Customer Success Operations: How to Build Repeatable Processes to Scale and Grow

customer success operations

It was known as the email incident. An incident that caused an astronomical uproar throughout the office.

Names shall not be mentioned, but before Process Street I worked as a technical service advisor for an environmental testing laboratory. It was our job to deal with customer queries and complaints, to answer questions, and to make sure the service we provided met the customer’s needs.

The email incident: My colleague forwarded a customer complaint email to our manager, adding an inappropriate comment to display his frustrations with that said customer.

Unfortunately, this email ended up in the customer’s inbox too…

Oops!

Mistakes like will happen if you don’t have pre-established customer success operations to act as a form of process control.

Think about it, you’ll have optimized processes for production, sales, marketing, etc. But to effectively scale and grow, you’ll need to build repeatable processes for your customer success department too.

For many companies (72% to be exact, according to data obtained by Forrester), customer success is a top priority. This is because it’s well known that investing in a new customer is 5-25x more expensive than retaining existing ones – as expressed by the Harvard Business Review.

Make customer success operations your top priority by building and optimizing repeatable processes. And in this article, you’ll learn precisely how to do that.

Click on the relevant subheader below to get started. Alternatively, scroll down to read all we have to say regarding customer success.

Let’s begin!

Why you need to start thinking about your customer success operations

Customer success operations
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Customer success operations provide tactical support for a customer success team, helping improve KPIs and efficiency. They are the operational backbone essential for optimized service delivery, helping organizations scale and grow.

Tell me, how do you ensure your customers fulfill their needs with what your product or service has to offer?

Are you focused on the business-to-customer relationship?

Are you able to align customer and vendor goals?

To confidently check βœ… each point above, you’ll need to start thinking about your customer success operations. And for that, you’ve come to the right place.

The key to running any subscription or recurring revenue business is successfully making the shift in mindset from acquiring new customers to retaining, nurturing, and growing existing customers.” – Kaiser Mulla-Feroze, Customer Retention Cost: A New Metric for the Boardroom

Investing in customer success using customer success operations

As you know, customer success is a methodology of ensuring your customers achieve their desired outcomes with your business.

According to Hubspot, investing time and money into your customer success team can boost customer retention rates, improve customer experience, increase customer loyalty, and provide a competitive advantage. Also, did you know that 70% of companies undergoing rapid growth prioritize customer success, acknowledging its importance for business expansion and success?

Take Process Street as an example. We’ve grown, and we’ve grown rapidly.

Since I joined Process Street’s content creation team, I was the 3rd content writer in a squad of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious writers (I’ve been waiting for a long-time to use that word). Today, there are 6 of us. This same growth has been replicated across all of Process Street‘s departments.

You can thank our superpowered checklists for this πŸ˜‰, but also our customer success team and the investments made.

Process Street‘s customer success team live and die by following best practices, that is, tried and tested customer success operations. That’s because we love hearing feedback such as…

I wish all software companies were run like these guys do!” – Greg Habstritt

…and this…

We have a support person on Process Street that’s super helpful and responsive to our many questions.” – Hannah Schuele

…and…

…okay, I’ll stop blowing our own trumpet 🎺, you get the idea. We couldn’t have developed the successful customer success team we have today without effective customer success operations.

For us, and many others, prioritizing our customer success operations has brought the following benefits:

  • A high return on investment πŸ’΅
    Executing efficient, effective, and streamlined customer success operations will optimize customer-facing processes that ultimately pull in revenue. For instance, customer success operation management software can drive a $16 million ROI over 3 years.
  • Improved productivity πŸ“ˆ
    Customer Success Operations (CS Ops) representatives increase the productivity of your customer-facing team members. Documenting business processes, whether that’s for customer success or any other department, has been proven to reduce human error. Once more, if you use Process Street to document your customer success operations you can set up workflow automation for repetitive manual tasks, giving your customer success team room to concentrate on high-priority and quality work.
  • Greater customer retention 🀝
    Renewal decisions are based on perceived value. By focussing on customer success you’ll help leads realize the value of your products and services, increasing renewal rates.
  • Better focus 🧠
    Regarding your customer’s needs, how do you assign customers within your CS team? Do you automatically funnel each customer to the next CS team member without a thought towards the customer’s needs? This has nothing to do with your team’s ability, but it’s a drawback for growing teams. With a CS Ops manager, new customer accounts are assessed and distributed within your CS team according to a predetermined segmentation schedule. Your CS team is better equipped to focus and meet your customer’s needs.
  • Obtain reliable, documented data πŸ—‚
    CS Ops reps will own data and metrics gathering to make critical decisions. CS Ops reps will work with a CS team to identify metrics that need to be tracked and build custom dashboards and reports that’ll accurately showcase these findings.

