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3 Reasons to Invest in Customer Success Operations

By Jason Conrad

Customer Success Operations (CSO) is a much newer invention, and it plays a vital role in ensuring that Customer Success (CS) is doing the right things and headed in the right direction. In short, CSO teams are responsible for building and executing those data-driven processes that keep customers coming back and turn them into promoters.

Over 40 years ago, Xerox revolutionized sales by creating the first-ever Sales Operations unit—a team designed to help salespeople sell smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Their success paved the way for Marketing Ops departments, which focus on creating systems to automate lead generation and generate leads at scale.

What does CS Operations do?

The following is a brief summary of the roles and responsibilities of CS Ops.

Data analysis: This includes renewal forecasting, evaluating account health, looking at customer metrics like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), and closely studying adoption and retention rates.

Process creation and execution: CS Operations is responsible for creating renewal playbooks, identifying proactive touchpoints, and enabling communication and coordination between cross-functional teams.

Assisting people management: This includes setting goals, creating targets, evaluating performance, and workforce planning alongside customer success leaders and managers.

Implementing systems: CS Ops is responsible for implementing and managing tools for their Customer Service Managers (CSM’s) and implementing Client Relational Management software.

Strategic Initiatives: Customer Service Operations creates strategic initiatives around product development (based on voice-of-the-customer data), customer experience, marketing, and engagement initiatives.

Why is CS operations so important?

Simply put, customer retention drives growth and valuation. A study by SaaS Capital found that “For every 1% of revenue retention, a SaaS company’s increases by 12% after five years.”

But you may be thinking… can’t you just build a robust CS department and let them focus on strategy as well? Or what about letting Sales Ops handle your retention strategies?

Here are three reasons why those aren’t ideal solutions…

1. The Sales Operations team is focused on enabling sales

Sales Operations exists to help your sales team do what they do best—generating leads (with the help of Marketing Ops) and booking new logos. They may understand how much retention matters, but retention will never be their top priority.

Of course, the approaches taken by Sales Ops and CS Ops will mirror each other in many ways. Both are cross-functional, agile teams that analyze data, develop processes, and implement those processes. But if you want to ensure the steady revenue and brand growth that comes with high retention rates, you need a team that is devoted to supporting and empowering Customer Success.

2. The VP of Customer Success should NOT spend time on operations and project management

CS Ops is all about execution. If execs spend their time running and analyzing their own reports, creating new processes, and executing them, their focus will be scattered.

You need your VP of Customer Success thinking about strategy, customers and customer outcomes. That strategy, of course, will be guided by input from the CS Ops team, but Ops should be doing the heavy lifting in that regard. Even if you’re not ready to hire a Director or VP of CS Operations, companies with $10+ million in Annual Recurring should strongly consider hiring at CS Ops Analyst to look for patterns in the data and begin exploring strategies for improving retention rates.

3. Customer Success Managers should be focused on directly serving your customers

CS Managers, by nature, are all about serving customers and ensuring they reach their intended outcomes. They’re in the weeds with your users, making it happen on a daily basis, and they need a strong operations team backing them. They need someone behind the scenes, thinking strategically and crafting processes that enable their success.

Ready to learn more?

I recently gave a free webinar with a technology partner, ChurnZero, that dives deeper into this topic, explaining how to build a CS Operations team and what it should look like at different stages of development (from a young company earning $10 million in ARR to a mature company earning $100 million or more).

The webinar covers:

  • How to achieve alignment across your organization on CS Ops
  • How to build an agile, cross-functional team
  • Key metrics to evaluate success
  • How to hire talented CS Ops Analysts, Directors, and VP’s
  • What to pay them
Published October 9, 2019
About the Author

Jason Conrad is an Associate Partner responsible for overseeing Customer Imperative’s strategic consulting business, working closely with our consulting teams to ensure that our clients succeed at gaining, growing and retaining customers. See full bio ›

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