Sanders Slavens, Plex’s VP of Customer Success, sat with Gainsight’s CEO, Nick Mehta, and CCO, Ashvin Vaidyanathan, to discuss their progress in reducing friction and raising customer visibility through their implementation process. When Sanders joined, he built a CS organization with team members who had various technical backgrounds and skills for different initiatives. That included Eric Mohamed, a Gainsight trained CSM who has a specialty in implementation. Sanders explained to Nick and Ashvin how and why they adopted Gainsight: its tools, customer-centric ideology, and methodologies.
“It’s all about implementation, governance, and assurance,” said Eric Mohamed, a CSM with Plex Systems. We love to hear how companies are using our tools, implementing customer success processes to improve efficiency, enrich customer experience and relationships, and create retention through value. But what is more exciting is that customer success is finding a home in the industrial manufacturing fields with companies like Plex.
Who is Plex Systems?
Plex Systems, Inc.® delivers the first smart manufacturing platform that empowers innovators to make awesome products. Built in the cloud, the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform connects people, systems, machines, and supply chains; automates processes; tracks shop floor and top floor data; and delivers analytics for unmatched visibility, quality, and control. While Plex offers innovative solutions for manufacturers, they were looking for a partner to help build and sustain their customer success processes involving implementation and retention. So, they turned to the leader in customer success solutions—Gainsight.
A Team on a Mission
Sanders’ CS team played a central role in standardizing processes, tooling, and methodology across more than a dozen service and solutions partners, helping Implementation Partners create scalable, repeatable outcomes for some of the largest manufacturing companies in the world. To accomplish this goal, the team launched an initiative called Implementation, Governance, and Health Scoring. The company applied Gainsight to this initiative to aid and standardize implementation, raise customer visibility, and detect problems early. This also helped their Professional Services division.
“We require either our professional services and our partners’ professional services for implementation. Depending on how big some of our tier one customers are, this is not a one day or one-week engagement,” Sanders explained. As they scaled, they wanted to provide more standardization across the community by maintaining a regular cadence between the customer, the delivery team, and the CS manager and team.
The first step was defined, scoring in each phase of implementation to provide feedback to see if the process was a good experience for the customer. They also developed excellent documentation with high visibility, audibility, and repeatability. These are indeed part of the foundation for incredible customer success organizations and provides superior outcomes for customers and partners.
The second step was aligning the scorecard with a single tool, Gainsight Scorecards. This motion allowed everyone to look at every in-flight implementation and see the same metrics for both internal and externally led implementations. Their landscape needed to have real-time information on partner-led project health. Without a single source of truth, many of our customers may think their client base is healthy. However, Plex knew there was an underlying issue with visibility and did not want to wait for an angry customer call or a cancellation before being aware of a potential problem.
Gainsight as a Member of the Team
When they implemented Gainsight, it was because they “needed real visibility, driven by regular communication and highly standardized, visible scoring” across their partner ecosystem. As the company grew and began to offer a more diverse set of innovative smart manufacturing offerings, its customer base’s implementations also grew increasingly complex. Eric added, “There’s just too many implementations, too many partners to have it any other way.” What is interesting is that this is not a standard Gainsight use case.
SaaS companies, known for quick, one-step self-implementation, love to utilize Gainsight to focus on customer health, create retention, and prevent churn. However, now, there are companies with a large number of facilities and grand scope of implementation that see Gainsight and its robust, scalable platform as an excellent addition to help maintain the customer relationship, especially as they build out processes to attain real visibility.
What is also important to note is that many of these same companies have implementation partners, resellers, or managed services. For Plex, their partners implement a higher percentage of smaller accounts while their professional services team implements a higher rate of larger accounts. Companies will often find that due to the sheer number of implementation partners, many of them have varying strategies that don’t always align.
Partners must ensure a bi-directional flow of meaningful customer data quickly. In Gainsight, this can be automated and viewed in minutes instead of hours-long sync up calls with multiple partners every week. Configurable dashboards allow you to have all of your customer and partner information at your fingertips.
Gainsight saved time in communication and provided the visibility that they wanted and needed to keep customer satisfaction center stage as the company continues to grow. The process acts as a built-in early warning system allowing CSMs to intervene, especially during implementation, and recover before issues become hazardous to the customer.
Voice of the Customer
Another Gainsight offering that many may not realize as an imperative is the ability to provide a unified voice to the right people at your customer. Often in the process of engagement, you may have multiple buyers or decision-makers. Even with a smaller CSM-to-customer ratio, you must balance your communication cadence for the customer on their journey so that it allows them to feel heard while providing visibility to you and your partners.
In the manufacturing industry, which Plex serves, onboarding a new smart manufacturing platform requires an organizational cultural shift. Sometimes, this can make technology adoption more complicated since it also requires an evolution in the way operators and other business leaders work day-to-day. Change management is a motion that Plex uses to evaluate how willing the customer is to work with the partner and make sure the solution is as beneficial as possible.
So how do they handle and maximize change management? Enter Net Promoter Surveys. Everyone knows that customer’s NPS scorecards work as a proxy for adoption and value. Plex distributes questionnaires through their partner to the customers focused on the implementation phase from a technology perspective, but from a change management perspective and both parties submitting responses. And both include the same metrics. The idea is not to make the questions or the process overwhelming to maximize the odds of it getting completed without unnecessary follow-ups. After the data is collected and evaluated, responses are segmented green, yellow, or red for each input. When those get fed into Gainsight, it rolls up into an overall easily accessible and understood health score.
With both sets of scores, they can see not only responses but also the possible gap in between, allowing them an opportunity to close the delta quickly. All the scores can be stored in Gainsight to share with pertinent players—the CSM, the Professional Services team, and the partners—ensuring alignment on all established metrics. This process puts the customer at the center of the whole implementation motion and prevents individuals from going through the motions.
More of Gainsight’s CS tools, such as Journey Orchestrator and Timeline, are incorporated into the Plex operational processes in what they call their 2.0 phase. There are auto-created templates within these two functions to enhance communication to partners and customers and build side-by-side customized scorecards to reflect both the partner and customers’ sentiments.
They recently added Gainsight PX to its repertoire of tools. They recognize that visibility is essential not only for them but for all their partners, as well. In PX, they will be able to automate more of their information, especially for their tech-touch customers. The next initiative will enhance risk mitigation, even assisting them in ensuring that the right partner is recommended for the correct customer for a specific implementation based on parameters set in the pre-sale process.
What is incredible still is that Plex is a vendor to the manufacturing industry, further advancing Gainsight’s ideas, methodologies, and tools, such as PX, to a new atypical industry. Gainsight is bringing customer-centric processes of efficiency and visibility to new markets. Congratulations to them for having an excellent grasp of implementation, governance, and assurance!
For any more information on how Gainsight’s tools, including PX, can help your implementations become frictionless, no matter your industry or vertical market, contact us.