Customer success gone wrong: A Comcast case study

I couldn’t write a post on customer success without this little gem. πŸ’ 

Sorry for the name-and-shame Comcast, but the below video recording is an excellent example of what happens when you haven’t worked to establish effective customer success operations. Watch it, and let me know your thoughts (you can comment on this article below).

…That was painful.

Instead of helping the customer through the process, the representative tried to persuade the client that Comcast was better than any competitor. In an attempt to keep the customer engaged, the rep did the opposite and delivered an unpleasant experience that attracted a lot of negative media attention. In this instance, the customer’s values were not aligned with the service Comcast delivered. The customer’s needs were not met, resulting in an adverse backlash on Comcast as a brand.

You, me, and every customer success rep on this planet wouldn’t want such an incident to happen to them. But if you don’t have firmly established and effective customer success operations, what’s to say it wouldn’t?

How to build effective customer success operations for your business in 4 steps

Customer success operations
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To keep your customer success team on track, you’ll need to switch up your focus and target customer success operations.

As a business function, customer success ops is relatively new, but growing quickly. For instance, a LinkedIn 2020 Emerging Jobs report found customer success operations reps was the 4th most searched job in France.

If you’ve never built customer success operations before, then you’re probably wondering where to start. Or you might already have these operations established, but looking to improve on what’s there. Either-way, I got your back.

Step 1: Hire a Customer Success Operations representative

A Customer Success Operations rep takes charge of your customer success operations. It’s recommended that you hire a CS Ops rep when you have between 4-5 customer success managers, as this is when manual communication and work starts to break down.

Step 2: Work according to the 3 pillars of responsibility

One goal of customer success operations is to provide the best tools and training for a given customer-facing team to be more efficient in their work.

When you consider the fact that your customer success team carries the weight of recurring revenue on their shoulders, it’s easy to figure that what benefits this team, benefits your bottom-line. πŸ€‘

To excel in their role, CS Ops reps must meet 3 pillars of responsibility:

  1. Processes πŸ”„: Your CS Ops rep’s job is to help the CS team be more efficient, therefore you’ll need to standardize recurring actions by building Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These documented SOPs will include processes like customer offboarding processes and customer onboarding processes. Once these SOPs are built and documented, the CS Ops rep will need to communicate these processes to the customer success team.
  2. Data πŸ“Š: Data helps you understand what is going well and what isn’t. Provide the best reports, dashboards, and analysis to track activities, identify SOPs and other customer success process bottlenecks.
  3. Strategy βš”: Implement a customer success strategy and align your documented customer success processes to meet these strategic goals.

Step 3: Implement best practices (as given by Salesforce)

Catherine Blackmore is the GVP of SaaS Customer Success at Oracle and formally worked for Jigsaw (aka Salesforce) before it grew into the international, billion-dollar company it is today.

After ~2 years at Jigsaw, Catherine Blackmore found she didn’t have the time, nor the capacity to analyze all aspects of her growing operation. Her customer success team had grown from the initial 3 to ~25, and with this development came demands for forecasting renewal revenue, managing customer success programs as well as support and success operations.

🌟 Enter Mitchell Flinn. 🌟

Blackmore hired Flinn as an intern. Little did she know that this internship would blossom into a full-time customer success operations role for the thriving organization we know today as Salesforce. To gain some insight regarding the demands of the customer success ops role, Blackmore got in touch with Flinn for an interview to discuss his job and best practices.

You can read the full article, titled The Operations of Customer Success here.

For the sake of this article – because I know how time-strapped you are – I’ve summarized the key takeaways given by Mitchell below:

Establish strong operational building blocks πŸ› :
Many companies struggle to obtain an understanding of their full customer list. This starts by taking the time to do a customer deep dive and finding the answers to the following questions:

  • Who are your most successful customers?
  • Who are your least successful customers?
  • Who are your easiest customers to support and/or help drive adoption?
  • Who are your most difficult customers?
  • Do any of the answers above differ by customer size, revenue band, industry, or channels used for selling

Analyze your information 🧐:
Next, analyze the information you obtained.

