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Gainsight's Buyer's Guide to Customer Success Solutions Companion Doc
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Gainsight's Buyer's Guide to Customer Success Solutions Companion Doc

11 steps to evaluate if a Customer Success Management (CSM) platform is right for your organization.
As more businesses move to recurring revenue models, companies are investing in Customer Success teams to drive retention, expansion, and advocacy in their client bases. And just as firms have invested in Sales Automation and Enablement to drive sales productivity and Marketing Automation to increase marketing effectiveness, hundreds of organizations have invested in Customer Success Management (CSM) solutions to minimize churn, increase retention, and maximize client lifetime value. According to a Gainsight Customer Success Index Benchmark survey, we found that optimizing Customer Success operations led to an 18-point expansion in net retention driven by reduced churn and increased upsell. Recent research shows that close to 70% of organizations now have a dedicated customer success function in their company, and another study finds that robust CS expansion drives improved retention, renewal rates— and exponential growth. The same survey found that customer success investments often generate an increase in account values, too. Yet another ROI-boosting opportunity? Leveraging analytics to improve CS outcomes. For any reasonably scaled business, then, investing in a CSM solution can create a
multi-million dollar opportunity
.

Customer Success teams need to think carefully about when, where, and how to deploy a CSM solution for the greatest business impact. That being said, most mature Customer Success organizations find that there’s no perfect moment for deployment. They say that instead of waiting, it’s best to move fast and iterate as you go.

We had to start putting the customer at the center of everything we did. We needed to demonstrate differentiated value and create a positive experience for our customers... We knew it would take more than just data to make this shift. We needed a platform to enable it. My team was able to get leadership buy-in. They heard what we wanted to prioritize on a strategic level and we listened to the CSMs to figure out how to make it work tactically. - Laura Salonga, athenahealth

What’s in this doc

Good planning is at the heart of every successful CSM platform deployment. Here’s our 11-step outline for developing a well-thought-out timeline and a step-by-step process:
Step
Description
1
Identify the cross-functional evaluation team.
2
Create a business case based on Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to help quantify the business value of a potential investment.
3
Define your evaluation project plan.
Use this doc as a starting point
If you haven’t been through a procurement process at your company, research what was involved for making comparable decisions
Do you have a standard vendor audit process? A security review? A compliance review?
4
Determine your shortlist by reading online reviews, talking to peers, and reading analyst reports.
5
Create evaluation requirements for the RFP
Send the RFP to potential vendors
Review responses
Score responses
Narrow your list to the finalists
6
We recommend planning for three meetings—ideally, all on the same day for logistical convenience:
Management/End User Demo + Road-map Review
Technical Architecture + Demo
Executive Demo + Business Case Presentation
7
Conduct reference checks and read online reviews of the finalists.
8
If needed, we recommend conducting a “Proof of Concept” to make sure the solution works for you. Define a detailed scoping of the project to understand costs and timing.
9
Select the final vendor and finalize the commercial agreement.
10
A few things to keep in mind as you finish reading this guide.
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