September 28, 2021

    Customer Success Operations: Turning your Team into a Profit Center

    customer success operationsAs you begin to master the process of engaging, retaining and expanding your customer base, you’ll quickly find yourself in need of some extra support.

    We're talking someone who helps your customer success team run like a well-oiled machine. Someone who focuses on the magic behind the scenes so you can keep wowing your customers on the frontlines.

    Meet your new right-hand man: The customer success operations manager, one of the many new roles to look out for as you plot your CS career

    What is a customer success operations manager?

    Here’s a question for you: If you're in charge of looking out for your customers … who’s looking out for you?

    An operations manager is responsible for your success in the same way you are for that of your customers. As you strive to find new ways to engage your users and help them achieve their goals, your operations manager is simultaneously working to discover, implement and manage the right tools to get the job done.

    While CS every team’s operations manager will own different tasks, some common overlap in the responsibilities include:

    • Creating and implementing data-driven dashboards to monitor user behavior
    • Auditing and improving customer success workflows
    • Forecasting workload and capacity planning to better align with your customer success strategy

    To sum it up: Think of operations as all of the things you’d love to do if there was just more time in the day.

    Supporting internal teams

    Still not sure if you’re in need of a CS Ops manager? We get it. Adding another cook to the kitchen can be stressful when it comes to nailing the recipe for happy customers.

    Operations managers are there to support your team members — no one's getting replaced. In fact, they can offer some serious productivity boosts by overseeing the following  tasks:

    • Generating data-driven insights: It's all too easy to get lost in the numbers when it comes to analyzing user behavior —  good thing that's what your operations manager is here for. They can find the most relevant customer data and trends, compiling them into clear reports to share with leadership.
    • Improving workflows: Are there redundant tasks that are taking up more time than they’re worth? Is there an information bottleneck that’s slowing down cross-team collaboration? Ops managers learn what CSMs need and make getting and using information easier.Forecasting workload and capacity planning to better align with your customer success strategy.
    • Supporting new CSMs: Having a CS Ops leader to onboard new success managers ensures that every team member gets the one-on-one support they need as they’re learning the ropes.
    • Seamless customer success journey: Customers come in contact with nearly every department during their relationship with your company. Operations will work to ensure that each team has everything they need along the way to provide a consistently quality experience.
    • Personalized support: If your CSMs are overwhelmed with too many accounts, chances are your customers aren’t getting the attention they’ll need to succeed with your company.
    • Proactive outreach: As your operations manager combs through data and user behavior, they’ll be able to identify areas of frustration or points along the customer journey that could use some tweaking

    Operations managers spend nearly every day working with CSMs, analyzing data and creating reports. Think of them as a champion for all things customer success. When it comes time to prove your team’s role as a profit center in your organization, your operations manager will have the data you need to back you up.

    Redefining the customer journey through operations

    Although CS Ops managers primarily focus on achieving operational excellence across internal processes, better workflows impact every aspect of the customer experience.

    When you bring on a CS Ops manager, your users will feel the difference — even if they don't know anything changed:

    All in all, no matter which side of the account a stakeholder is on, operations can make the relationship that much more valuable.

    When to bring in your CS ops team

    When your CS team reaches the point where they're feeling overworked or unorganized, it can quickly lead to frustration for everyone involved —  including your users. With an operations manager beside you at the helm, you can focus your efforts on creating the best customer experience possible.

    Although the timing isn’t an exact science, there are some pretty clear signs that you should  add operations to your team:

    • You don't have a method for assigning customers to CSMs: And no, pairing new customers with whoever is free that day isn't a method. Being mindful of workloads and achieving the best customer-to-manager fit possible is key to getting the account off on the right foot.
    • You don't have clear insight into your workflows: Efficiency isn't just good for your customers — your sanity will appreciate it too. If you find your workflows are redundant and clunky, an operations manager can help sort things out.
    • Your team is missing goals: If your customer success team is burdened by their workload or struggling to work as a cohesive team, it’s time to call in the cavalry. Tracking metrics such as increasing churn or decreasing adoption signal issues in processes and customer satisfaction.

    If all or most of the above sounds just a little too familiar, it’s probably a good time to start looking for your operations manager.

    Gaining executive support

    Whether you’ve already decided to explore hiring a CS Ops manager or you think you’ll find yourself there in the near future, it’s likely you’ll need to sell the idea to leadership.

    When you consider it, there’s really an operations role in just about every department. The challenge — as always — stems from the “newness” of customer success. It can be tricky for CSMs to justify bringing on an extra set of hands when they’re being compared to other profit centers like marketing or the sales team.

    When it comes to that point, just remember: Every executive loves to see the numbers.

    Operations managers' bread and butter is understanding exactly how CS workflows directly tie into organization-wide KPIs. From there, they’ll figure out what your team needs to do to drive that value even further.

    CS Ops will take all of the feedback you're collecting from customers as well as historic data and real-time user behavior to uncover the real story. They'll flag issues as they arise, and give your team the intel they need to cut churn and retain users.

    And if that doesn’t convince leadership, just remind them: Less churn equals higher revenue.

    Optimizing success with operations

    As your organization continues to grow, you’ll find yourself faced with a tradeoff: Do you take on more accounts or maintain a higher degree of personalization?

    Fortunately, once your SaaS company reaches that point in the road, an operations manager will show you there’s a third choice. With the right data and optimized workflows on your side, you’ll be able to scale your success processes and continue down the path toward long-term profitability.  

    In need of some extra help when it comes to gaining insight into your processes? Learn more about UserIQ.

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