We suppose you're here because you are evaluating Gainsight and ChurnZero—two of the best customer success platforms available at the moment.
And probably the key questions in your mind are: Which is better? What kinds of businesses would benefit most from each of them?
In that case, I assume either you are leading a customer success (CS) team, or one of your key goals is to improve net revenue retention and reduce customer churn at a fast-growing B2B organization.
First of all, you're already doing the right thing by looking for a solution that will help your CS team's performance.
We'll compare and contrast these two candidates in terms of simplicity of use, product capabilities, cost, and scalability, and offer you our opinion on who will benefit the most from Gainsight versus ChurnZero.
For starters, going by the G2 Customer Success software grid, both Gainsight and ChurnZero are in the ‘Leaders’ category.
The key place to start is—have a strong understanding of your organization’s maturity stage. You need to know the revenue contribution by customers, i.e., who are your high-paying customers, how many of your customers are high-touch accounts, and more.
It’s an exercise that needs to be typically done among your CEO and CS leadership in collaboration with the entire CS team. And that in turn will help you determine the features you may want to look for.
For instance, here’s an example of how to categorize customers and thereby prioritize the features you want in a CS software:
Our research approach to arriving at an objective comparison
What makes us the authority to compare the two CS platforms and offer an objective/unbiased perspective? Great question! Also, a very valid question!
We at Avoma are a SaaS organization ourselves and strongly believe in being useful and helpful to the SaaS community at large with our modern SaaS initiatives. In fact, we’ve gone through the CS software evaluation phase multiple times for our organization.
The purpose of this blog post is to not just share our learnings and observations from our evaluation journey, but also talk to several other evaluators, existing customers and past customers of both these CS softwares.
Here’s the 5-step process on how we arrive at our comparative information in an unbiased manner:
- If we’ve evaluated the platform for ourselves in the past—refer to the notes on why we decided to go through or not-go-through with the platform.
- Reaching out to at least 15 existing and past users of both platform’s users to understand their first-hand experience.
- Interview the current and past users of these software to understand the nitty-gritties of the features that are a must-have, good-to-have, or missing.
- Aggregate a minimum of 100 reviews across G2, GetApp, TrustRadius, FinancesOnline and all relevant SaaS review sites to understand the customer sentiment at scale.
- Run polls on social media.
The key difference between Gainsight and ChurnZero
Gainsight lets you define the measure of customer health
Gainsight and ChurnZero have a fundamental distinction—Gainsight believes that product usage isn't necessarily the most essential factor in churn and renewals.
The best thing is that Gainsight gives customers options for assessing consumer health. Gainsight's Client Health Score is a unique feature that assigns a score to each customer based on their degree of satisfaction. It uses machine learning to create accurate predictions based on previous consumer data and behavior.
Gainsight also gives you the ability to monitor customer health only based on real-time usage. If you wish to include survey findings, invoice history, support history, and other variables in your scoring model, the platform is adaptable enough to allow you to do so.
If more than just real-time usage data is desired, you can extract multiple kinds of health-related data, including support tickets, product usage, survey results, NPS ratings, billing, and more, making Gainsight more appealing to enterprise organizations.
- Dan Steinman,Chief Evangelist at Gainsight
To summarize, while Gainsight provides dashboards for product usage, it recommends you to think about additional aspects that influence customer health, such as:
(a) How frequently do customers contact support?
(b) Do you get referrals from your current customers?
(c) Do your consumers participate actively in the community?
(d) What is your billing history like, and so forth.
Gainsight is very clearly positioned for mature SaaS companies having varied approaches to measuring customer health👌
ChurnZero focuses on reducing customer churn
ChurnZero and Gainsight are fundamentally different in that ChurnZero is a real-time customer success software developed for SaaS companies looking to reduce customer attrition.
The ability to integrate with CRMs to streamline the customer success (CS) workflow is one of ChurnZero's key features. ChurnZero takes a similar strategy to Totango, which we described in our earlier comparison with Gainsight, with the main goal to:
- Understand how their customers use their product
- Assess their health and their chances of renewal
- Automate and personalize the customer experience with timely and relevant touchpoints, including in-app content
ChurnZero is positioned for mid-market and enterprise SaaS companies focused on reducing churn and improving product adoption👌
Choosing between Gainsight and ChurnZero
When you are evaluating between two or more SaaS products, it’s best to slice and dice your comparison from 4 critical lenses:
Key factors for evaluation
1. Ease of use
The ease of using a customer success platform is an essential factor to consider since it will make or break the platform's adoption among your CS team.
Questions to ask:
- How hard or easy is it to set up and implement the CS software?
- Do you need a dedicated manager to administer the tool?
- Can you trial the platform yourself with some automated nurture assisting you?
- Will the users need training to start using the tool effectively?
2. Product capabilities
If the CS software’s UX gets a passing grade, the next evaluation criteria should be the range of features and benefits it offers.
Questions to ask:
- How comprehensive is the platform in terms of allowing flexibility based on various customer success goals and approaches?
- What integrations does it support?
- Do they support the integrations natively or via some third party API connectors?
- Are its functionalities out-of-the-box or customizable?
Pricing is an important area to explore considering your team size, budget, and the net retention revenue goals you expect to achieve as a result of leveraging the CS platform.
Questions to ask:
- Does the CS tool offer a free trial or freemium subscription model?
- Is the pricing affordable, flexible, and fair for your business use cases?
- Does it have flexible monthly billing options or does it force you to sign annual contracts?
- Are there any hidden costs?
When you're buying a piece of software, you're not just buying to solve your pressing needs today but also looking to use it for your future needs.
