June 2022 CS Ops Newsletter

  • 2 June 2022
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  • Gainsight Employee: ACE
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Hi there,

This issue of the CS Ops newsletter is dedicated to a key principle for a key reason: In CS Ops, people frequently hire for tactical expertise, and CS Ops folks frequently focus on tactical execution, even though both groups want CS Ops to think strategically. This is because it’s hard to know how to interview for a strategic thought partner when you’ve never had one before, and it’s hard to become that person if you’ve never been it before.


“I feel very fortunate to have worked with many very awesome, very supportive Customer Success executives who recognized early that by having conversations with me, their strategies got stronger.”  Emily Ryan, CCO @ Valuize


Hold onto your hats for a mindset shift

When you step away from your desk in CS Ops at the end of each day, what if it didn’t matter so much how many things you got done? What if your only focus were, “How well did I stick to what I believe matters most about how these kinds of challenges should be solved?” This shift -- proposed in the controversial book I Didn’t Do the Thing Today -- does two massive things: (1) I feel a change from ‘pressure to deliver’ to ‘invitation to craft’, which is relieving, empowering, and invigorating; (2) It reveals an often-missed characteristic of CS Ops:

CS Ops is a creative profession.

CS Ops is responsible for imagining how a CS team could and should operate, given the goals of the moment. This means that your main resource isn’t your capacity to stay at Inbox Zero or clean up data; your primary value is your unique perspective. So, envision that your employer has said, “Here are some business challenges we’ve collected into a role. We want you -- bringing all of your talents, preferences, experiences, and quirks, plus your innate drive to succeed and grow -- to find our way to solutions. If you’re doing that, you’re doing your job.” No one else has your perspective. Use it. Your employer even depends on it.


What it looks like to be a thought partner for CS strategy

In the Season 2 opening episode of the ‘Customer Valuecast’, Valuize’s CCO and CEO dig into what it takes to be a strategic CS Ops leader. They cover everything from what to hire for, to bridges to build within your organization. You can also hear what this looked like from the leaders of CS and CS Ops at ServiceTitan and PTC. And, in this fresh episode of the OpsStars podcast, I speak with LeanData’s CCO about what you get out of a CS Ops function that’s playing a strategy role.


Valuize Customer Valuecast

Leaders at PTC and ServiceTitan

OpsStars Podcast

How to shift towards being more strategic
I’ve sat across cocktails with a Gainsight Administrator who was eager to become more of a thought partner to leadership, but just didn’t know how to break out of being seen as a tactician. My first piece of advice was to only begin a project -- no matter how small -- once you understand the ‘why.' Find lots more advice around how to drive this transition in any CS Ops role in my most recent LinkedIn Live with Emily Ryan, CCO of Valuize.
Finding perspective in oatmeal

To convert your personal perspective into creativity in CS Ops, I encourage you to create moments in each week, or even in each day, where you give your mind the elbow room to be inventive.

Friday mornings I do my favorite work of the week. I walk around the corner to a bougie café that’s focused on producing idyllically al dente steel-cut oatmeal. I get the one with almond butter mixed in, house-made granola on top with raspberries and blueberries, and a drizzle of agave, plus an iced latté. This mouthwatering amazingness is, for me, a business strategy.

I hunted for all the times in a week where I feel most inspired, where crazy ideas come from nowhere, where I get intellectually playful. I found the themes for me: mornings, good food, caffeine, ‘Friday energy’, getting away from my desk, and spending time with a pen and paper. So, I make 60-90 minutes each week into a concentrated superset of those experiences, where I ask myself big, vague, important questions, to just see what comes out. Invariably, I develop ideas that make a difference, including some of my most important contributions. CS Ops Unplugged, for example, came out of a Friday oatmeal. What would go into making your ultimate creative time?

Getting started on the right foot
At Gain Grow Retain’s most recent CS Ops Office Hours, we discussed what someone joining a CS Ops team should do in their first 90 days. For example, my breakout group emphasized that leadership is eager for your fresh set of eyes, since problems leap out to you that everyone else has become accustomed to. What are the greatest friction points in processes? Sources of churn? Systems being stretched to their limits or left unused? Department silos getting in the way of progress? Gaps in KPIs being tracked? And so on. Plus, in asking questions, you are building relationships that you’ll need to get things done, and coming to understand the customers, the data, and more.
Becoming respected for your knowledge
‘Insightfulness’ isn’t a character trait. As a thought partner, you can engender insight in ways ranging from active listening to sharing your perspective, and one key tactic is what you’re doing right now: seeking out information that otherwise your team wouldn’t have. Pulse is a concentrated download of all flavors of CS expertise, including a CS Ops breakout track; register to attend in-person or virtually. Pulse Academy Live offers one-day courses in Gainsight Administration, CSM skills, CS leadership, and driving product adoption with Gainsight PX. And, if you do Gainsight Administration, check out Kelly Nissl's story. She went from zero admin experience to Level 3 Certification in 7 months. These are all ways to set yourself up for a conversation where your CS leader says, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that.”


Come meet folks any time:

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Seth Wylie | Director of CS Ops & Admin Community
He/Him/His | Based in Boston, MA
Gainsight Certified Administrator

1 reply

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This is some good good stuff, Seth.


Perspective > Output

Expertise > Tactics