks to the tight integration with Salesforce, my team and I can see all opportunities at the account level. Gainsight makes product usage visible, which is so crucial for an on-premise solution like Delphix. The homegrown tools can extract patterns encoded in telemetry to deliver insights to the CSMs’ dashboards. Recently, Delphix has started using Sponsor Tracking and is rolling out Company Intelligence this month.
My team’s excited because Gainsight’s platform gives them a holistic view of not just the account, but also the key contact, the buyer, and what’s happening in that space. With all the data in one place, Gainsight is a true “one-stop-shop.”
Nick: Will, that’s music to my ears. Got any results you can share?
Will: I do. We migrated to Gainsight’s NXT platform over a weekend, and then I had several one-on-one meetings with my CSMs. During the migration, when they didn’t have access to Gainsight, they all felt like they were driving blind. It was just much harder for them to get their job done without Gainsight.
That’s some anecdotal evidence about the value of Gainsight. Here’s what we learned from the data. First and foremost, we looked at churn. Since launch, we’ve seen a positive effect on revenue retention—in other words, a drop in churn.
Even more importantly, the CSMs are getting much better customer visibility. Three years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to find out that strategic, high-value customers were churning as late as the last day of the quarter. Now our CSMs have much more predictability—not just about the current quarter, but even looking ahead three or four quarters. They get blindsided far less often. And having this kind of accuracy and visibility is critical for Delphix’s CFO, too.
Nick: You’re in year three of a five-year plan. What exciting opportunities still lie ahead?
Will: I can see tons of opportunities on the horizon. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to the two big wins that changed the game for Delphix: churn reduction and predictability. With those game-changers already under our belt, when I ask for CSM headcount, I almost always lead the conversation by showing our renewals dashboard—and things are looking pretty healthy!
Nick: Hearing about your success with Gainsight has really made my day. Nick, thanks for being a GameChanger and for sharing all this valuable information!