SaaS companies embrace digital customer success

Look out for the rise of digital CS as vendors try to do more with less.

Almost all SaaS companies are raising or maintaining their investment in customer success, while investment in digital customer success is growing steadily with 48% currently embracing it. The data is from a new survey of 400 North American businesses conducted by customer success platform Gainsight in partnership with Benchmarkit, a B2B SaaS research firm.

While customer success performance has traditionally been tracked by retention metrics (64% use retention as their primary metric), reliance on revenue expansion as a measure is increasing.

Digital customer success. Digital CS combines digital and human touchpoints to support customers, with brands trying to do “more with less” inclining towards a “digital first” approach. It’s early days for collecting data on KPIs for digital CS, the survey says, although the aims are the same as human CS: Acquisition, retention and expansion.

The three leading channels for Digital CS operations are digital events (webinars, conferences; 78%), marketing automation (65%) and in-app messaging (56%).

Why we care. Let’s be clear that Gainsight, with its suite of customer success, customer community and other offerings is not a disinterested party here. Still, it’s interesting to contrast the avowed commitment to customer success among SaaS companies with the widespread perception that customers only hear from them when subscription renewal time comes around. That does signal a focus on retention rather than solving customer problems (and perhaps, thereby, expanding revenue).

Indeed, while digital-plus-human sounds like a no-brainer for efficient use of customer success resources, it surely can’t yet offer the degree of support that can be delivered by a human — especially one familiar with the account. Those requests that exceed digital capabilities will need to be swiftly routed to the right person.


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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.