Arbor Education Boosts Engagement 1300% with Digital CS

Arbor Education shifted to a Digital Customer Success strategy powered by the automation of Gainsight CS combined with the data-driven insights and in-app engagements of Gainsight PX.


Survey response rate up


Increased CSM-customer ratio

Prior to Gainsight, our customer-to-staff ratio was 24:1 […] Now we have a 100:1 ratio purely by doing that digital switch, moving the legwork and admin tasks off of people and putting it all together in a system.

Desma Tucker
Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education

In Brief

Over the past few years, Arbor Education has become the UK’s most popular cloud management information system (MIS) for educational institutions. While this growth was great for business, Arbor’s Customer Team was struggling to scale their onboarding process as more and more customers signed up. They needed a way to scale onboarding efficiently and effectively within a customer journey driven by high-quality customer usage data. To tackle this challenge, Arbor turned to Gainsight to provide a holistic solution—the capabilities of Gainsight CS and Gainsight PX. The result was an explosion in customer engagement without the need to blow up their staffing budget.


Just over three years ago, cloud MIS provider Arbor Education was going through a period of massive growth, onboarding historic numbers of schools in the UK all at once. “We called this period the Big Wave,” recalls Desma Tucker, Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education. But while the growth was amazing, their Customer Team felt like they were moving in slow motion because of a manual and labor-intensive onboarding process.

“Our database was ultimately an Excel sheet with loads of information. That information started in Asana, and was then duplicated into Excel, which was then duplicated into email. So you can imagine the sheer admin hours that people were facing just trying to manage it all.”
– Desma Tucker, Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education

In addition, their customer success strategy was very high-touch and hands-on. “We really handheld customers when they went through onboarding—we went above and beyond,” Tucker explains. “Our communications could sometimes be email, but typically the customer success manager (CSM) picked up the phone or had a Zoom meeting with almost every customer.”

Another challenge was that after onboarding was complete, they didn’t have great visibility into how their customers actually used their products. With a complex set of use cases and a diverse customer base, Arbor needed good usage data to really understand the customer journey.

When Arbor’s Chief of Customer Success, Sonia Leighton started the evaluation process for a CS solution, they were looking for a solution that fit well with its existing tech stack.

Ultimately we purchased Gainsight because of its integration capabilities with other systems, and it meant that we could remove additional cost from systems which overlapped with Gainisght features such as Asana and Intercom,” she says. “Gainsight also had the best customer success community which we knew would help us with our own developments. We also felt that the product would evolve with the needs of the CS community.

Desma Tucker
Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education

Overall, the need for efficiency was a driving force behind Arbor’s desire to shift strategy. “As a company, you can’t continuously hire people as numbers grow. You have to be really efficient with things,” Tucker explains.

In response, Arbor decided to implement a Digital Customer Success strategy that could deliver personalized customer experiences at scale. To execute on this vision, Arbor turned to Gainsight CS and Gainsight PX.


With Gainsight on board, Arbor began the transition to Digital Customer Success. They used a range of Gainsight features like Success Plans, C360, and Data Designer to create a blend of humans and digital engagements that enabled their customers to achieve value through self-service instead of a purely high-touch approach.

One early win came from Gainsight Journey Orchestrator. Arbor used this tool to automate term review journeys, their ambassador program, and sentiment surveys.

Using Gainsight we were able to streamline our primary onboarding offering into an eight-week, self-service program. It has become a really lovely, concise journey that takes a customer from onboarding through to account management.

Desma Tucker
Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education

At the same time they were implementing the automation of Gainsight CS, they began using the advanced data analytics and in-app engagement capabilities of Gainsight PX.
“It was a real eye opener for us to be able to see what customers were doing in the product using data from Gainsight PX,” Tucker says. That information helped the Customer team work more collaboratively with the Product team around new releases and customer feedback.

“When it came to executing in-app engagements, Gainsight PX made it easy. We’re using Gainsight PX in a really smart way that allows us to communicate more effectively with customers. We could never have done that before without spending lots of money and time on engineers to build the engagements ourselves.”
– Desma Tucker, Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education

The combination of Gainsight CS and Gainsight PX helped Arbor upgrade their overall communication strategy. “Gainsight helps us determine which communications should be email vs which should be done in-app,” explains Tucker.


Implementing Digital Customer Success with Gainsight has led to demonstrable efficiencies for Arbor. “Prior to Gainsight, our customer-to-staff ratio was 24:1,” Tucker says. “Now we have a 100:1 ratio purely by doing that digital switch, moving the legwork and admin tasks off of people and putting it all together in a system.” And Arbor achieved this greater scale without detracting from their customer experience, based on continuous checks via sentiment surveys.

In-app engagements have also opened up a greater depth of customer visibility and feedback. Arbor recently launched their first NPS survey in-app using Gainsight PX, and within the first two hours, they had received double the responses they would normally get from an email journey of two weeks. The response rate for another sentiment survey went from 2.5% to 33%, an increase of 1300%. “That’s a massive increase, not just in terms of the amount of data, but also the quality of the data,” Tucker says.

Perhaps best of all, Gainsight has helped align the company around optimizing the customer experience.

“Gainsight enables our teams to have honest, open, two-way conversations based on data. Having these two sister products within Gainsight, has been a big win for us.”
– Desma Tucker, Head of Customer Operations at Arbor Education