Dear Insider: Help! I want to move into CS Ops.

Dear Insider: Help! I want to move into CS Ops.

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Q: I'm currently a CSM and would like to move to an internal-facing role like CS Ops. How can I start carving out my next role when my day-to-day is filled with customer-facing calls and tasks?

A: It’s wonderful that you’ve identified an area within Customer Success that you are excited by and passionate about. If you are currently in a role at a company where you are looking to move into an operations role I would recommend that you start by having a conversation with your manager.

First you should let your manager know that you are interested in a career in operations and learn more about what your options are at your current company. Assuming this conversation goes well you should map out with your manager what you would need to do/show to be considered for this transition. Discuss the details and talk about a possible timeline but remember that these things don’t happen overnight so you may need to have a series of discussions before you get the answers you are looking for.

If your leader let’s you know that this is not an option for you in your current company, you may have to explore alternative opportunities if this is what you are chasing.

Let’s assume your manager shared that this could be a possible career path for you then you should work to identify a few projects that you could own that would help put you on this path; but you’ll have to work together as there will be tradeoffs. If you take on a project or two you’ll have to make room which means doing a bit less of what’s on your plate today.

Making these career changes should happen in partnership with your employer so I don’t recommend that you start “doing work outside your scope” until you understand what’s possible. The last thing you would want is that you start under performing in your current role in hope of doing something different.

Q: We have a very complex and technical product. New features are released frequently. Product only gives us a little information about our new releases, so we often have more questions than answers. What can we do as a team to better work with Product to stay current with an ever-evolving platform?

A: This is a good problem to have, companies that are innovating this fast are probably doing something well, but as a Customer Success Professional I understand the challenges this presents.

Collaboration between the Customer Success team and Product organization is key to supporting your customers so you need to establish a process that works for both teams to ensure the right information is being passed back and forth. The reality is that there are more teams responsible for contributing to this information than just the product team - Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support etc.

Internally you need to create your Product Launch Kit.

  1. Assign 1 person from each team to contribute to the launch kit collaboration
  2. With each release you need to make sure that the launch kit is completed before the product is rolled out
  3. Establish an appropriate timeline that you will follow with each release - perhaps it’s 1-2 weeks

Here is a quick overview of what you might want to include as part of your launch kit:

  • Market fit - What pain does this new product address? What is the value add?
  • Pricing Plans - Will you be selling this? Is this a stand alone product? What is the pricing model? How will this impact prospects vs. new customers?
  • Promotion Plan - Add the new product to the website, create an email campaign to prospects and customers with tailored messaging, ad campaigns, social media, press releases etc.
  • Align on timeline - Internal plan to communicate to cross-functional teams, days for training and enablement, early customer communication as needed, Beta, Limited Release (LR), General Access (GA) etc.
  • Establish goals - What are the targets for adoption? usage? sales?
  • Customer facing assets - Training materials, knowledge base training, etc.
  • Training and Enablement - Proper internal training and enablement as well as certification if needed.
  • Billing Systems/Finance - Does this need to be added in your CRM or other platforms for booking and billing?
  • Feedback loop - What is the plan post roll out to react and respond quickly if there are issues, feedback etc.?

Without clarity around what you need and what teams should be preparing prior to any launch, expectations will continue to not be met. Start by putting together what you need and work together to get it.


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Q: Assuming a 4-level CS hierarchy, what will be the core KPIs of the top 2 levels of the CS team?

A: It depends.

Do these teams own revenue? Are they responsible for onboarding? What does the engagement model look like? Why does Customer Success exist at your company?

There is no standard set of generic KPIs that every single CS organization is responsible for, so you have to think about what your CSMs are responsible for and back into this.

There could be KPIs like Net Revenue Retention, Gross Revenue Retention, Expansion or Upsell targets, logo retention, logo retention rate, churn rate etc. If you go this route you’ll have to consider the fact that these are lagging indicators which means there is no attribution to the work your Customer Success team is doing everyday.

Some organizations track KPIs associated with activities - number of executive meetings, completed reviews, calls/meetings, reports generated etc. If you can attribute value for the customer from these activities these could be the right things to track.

Other organizations focus on customer behavioral metrics - adoption and usage of certain products or features, acknowledgement of value realization/ goal achievement etc.

You could also consider customer advocacy participation as a KPI since we know that customers who participate in these types of programs have a high likelihood to renew, grow and recommend.

At the end of the day choosing the right KPIs to measure the team’s performance is really important and should reflect the work they are doing and it’s direct correlation to customer and business impact. Give this some thought and perhaps even discuss this with your CSMs as well to get their thoughts and feedback. Remember whatever you choose can be changed, so don’t worry about getting it wrong, but do your best to try and get it right.

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