Evaluation criteria/matrix for CS tools?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones Member Posts: 25 Expert
First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
edited April 2021 in CS Technology
Hi all - I'm going to be evaluating a customer success platform (something like Gainsight, ChurnZero, Totango, etc.) in the 2nd half of this year, with an eye toward purchasing and implementing early next year. I have a preference for a specific tool, but I don't want to be biased in my selection.

I'd like to build a criteria/evaluation matrix to look at different tools and compare one to another. Just wondering if anyone in this community has done this recently, and if you have a template or a matrix you could share with me? Also, would welcome any advice on how to go about the selection process.
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  • Elric Legloire
    Elric Legloire Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    edited April 2021
    Hi Jim, Gemma Cipriani-Espineira, our VP of Customer Success, just wrote an article about how we chose our CS software.

    https://resources.chilipiper.com/blog/customer-success-platform

    And she also did this template: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JBOWZ0UH9s9QGM7ACZSd7BjS5VTEBHoCB0r-Z_fqIh0/copy

    I hope that might help you.

    Elric
  • Taylor Kniffin
    Taylor Kniffin Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    First Anniversary
    edited April 2021
    Hi Jim! My team is going through this process right now. I don't have a matrix/template to share, but I'd be happy to share my approach. 

    I focused on the problems we were looking to solve first, before thinking about the different solutions each platform offers. I asked my CSMs to help me brainstorm on the areas of challenges on our team and weighted them based on which were most to least pressing. Only after we created this list did I create a table with each issue & the potential solution (as determined from my basic CS platform research). After each platform demo, I'd grade the platforms based on how they would address each of our priorities. This helped me to stay focused on only what we needed and not get distracted by all the bells and whistles that CS platforms nowadays offer (of which there are many!). 

    Hope this is helpful!
  • Adam Bambrough
    Adam Bambrough Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited April 2021
    Hey Jim, 

    Here's a post & downloadable comparison template I created for this a while back after my first Success platform comparison/rollout (I'm On #4 now!)

    Good luck! 

    https://medium.com/customer-success-matters/customer-success-platform-rfp-template-c2b234675250 
  • Emily Garza
    Emily Garza Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    Office Hours Host 2022 GGR Blogger 2021 First Anniversary
    edited April 2021


    Jim  - Here is the template I designed, given my team's needs: 


