Customer Success Operations (CS Ops): What It Is, Why It Matters & How to Do It Right
Customer success ops is responsible for executing customer success strategies. Learn in detail what is CS ops, why it is important, and how to do it right.
Dec 2, 2020
If there is any department that keeps the day-to-day activities of a business under continuous execution, it is operations. This is the department that takes the lead towards the implementation of the strategies made by the executive team. The customer success ops is not different, except that it takes care of the customer success strategies to execute.
The operations team plays a pivotal role in balancing between the resources input and production capabilities to meet the business goals. It is only through the efficiency in this team that an organization achieves optimum performance. An organization should be able to regulate the speed, dependability, quality, and flexibility of the operations team.
The overall structure along with the specific areas assigned to each team in operations is hard to set up initially. This is like the core of the business engine. All the inter-dependability and resource planning have to be well thought through while creating the operations team. As the company matures, it starts to develop the right flow that keeps the operations busy and running throughout the company’s lifetime. So, let’s understand this function in more detail starting with the customer success ops definition.
What is Customer Success Operations?
Customer success as a function has a lot of operational areas to look into. The day-to-day activities revolve around these areas by different team members. There would be a team-lead, or a CSM, managing all these functions under the CS umbrella. To name a few, these CS related areas include:
All of these above activities require different employees, or a customer success operations manager to handle. The information and useful insights by measuring the right KPIs are then used by the executive teams for various purposes. These purposes include supporting operations, diagnose issues, and creating more effective programs and strategies.
Hence, the customer success ops define the processes and measure KPIs in the above-listed areas, and includes much more. All the CS related activities that are to be executed on a daily basis become a part of the CS ops team.
Why is Customer Success Operations important?
The CS ops have a direct impact on your CS goals and strategies. Through operations, you are able to measure and achieve the goals set by the Customer operations VP. Few benefits of including CS in your organization includes:
Enhanced team performance
The customer success ops team when assigned with different areas to work on, can deliver outstanding results as compared to an individual CSM. Each team will have a deeper look into the customer success KPIs and would be able to take actions to improve them individually. The overall coordination of the team can be managed well by the head of CS operations to drive better results.
Better visibility of the business
The dedicated resources working on each area of the CS would have the time and capacity to drill down on a deeper level. The reports they would be producing can be leveraged to gain a much clearer visibility of each area of the CS function. The amount of research and diligence required to fine-tune every aspect of CS responsibility can be had only through CS ops.
When you design the whole workflow of your CS function into different units, your capacity to deal with more customers increases. You would be able to monitor a larger group of customers through a focused lens on each group. This ensures that you are able to cover every customer with a higher level of engagement and best-in-class service.
Customer Success Operations: How to do it right?
Customer success ops is responsible for conducting all the tasks that are assigned to implement customer success strategies. These tasks range from tracking the customer usage to come up with actionable insights to measuring and reporting the KPIs. Below are a few areas where CS ops are involved with.
Estimating the total revenue that is due for renewals in the coming months is one of the ops activities. The revenues that are at risk are also escalated at the right time by the ops team. Based on these metrics, the CS leader gets visibility of the ongoing business so that they can report the same to their superiors.
Monitoring customer usage
Product usage monitoring is an ongoing process. All the features of the product must be monitored separately to know if the product is being used at its highest capacity. The ops team analyzes the usage pattern of the customer and produces reports for the CSMs or CS leaders to create adoption strategies.
CS ops team keeps a continuous check on customer feedback metrics like NPS, CSAT, CET. They report to their superiors if there are any issues with any of the customers w.r.t. these metrics. They then implement steps and take actions towards improving these feedbacks in the long run. Each issue is examined at a granular level and fixed to finally reach the goal of brand advocacy.
Track and report service issues
This is another area where CS leaders have to put their main focus. They try to evaluate through recurring calls if there are any loopholes in the current process or product. Examining the large chunk of data to find repetitive patterns and report that to the CS leader is also one of the responsibilities of Customer success ops.
When do you need a CS operational manager
There are certain scenarios that create a need of CS operational manager.
Customer success management is a client-facing role. They need to meet the client’s demands before they have time to look into the internal matters. But when internal processes need to be upgraded and require huge attention from the CSMs, a CS operational manager can come for rescue.
Operational performance at a sub-optimum level
When your CS operations are performing at its sub-optimum level, you need a CS operational manager to remove the discrepancies from the system and bring it to its most optimum level.
When CS is getting overshadowed by other departments
CS being a new function needs to fight for its right in the organization. If they don’t do, it will be easy for them to get overshadowed by other departments which are already in existence for a long period. A CS operational manager is needed for raising the voice to be heard by the C-suite executives.
How a customer success operations manager can help your CS team
Below are few of the ways a CS operational manager can contribute to your CS team.
Dedicated focus on data intelligence
Customer success managers are often involved with too many responsibilities. Hence, they are not able to unleash the highest potential of data for enhancement on CS practices. A dedicated CS operational manager can do that job quite well. Data and analytics empower not only CSMs but the whole CS department. Through right knowledge and resources, CS operational manager can aggregate the data from different sources and create meaningful insights that can be used across different departments.
Enhancing the efficiency of CS workflows
As the CS processes evolve, over a period of time certain frictions start creeping into the system. A CSM who is fully occupied with their daily chores do not have the bandwidth to stop and rethink on the enhancements of the workflows. Hence, a CS operational manager can do this job quite well. They can find areas that need improvements, identify redundant processes and streamline the entire CS function with a dedicated focus on this task.
Account allocation and capacity planning
For the cases when there’s a dedicated need for someone who can allocate customer accounts to right CSMs, a CS operational manager fits well. They can analyze the customer types and needs, CSM’s strengths and experiences and create the right match for building further relationships. And if there’s a need of more CSMs in the department, they are the ones who can highlight this need based on their analysis of the department.
Customer success operations manager are required for driving operational excellence and efficiency of the CS team. Yet, to list down the specific areas they will be working on, below are few.
Aggregation: They need to collate data from different sources and use them for further processes.
Analysis: That aggregated data must be analyzed well. Although it can be done through a customer success platform, yet the right input must be fed and different criteria for the analysis must be setup.
Reporting: Once the data has been aggregated and analyzed, right kinds of reports must be generated for the right usage by different personnel.
Touchpoints management: All the touchpoints a customer is making with an organization have to be scrutinized well and gaps must be removed out of the system.
Assist CSMs: CSMs need extensive support on various fronts that include communication from 1:many and driving outreach efforts.
Risk Management: Catch early-warning signs for the system breakdown, CSMs burnout, or customer churn and come up with tangible steps to mitigate those risks.
Team management: Creating customer segments, assigning right CSMs to right customers, share the workload efficiently and predicting future hiring needs.
Incentivization: Create and measure the right performance metrics on which the CSMs can be incentivized.
CS enablement: Provide the right resources to the CSMs for them to perform at their best.
An exhaustive list of the roles and responsibilities of CS operations manager in different areas can be seen in the below illustration.
Customer success operation jobs need data analytics and business intelligence skills at its core. Employees working in CS ops must be clear about the end goals they are trying to achieve – which is to help customers achieve success in meeting their business goals. Otherwise, it is easy to get lost in a large amount of data they would be monitoring.
CS operations can be leveraged to get complete control over high-standard CS processes. Without this, you would not be having enough bandwidth to examine the customer accounts at their utmost depth. Making uninformed decisions can be a big mistake by a CS leader. Hence, the CS ops provide them with the right information in a presentable manner so that they can make high-level decisions with greater clarity.
Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.