Questions to ask:
- How easy and affordable is it to add more users to the platform?
- Does it offer enterprise-level features?
- Can the platform support you across the growth and maturity phases?
Comparing Gainsight and ChurnZero
The TL;DR version
1. Ease of use
Customers have great praise for both Gainsight and ChurnZero. Both companies have a lot of ratings on the G2 platform because they are market leaders with thousands of customers. Despite 863 reviews and a 4.4/5 rating on G2, ease-of-use does not appear to be their main draw in their side-by-side comparison.
ChurnZero, like Gainsight, is a strong contender in the leaders category, with 654 reviews and a 4.75/5 rating. In terms of 'ease-of-use,' ChurnZero is much ahead of Gainsight in a head-to-head comparison.
2. Product capabilities
Gainsight considers customer health to be a holistic measure that is influenced by a variety of factors such as product adoption, the amount of support cases raised over time, referrals from existing customers, and more.
When you're running a small business, product adoption and usage metrics are perhaps the most important measures of consumer health. However, we frequently hear from VPs of Customer Success at pretty large companies that consumption analytics alone do not provide a comprehensive picture of customer health.
Here’s what Gainsight for Customer Success looks like:
With features like Scorecards, Customer 360, and Timeline—you get a complete overview of your customer health (not just in terms of product usage, but also in terms of the number of interactions, bill payments, referrals, community participation, etc.) and can set up a workflow to drive the right action at the right moments across the customer success pipeline.
These pipelines can be used in order to understand exactly where a customer is in the process of being supported by a CS person and the next course of action. Also for a CS leader, this pipeline visibility is very helpful for internal reviews and to discuss how best to operationalize customer success in the most efficient and effective way.
ChurnZero is focussed on minimizing churn, as the name implies. The platform provides a quick snapshot of account health, NPS, email and phone interactions, ongoing automated drip campaigns, and other indicators—making it a handy daily hub for customer service workflow.
ChurnZero lets you get a holistic understanding of customer health with a variety of features that let you measure how consumers use the product, the likelihood of renewal, and more.
With features such as Customer Segmentation, Account Insights, Plays, and Automations—the idea is to make customer interaction more proactive, trackable, and consistent. The platform helps you set up workflows to drive the right action at the right moments across the customer success pipeline.
Because the platform is aimed at the midmarket and enterprise customers, there is a lot of focus on process, integrations, and workflows. ChurnZero offer’s wide-ranging flexibility when it comes to integrating with CRMs to streamline the customer success workflow.
That said, the heavy dependency on integrations with CRMs and varied levels of configurations means you need a dedicated admin and focus on implementation, where you need to have all parties across the organization involved and on the same page.
When you visit Gainsight’s website—you won't see pricing right off the bat. So, if you want to trial their platform or want a demo, you need to go through a typical enterprise-style form where you will be BANT qualified by an SDR before you even get a glimpse of the product. And it's not necessarily a bad thing.
On an average, if you were integrating with one or two key platforms with minimal customization, it looks like you will be spending $2500/user/month. Ideally suited for enterprises and upper mid-market.
When you visit ChurnZero’s website—there is no pricing page. So, if you want to trial their platform or want a demo, you need to go through a typical enterprise-style form where you will be BANT qualified by an SDR before you even get a glimpse of the product. And it's not necessarily a bad thing.
From what we found, it looks like—on an average, if you were integrating with one or two key platforms with minimal customization, you will be spending upwards of $2500/user/month (pretty similar pricing range compared to Gainsight). Thus, ChurnZero is also a good fit for enterprises and upper mid-market customers.
Gainsight—scalability maybe subject to affordability
Gainsight users claim that it simplifies the work of managing various systems, both from an admin and user standpoint.
To create scoring and action plans for ‘customer health’ Gainsight can get data input from multiple sources. And since it is native to Salesforce, their significant advantage is—Gainsight can keep its data behind Salesforce’s firewall, which is a huge plus in terms of security making them a preferred choice for larger enterprise customers wanting to go the extra mile for security.
While the customers of Gainsight have great things to say about the platform, the only downside is—the pricing is not transparently available on the website.
Therefore at the outset, it's not very clear if you can crawl, walk, and run in terms of moving from a low-tier plan to a high-tier plan—based on your CS maturity curve.
ChurnZero–a safe and scalable bet
From the scale point of view, ChurnZero makes the task of managing multiple systems easier—from a user perspective, albeit the need for some support on the administrative side.
To reduce churn and improve your net retention rate, ChurnZero can get you data input from multiple sources. More importantly, it can help you with customer segmentation, automate several parts of your product-led workflow such as onboarding, improving product adoption, customer re-engagement and more.
ChurnZero too, like Gainsight, doesn’t share pricing on their website, and hence it’s not easy to qualify yourself in or out without talking to their sales team.
If you are at a point where you are seriously considering investmenting in a customer success software—between Gainsight and ChurnZero, the choice isn’t easy. Both Gainsight and ChurnZero are great customer success platforms.
Here’s our view:
1. It boils down to your core philosophy. If you have a mature customer success process and multiple parameters to measure your customer health, and are primarily reliant on Salesforce—Gainsight could be your choice.
You’ll appreciate its native integration with Salesforce, workflow pipelines, and ability to get data from multiple sources, especially if you’re an enterprise with 500+ customers.
2. On the other hand, if you are streamlining your CS processes as a fast-growing organization where you need an at-a-glance view of account health, NPS and other metrics—making it a useful everyday hub for CS workflow, then you might want to go for ChurnZero.