Planhat and ChurnZero are top-rated vendors for customer success platforms — especially for mid-market companies. Which one should you choose? You don’t want to end up stuck with the wrong tool after finally getting the buy-in to purchase a CSP from leadership.
I got you! In this article, I’ll highlight the differences and strengths of Planhat and ChurnZero to help you make the right decision for your CS team.
The difference between Planhat and ChurnZero
The main difference is Planhat is easier to use and faster to implement, while ChurnZero may be a bit more expensive but has more native integrations and native features.
Planhat is often preferred for its more user-friendly UI & unlimited seats pricing model. ChurnZero’s strengths include a built-in survey tool, and a built-in in-app messaging tool, which might be useful it you don't want to use additional tools like Intercom or Pendo.
Both tools have a lot of overlapping features like customizable health scoring, automated customer journeys, and customer segmentation.
To give you a better insight, I’ll discuss differences in three primary areas:
- Pricing and the variables that’ll affect your cost
- Native integrations to other tools in your arsenal
- How easy and fast implementation is
After the critical differences, I’ll highlight the key strengths of both software.
For Planhat, it means:
- Why its UI & UX is superior
- The customer portal and feature requests feature
- Internal collaborative features to make communication within your CS team transparent
For ChurnZero, it means:
- It’s command center feature and why it’s a CSM favorite
- AI capabilities and how they can increase your efficiency
- More native features: In-built survey tools & in-app messaging
Let’s get into it!
Differences in 3 critical criteria
First, we’ll cover how Planhat and ChurnZero differ in three areas critical to every CS team: price, integrations, and implementation.
TL;DR: If you have a tightly-knit CS team handling a large scale of customers, Planhat and ChurnZero might have competitive pricing. If you have a growing CS team, Planhat will likely be more pocket friendly.
Both Planhat and ChurnZero require a demo to get custom pricing based on your needs. But the primary difference is ChurnZero also charges you based on the number of users (along with a base platform fee and features), while Planhat doesn’t. Thus, as your CS team grows, so will the cost of using ChurnZero as your CSP.
How does Planhat charge? The main factor that affects costs is the number of customers. But the pricing is also affected by the number of automations and emails. All plans offer unlimited seats — it’s best when you want to make customer success a company-wide initiative and give everyone in the org access to customer data.
In general, ChurnZero sits near $3,500/user with limited integrations and features (like the absence of a customer dashboard in the standard plan). Planhat has three pricing plans, and you can expect prices to start from $25,000/year.
TL;DR: ChurnZero has more native integrations compared to Planhat, but both platforms have the most needed integrations. Also, Planhat integrates with Zapier — opening up its integration capabilities to thousands of apps.
Here’s an overview of integrations — the ones that Planhat and ChurnZero share and others that are unique to both platforms.
The most significant difference is Planhat has virtually no integrations with any payment, accounting, or productivity platforms. ChurnZero’s drawbacks include having no native email tool integrated and the lack of a Zapier integration.
Both ChurnZero and Planhat have APIs to integrate your data into their systems. But it’s an added load on your engineering team since it’s a manual task.
See the complete integration lists here:
TL;DR: Planhat is easier when it comes to hitting the ground running. ChurnZero requires time and effort in the initial setup, but adopts better with existing tech and workflows in the long term.
Implementation can mean different things to different CS teams.
- Someone can say implemented means how long it takes for a CSP to become usable, even if it isn’t adopted to its full potential yet.
- Others can say implemented means how long it takes for a CSP to seamlessly mesh into existing tech stack and workflows.
Both are right.
In the former definition, Planhat comes out at the top. It takes less time and has a comparatively smoother learning curve than ChurnZero. Why? Because ChurnZero is a bit clunky to set up and use. Even the most positive reviews say so.
The primary complaints include:
a) The user interface is dated
c) The platform has a steep learning curve and takes a lot of time to get going
For the latter definition, ChurnZero might lead compared to Planhat. Depending on your tech-stack, Planhat might require more time to connect to existing software and processes — which can delay adoption. Planhat also has a ton of features, which some customers find overwhelming. ChurnZero — once the initial friction of setup — can be extremely powerful.
In essence, both tools’ implementation will keep evolving as your CS team changes and grows. Start with entering your customer data, then factor in your customer health scores, followed by automation and keep going.
Planhat’s key strengths
Here are three prominent areas where Planhat shines brighter than ChurnZero.
1: Planhat’s UI & UX is superior
The top complaint of most ChurnZero customers is its outdated UI & UX. For example, a customer highlights that you can’t create a segment from the report builder or Playbook. You need to restart the process or think of a segment before building any type of automation or reporting. ChurnZero’s interface is also displeasing compared to Planhat’s modern look. All these little faults add up to make ChurnZero not so user-friendly.
A clunky UI is one of the biggest reasons customers look for ChurnZero alternatives.
In contrast, one of the most loved aspects of Planhat is its user interface. It’s easy to get started, and unlike ChurnZero, reporting is straightforward. Customers especially applaud how Planhat consolidates all customer data in one place — making it easy to figure out your next course of action.
The learning curve in Planhat is smoother compared to ChurnZero. You can derive value from the platform even when implementation is underway. What’s even better: Planhat’s support team is praised especially for customer onboarding — making your job even easier.
