Gainsight Horizon AI Labs: What Is The Right CSM to Customer Ratio?

Gainsight Horizon AI Labs:

Co-authored by Shantan Reddy.

I don’t know about you – but data is one of my favorite things to geek out about (in addition to creating music parodies and talking about physics). 

Many of you know Gainsight has thousands of customers and tens of thousands of customer success managers that use Gainsight daily, so we have a substantial source of data in our platform. And people have asked me over and over again, “given your customer base, you must have so much data about CS.” The answer is yes – we totally do! So we decided to utilize our latest tool, Horizon AI technology, to gather benchmarks from across our platform to share with the CS community to help us all make better decisions together. Here are some of our initial findings:

Customer Success Managers to Accounts

Focusing first with our US-based Enterprise customers (>$100M Annual Recurring Revenue or ARR), we used anonymized, aggregated data in our research and focused on three primary categories: 

  • High touch >$100K Annual Contract Value or ACV
  • Mid touch $10K-$100K ACV
  • Low touch <$10K ACV

As you can see in the chart below, high touch averaged 22 accounts managed per CSM, mid touch averaged 49 accounts managed per CSM, and low touch averaged 144 accounts managed per CSM. 

CSM categoryAverage number of accounts managed
High touch22
Mid touch49
Low touch144

The skewed distribution across the CSM categories shows that high touch CSMs manage the most strategic clients with higher ACV and therefore own fewer accounts. This enables the CSM to provide a proactive and personalized CS service to nurture those higher revenue clients. Lower ACV accounts that support the one-to-many model likely have automated CS processes – in-app NPS, communities, webinars, email campaigns, etc. – to help the CSMs scale and support a large number of accounts simultaneously. 

CSM to ARR

Next, we focused on the average total ARR managed by a CSM. We compared a pool of 17,034 CSMs from our US-based customers using anonymized and aggregated data. The median (50%) quartile for total ARR was $1.4M while the top (75%) quartile was $4.2M.

Conclusion

This is for certain: Everyone is at a different stage in their Customer Success journey, and we’re all figuring it out as we go. The most important thing to remember is that regardless of your situation, segmentation, and organization, every customer needs a positive experience while obtaining value from your product. And if you are just getting started in your Customer Success journey and looking for benchmarks on how many accounts or ARR your CSMs should own, here’s a great place to start.

Nick Mehta

As a huge sports fan, Nick thinks of his job as being like that of a head coach. His role is to help bring the right people together on the team and put them in the best position to win for our customers, partners, employees and their families. He’s a big believer in the Golden Rule and we try to apply it as much as we can to bring more compassion to our interactions with others. And he talks way too fast and overuses the word awesome like it’s going out of style. Before coming to Gainsight, Nick was the CEO of awesome leading Software-as-a-Service E-Discovery provider LiveOffice through its acquisition by Symantec and prior to that was a Vice President at VERITAS Software and Symantec Corporation.

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