    Description Notes
    Integration
    The solution will integrate with SalesForce Needs to overlay with SFDC, easy integration and maintenance. Ability to sync details back to SFDC. Ability to pull data from SFDC into tool for visibility, triggering action items, etc
    The solution will integrate with Slack Should have the option to be able to push notifications or tasks into Slack
    The solution will allow API integrations Needs to be able to integrate with internal App, Pendo and other sources (BI tool) for usage detail, users, etc
    Onboarding project plan/timing Onboarding will enable full integration and usage by end of 1Q20
    Vendor will project manage the implementation In collaboration with Enterprise Systems Team
    Health Score
    Should be able to calculate a customer health score within the system Be able to pull data via API, SFDC, Zendesk, Pendo
    We should be able to easily change metrics / weights as needed
    Create parameters by size
    Historical health score Should be able to see historical scores and data trends (what has changed in score)
    Heath alerts Should be able to create tasks/triggers to indicate AM action is needed based on changes in health score (by each metric as well as overall score)
    Timestamping Should be able to indicate when health score data was last updated
    Stickiness score Ability to pull in data from SFDC or internal App to rank/rate/score by factors such as count of features used compared to typical result of vertical
    Calendar Planning
    Alerts for key Account Plan dates Be able to set alerts to be triggered based on account plan action items
    Renewal date Ability to include renewal date on calendar of key account related dates
    Alerts for QBR prep Be able to set alerts to be triggered based on planned QBR dates
    Calendar / timelines Be able to input a calendar plan for the year with key dates to trigger alerts
    Account Strategy
    Ability to set overarching Fastly goals and objectives, tracking progress throughout the year Ability to identify key annual goals per account with associated timelines per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goal
    Ability to set sub goals and track progress throughout the year Ability to identify sub goals quarterly based on the overarching per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goal. Able to see past achievements related to the goal + what is left to do
    Calendar Able to pull in key details of the calendar to structure an account overview of the annual activities to drive success
    Customer Objectives Ability to outline key customer objectives, associated owner/dates
    Ability to pull objectives into 1:1 for visibility Ability to quickly reports and dashboards on current key goals/sub goals for manager focus/status
    Ability to develop relationship maps Be able to identify key stakeholders, role, level of influence, connections at our company
    Ability to make portions of this customer facing Ability to pull certain pieces of the account plan into a PDF or be able to take screen shots for customer facing uses
    Ability to integrate with SFDC runbooks Ability to pull details housed in SFDC fields related to account strategy
    Ability to create org chart based on contact details Ability to develop a visual representation of account connections, including relation to each other, influence, and connections within our compaany. Can notate roles and/or 'key contact'
    Automation
    Ability to sync notes back into other integrated systems Ability to sync notes, feature requests, status, etc back into SFDC
    Ability to trigger a workflow and share playbooks based upon situation/ information input System should have the ability to suggest various playbooks based on the current situation (timing, change in health score, change in SFDC or another system) when specific criteria is hit to improve alignment on process
    Ability to set trigger flags for management around certain conditions ie: Ability to flag renewal opportunity in SFDC that is a writedown
    Ability to set triggers on a uniform level, to apply to all users Leadership should be able to set a single trigger that can be applied across the team in one action, rather than setting individually for each user (not associated with account - ie: reminder to update renewal forecast)
    Ability for AM to set reminders/tasks Ongoing and one time
    Automation, metrics and visibility into low touch customers Ability to evaluate a larger group of small customers to identify immediate action that needs to be taken, send email templates
    Trend analysis Ability to take key information from similar accounts to see trends (churn, renewal timeline) that should be considered for current accounts
    Visibility
    Dashboard Ability to see a holistic customer and/or module view per user (individual or leadership)
    Dashboard of key metrics See a consolidated view of: Account count, opps created, opps won, renewals, NPS, revenue for a quarter, quota attainment (revenue QoQ or 3 mo rolling revenue growth/drop)
    Reporting Structured key reports already created (ie: tasks triggered, change in health score, trends by type of account, at risk)
    Dashboard Ability to filter key data (ie: CSM, timeframes, type of activities) for executive reporting
    Development and fit
    Size of customer's sizes ie: high volume / high customer count companies vs key account management focus?
    Feature development cycle How often do new features come out? Included in pricing?
    Cost model Platform vs user, lite user (view) offering
    Support model Level of support and interaction available upon purchase
    Onboarding training Ownership of initial training for CSM team
  • Jim Jones
    Jim Jones Member Posts: 25 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2021
    Hi @Elric Legloire - excellent, thanks for the link and for sending the template. Very much appreciated!
  • Jim Jones
    Jim Jones Member Posts: 25 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2021
    Hi @Taylor Kniffin - I like this approach. Customer Success at my new company is going to look different than it would in most companies (things like account ownership, overlap with the AMs, etc., are all things I have to take into account and work around). Plus, our software is an on-premise solution, which means the "automated health scoring" that most CS platforms offer isn't really of value to me.

