I was asked by Brook Perry from ’nuffsaid if I would be interested in contributing to an article she was working on with others to get feedback on a set of questions covering customer success operations. Being close to my heart I agreed. I’ll update this post with a link to the article once it publishes so you get the input from others, but here are my answers for now.
When is the right time to introduce CS Ops? (And more specifically, what symptoms might a team be experiencing that means it’s time to hire that role?)
I’d say the right time is at least a year before the moment your recurring revenue is sufficient that it requires spending time justifying renewals to your customers. A year in advance because you’ll need at least that spent gathering evidence to justify the renewals. This assumes you have a customer success team dedicated to building that evidence and that it is sufficiently busy it cannot also do the job of gathering and collecting the evidence.
How big should the team be building the evidence and how busy? There’s no science in this but probably more than 10, working on more than 100 accounts. Going further, at least the top 25 should be up for renewal perhaps, accounting for maybe $10million in renewed value. The point of this is not the accuracy but the formula per se.
What roles and responsibilities should a CS Ops team consist of? And who should the Ops leader report to?
Data Wranglers – managing not only the aggregation of data sources but also meaningful presentation.
Marketers – driving intent and creation of education and learning content, possibly taking material from internal enablement and repurposing for customers.
Enablement – creating and managing the right processes and driving the customer success teams capability building.
The person heading the operations team should probably report to the Head of Customer Success if that person is responsible for renewal quotas and if not, head of sales should probably be involved, perhaps with a dotted line.
What types of metrics should the CS Ops role be responsible for?
All the metrics (I’ve covered this before as have many others), but not for delivering them, just for making sure they are collected. If I were to categorise them, I would do it thus:
Product telemetry – who is using what, to what extent, over which period, etc.
Renewal probability and churn status – Who is up for renewal, the likelihood, chances of churning, actual renewal and churn status, etc.
Customer segmentation – most profitable, growth opportunities, etc.
Business value – what impact is being created and outcomes being achieved for the customers business.
Customer health – satisfaction scores and sentiment
How are you justifying the benefits of CS Ops?
You cant manage what you cant measure and if are serious about Customer Success, this at the very least is a reason. Also programmatising and automating the process of customer success is a key role for ops which is becoming a competitive advantage I’ve written about before: The Future of Customer Success is Not Human.
Also, its simple economics. Think that sales operations have been around since for ever and this is focused on the demand side. The supply side, which feeds into the demand side in a virtuous circle, specifically for subscription businesses with renewals, is just as important.
(…and any other advice you’d like to share?)