Written By: Contender Solutions
Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their equivalents in businesses of all sizes are generally concerned with one thing: keeping the lights on in the IT department. Between managing technology upgrades, data migrations, IT asset management (ITAM), IT operations management (ITOM), and dealing with requests from the C-suite and investors, the CIO of any business is often very busy.
However, there is one more thing that CIOs need to be concerned with: Customer success operations. These operations can prove to be integral for a business’ own long-term success.
What is customer success operations in a B2B setting? What does it have to do with IT management and CIO best practices? And, why should CIOs care about customer success?
What Is Customer Success Operations?
Customer success operations, sometimes abbreviated as CS Ops, is the term for all of the technologies, resources, and processes that a business uses to help customers optimize their processes and results to achieve success.
In some organizations, a Customer Success Officer (CSO) is the one in charge of managing CS Ops. These CSOs often work with a variety of business units to ensure that customer goals are met efficiently.
What Is a Customer Success Model
HubSpot has a useful definition of customer success model: “A customer success model outlines how a company will engage with a consumer throughout their customer journey. It accounts for both reactive and proactive functions performed by the service and support teams.”
While the above definition is optimized for dealing with general consumers, it can still prove useful for B2B-focused organizations that work with other companies.
Some key components of a customer success model in CS ops include:
- Data. Data processes often involve measuring key performance metrics to assess customer account health, forecast renewals, and identify key customer needs. Having customer data also helps with assessing the net promoter scores (NPS) of customers to sort promoters from detractors.
- Processes. This may involve creating process playbooks, providing proactive touch points, and other processes that promote communication and coordination between the organization and its customers.
- Systems. What systems are being used to provide success? This often involves customer relationship management (CRM), customer service management (CSM), and other tools that help the organization manage relationships with customers and provide key services.
- Strategic Initiatives. Strategizing future initiatives to drive customer experience and engagement. This often leverages the data collected about the customer to tailor initiatives to customer needs and pain points and drive customer success.
The goal of leveraging a customer success model is to create value for the customer—encouraging them to continue doing business with the organization. While not all of the above are strictly related to IT, IT does influence things like data collection, process management, and the systems used to deliver services and manage customer relationships.
To help support customer success operations, IT leads may have to perform IT transformations to integrate new systems and solutions for the business or modify key processes.
Why Should CIOs Care about the Customer Experience?
If a CSO is usually in charge of customer success, then why should a CIO concern themselves with CS ops? There are several reasons why the CIO and the IT department as a whole may need to worry about customer experience and success—even though IT isn’t necessarily a customer-facing role.
1. Customer Experience Can Make or Break Business Relationships
When delivering digital services, the user experience (UX) a customer has with those services can make or break the business relationship. Adopting and adapting technologies and resources that improve the customer’s user experience can have a massive impact on the customer’s ability to use the organization’s software and solutions.
If the UX for a given service is terrible, then customers won’t want to use it regardless of how effective it can be for some users. This can negatively impact the customer relationship and drive customers to look for alternative solutions and business relationships.
For example, if a customer has to use over a dozen different solutions to work with a company and sift through massive piles of unsorted data, then they won’t have a very positive UX and will be more likely to look for a service provider that can simplify and streamline things into a “single source of truth” for their IT needs.
CIOs can have a massive impact on the customer experience by curating and modifying the tools the business uses for service management and delivery. Leveraging a configuration service management solution to create that single source for IT infrastructure and processes can simplify customer operations and build a stronger relationship that the customer will want to maintain.
2. CIOs Know the Systems That Can Improve Customer Success
Another reason why CIOs should be concerned with customer success operations is that they often know systems and solutions that would be relevant for driving customer success—even more so than leaders for other business units.
As technology experts, CIOs can more readily identify the potential impacts of changes to IT infrastructure, such as how introducing a new solution or process might impact network stability, compatibility issues when interfacing disparate software, and even some of the IT security risks specific vendors or solutions might introduce.
By leveraging this expertise, CIOs can help improve customer success operations, guiding customers away from potentially disastrous situations.
For example, say a customer is preparing to undergo a major digital or IT transformation. However, the tools they’re using for this transformation aren’t up to the task and won’t provide enough of an ROI to justify the expense and effort. Instead, the customer will have to struggle with disparate tools and systems that consume extra time and effort.
Here, a CIO could provide advice for alternative IT solutions that would streamline the customer’s workflows—helping the customer save time and smooth their IT transformation.
3. Customer Success Operations Strongly Impact the Company’s Bottom Line
A customer’s overall success can have a strong impact on a company’s bottom line. How does customer success impact a company’s bottom line?
First, customer success operations can have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and retention. A successful customer who is meeting their goals is much more likely to be satisfied with a service provider who helped them meet those goals. An unsuccessful customer who is stymied by frustrating software and isn’t meeting goals is likely to look for a new service vendor.
One estimate cited in a Forbes article claims that “96% of customers will leave” over a bad customer experience in search of a better one. While the study was geared towards B2C interactions, the lessons from it still remain valid for B2B interactions.
The loss of accounts from poor customer success operations can be severely damaging to a company’s bottom line.
Second, when customers aren’t seeing success and have a poor experience with a company, they’re likely to warn their peers about the bad experience. This leads to reputational damage that the organization can struggle to overcome—which makes getting more business harder for the company in the future.
This is where CIOs helping optimize technologies and processes for the benefit of customers as part of a larger customer success strategy can help. Generating customer goodwill can help turn satisfied customers into brand evangelists. This improves customers’ net promoter scores and gives the business a key competitive advantage. As explained by research from Bain & Company, “Net Promoter Scores explained roughly 20% to 60% of the variation in organic growth rates among competitors.”
The question is, how can your organization deliver a superior CS Ops experience for its customers?
With platforms like ServiceNow and Contender Solution’s virtual service management office (vSMO), CIOs can eliminate redundancies and create new efficiencies in service delivery, minimize complexity for both internal and external users, and create a “single source of truth” for IT.