    I love the focus on business needs and then requirements, vs starting with "Oh cool, look at this nifty doo-dad!"
  • Jim Jones
    Jim Jones Member Posts: 25 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2021
    This is great @Emily Garza - thank you!
    "}">The solution will integrate with SlackShould have the option to be able to push notifications or tasks into SlackThe solution will allow API integrationsNeeds to be able to integrate with internal App, Pendo and other sources (BI tool) for usage detail, users, etcOnboarding project plan/timingOnboarding will enable full integration and usage by end of 1Q20Vendor will project manage the implementationIn collaboration with Enterprise Systems TeamHealth ScoreShould be able to calculate a customer health score within the systemBe able to pull data via API, SFDC, Zendesk, Pendo
    We should be able to easily change metrics / weights as needed
    Create parameters by sizeHistorical health scoreShould be able to see historical scores and data trends (what has changed in score)Heath alertsShould be able to create tasks/triggers to indicate AM action is needed based on changes in health score (by each metric as well as overall score)TimestampingShould be able to indicate when health score data was last updatedStickiness scoreAbility to pull in data from SFDC or internal App to rank/rate/score by factors such as count of features used compared to typical result of verticalCalendar PlanningAlerts for key Account Plan datesBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on account plan action itemsRenewal dateAbility to include renewal date on calendar of key account related datesAlerts for QBR prepBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on planned QBR datesCalendar / timelinesBe able to input a calendar plan for the year with key dates to trigger alertsAccount StrategyAbility to set overarching Fastly goals and objectives, tracking progress throughout the yearAbility to identify key annual goals per account with associated timelines per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goalAbility to set sub goals and track progress throughout the yearAbility to identify sub goals quarterly based on the overarching per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goal. Able to see past achievements related to the goal + what is left to doCalendarAble to pull in key details of the calendar to structure an account overview of the annual activities to drive successCustomer ObjectivesAbility to outline key customer objectives, associated owner/datesAbility to pull objectives into 1:1 for visibilityAbility to quickly reports and dashboards on current key goals/sub goals for manager focus/statusAbility to develop relationship mapsBe able to identify key stakeholders, role, level of influence, connections at our companyAbility to make portions of this customer facingAbility to pull certain pieces of the account plan into a PDF or be able to take screen shots for customer facing usesAbility to integrate with SFDC runbooksAbility to pull details housed in SFDC fields related to account strategyAbility to create org chart based on contact detailsAbility to develop a visual representation of account connections, including relation to each other, influence, and connections within our compaany. Can notate roles and/or 'key contact'AutomationAbility to sync notes back into other integrated systemsAbility to sync notes, feature requests, status, etc back into SFDCAbility to trigger a workflow and share playbooks based upon situation/ information inputSystem should have the ability to suggest various playbooks based on the current situation (timing, change in health score, change in SFDC or another system) when specific criteria is hit to improve alignment on processAbility to set trigger flags for management around certain conditionsie: Ability to flag renewal opportunity in SFDC that is a writedownAbility to set triggers on a uniform level, to apply to all usersLeadership should be able to set a single trigger that can be applied across the team in one action, rather than setting individually for each user (not associated with account - ie: reminder to update renewal forecast)Ability for AM to set reminders/tasksOngoing and one timeAutomation, metrics and visibility into low touch customersAbility to evaluate a larger group of small customers to identify immediate action that needs to be taken, send email templatesTrend analysisAbility to take key information from similar accounts to see trends (churn, renewal timeline) that should be considered for current accountsVisibilityDashboardAbility to see a holistic customer and/or module view per user (individual or leadership)Dashboard of key metricsSee a consolidated view of: Account count, opps created, opps won, renewals, NPS, revenue for a quarter, quota attainment (revenue QoQ or 3 mo rolling revenue growth/drop)ReportingStructured key reports already created (ie: tasks triggered, change in health score, trends by type of account, at risk)DashboardAbility to filter key data (ie: CSM, timeframes, type of activities) for executive reportingDevelopment and fitSize of customer's sizesie: high volume / high customer count companies vs key account management focus?Feature development cycleHow often do new features come out? Included in pricing?Cost modelPlatform vs user, lite user (view) offeringSupport modelLevel of support and interaction available upon purchaseOnboarding trainingOwnership of initial training for CSM team</google-sheets-html-origin>
  • Navid Choudhury
    Navid Choudhury Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited April 2021
    Hi @Jim Jones,

    @Elric Legloire, @Taylor Kniffin, and @Emily Garza has given you pretty much all you need as guides. So I will only cover a strategic aspect I always consider, and that is the organizational maturity stage. 

    To not only solve yesterday's challenges (we only know today what we've seen so far) and know what may be the need for tomorrow (notice, not "want"), you may want to know which maturity stage your organization/product/customers are in. If you are in 'early' or 'growth', or see you're heading towards the 'mature' or 'continuous improvement' stage, the requirements may be vastly different for tomorrow. Going from first two to the second two stages a CSM tool may present transition challenges you didn't think of before. 

    In 2019, I ran the full course of requirement gathering, validation, RFP invite to vendors, PoC, selection, and implementation. It was for a CS org of 215+ size with sales/retention, marketing team along with Tech/non-tech teams serving 60K+ contacts/mo. 
    Yes, we built our template and if you think the scale/maturity stage will be relevant, please reach out and I'd be happy to share a scrubbed version. And open to discussions in every stage as you go. 

    Cheers,
    Navid Choudhury
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/navidchoudhury
  • Navid Choudhury
    Navid Choudhury Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited April 2021
    That's a great one @Emily Garza!


