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Customer Success Operations: The Real Work Happens Behind the Scenes

Managers love a great strategy. But it requires execution to be effective.

Everyone talks about sales and marketing when products are flying off the shelves, subscriptions are on the rise, and revenues are jumping. However, nothing happens without operations ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

The same applies to customer success. Your customer success strategy will define your direction. Customer success operations (CS Ops) will make sure you reach your destination.

Operations is the balancing point — between your inputs (resources) and outputs (sales). When it’s well balanced, you get optimum organizational performance.

It takes a lot of upfront work to set up the structure and assign duties for CS Ops. It will change and adapt over time as the company grows. 

But it’s important to plan it right from the start and assign the appropriate resources to make sure it works.

What Is CS Ops?

As you know, operations covers a lot of ground — the whole organization. It affects people involved in sales, marketing, accounting, IT, and human resources.

CS Ops works the same way. It is responsible for managing operations as they relate to customer success. This can include:

  • Managing the customer success software and tools

  • Monitoring the customer relationship management (CRM) system

  • Pulling insights from your marketing automation tools

  • Gathering feedback from the customer service team

  • Setting up training and certification

  • Engaging in meetings and video conferences with teammates and customers

  • Supporting brand advocacy

For example, your CS Ops team can use Chili Piper’s Instant Booker to create new meeting types and customize meeting invitations.

Different employees will often handle these types of activities. Customer success managers (CSMs) usually handle duties related to customer success. A CS Ops manager, which we’ll discuss below, can handle or manage these activities, depending on the size of the organization.

CS Ops also collects measurements, insights, and data from the activities described above. They’ll then share these key findings with decision-makers in other departments. This helps to improve and support operations, uncover issues, and improve current programs and strategies.

In a nutshell, CS Ops supports other teams and activities that, in turn, support operations. It’s the circle of life.

Why Is CS Ops So Important?

CS Ops directly affects your customer success strategies and goals. It enables the CSM to set, measure, and achieve goals that relate to customer success.

CS Ops produces a number of key benefits.

Increased Transparency

Focusing on customer success enables you to produce more detailed reports on every area that it touches. Leadership can then use these reports to get a better idea of what’s happening in these different areas.

CS Ops can put the time and resources required into doing this type of research. It enables your organization to get more value from the data.

Improved Team Performance

The CSMs can oversee CS Ops to make sure things get done. However, they’ll get better results when they can assign different tasks to specific team members, and let CS Ops manage operations.

Imagine a group of people each responsible for pulling data and KPIs from different parts of the customer success strategy. Each one also takes the steps needed to make key improvements.

It would be a lot for one person to handle. Enabling CS Ops to coordinate team members will get much better results. 

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Ability to Scale

Having a CS Ops team enables you to deal with — and satisfy — more customers across more categories. It allows you to monitor and focus your success strategies on different groups.

You can engage customers at scale and increase the level of service you provide. That’s a recipe for greater customer satisfaction, as well as growth.

What Are CS Ops’ Responsibilities?

CS Ops is responsible for fulfilling certain tasks and duties that are integral to achieving your customer success strategies. Again, it affects many parts of the organization.

Forecasting Revenues

Revenue drives the business. It’s important to estimate short-term revenues to know where you stand, particularly when subscription and contract renewals are coming due.

CS Ops will forecast revenues so management can make informed decisions. For example, when subscriptions and contracts are coming up for renewal — and it looks like customers won’t be renewing — CS Ops can inform management about what’s going on.

Monitoring Product Use

Customer satisfaction doesn’t end when the customer buys the product. You have to monitor product usage on an ongoing basis.

Are the products’ features being used correctly or causing issues? Are they being used to their potential? CS Ops is responsible for monitoring these areas and more.

CS Ops also monitors and analyzes patterns of usage, and then reports their data and findings to the CSM. This helps the CSM to adjust its customer success strategies to help improve product use and adoption.

Supporting Advocacy

Customer feedback metrics (e.g., CET, CSAT, NPS) provide a lot of data for tracking and measuring customer satisfaction. But they’re all just numbers until they’re given meaning.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) measures customer experience and predicts business growth. 

CS Ops monitors and analyzes this data to uncover insights and issues about their customers. They flag anything that stands out and let management know where action should be taken to correct it.

It’s all part of ensuring they respond to customer feedback, with the goal of supporting brand advocacy.

Reporting on Service Issues

When a problem reported by customers recurs, it often means there’s a hole in your process. Issues are being overlooked or falling through the cracks. 

