How We Reorganized Our Entire Post-Sales Organization to Drive Customer Success Image

How We Reorganized Our Entire Post-Sales Organization to Drive Customer Success

Allison Pickens leads Customer Success at Gainsight.

I’m excited to announce a new organizational structure for Customer Success at Gainsight.

Our previous “post-sales” organizational structure consisted of separate Customer Success, Services, and Support teams, each with a VP reporting separately into our CEO. We’ve decided to merge those three teams into one organization, with Customer Success as the overarching objective.

I’m very excited to lead this combined team and to share with you the philosophy behind the changes that we’ve made.

Underlying Principles

We took a first-principles approach to designing this organization. Here are the principles behind the changes:

  1. Customer Success comes first. Our #1 goal in designing this new organization was to put customer outcomes first. It doesn’t matter if we’re resolving tickets or working on an onboarding project -- our central mission is to drive customer success.
  2. Design the organization around customer needs. Teams should be defined based on the type of value they’re delivering to the customer -- not based on the value to Gainsight.

    One example of this is that we’re removing the term “Services” from our organizational structure. “Services” is about what Gainsight gets from the relationship rather than about what the customer needs. (In addition, multiple parts of our organization charged for some of their activities, e.g. Premier Support and Premier Customer Success; so that wasn’t unique to our Services team.)
  3. Ensure autonomy. We should segment our organization to give each team leader the full autonomy and all the resources required to completely meet a customer’s discrete need. Minimize hand-offs between teams.
  4. Clarify for our customers who to go to for what. Eliminate duplication of activities across functions.
  5. Give more responsibility to high-potential leaders. We’re committed to investing in team members who have made massive contributions while at Gainsight. Many of those team members are in our St. Louis office, and I’m excited to promote a new cohort of leaders there as a part of this reorganization.
  6. Maximize coordination among post-sales teams. Rather than three disparate teams, we want one unified organization with a single strategy.

Customer Needs

The new organizational structure is mapped to three discrete needs that our customers have.

  • Outcomes Management: Translate business objectives into a Success Plan, drive change, and demonstrate ROI for the customer Customer Success Team
  • Fast Time-to-Value: Lead a structured process to achieve a set of initial business objectives Onboarding Success Team
  • Solutions On-Demand: Tackle inbound customer challenges Technical Success Team

Functional Areas

Having identified the three customer needs around which to align the organization, we then identified the key functional areas that were critical to deliver on each need.

org-structure-functional-areas

Note that “Solutions On-Demand” includes not only the resolution of tickets that can be resolved relatively quickly, but also solutions to customer requests for more consultative guidance about how to leverage the product. That’s where our Customer Success Architects will come in. I’ll publish more about that team in the coming months.

"Solutions On-Demand" also can be delivered through Community (where customers can provide solutions to each other’s questions) and Content (which allows customers to get effective help easily and independently).

In addition to these customer-facing teams, we also have an internal-facing organization, the Customer Success Operations team, which helps all three teams work smoothly together. You can read more about our CS Ops function here. Plus, we’re building an Internal Training & Enablement function to make sure all our customer-facing teams develop maximal knowledge of the product as it rapidly evolves.

Next Steps

Since most of our team members aren’t really changing what they’re doing day-to-day, and since we’ll be following a measured transition plan, you shouldn’t see any disruption as a customer. What you should expect from us in the coming months is an even more fully integrated customer experience.

In the next several weeks, I’m looking forward to blogging about the charter for each team, including each team’s mission, primary metrics, skills required for each functional area within the team, finalized titles, job description for each role, and the career path within the team.

Cheers to a new phase for Customer Success at Gainsight!

Feel free to send questions or feedback to Allison at apickens@gainsight.com. Follow her blog posts on Twitter @PickensAllison.

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4 Comments

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  1. Nicole
    Mar 24th, 2016Reply

    This is really interesting, and similar to how we’re thinking about things here. I’m really excited to read more about the charter of your teams and the various roles you have defined.

  2. Josh Forman
    Mar 28th, 2016Reply

    Thanks Allison. I am a new Gainsight customer. We have a structure similar to what you have moved to, with Onboarding, Support, and CSMs on the same team. Can you explain the relationship between your three teams and how you have defined your journey stages in Gainsight? Also, how do each of the three teams use Gainsight to drive value to your customers? Thanks.

  3. Allison Pickens | VP Customer Success & Business Operations | Gainsight
    Apr 11th, 2016Reply

    Thanks for these questions! Given their scope, I’ll address these topics in detail in upcoming blog posts. I’m happy to set up 1:1 time with you – I’ll reach out.

  4. Jennifer
    Mar 31stReply

    Very excited to stumble upon this blog post and to read more about your teams!

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