Evaluating CS Platforms: Gainsight, Catalyst, Strikedeck - Seeking feedback on experience!

Egan Callahan
Egan Callahan Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited March 2021 in CS Technology
Hi all,

I'm currently evaluating a CS platform for my team. I've been in contact with Gainsight, Catalyst and Strikedeck. I would love if anyone could share their experience around the below topics for each of these. Feel free to ping me directly or I would love to setup some time to chat. 

I appreciate your time and input! 

- Implementation timeline / resources needed
- Ongoing management (I've heard it's recommended to have someone someone internal solely dedicated to Gainsight)
- Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
- Email automation

- Implementation timeline / resources needed
- Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
- Playbook functionality 
- Ability to run tech touch program w/ out email automation (I've heard this is coming soon)

- Implementation timeline / resources needed
- UI/UX impact on CSM adoption
- Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
- Email automation


  • Alyssa O'Connell
    Alyssa O'Connell Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited March 2021
    Hi Egan,

    I can speak to Gainsight, which we implemented ~2.5 years ago. 

    - Implementation timeline / resources needed
    We took about 3 months to implement, which was admittedly quite quick. I was hired in the middle of this implementation and was solely dedicated to getting Gainsight up and running; we also had subject matter experts from our account management team meet with us semi-weekly to give feedback. Gainsight has an implementation specialist assigned to you, which was super helpful-ours helped us build out rules and reports as well as provided recommendations for best practice. I'd say you need to be prepared to have at least one person fully dedicated to getting Gainsight up and running, and you need some great partnership from your end users so that you are sure they'll use what you build.

    - Ongoing management (I've heard it's recommended to have someone someone internal solely dedicated to Gainsight)
    As per implementation, it is good to have someone solely dedicated to Gainsight-this was my full-time job for my first year here. Once it got to steady state, we were able to get the management of Gainsight to ~half an FTE.

    - Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
    I've only used the SFDC integration, but it's super reliable. Really easy to use-you can access any data from SFDC and you can also write back to it. 

    - Email automation
    We are huge on email automation here. There are some flaws to Gainsight's, but there's always a workaround if you're willing to put in the time and get creative (can expand more upon this if helpful). We use email automation a lot for our long tail of accounts as well as for our covered accounts when we want to take work off of AMs' plates.

    Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

  • Diana De Zuniga
    Diana De Zuniga Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    edited March 2021
    Hi Egan,

    I can speak to Gainsight as well. We implemented fairly recently in March 2020 and have hit our 1 year anniversary. 

    Implementation timeline / resources needed
    • I was brought on at the start of implementation which took about 3-4 months to complete. I had the best experience with our Onboarding Account Manager. We managed the project using Smartsheet which help keep the project on task for the targeted go-live date. The Gainsight Onboarding team provided a wealth of documentation which included; training slide decks, UAT workbooks, and best practice suggestions. The Onboarding Technical Account Manager was extremely helpful during the design and build phase, and provided in-depth Gainsight Admin enablement sessions. Overall had a lot of support and follow-up from Gainsight. We did bring in two senior CSMs to be part of the design phase which turned out to be very insightful and productive. We also partnered with our internal Business Operations team to help build out necessary data streams that would integrate with Gainsight. 
    Ongoing management (I've heard it's recommended to have someone internal solely dedicated to Gainsight)
    • I would second this suggestion. It is useful to have a Gainsight Admin solely dedicated to building and maintaining the software. There are constant requests from the CSM managers and CSMs to consider. We rolled out Gainsight with a phased approach with the Enterprise accounts the first to go live, there is still more to be built out for the solo/small group segment (tech touch). 
    Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
    • So far we are only integrated with SFDC and it has been straightforward with little to no issues. Gainsight recently released a new feature called "Real Times Rules" that has helped with this integration's efficiency.
    Email automation
    • The Email automation feature is easy to use. Has great analytics and reporting built into it. 
    Hope that helps,

    Diana De Zuniga 
    Gainsight Admin 
    Henry Schein One
  • Joseph Beker
    Joseph Beker Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    Second Anniversary
    edited April 2021
    Hi Egan-

    I'm at the end of leading our Gainsight implementation and we're launching in a couple of weeks so the implementation is fresh on my mind. Our implementation will have taken a little over 3 months to complete and we've moved pretty quickly through the process. In addition to one central person leading the project, we included a couple of our CS directors involved throughout the design process. We also have a core group of "champions" which comprises both CS  and non-CS folks that we have leveraged occasionally for input and will be our UAT testers and users to initially go live. Our internal executive sponsor has been involved as well. For the technical side, we included our Salesforce Admin as well as our engineering team for assistance with building another date source. 