What’s worse is that many customers are probably not saying anything at all - they’re just not coming back.

CS Ops takes these service issues and looks for the holes. They’ll identify where your support materials are unclear or missing solutions.

The details are often hidden in the data. CS Ops combs through the data to find the patterns of problems. They then report their findings to the CSM to address.

Do You Need to Hire a CS Ops Manager?

You already have, or should have, a CSM who is responsible for creating and managing your customer success strategy. Do you also need to hire a CS Ops Manager? 

Maybe. You should hire a CS Ops manager for the following reasons:

  • Your CSM is very busy with managing customers’ demands. They might not have the time or resources to handle what’s happening behind the scenes (i.e., operations). A CS Ops manager can take over these tasks, letting the CSM focus on what they do best.

  • Operations aren’t running at peak efficiency. That means everything else related to customer success is inefficient, and less effective than it should be.

  • Customer success isn’t getting the attention it needs. Other departments are clamoring for resources and funding, and the CSM can’t fight that battle alone.

If you have one or more of these situations, you should probably hire or assign a CS Ops manager. 

What the CS Ops Manager Brings to the Table

You already know you need a CS Ops department. Assigning a CS Ops manager will bring even more value to CS Ops and the organization.

Focus on Analytics

The CSM is often occupied with implementing the customer success strategy and ensuring customer satisfaction. They just don’t have the capacity to do it all.

And that includes pulling key insights out of your data. That’s where the CS Ops manager comes into the picture.

The CS Ops manager can focus on collecting and analyzing the data collected as it relates to the customer success strategy. They can pull data from various internal and external sources to support your efforts.

Data drives informed decision-making. The CS Ops manager has the tools and resources to get the most from the data, and help to make informed decisions. 

What do CS OPs managers do with the data?

  • Collect and collate data from different sources for use in various processes

  • Determine the right criteria for analyzing the data

  • Generate reports for use in different departments

Find Efficiencies in Customer Success Activities

Customer success processes are like any other organizational process. Over time, they can become inefficient and counterproductive.

CSMs are often too involved in customer success strategies and activities to help make these processes more efficient. It’s the typical “forest for the trees” problem. Or just being too occupied with getting the job done to figure out how to make it better.

Operations managers are trained to focus on operations and workflows. It’s what they do best.

The CS Ops manager can find efficiencies and streamline customer success processes. They can identify and remove redundancies, roadblocks, and other problems in the system.

Streamlining processes includes:

  • Evaluating the different customer touchpoints with the organization to remove gaps and roadblocks

  • Working with CSMs to support their outreach efforts

  • Identifying and addressing warning signs for system breakdowns, human resources challenges, customer churn, and risks to customer success

An efficient customer success system is just more effective at keeping customers satisfied.

Engage in Capacity Planning and Allocate Customers’ Accounts

As your company grows, so will your need for CSMs to service customer accounts. They can choose which customers to serve, although that might not be ideal or efficient.

That’s where the CS Ops manager comes in — they can make sure to allocate the right groups of customers to the right CSMs.

They can analyze customers’ data to slot them into the right customer segments and — more importantly — how to best address their needs. They can then direct the customers to the CSMs that fit best.

For example, Chili Piper’s Instant Booker enables you to set intelligent routing rules that automatically assign leads and meetings to the correct rep based on a combination of Salesforce fields, including territory, company size, account ownership, and more.

If your company needs more human resources, the CS Ops manager will be the one with the data to make the case for bringing in another CSM or redeploying resources. 

CS Ops managers also have to be effective in managing people, the company’s most valuable resource. This involves:

  • Managing the workload and predicting hiring needs

  • Creating performance metrics to track and incentivize CSMs’ performance

  • Providing CSMs with the resources to perform at the highest level

Conclusion

The CS Ops team is essential for managing, supporting, and scaling your customer success activities. 

It enables CSMs to give customers the attention needed to ensure their satisfaction. It provides the data and analysis to help leaders make informed decisions. And it makes sure the resources are in place to support employees in their duties.

Hiring a CS OPs manager will make it even more efficient, as this will allow CSMs to focus on ensuring your customers’ success.

About the Author

David Gargaro has more than 20 years of experience as a content writer and copy editor. His content has appeared in Business.com, ITPro.com, RHB Magazine, Advisors Magazine, and more. In his free time, he enjoys reading, catching up on TV shows and movies, watching hockey, and playing with his daughter.

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