ArticleBest PracticesNovember 1, 2018
How to Leverage the Voice of Your Customers in an Acquisition Image

How to Leverage the Voice of Your Customers in an Acquisition

I am proud to have been on the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) team that helped bring Aptrinsic to Gainsight.

The acquisition serves a need that we heard loud and clear from the market, and aligns to my own tactical experiences helping to scale a Customer Success organization.

I transitioned into an M&A role at Gainsight five months ago. Before that, I spent three years on our Business Operations team. I was a Swiss army knife: administering Gainsight, running our one-to-many program, and driving customer advocacy were just a few of the hats I wore. My very first project at Gainsight? Fix our usage data integration! My hands-on product experience was a valuable lens I could carry into M&A discussions.

What I experienced:

My three years in Business Operations were a crash course on how to scale CS. They sowed many seeds that helped me see why Aptrinsic was an essential addition to Gainsight. Every day, I would field questions...

...from our CS Leader:

    Q: It’s important we scale our onboarding process. What are the blockers to being more automated?
    A: We haven’t successfully replaced hands-on trainings, because our users don’t stay engaged through long written guides. Many customers don’t open our emails anyway.
    Q: We need 10x more feedback from end-users so we can make it clear what parts of the product need improvement. Can we send an NPS survey to all our users?
    A: We only have contact info for XX% of users, and of those we’ll get about 15% response rate.

...from our Product Leader:

    Q: Was the release successful? For what sorts of customers was the new functionality most sticky?
    A: We can see that lots of customers tried it and that overall usage is steady, but we can’t easily see if it’s the same users returning or if we’re filling a leaky bucket.
    Q: At our Product Council Event, much of the audience didn’t know about our new feature. Why not?
    A: We worked on some great email campaigns around it, and achieved a 40% open rate. That’s about as high as we can get, and our CSMs didn’t have bandwidth for a one-on-one conversation with every customer about it.

...from our CEO:

    Q: Product tells me that 75% of customers are healthy adopters, but you’re telling me only 50%. Why is there a difference?
    A: Because we’re looking at different data sets, and because we each have different definitions of health.
    Q: You mentioned the new feature needs a lot of work, but Product told me it was a success. I don’t care who’s right, but is there some objective data that shows what we should do?
    A: We can gather some general feedback through a survey and get some anecdotes from the CSM team. I’ll get back to you in a week or two.

These challenges were an ongoing source of fatigue, and I often found myself doing something unsustainable to bridge the functionality gap. Though we improved over time, it never felt that it was at the pace that our business needed. A piece of the equation was missing if we ever wanted to make a 10x change.

What we heard:

When I switched into our M&A function (Corporate Development), I spent weeks talking with Customer Success leaders. I wanted to understand their tech stack, where they were succeeding, and where they were struggling. After 25+ interviews and several surveys to validate our hypothesis, the feedback was clear:

  • “How to work with Product keeps me up at night. We need better ways to collect feedback and track usage,” one Chief Customer Officer (CCO) told me.
  • “We need solutions that bring CS & CX into the product,” said a CCO at a global tech brand.
  • “Better product usage insights? I’d buy that all day long.” This guy was making my job easy!

Digging deeper, our Community had a trove of enhancement requests for better in-app engagements and more ways to collect feedback.

copilot in app message In app notifications

Our NPS data was also a rich set of feedback, with particular depth on needs around usage data and analytics:

  • From a Passive: “Right now the biggest issue that we have been having is with the ability to get all of our usage data into Gainsight. Both of our CSMs have been great and engaging but we have struggled with getting the usage data issue resolved.”
  • From a Promoter: “This year we've been pretty successful with our org setup. However, the process to take our instance to the next level has been challenging. Some of the more challenging issues were around bringing in usage data from our platform.”
  • From a Detractor: “I need faster insights on product usage data and easier surveys.”

When we found Aptrinsic, I was excited because the product aligned cleanly to the feedback we had received, and also because it was a solution I would have loved to use in my prior role at Gainsight. It would have empowered me to:

  • Align on a single source of truth for usage data with our Product organization.
  • Drive higher response rates to surveys than ever before and localize the feedback for specific micro-experiences in the product.
  • Engage users that I never could have touched otherwise.
  • Guide users through the product to reach value faster without ever pointing them to documentation.

What we heard post-acquisition:

When we announced the acquisition, it became clear that our customers and prospects felt the same way too. The feedback poured in from customers, prospects, and partners of all sizes:

feedback on acquisition feedback on acquisition

A sampling of the other notes we received:

  • “As a both Product and Customer Success Executive, I must say that this is absolutely a game changer. Congrats!”
  • “Awesome! Combined, CS and PM are the new revenue officers driving a product led growth strategy.”
  • “High time! Have been now expecting an acquisition in this space by you guys for a couple of years… Congrats!”
  • “Congrats! I look forward to the new solution.”

We’re continuing to invest heavily to make this acquisition a success for Gainsight, the Customer Success community, and the Product community. But I think it’s healthy to take stock for a moment, recognize when something feels right, and participate in the market’s collective smile.

To read more about the acquisition and the value it brings to the market, check out the blog posts from our CEO, COO, and from the CEO from Aptrinsic.

Picture of Will Robins
Will Robins Director of Corporate Development

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