    I've heard a similar thing for the ongoing management and the need for a dedicated person. Once things stabilize down the road, we believe we won't need a fully dedicated person as we have a fairly small number of users (~30). 

    I can't speak to the last 2 quite yet!
  • Brandi Templeton
    Brandi Templeton Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    Second Anniversary
    edited April 2021
    Hi Egan, 

    We implemented Gainsight in early 2020, and here was our experience: 

    - Implementation timeline / resources needed

    We had a very quick timeline that we had to get Gainsight implemented (about 4-6 weeks) and they were able to meet this deadline! We did have a dedicated member of our operations team able to help us implement, along with a manager of our customer success team. The resources provided from the implementation team were fantastic and kept our team on schedule and organized. We always knew what the homework was and where to track the information. 

    - Ongoing management (I've heard it's recommended to have someone internal solely dedicated to Gainsight)

    We do have a member of our ops team who is knowledgeable on Gainsight, but it's not a full-time job. This person is mostly just needed to help us manage integrations across systems (Salesforce to Gainsight, etc.). Managers of our CS team have been able to learn and manage building reports, email campaigns, etc. 

    - Reliability of data integrations (Redshift, Tableau, SFDC)
    Of the ones you mention, we've only used SFDC and is has been very reliable! 

    - Email automation
    Email automation works well and is a life saver! As Alyssa said, I believe we've used a few workarounds to make certain things work, but overall we've been able to accomplish what we need!
  • Gwendolyn Radsch
    Gwendolyn Radsch Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    Third Anniversary Photogenic
    edited April 2021
    Hi Egan,

    We use Strikedeck and since before we were using nothing, I would say it was a game-changer for us. It has a strong integration with SFDC that makes it easy for CS & Sales to stay on the same page. As for platform management, we don't feel the need to have a dedicated resource managing the platform however our team does have someone in an operations capacity and he does engage with the Strikedeck team a lot. 

    Our CS team quickly adopted Strikedeck and continues to use it a ton every day. They recently refreshed the UI design and it is much cleaner too!

    I can't speak to the implementation of our roll out specifically but I do know that several folks who use and implement Strikedeck say they have it up and running weeks after signing their contract. 

    Now, full disclosure: I work for Medallia which acquired Strikedeck a few years back but I wouldn't come on here and share my positive experiences if they weren't true. Also, we are our harshest critics and I really do have a lot of great things to say about the ease of use and account views that it affords our team.

    Hope this helps - understand the bias may skew things but I really do believe it is a GREAT program!
  • Oliver Nono
    Oliver Nono Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    edited April 2021
    Hi Egan, 

    We recently implemented Gainsight at Zendesk and happy to walk you through our implementation. We started in late October and went live at the beginning of February. Depending on how big your CS team is, that timeline could be shorter or longer. We have a total of 157 people in our Success org. We had two business leads as part of the project (I was one of them), a PM on our side, as well as two Success Ops people. Our VP of Success was the Exec Sponsor for the project. 

    I would recommend having a dedicated Admin for Gainsight. We wouldn't have been able to improve our use without him (we hired a former Gainsight TAM). 

    Our data integrations are working well but we did have some issues with the SFDC integration that we were able to solve prior to go-live.  

    I'm not too sure about the email automation part.  

    As mentioned, happy to connect and talk through the experience (it was a positive one!)
  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 76 Expert
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Insightfuls
    edited April 2021
    These replies are all helpful to read through. Thanks for the original topic, Egan!