2: Planhat has a customer portal and a way to track feature requests
Planhat has a customer-facing portal that lets you create playbooks and share them with your customers. It’s excellent for transparency during onboarding, keeping high-touch customers in loop, and collaborating with your customers on shared tasks.
You can use these customer portals to share product usage trends, educate your customers, and build success plans together. Not every type of customer will need a shared portal, but it’s A+ for high-touch customers or scenarios where you’d like to provide your customer with a collaborative experience.
ChurnZero has in-app communications to deliver announcements and updates to your customers and a Success Centre to assist them via onboarding or learning about a new feature via checklists & surveys. But it’s not the same as Planhat because it isn’t a shared collaborative space that allows for two-way communication.
Along with the customer portal, Planhat also has a “Feature Requests” function that tracks the features your customers have requested. It lets you align your product roadmap to your customer’s feature requests — helping you easily understand what’s good for the business and the customer.
Via a Jira integration, you can also track the development status of your customer’s feature requests. Knowing, prioritizing, and updating your customers on their feature requests is key to keeping them happy and satisfied with your product and service. Planhat makes it easy for you to accomplish this. ChurnZero has no explicit feature to record and organize your customer’s feature requests.
3: Planhat has a shared inbox for your CS team
As the structure of your customer success team evolves, you need more transparency around customer communication. Planhat centralizes all customer communication in one place that all of your CS team can see transparently and even coordinate via internal comments.
For instance, as a CS employee in my last company, I handled support tickets alongside my clients. Whenever I’d encounter a customer request that needed more than a simple answer (like a product walkthrough or a CSM input), I needed to take a screenshot, send it over to the client’s CSM, and then respond to the client that their CSM will reach out to them soon.
In Planhat, I could’ve simply commented for the assigned CSM to take over and handle the request. The job would’ve been done much quicker.
Not just this: Planhat also enables shared inboxes (like support@ or success@) with your CS team and has the function to build email templates. Both features make it super easy to collaborate with your team internally and improve the customer’s experience.
Together, internal comments, shared inboxes, and email templates form the perfect trifecta of making your customer communication efficient and transparent.
ChurnZero doesn’t have an in-built customer success inbox to stay on top of customer communication. Sure, it has lots of integrations with tools you might already be using, but it’s nothing compared to the convenience of collaborating within your CSP itself.
ChurnZero’s key strengths
Here are three main segments where ChurnZero’s capabilities are superior to Planhat’s:
1: ChurnZero has a Command Center for an overarching view of your tasks
It’s the first thing you see when you open ChurnZero. And the Command Center acts like your to-do list — telling you what’s in store for the day and week ahead. It brings important customer info (like declining customer health scores) to the light so they don’t slip out of mind.
Many customers say they use the Command Center as their to-do list at the start of their day. It helps them quickly get an overview of their clients and keep a pulse on all their customers. In the high-tier packages, you can even make your own custom dashboard for other use cases.
Planhat has all that data too, but it’s not as neatly organized in a separate dashboard. You’ll have to be a bit more proactive in figuring out your priorities for the day.
2: ChurnZero has AI features
ChurnZero is pioneering the movement of bringing AI into customer success. It has an in-built CS AI that can generate content, summarize customer notes, and refine customer communication.
Let’s say leadership asks you to present an account summary of all your clients — including product usage, health score, call notes, survey data, recent communication, and more. Using ChurnZero’s customer brief AI feature, you can generate the summary in a single click.
You can also use ChurnZero’s AI to help you craft a diplomatic response to a difficult customer email and then make it your own. There are existing prompts to give you a headstart too.
While ChurnZero is ahead on AI features overall, Planhat is now starting to release them too. Starting with AI account summaries, and an AI writing assistant.
3: ChurnZero has a customer survey tool & i-app messaging
Your CS team likely runs tons of surveys every quarter to assess customer health. These surveys have a large hand in determining how happy your customers are. But you have to use a separate software to send a questionnaire to your customers and hopefully integrate it with your CSP to have that data and responses reflected in account health.
With ChurnZero, you get an integrated customer survey tool that lets you run NPS, CSAT, CES, or your own customer survey.
Send these surveys via email and customer responses will automatically be integrated into health scoring to keep all info up to date. It keeps all info up to date without you having to plug an integration or enter qualitative data manually.
So far, Planhat only lets you run NPS surveys natively. For every other survey, you have to integrate another tool.
Another key feature that ChurnZero has natively is in-app messaging.
You can use the customer data you have in ChurnZero to deliver messages, CTAs, resources & more at the right time. That is commonly done in a 1:many CS approach, for accounts with a lower ACV, or for general product education.
If you're using Planhat you can still achieve this, but you'll need a separate integrated tool like Intercom or Pendo.
Planhat vs. ChurnZero: Final thoughts
Both Planhat and ChurnZero ace the basic offering of any customer success platform. ChurnZero is a bit clunkier to use, but with its native integrations and AI features, it might be a worthwhile compromise. Or maybe Planhat’s UI, along with its collaborative features (both internal and external), and unlimited seats are better suited to your needs.
Purchasing a customer success platform is a tough (and costly!) decision without seeing the tool in action and speaking to the people who’ll assist you. But knowing the differences will help you ask better questions and make an informed decision.