    "}">The solution will integrate with SlackShould have the option to be able to push notifications or tasks into SlackThe solution will allow API integrationsNeeds to be able to integrate with internal App, Pendo and other sources (BI tool) for usage detail, users, etcOnboarding project plan/timingOnboarding will enable full integration and usage by end of 1Q20Vendor will project manage the implementationIn collaboration with Enterprise Systems TeamHealth ScoreShould be able to calculate a customer health score within the systemBe able to pull data via API, SFDC, Zendesk, Pendo
    We should be able to easily change metrics / weights as needed
    Create parameters by sizeHistorical health scoreShould be able to see historical scores and data trends (what has changed in score)Heath alertsShould be able to create tasks/triggers to indicate AM action is needed based on changes in health score (by each metric as well as overall score)TimestampingShould be able to indicate when health score data was last updatedStickiness scoreAbility to pull in data from SFDC or internal App to rank/rate/score by factors such as count of features used compared to typical result of verticalCalendar PlanningAlerts for key Account Plan datesBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on account plan action itemsRenewal dateAbility to include renewal date on calendar of key account related datesAlerts for QBR prepBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on planned QBR datesCalendar / timelinesBe able to input a calendar plan for the year with key dates to trigger alertsAccount StrategyAbility to set overarching Fastly goals and objectives, tracking progress throughout the yearAbility to identify key annual goals per account with associated timelines per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goalAbility to set sub goals and track progress throughout the yearAbility to identify sub goals quarterly based on the overarching per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goal. Able to see past achievements related to the goal + what is left to doCalendarAble to pull in key details of the calendar to structure an account overview of the annual activities to drive successCustomer ObjectivesAbility to outline key customer objectives, associated owner/datesAbility to pull objectives into 1:1 for visibilityAbility to quickly reports and dashboards on current key goals/sub goals for manager focus/statusAbility to develop relationship mapsBe able to identify key stakeholders, role, level of influence, connections at our companyAbility to make portions of this customer facingAbility to pull certain pieces of the account plan into a PDF or be able to take screen shots for customer facing usesAbility to integrate with SFDC runbooksAbility to pull details housed in SFDC fields related to account strategyAbility to create org chart based on contact detailsAbility to develop a visual representation of account connections, including relation to each other, influence, and connections within our compaany. Can notate roles and/or 'key contact'AutomationAbility to sync notes back into other integrated systemsAbility to sync notes, feature requests, status, etc back into SFDCAbility to trigger a workflow and share playbooks based upon situation/ information inputSystem should have the ability to suggest various playbooks based on the current situation (timing, change in health score, change in SFDC or another system) when specific criteria is hit to improve alignment on processAbility to set trigger flags for management around certain conditionsie: Ability to flag renewal opportunity in SFDC that is a writedownAbility to set triggers on a uniform level, to apply to all usersLeadership should be able to set a single trigger that can be applied across the team in one action, rather than setting individually for each user (not associated with account - ie: reminder to update renewal forecast)Ability for AM to set reminders/tasksOngoing and one timeAutomation, metrics and visibility into low touch customersAbility to evaluate a larger group of small customers to identify immediate action that needs to be taken, send email templatesTrend analysisAbility to take key information from similar accounts to see trends (churn, renewal timeline) that should be considered for current accountsVisibilityDashboardAbility to see a holistic customer and/or module view per user (individual or leadership)Dashboard of key metricsSee a consolidated view of: Account count, opps created, opps won, renewals, NPS, revenue for a quarter, quota attainment (revenue QoQ or 3 mo rolling revenue growth/drop)ReportingStructured key reports already created (ie: tasks triggered, change in health score, trends by type of account, at risk)DashboardAbility to filter key data (ie: CSM, timeframes, type of activities) for executive reportingDevelopment and fitSize of customer's sizesie: high volume / high customer count companies vs key account management focus?Feature development cycleHow often do new features come out? Included in pricing?Cost modelPlatform vs user, lite user (view) offeringSupport modelLevel of support and interaction available upon purchaseOnboarding trainingOwnership of initial training for CSM team</google-sheets-html-origin>
  • Melissa Flygare
    Melissa Flygare Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited April 2021

    Hi Jim,

    Since there are so many different options in this space, it can be difficult (and sometimes overwhelming) to find the best fit.  I recommend creating a list of use-cases and technical requirements based on your needs that you can compare vendors against. 

    This is a great article by The Success League on their #1 Tip for Selecting the Right CS Software


    I would also recommend creating an evaluation matrix.  I've attached an example of what that might look like. 