    There seems to be a plethora of options - you mentioned three of them, and I've also recently heard of ChurnZero. For those who have more experience in evaluating these products, is there any real differentiation between them? I'm thinking it might be around size of client or type of product being used/tracked, but I'm curious if there is a clear path to see differences...
  • Keishla Ceaser-Jones
    Keishla Ceaser-Jones Member Posts: 15 Thought Leader
    Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited May 2021
    We adopted Gainsight last fall. We have a dedicated administrator that is helping to bring in all of the right data and information to construct the overall health picture of your partner base. I think that role is super critical as they intersect with the different business functions to help us get a clear snapshot of what's happening in the partner journey. Depending on how your CSM team has been functioning, I think change management can be a critical aspect of adoption of a CSM tool. If your team has been using outside tools like spreadsheets and other documents and tools to manage workflow, you have to help them make shifts in those processes. As a director of CSMs, I integrated Gainsight conversation in my 1:1s to help in the transition. It's been great to see my team grow in their ability to use the dashboards and tools to guide strategic thinking. We have also been thoughtful about the automated playbooks and CTAs to help drive partner support. If you automate too much too fast, I think it can be a source of overwhelm.

    Keishla Ceaser-Jones

    Senior Director, Partner Success

    Digital Immersion Technologies, EAB

  • Mike Green
    Mike Green Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    edited May 2021
    I found this thread by searching to see how others like Gainsight to see if I'm offbase on my impression of it. I'm a user of it, not an admin..

    We moved from Strikedeck to Gainsight earlier this year...

    First, Strikedeck - no, no no no. I can't see how anyone today would implement it as a new platform. It seemed like a dying product a year ago in terms of support, upgrades, etc.

    Now, onto Gainsight. 
    Maybe our implementation was poor, but it seems every few days we hit another quirk that is painful.   It demos/shows well, but actually using it day to day has been frustrating for many of our folks.

    Some of our quirks that are a constant complaint in our gs channels...
    - the whole opening tabs for nearly every click.  You can quickly end up with 15 tabs open when you just wanted to browse thrua customer.
    - note taking is poor.  you can't paste in images/screenshots.. When we're in a customer meeting it is normal to screencap arch diagrams/zooms and quickly paste into a g-doc.  Gainsights interface requires you to save the image, then attach it to the general activity - you can't put it in line.
    - default field length for both content and display seems like it wasn't used by the real world. I think most of this is configurable, but things like a task title not taking an Asana link (size wise)
    - Health score updating - doesn't appear to be realtime, updates overnight/odd times

    Overall, the interface feels very clunkly - in webinars with a planned route it looks slick, but using it feels like I'm back to SFDC in 2017.

    just my 2 cents....

  • Brady James
    Brady James Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited May 2021
    Hi Egan, 

    Very exciting to be in a place to implement a new CS platform! We implemented Churnzero a few years ago at GoCanvas, before my time leading the team, and have slowly but surely built it out to help drive business decisions across the organization. We did our due diligence in late 2020 to see about other platforms, and considered SFDC's internal solution, and Gainsight. 

    SFDC's internal platform, after going through an exhausting sales process, seemed like a patchwork solution that was missing big chunks that were vital to our business. It seems that they're still building and figuring out how to leverage their software for a dedicated CSM solution. 

    Gainsight was extremely impressive in their pitch, and we considered making the switch. Really the high cost of implementation and licensing, coupled with some really impressive improvements in Churnzero, including custom dashboards, two way API access and more, lead us to continue our relationship with Churnzero. We've been extremely impressed, especially with their Customer Success team, as we have weekly meetings to continue learning how to leverage their platform. 

    Happy to answer any Churnzero questions, or discuss our roll out and upscale in implementation later on! Best of luck-
  • Nick Mehta
    Nick Mehta Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited May 2021
    Thanks for the feedback, Mike. I always appreciate the chance for us to improve! Today is my birthday, in fact, and this is a great gift in terms of input so we can get better.

    I will say UX with our Horizon redesign is a massive focus for us. We've made progress and more is coming. 

    The opening tabs on click is a hotly debated topic (with users on both sides) but I hear you for sure.

    On cut and paste in timeline for images, that is a valid request - we'll check in with the team.

    On default field length, this sounds reasonable - we'll talk about how this could evolve.

    On health score updating, we recently released the first version of our real-time infrastructure around this. It's not fully rolled out yet but more coming.

    Excited to improve things for you. Keep the input coming!

