Let’s strip things back to the basics: what’s the function of customer success?

By most accounts, it’s a strategy that combines empathy and data to propel a company’s value and revenue from within. Often conflated with its sister function, customer support, it shares the common goal of aiding customers. However, the overarching mission of CS is to help its customers achieve their desired outcomes.

So if customer success teams are propelling their customers, who are giving the CS teams the helping hand they need to do their jobs? Enter the dynamic duo of customer success operations (CS Ops) and enablement.

But what exactly are these two divisions of CS, and how do they support the overall success of the customers? We spoke to Lauren Hayes, a Manager of Customer Success Operations at Alyce, who, ahead of her panel discussion at the Customer Success Festival, imparted her wisdom on the role of CS Ops and enablement.

In this succinct Q&A, we ask Lauren:

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For the full low-down of what CS Ops and Enablement, grab a pass for the Customer Success Festival (March 9-10) for the insights of Lauren, as well as Matthew Lind, Senior Merchant Success Operations Manager at Auctane, Amit Majumder, VP, Equity Management Product at Qapita, and Jess Osborn, Director of Customer Success at GoCardless.

But for now, here’s a sneak peek of the good stuff to come.👇

What do customer success operations and enablement mean to you?

LH: The way I think of my role as a Manager of Customer Success Operations is to provide our CS team with the tools, strategy, and processes that will enable them to be the best at their jobs as possible. I think of our CS team as my customers who I want to be successful in their role.

What are the key differences between CS enablement and operations?

LH: I think the two go hand in hand. In CS Ops, as you build the tools and processes that are necessary, you have to also be able to enable the CS team on those processes. It’s worthless to build processes that no one can follow, so I make it my mission when considering projects to ask myself, “how can I make this most effective for our CS team?”.

How does CS enablement work alongside sales enablement?

LH: A collaboration between CS and sales on enablement is extremely important because you’re following the same customers just at different points in their journey. To me, a successful sales and CS collaboration on operations and enablement result in a streamlined, seamless process from prospect to customer.

In your opinion, what (if any at all) are the biggest challenges currently facing the introduction of customer success operations and enablement?

LH: I think because CS Ops – and frankly customer success generally – is a relatively new function for many organizations, it’s very easy to have a poorly-defined scope on what the CS team needs to tackle. Without a well-defined directive and scope, it makes the prioritization of projects difficult for a CS Operations Manager.

Additionally, I think that there can be some difficulty when considering where customer success operations sits in an organization. If you have a decentralized operations team (as in, a sales ops person who reports to sales, a customer success operations person who reports to CS), it can be difficult to cross-functionally collaborate and make sure the wider operations teams are all rowing in the same direction.

In your experience, what sets apart a CS operations Manager from a CSM in terms of job skills and responsibilities?

LH: A CSM needs to be great at building customer relationships, following processes in place, and moving customers through their lifecycle successfully while seeing high rates of adoption of the product, leading to a successful renewal and/or upgrade. A CS Ops manager takes the skills of a CSM and thinks about them from a place of scale. Essentially, operations should be able to answer, “how do I make the CS team more efficient and better at leading our customers towards success?”.

How easy is it to get internal buy-in around these two relatively new branches of CS?

LH: I think it’s a challenge for sure. But once you prove the value of devoting time and energy into operations I think that becomes easier.

How should CS operations be integrated into company-wide strategies?

LH: CS Ops should be key in relaying customer data company-wide. If an organization is truly customer-centric, then there needs to be regular reporting to the entire company on the health of the customer base. CS Ops should be able to build and provide the reporting necessary to share with the company.

When would be the best time to introduce enablement and operations into your CS team?

LH: I think there should always be an enablement and operations mindset from the get-go when founding a CS team. Ideally, your first CS hire has an operational mindset and can lay the foundation for an operationally successful CS org in the future. Hiring specifically for operations probably comes a bit later, once that foundation is set.

If this Q&A has piqued your interest, you might be interested in watching the full panel discussion where our speakers thoroughly discussed the benefits of CS Ops and enablement with actionable advice.

Grab a membership pack today, why don’t ya… 🎟