Structuring Your Digital Customer Success Team: A Glimpse into Gainsight's Approach

  • 30 November 2023
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  • Gainsight Employee: Golden Ruler
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Embarking on the digital customer success journey can feel daunting—deciphering ownership and team responsibilities often poses just one of the many challenges. Questions loom:

  • Who should spearhead the digital customer success team?
  • Is hiring dedicated resources necessary to begin?
  • Where should this team fit within our organizational structure?

Let’s navigate the best approach to structure your team and support your journey into digital customer success.

1. Inaugural Steps: The Tiger Team

Start by assembling a digital customer success 'tiger team,' comprising representatives from pivotal departments like Customer Success, Marketing, Operations, Support, and Product. While it may seem like a medley of opinions, having one representative per department minimizes the "too many cooks" situation.

2. Evolutionary Phases: The Journey to Dedication

As your digital customer success journey blossoms, recognizing the value becomes paramount. At Gainsight, our pivotal shift occurred in 2019, leading us to gradually recruit resources to shape the future of digital customer success.

The primary hire often is a customer success manager, dedicated to a scaled or pooled book of business. This cadre serves as the frontline for the human touch in your customer success model. While aiming for a ratio of 250 customers to 1 customer success manager is ideal, tailor this based on your business nuances. Factors to consider in this ratio include product complexity, current engagement model (does every account have a CSM or is there a large set of accounts without coverage), and what your current hiring looks like.


3. Builders of Success

Subsequently, seek individuals capable of assessing your current customer journey. These builders strategize, design, and execute digital customer success initiatives, bridging the gap between customer experience and your customer-facing teams. At Gainsight, our Digital Customer Success Program Managers—specifically focused on onboarding, adoption/nurturing, and broader activities—are the linchpins in this endeavor.

4. Elevating Experience: A Dedicated Team

Beyond that, consider establishing an experience programs team. This team will orchestrate virtual events, conduct surveys, gather customer references, and extend gestures like customer gifts, enriching the customer journey.


5. Coordinated Synergy: Team Dynamics

At this juncture, your organization might boast three distinct teams, each designed for a specific facet of digital customer success. Notice the deliberate overlap? It fosters collaboration, enabling teams to communicate, exchange feedback, and share experiences to enhance the overall customer journey.

6. Structural Framework: Reporting Insights

In our Gainsight structure, the pooled customer success team reports to the VP of Customer Success. Meanwhile, the Experience Programs team aligns with Marketing, both maintaining a dotted line to the Director of Scaled Programs. Additionally, our Lifecycle Programs team reports to the Director of Scaled Programs within our Customer Success Operations team.


Final Thoughts
We hope these insights guide you in shaping your digital customer success team, drawing inspiration from Gainsight's structural framework.


About the Author:

My name is Lane Holt, Director of CX and Scale Programs at Gainsight. My team sits at the intersection of the business needs and the customer experience. We strive to ensure we are providing value to our users and driving towards business outcomes across our products and services.

Make sure you follow me for more useful tips and tricks like this in the future or drop a comment below on what content you would like to see next.


1 reply

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Amazing content and roadmap here, @lane_h . This truly is a journey, not a “big-bang moment”, and you lay out the key methods to get there and the milestones to pass along the way.

I’m highlighting this, without delay, to many of my colleagues.