  • Gemma Espineira
    Gemma Espineira Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited May 2021

    Hi Egan,

    We recently implemented Planhat and so far, so good.  We have a dedicated Director of Digital CS who spent 80% of her time implementing for the first month, with some assistance from our SFDC Admin. The reliability of the integration with SFDC is quick and easy. Ongoing management sees about 50% of her time on Planhat builds and roll outs as we phase usage across our customer journey. Email integration is strong, on the automation side they could do with improving analytics and complex triggers for example "if they open this email + they take action in the product, then send them email B. If they don't open this email then send them email C". The Planhat team is small, nimble and really hands on and they've assured us this on their roadmap. 

    Ultimately there are many great tools out there. I've used Gainsight with great success and know many happy ChurnZero customers. It depends on the types of jobs you are looking for your team to do more of/ do better. At Chili Piper, we needed to zero in on Customer Onboarding and we felt Planhat was the strongest for this. If it would be helpful to you, you can check out my review of the market and borrow the RFP template I used in April 21 below.

    Review: https://www.chilipiper.com/resources/blog/gainsight-vs-churnzero-vs-planhat

    RFP Template: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JBOWZ0UH9s9QGM7ACZSd7BjS5VTEBHoCB0r-Z_fqIh0/copy

    Best of luck, I'm sure you'll make the right decision and happy to talk about anything further directly.



    VP CS Chili Piper

  • Kev Robson
    Kev Robson Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited September 2021
    Hi Egan,

    I'm currently looking at Churnzero for our organization. As a new CS Director in the organization, I want to implement something fairly quickly. Churnzero said about 4-8 weeks for implementation and it sounds (maybe) a little heavy for what we need right now. 

    Did you come across any lighter solutions on your search?
  • Jeff Heckler
    Jeff Heckler Member Posts: 79 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic Office Hours Host 2022
    edited September 2021

    Wonderful conversation going on here.  Great stuff.

    I have no affiliation or relationship to promote with any CSPs.

    From strictly my experience...

    1. I've used and implemented CSPs, large and small.

    2. I've build internal CSPs from CRMs: SFDC and Pipedrive.

    Consider Option #2.  At least give it a look.

    You already have it in place.  You already have the IP.

  • Kev Robson
    Kev Robson Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited September 2021

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the message. 

    I am the CS department right now so I think the custom option #2 wouldn't be possible. 

  • Jeff Heckler
    Jeff Heckler Member Posts: 79 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic Office Hours Host 2022
    edited September 2021

    You'd be surprised, Kev.

    Adding workflows to your current CRM can be a lot less taxing than administering a completely new tool (as thoroughly mentioned by others, above) and building the necessary integrations, not to mention the change management ramifications.

    Just food for thought.

  • Melissa Flygare
    Melissa Flygare Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic
    edited September 2021
    Hey Kev,

    First congratulations on your new role! ?  I would recommend checking out ClientSuccess.  Simple & easy to use - great for teams that don't have a ton of resources.  Plus, the infamous Kristi Faltorusso is the VP of Customer Success there!  

    Now, I should note that I work for ClientSuccess so maybe I'm a tad biased (I love this company!! ?).  We're not the right fit for everyone, but I think it would be worth checking us out.  I would be happy to chat through what you're looking for & see if we might be a good partner for you.  Just let me know if you're interested & we can connect ?

    P.S. If you're not already connected to Kristi on LinkedIn, I would highly recommend it!  I know she posted her insights on her first 90-days as a CS leader at a new company.  Very insightful!   There is also this webinar hosted by Emilia D'Anzica - Building Your 100-Day Customer Success Leadership Plan
  • Kate Nicholson Jones
    Kate Nicholson Jones Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    First Anniversary
    edited December 2021
    Alyssa, can I ask, do you use Gainsight as a document storage system as well, ( I am thinking internal docs, articles relating to CS, etc ) or do you store these separately? 

    I am trying to work out whether Gainsight ( other CS tools are available :) )  can be our answer to all things CS, or whether I have to be realistic and have intranet pages operating alongside.

    Thanks very much,  Kate
  • Alyssa O'Connell
    Alyssa O'Connell Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited December 2021
    Hi Kate,

    Happy to help! We use Google Drive for all of that kind of storage-I don't think Gainsight would be the best place for it. It's good at storing spreadsheets and other data that you want to report on, but not so great for articles and such.

    Hope that helps!