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6 May 2021

The 3 Pillars of A Cutting-Edge Customer Success Operations Model

Ross Fulton
by Ross Fulton Reading time: 5 mins
customer success operations

Maximize Net Revenue Retention With A Unified Customer Success Operations Motion

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is the economic lifeblood of recurring revenue companies. With 50% of Customer Success organizations now owning the primary responsibility for renewals, the only way that NRR can be efficiently and effectively scaled is through an expertly designed Customer Success Operations model (TSIA, 2021).

To build a best-in-class Customer Success Operations model, you need to build your foundation on 3 fundamental pillars: customer success strategy, customer success technology and customer data. These 3 pillars are inextricably linked. Realizing value from customer success technology cannot be achieved without having a customer success strategy designed and ready to operationalize in that technology. Yet, your customer success strategy cannot be designed without deep consideration of what is possible through the technology and data available to your organization at that time. Together, the three pillars unite to provide a powerful trifecta that drives NRR.

Below, we dive deep into the three elements of this framework and outline why strategy, technology, and data must serve as the foundation of your Customer Success Operations model.

Valuize’s 3 Pillars Of Customer Success Operations

Strategy

In order to maximize NRR, the strategy behind how companies have historically acquired customers, and then managed those customers post-sale, requires a complete transformation. This degree of transformation warrants a dedicated focus and investment and, therefore, pillar in your Customer Success Operations model.

The next-generation customer success strategy required by your business to succeed with a recurring revenue model consists of multiple elements. The ability to prescribe, agree, deliver and measure value-based outcomes to customers is at its core. Radiating out from this core are all the playbook designs, process integrations, role definitions, incentivization models, customer service offerings and internal enablement programs that make the overall strategy ready for operationalization in your organization.

The development and rollout of this customer success strategy is not a ‘one and done’ exercise. The evolution of your customer success strategy needs to be driven through a continuous improvement model in order to keep up with the rapid evolution of variables including your product roadmap, pricing models and market dynamics. Therefore an agile and cyclical approach to defining strategic initiatives that will set the prioritization for where your teams invest in developing your customer success strategy is key.

Technology

The biggest mistake companies make when establishing and running a Customer Success Operations model is not recognizing the interdepencies between the strategy of Customer Success and the technology/systems of Customer Success. The mistake is made by either; 1) assuming that by implementing customer success technology a cutting edge customer success strategy will magically be created, or; 2) assuming that customer success technology will enable any and all designs of customer success strategy.

To avoid both these mistakes, your Customer Success Operations model requires a well resourced and dedicated pillar for customer success technology. This should include a customer success technology Product Owner accountable for partnering with your team that’s responsible for the design of your customer success strategy. The Product Owner serves as the bridge across which consideration of the capabilities of the technology infuses with the design of your strategy and across which the finalized designs of your customer success strategy get translated into user story level detail ready for development in the technology.

Additionally, your technology pillar must be constructed with a recognition that the best-in-class customer success technology is enterprise-grade technology and a mission-critical enterprise application for your business. This is in contrast to it being a plug-in bolt-on to your existing CRM that can be administered and continuously optimized off the side of one person’s desk as a part-time job.

Assuming you are investing in and adopting best-in-class customer success technology, your customer success operations model requires an end to end agile development and administration model just like you probably have today for your CRM.

Data

While a fractional and siloed approach to customer success technology is the biggest mistake to avoid in your customer success operations model, the biggest weakness to contend with will be your customer data. To combat and turn this weakness into a strength, your customer success operations model requires a specialized pillar focused on customer data.

Customer data is inextricably linked to the other two pillars of CS Operations. The ability to use customer success technology to execute the right action at the right time with the right customer per the design of your customer success strategy is dependent on the availability and readiness of your customer data.

Oftentimes, we see organizations focus all of their efforts on strategy and technology, but neglect customer data. When used correctly, data will allow your CS Organization to become more proactive and prescriptive. But, this requires a transformation in your approach to customer data.

Data is found at every single moment in your customer’s lifecycle. This includes qualitative data, such as survey and sentiment data, as well as quantitative data like usage and time metrics. Comparing the results of your qualitative data with quantitative data from your product will give you a thorough snapshot of your customers’ health and will help you determine if they are in fact deriving value from your product.

For a deeper dive into uniting strategy, technology and data, watch our recent webinar on how to integrate the 3 pillars of Customer Success Operations for maximizing NRR.

Supercharge The Success of Your CS Operations

By bringing together this powerful blend of strategy, technology and data, you will ensure that your Customer Success Operations are focused on delivering measurable value to your customers repeatedly and at scale.

The success of any organization starts at the top; you need a strong leader to champion your Customer Success Operations Organization. Read our article about the top 7 qualities to look for in a first-rate Customer Success Operations Leader.

Ross Fulton
Ross Fulton

Prior to founding Valuize, Ross spent over 16 years growing software companies and their partners in go-to-market strategy, sales engineering and customer success leadership roles on both sides of the Atlantic. An Englishman by birth but not by nature…he’ll take an espresso over tea every time!