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Gainsight grows digital success platform with NorthPass education acquisition

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher July 25, 2023
Drilling down on the customer journey...

myth vs fact

Every company has some type of motion around the customer journey, according to Maksim Ovsyannikov, EVP of Product and Design at Gainsight. The question is, how sophisticated is it?

The biggest difference comes down to having the resources to manage it properly, something companies are struggling with during these uncertain economic times. However, the right technology can help those that don’t have the resources. And Ovsyannikov believes that Gainsight is the right technology. 

Supporting the customer after they purchase

The customer journey we’re talking about here is everything that happens after the purchase, and Gainsight is a platform that manages and optimizes that part of the customer journey. Ovsyannikov describes four dimensions of the customer journey:

  • Onboarding the solutions a customer has purchased in a meaningful way.
  • Ensuring that all the features and benefits are used optimally.
  • Helping customers realize the value they are looking for (and this, Ovsyannikov says, requires effort from various teams, including customer success, customer experience, service management, support, documentation, and in some cases, engineering and product teams).
  • Getting the renewal - a very significant part of the journey.

There are many ways to support all these dimensions and lots of different technology you can use. Gainsight brings much of that technology together in a single digital customer success platform, including its latest acquisition of the customer education learning management system, NorthPass.   

Ovsyannikov explains that customer education is essential to a customer success motion. Things like assignments, recommendations, just-in-time learning, and full-blown training and certification are important to ensure customers use the software after purchase and use it to its fullest potential to support their needs. Plus, a lot of this education can be automated, so you have the right information in the hands of customers exactly when they need it (something that’s not easy to do when you have to rely on human resources). 

Education at the point of need

In a blog post talking about the acquisition, Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta argues:

Customer Education is defined as follows: “programs that provide content designed to onboard, engage, and retain customers, delivered at scale via a Learning Management System (LMS) platform,” and in just that definition, there’s an immense amount of crossover with Customer Success. Essentially, both are about helping a customer adopt behaviors to drive the business outcomes they are seeking. And it’s that aligned mission that makes it a natural step in the evolution of Customer Success.

NorthPass falls into Gainsight’s Digital Hub, which includes components for community, knowledge base, events, customer feedback, and customer education. Ovsyannikov says that education is valuable to companies of all sizes, both B2B and B2C. It has also helped create careers for some people. 

Northpass CEO Steve Cornwell said this about the acquisition:

This acquisition unlocks the full potential of digital customer education by making it a core strategy in the chief customer officer’s playbook and seamlessly integrating it with the whole customer success tech stack, including community, in-app product engagement, customer success data, workflows, and so much more.

Adding NorthPass to Gainsight enables customer success teams to add a formal learning program for customers, including learning paths, certifications, and re-certifications. Ovsyannikov argues that an education program can deliver an on-demand learning experience available 24/7. It helps to reduce the time and costs of CSMs training customers one-on-one. 

Over 350 B2B and B2C companies use NorthPass, and there was already an integration with Gainsight prior to the acquisition. 

Leveraging generative AI in digital customer success

According to Ovsyannikov, digital customer success resonates with companies on two levels:

First, people don’t want to be taken out of their workflow to ask questions to customer support or read a bunch of articles. They would rather be helped “just in time, in the moment of need.” 

Second, budgets are tight, and there is uncertainty in staffing. Even as your customers grow, you might not be in a position to hire more resources to support those customers. The pitch here is that the community aspect of Gainsight’s digital hub is a better place to ask people in similar situations and‌ get an answer more quickly. 

Where does AI fit into the picture with Gainsight? Ovsyannikov says the firm started investing heavily in AI five years ago on two levels. AI is leveraged to help customers understand the most impactful part of a CX motion. Using AI, they do an analytical correlation analysis (i.e., what has the greatest amount of causality in terms of achieving customer success). 

Gainsight also uses generative AI to enable users like CSMs to be more productive, such as writing emails, listening to meetings and taking notes, action items, and determining the sentiment of the conversations. 

Another area where generative AI can help is acting as an early warning system to let you know things aren’t going as well as they should, says Ovsyannikov. Gainsight currently has in beta a cheat sheet that summarizes customer success across 5 criteria, including achievement of initial goals and values, risks, sentiment, and opportunities. Phil Waineright attended the Gainsight Pulse event in May and wrote about these generative AI capabilities and more.

My take

My favorite AI capability that Phil mentioned, and one Ovsyannikov talked about as well, focused on giving customers a simpler experience when onboarding Gainsight. By providing your goals, having AI generate the workflow to support these goals could significantly reduce the time and effort to onboard and start seeing value. This is a capability other software vendors are investing their time in, and I think it is much more important than writing content. 

I also think you could use generative AI to recommend education and learning paths and help them find the right training quickly, especially around specific topics in the moment of need. Ovsyannikov said Gainsight does this now, but you can imagine how much more they could do with the NorthPass platform. 

(I also discussed generative AI in the contact center and other customer experience tools and technologies with Presidio and TELUS International. Those conversations were also very insightful and worth reading.)

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