    Here are a couple of other articles that might be useful:

    While many platforms rely heavily on product usage data, ClientSuccess is a great option for companies that don't have, or don't care about, product usage info. I work at ClientSuccess and we have many customers with on-prem offerings that are getting a ton of value out of our platform!  Would love to talk about how we can help, if you're interested :) 
  • Jim Jones
    Jim Jones Member Posts: 25 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2021
    Hey @Melissa Flygare - sorry for the delayed response. Thanks for sending the eval checklist! I'm going to email you offline - let's set up some time to talk about your platform.
  • Sruti Satish
    Sruti Satish Member Posts: 9 Contributor
    First Comment 5 Likes First Anniversary GGR Blogger 2022
    edited August 2021
    This is amazing! @Emily Garza. Thanks for sharing.
    "}">The solution will integrate with SlackShould have the option to be able to push notifications or tasks into SlackThe solution will allow API integrationsNeeds to be able to integrate with internal App, Pendo and other sources (BI tool) for usage detail, users, etcOnboarding project plan/timingOnboarding will enable full integration and usage by end of 1Q20Vendor will project manage the implementationIn collaboration with Enterprise Systems TeamHealth ScoreShould be able to calculate a customer health score within the systemBe able to pull data via API, SFDC, Zendesk, Pendo
    We should be able to easily change metrics / weights as needed
    Create parameters by sizeHistorical health scoreShould be able to see historical scores and data trends (what has changed in score)Heath alertsShould be able to create tasks/triggers to indicate AM action is needed based on changes in health score (by each metric as well as overall score)TimestampingShould be able to indicate when health score data was last updatedStickiness scoreAbility to pull in data from SFDC or internal App to rank/rate/score by factors such as count of features used compared to typical result of verticalCalendar PlanningAlerts for key Account Plan datesBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on account plan action itemsRenewal dateAbility to include renewal date on calendar of key account related datesAlerts for QBR prepBe able to set alerts to be triggered based on planned QBR datesCalendar / timelinesBe able to input a calendar plan for the year with key dates to trigger alertsAccount StrategyAbility to set overarching Fastly goals and objectives, tracking progress throughout the yearAbility to identify key annual goals per account with associated timelines per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goalAbility to set sub goals and track progress throughout the yearAbility to identify sub goals quarterly based on the overarching per account and rate/auto rate progress towards goal. Able to see past achievements related to the goal + what is left to doCalendarAble to pull in key details of the calendar to structure an account overview of the annual activities to drive successCustomer ObjectivesAbility to outline key customer objectives, associated owner/datesAbility to pull objectives into 1:1 for visibilityAbility to quickly reports and dashboards on current key goals/sub goals for manager focus/statusAbility to develop relationship mapsBe able to identify key stakeholders, role, level of influence, connections at our companyAbility to make portions of this customer facingAbility to pull certain pieces of the account plan into a PDF or be able to take screen shots for customer facing usesAbility to integrate with SFDC runbooksAbility to pull details housed in SFDC fields related to account strategyAbility to create org chart based on contact detailsAbility to develop a visual representation of account connections, including relation to each other, influence, and connections within our compaany. Can notate roles and/or 'key contact'AutomationAbility to sync notes back into other integrated systemsAbility to sync notes, feature requests, status, etc back into SFDCAbility to trigger a workflow and share playbooks based upon situation/ information inputSystem should have the ability to suggest various playbooks based on the current situation (timing, change in health score, change in SFDC or another system) when specific criteria is hit to improve alignment on processAbility to set trigger flags for management around certain conditionsie: Ability to flag renewal opportunity in SFDC that is a writedownAbility to set triggers on a uniform level, to apply to all usersLeadership should be able to set a single trigger that can be applied across the team in one action, rather than setting individually for each user (not associated with account - ie: reminder to update renewal forecast)Ability for AM to set reminders/tasksOngoing and one timeAutomation, metrics and visibility into low touch customersAbility to evaluate a larger group of small customers to identify immediate action that needs to be taken, send email templatesTrend analysisAbility to take key information from similar accounts to see trends (churn, renewal timeline) that should be considered for current accountsVisibilityDashboardAbility to see a holistic customer and/or module view per user (individual or leadership)Dashboard of key metricsSee a consolidated view of: Account count, opps created, opps won, renewals, NPS, revenue for a quarter, quota attainment (revenue QoQ or 3 mo rolling revenue growth/drop)ReportingStructured key reports already created (ie: tasks triggered, change in health score, trends by type of account, at risk)DashboardAbility to filter key data (ie: CSM, timeframes, type of activities) for executive reportingDevelopment and fitSize of customer's sizesie: high volume / high customer count companies vs key account management focus?Feature development cycleHow often do new features come out? Included in pricing?Cost modelPlatform vs user, lite user (view) offeringSupport modelLevel of support and interaction available upon purchaseOnboarding trainingOwnership of initial training for CSM team</google-sheets-html-origin>
  • Tine Van Dyck
    Tine Van Dyck Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited January 2022
    Hi Elric,

    Interesting information! Could you share how big the CSM customer portfolio is and how many CSM resources you have for those?

    Thanks a lot in advance,
    Tine