Customer Success Ops as a 2nd hire, am I crazy?

Mike Arnone
Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
edited May 2021 in CS Org Conversations
Hey GGR Community! My name is Mike, and I found this community a few days back and was so excited to see how supportive and helpful everyone is to one another, so I have decided to make a post and see how it goes.

Backstory:
I am a newly appointed Head of Customer Success for an amazing podcast company called LumiQ. I am starting our CS function from scratch, and in the new few weeks, I will be tasked with bringing someone in as my first hire.

We operate as a B2B & B2C (B2B2C) saas model with roughly 300 paid users ranging from smaller low touch to enterprise high touch customers.

My Question:
I am thinking about my first hire being strong on building a platform with more of a product-focused mind. With us building Customer Success from the ground up (I am currently in the process of implementing Totango), I feel like it would be more beneficial to have someone be creating our hooks and loops on the back end, rather than hiring a "typical" CSM that would be spending their days in front of customers.

I myself would work with and empower my direct report to bring our strategy to life while managing and speaking with our High touch customers.

Please let me know if there is any additional information that you would want from me, but otherwise, I would love to hear your experience with your 2nd hire to a newly formed CS team!

I really appreciate any help you can provide.
Mike

Comments

  • Jeff Breunsbach
    Jeff Breunsbach Member Posts: 266 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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    edited May 2021
    Mike, @Carlos Quezada will be a great resource to chime in - I believe CS Ops was his 1st hire before adding in CSMs. He wanted to get the processes and technology solidified.

    I don't think your crazy to think about Ops first - if you build digital programs from the beginning, it seems like you can add in the human-touch over top in the right areas.
  • Mike Arnone
    Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited May 2021
    Hey Jeff!

    Thanks for this. I will pink Carlos and see if I can pick his brain.

    I totally agree with your point and that was my thinking. Get the processes in place first and then from there delight the customer!

    Appreciate the input.
    Mike
  • Fawn Mulholland
    Fawn Mulholland Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    edited May 2021
    Hi Mike, 

    My organization is building CS from the ground up. As the Mgr, CS Ops, I was hired as part of a CSM cohort. In hindsight, it would have been awesome to have started CS Ops a month or 2 prior to the CSMs joining, to get everything aligned. 

    Highly recommend the use of CS Ops. Especially as reporting in our space gets bigger and hairier. Best of luck!
  • Bora Lee
    Bora Lee Member Posts: 5 Seeker
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    edited May 2021

    Hi Mike, 

    I will chime in here as well. I am a firm believer that setting yourself up for success by building out infrastructure/process and having a scaling mindset can be critical for quickly growing companies so you are not crazy. If you could bring in CSMs to manage true CSM responsibilities (which is a VERY different personality many times than Operations) and have a process oriented person working behind the scenes to take care of the infrastructure imagine how much more capacity that CSM individual could have - they can play to their strengths not try to be a jack of all trades. 

    Jeff and I had a webinar yesterday about CS maturity models and assessing different areas - you might be interested in having a look (webinar). 

    Happy to discuss further offline!

    -Bora

  • Mike Arnone
    Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited May 2021
    Hey Bora!

    Funny enough, I actually attended that webinar. (It was great btw ?) I am a big fan of the content and work that you put out and thank you for your message. 

    Happy to hear I am not crazy. 

    My next step is to start thinking about a Job Description.

    Keep up the amazing work that you and your team do, and I look forward to seeing you on your webinars.
  • Mike Arnone
    Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited May 2021
    Amazing advice, Fawn.

    I would love to connect with you to bounce some ideas off of you as I continue through this initial process (while being respectful of your time, of course!) ?

    Have a great weekend.
    Mike
  • Rachel Yockey
    Rachel Yockey Member Posts: 8 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited May 2021
    Hi Mike - 

    Congrats on the role and success your company is having.  I 100% support adding in a CS Ops person now.  You will get your Totango launched but there will be continual effort needed on it and you'll be off to the races working with those great customers, hiring, and other org design projects you'll get pulled into.  You need a right arm to keep iterating your tools and ensuring you have the human power to roll out new processes and future tools.  If you have budget, I'd hire a CSM now too.  They can also be working with your users and provide super valuable feedback to the ops person to ensure what is being built is impactful for the intended audience.

    As mentioned above, these two roles have different skill sets so don't try to blend them into one person.  And hire top talent that won't need you babysitting them to keep them busy.  

    You got this!
    Rachel
  • Fawn Mulholland
    Fawn Mulholland Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    edited May 2021
    Happy to connect! Feel free to shoot me an email [email protected]
  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited May 2021

    I'm going to have to agree with everyone on this thread. Many times CSMs get hired first because of the need to manage client success. They end up doing part-time ops in addition to CSM responsibility.

    I would highly recommend hiring ops first if you can. It will help you focus on leading the CSMs and help the CSMs focus on high-value conversations versus too much time wrapped up in systems and processes. 

    @Ben Wanless might have something to add to this...

    Good luck!

  • Mike Arnone
    Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited May 2021
    Rachel, this is amazing.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to send this over. I feel much more confident going to my manager with my strategy and plan after reading these messages.

    I really do appreciate it.
  • Mike Arnone
    Mike Arnone Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited May 2021
    Love it. Thank you, Laura!
  • Laurie Barlev
    Laurie Barlev Member Posts: 15 Thought Leader
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    edited May 2021
    This may be a silly question at this point but would someone share their thoughts on the responsibilities of a CSM ops person and how that differs from a CSM? I just restructured an existing team and would like to hear what else I can do to optimize the productivity.

    Thanks.

    Laurie

    Laurie Barlev

    Founder, Barlev Success

    www.linkedin.com/in/lauriebarlev

    [email protected]

  • Fawn Mulholland
    Fawn Mulholland Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    edited May 2021
    Hi Laurie, 

    Not a silly question at all - things evolve so fast! Ops is typically not engaged in the relationship management aspect, but rather in the processes, tools, reporting and technologies that enable the CSMs to manage relationships. Some CS Ops duties would be CRM management, CS Platform management, health score reporting, risk reporting etc.

    I hope this helps!
  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited May 2021
    Hi @Mike Arnone

    Great question and not a crazy idea at all.  My two cents is that it really comes down to the service model you want to provide. 
    • The more self-service for the customer, the more you will need OPS involved early to model the processes, select the thrid party tools to support those processes, and project manage the internal effort to get that experience built into your product. 
    • If it's Enterprise, (High ARR where one customer churning is a BIG hit) and every customer is going to use your product differently, then I would recommend hiring CSMs who can also play the Ops role first. This gives you the chance to design and execute your processes on paper and get feedback from the CSMs on what's working and what's not, and then introduce systems and automation over time.  Then hire that full-time ops role :-). 
    I'm going through the latter right now in a B2B2C model and we went manual enterprise first. That was the right choice to reduce churn and drive expansion. The biggest challenge I've run into with that choice is that our key data has changed a lot over time and we don't have it in a place where its easily usable (yet) for customer-facing automation.  Figured I would share the tradeoffs and hopefully, this helps with your and others' decision-making process.