  • Are there patterns in the data?
  • What makes a customer successful in using your product/service?

Your aim is to identify a successful customer.

Transfer this information πŸ“:
Next, mashup this information for your sales and marketing departments. Think about the following:

  • Who is your target market?
  • Who is your sales team going after, and who are they having the most success selling to?

Scale success βš–:
It’s time to recognize the product-market fit to scale success. Areas to consider include the following:

Customer hands-off:

  • Who out of your customer success team is involved at every major milestone of the customer journey?
  • Do you need to start splitting roles and responsibilities?

Customer segments:

  • Are there different segments to your customer base – or tiers – that you handle differently?
  • How would you classify these segments, e.g. by contract size, customer size, strategic value?

Customer ratios:

  • What is the talent needed to manage the various segments of your customer base?
  • Are the right people assigned to the right verticals or customer sizes?
  • How many accounts can an individual manage at any one time to achieve the expected results?

By implementing the above best practices, Customer Success Ops can excel in each one of the 3 pillars, and reap the benefits that’ll come by doing so.

Step 4: Build repeatable processes

SaaS businesses will typically begin to invest in customer success operations when they reach $10 million in revenue – as it’s at this moment when customer success starts to shift from generalist to more specialist roles. This shift demands the establishment of repeatable processes, which lie at the core of your customer success operations.

That is, customer success operations prove to be more viably and financially beneficial when adding a resource focused on processes and procedures – enter Process Street to help save the day.

Using Process Street to build repeatable customer success operations

Doing it right the first time is better for customers, and creates more lasting loyalty, than so-called β€˜service recovery.” – Bill Price, Service Recovery vs. Doing it Right the First Time

Process Street is a workflow management solution, providing a no-code means of documenting your business operations in a checklist format.

At Process Street, we’ve been working hard to provide you with top-notch checklist templates, helping you perfect your organization’s operations for success. In this article, we’re talking about all things customer success.

We have a wealth of template resources supporting you in building effective customer success operations, check out our template library to find templates that are right for you. You can also create your templates from scratch, to ensure you’re documenting and establishing best practices for your unique customer success operations.

Keep reading and I’ll explain how you can use Process Street as customer success software, to build repeatable operations for your customer success team.

Building customer communication processes

You want your customer success team to be using best practices and language for client communication.

For instance, coming back to Salesforce, Salesforce uses Process Street to document correct procedures and to prompt employees to ask questions designed to encourage helpful and responsive answers (see below).

customer success operations

Building repeatable processes in Process Street means the Customer Service reps of Salesforce stay in-line with best practices. You can easily do the same, sign up to Process Street for free and begin creating your customer success communication processes.

Key checklist feature: Use Process Street’s Conditional Logic feature to adapt your checklist depending on the customer response given. This means the most relevant answers can be pulled up, giving a dynamic element to your checklists. That is, processes are repeatable, yet adaptable.

For more information on how you can create and edit checklists in Process Street, watch the below video: Basics of Creating and Editing Templates.

Building upsell/renewable processes

Guide your customer success team through the process of upgrading an existing customer to your more premium products/services, or to renew a pre-existing customer’s subscription.

For instance, if you’re a SaaS company, why not use our ready-made Upselling Process for SaaS Companies checklist? Run this checklist when you’ve determined that a customer has the potential to be upgraded to a premium tier product.

If you’re not operating in the SaaS space, then you can transfer the best, generalized practices given in this checklist while also editing the checklist to suit your specific needs.

Click here to access our Upselling Process for SaaS Companies!

Key checklist feature: Use Process Street’s Stop Tasks feature to ensure every step in the upselling process is completed. When handling delicate situations, such as persuading your customer to upgrade, correct practice must be used to prevent your upselling potential from falling through the cracks.

Creating effective customer success operations

We caught up with Aaron Lapierre (Vice President of Client Services at DoubleDutch) who kindly gave us a rundown of DoubleDutch’s high-touch Customer Success process. Despite extra limitations in their extremely finite usage period, DoubleDutch has secured over $78m in funding since its founding in 2011 and serves over 1,000 customers.

