Customer Operations - An Idea for Maximizing Efficient Growth in SaaS Companies

Over the last year in particular, Revenue Ops is a term that’s gaining some mindshare in the SaaS world. Revenue operations teams combine marketing operations and sales operations into one team. Yesterday, I heard time a further refinement of this idea: Customer Operations.

As one SaaS executive described to me, marketing operations teams are the engines of the marketing team. The creative marketing functions produce the fuel – the campaigns, the positioning, the art. The engine, marketing ops teams disseminate these assets. They measure their performance and optimize customer acquisition to maximize return on investment.

Sales operations teams perform analogous work to support salespeople. SalesOps helps salespeople close customers better and faster. Their efforts simplify quote creation, esignature, billing processes, and presentation software, among other things.

There’s one simple rationale for unifying these teams: to optimize the customer journey. Marketing teams and sales teams use different metrics to measure performance. Marketing teams focus on lead generation. Sales teams optimize bookings. But the ultimate goal for both of these teams is to grow the business as quickly and efficiently as possible by providing the best experience to a customer.

To accomplish this goal, a RevOps team defines a canonical set of metrics to measure customer health and sales efficiency.

Consequently, RevOps teams can measure the impact of sales operations experiments on marketing operations and vice versa. Then they can pursue a global optimum, rather than a local maximum. If you’d like to read more about RevOp theory, Radius published an excellent white paper on the topic .

But why stop there? There is another critical component of every SaaS go to market. The Customer Success team. RevOps’ understanding of the customer stops at the sale.

Shouldn’t the data operations team understand long-term customer behavior after the sale? And the impact of upstream optimizations to those metrics ?

That’s the idea behind Customer Operations. Customer Ops provides the software and metrics for the entirety of the customer journey. From first touch to ongoing support and expansion. Such a team measures and optimize customer experience from end-to-end. Also, this team can provide a start up a holistic, data-driven perspective on growth.

At least, that’s the idea. So far, I know of only one company that has implemented this. It’s been very successful. Global optimization is a much better long term strategy than local optimization across three teams.

We’re in the very earliest days of what could be a fundamental reconfiguration of SaaS operations teams. Customer Operations could be very powerful construct for growing companies through end-to-end optimization of the customer journey.

Published 2017-03-29 in SaaS  management  sales  marketing  customer-support 


I'm a partner at Redpoint. I invest in Series A and B SaaS companies. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 18,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.


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