This checklist will guide you through their highly effective customer success method, which you can apply to your own SaaS company (or edit to suit your specific industry).

Click here to access our DoublDutch’s Customer Success Process!

Key checklist feature: Our Task Permissions feature has been used so you can hide specific tasks from view for different users, effectively making your checklist more private. For instance, maybe one person in your customer success team is responsible for making a debrief call but has nothing to do with the strategy call. With task permissions, you can make the relevant tasks visible to the relevant users.

Obtaining and documenting customer feedback

It’s impossible to build effective customer success operations if you have no way of obtaining and documenting user feedback, which presents an opportunity for improvement. This in itself is a repeatable process needed to build effective repeatable processes (if you get my gist).

Customer comments and complaints given to a company are an important resource for improving and addressing the needs and wants of your customer/user. Customer feedback is important because it provides leaders with insights they can use to improve operations, including customer success operations.

Run this checklist when looking to gain insight into your customer’s thought processes.

Click here to access our Customer Feedback checklist!

Key checklist feature: Connect your Process Street account with your CRM to transfer key customer information between multiple applications. This will save you heaps of time. Your customer success operations are looked after by Process Street, and your up-to-date customer information is stored and put to good use by your CRM. For more information on how to set up such automated connections using Process Street, read: The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation.

Training the customer success team

Top customer success operations need top Customer Service Reps behind them. And to nurture the best talent in your team, you’ll need to follow an optimized training process.

The way your Customer Service Reps interact with customers has an unquestionable impact on customer satisfaction and retention. Microsoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report found that 96% of global customers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.

Run this checklist whenever a new customer service team member needs initial training.

Click here to access our Customer Service Training checklist!

Key checklist feature: Use Process Street’s due date feature to ensure progress in the Customer Service Training checklist is looked over promptly.

Reducing churn

Customer churn is the moment when a customer stops using a service. The higher the customer churn rate, the lower the chances of your business succeeding. Research by Bain & Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention boosts overall profits by 25-95%.

You’ll need customer service operations designed to combat customer churn for your organization. Run this checklist to track and reduce churn by bolstering your customer service processes. This checklist should be started and completed at the end of every month.

Click here to access our Reduce Churn checklist!

Key checklist feature: Use Process Street’s form fields to record relevant information such as churn reduction goals. All information can then be securely stored in Process Street’s dashboard to be accessed and viewed at anytime.

Using performance metrics to guide customer success operations effectiveness

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Performance metrics are defined as the figures and metrics representative of an organization’s actions, abilities, and overall quality.

When running customer success operations, you’ll have set performance metrics for all repeatable processes across 4 key areas, revenue, product, customer feedback, and customer experience.

Below are a few general cases for how to use these metrics for your customer success operations:

  • Revenue metrics πŸ’°
    Upcoming renewal and at-risk revenue forecasts are shown. Any Customer Success Operations rep should be able to walk into a board meeting with this knowledge, and the associated explanation. Examples of revenue metrics include Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC); Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) and Implementation Backing.
  • Product metrics πŸ“Š
    With collaboration help from Chief Product Officers and Product Managers, Customer Success Operation reps can give Customer Success Managers product usage and adoption data to make informed, data-based decisions. Examples of product metrics include User Churn %, Product Usage, Adoption, and Session Duration.
  • Customer feedback metrics πŸ—£
    Customer Success Operation reps will analyze customer satisfaction surveys to inform leadership on areas of opportunity. Examples of product metrics include Implementation Experience, Net Promoter Score (NPS) for Company, and Direct Product Feedback.
  • Customer experience metrics πŸ‘
    Customer Success Operations reps will monitor service quality and productivity as this relates to overall operational efficiency. Examples of customer experience metrics include Time to Resolution, Time to Go-Live, and Call Abandon Rate.

You can learn more about the above sales metrics by reading the following articles:

Ready to build top customer success operations for your business?

Of course you are.

With the information given in this article, you’ll be well on your way and building repeatable processes allowing you to scale and grow – like Salesforce and us here at Process Street.

Nothing is holding you back, create your free Process Street account and get started today!

How do you create repeatable customer success operations for your business or line of work? What successes and challenges have you faced? Please comment below as we’d love to hear from you. Who knows, you may even get featured in an upcoming post!

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Jane Courtnell

Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.


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