There are three parts of the inbound flywheel: marketing, sales and service. Those three functions work together to continuously attract, engage and delight customers. However, for your marketing, sales and service efforts to be successful, you need to have operations working behind the scenes.
What is Service Operations?
Service operations consists of working with professional service teams, customer success teams, customer support teams and customer experience teams.
Like most operations roles, service operations aims to support and amplify a team’s capacity in addition to helping them scale. This is a challenging role because it requires balancing the needs of internal stakeholders and external customers.
Most companies might not have a dedicated service operations team to accommodate the day-to-day need for service operations. Rather, there might be specialists assigned to fulfilling service operations needs on the company’s business operations or revenue operations team.
One of the core components in service operations is the setup and maintenance of infrastructure used by the service arm of an organization. That means ensuring not just that the proper tools are in place to maximize the team’s efficiency, but also that the tech stack is easy for their customers to realize value from. Plus internal team members need to be able to easily use the tools and systems in place to create a positive customer experience, monitor customer feedback and progress customer engagements forward.
In addition to maintaining infrastructure, service operations will help with capturing and reporting upon metrics around the teams they support, such as time to resolution, tickets closed, how well services are being delivered, staffing efficiency for teams, customer usage of offerings and the ROI of all of those functions.
What Tools Do Service Operations Work With?
While the exact tech stack service operations will help manage and optimize will differ depending on your team structure, it will generally include the following:
- Tools for measuring the success and sentiment of customers like feedback surveys and ticketing
- Tools for providing self-service support to customers like knowledge bases
- Tools for managing your team and their product or service delivery such as project management and enterprise solution management platforms
- Tools for customer communications, such as messaging or chat platforms
- Tools for mapping and measuring the customer journey
- Billing software that customers interact with
Ideally, your service operations team should lie parallel to the customer journey and oversee the process from end-to-end. Thus, they should be assisting with the processes and platforms that contribute to every touchpoint in that journey.
For example, the onboarding process falls under the umbrella of service operations. The touchpoints between when a prospect closes as a customer and when onboarding is complete are the bridge between sales operations and service operations. Setting up relevant internal projects, enrolling those new customers into workflows, informing internal stakeholders of customer information, providing customers with an internal point of contact information, integrating any necessary tools and setting up the billing process are all responsibilities that would fall under service operations; thus, service operations would use all the tools necessary to accomplish those tasks.
Once onboarding is completed, processes related to collecting feedback about client sentiment also fall under service operations. For example, service operations would be responsible for ensuring NPS surveys are sent to the right contacts at the right cadence. Then once a customer responds, there needs to be automation to take the appropriate next step. For example, if there’s positive feedback, a workflow might get triggered to notify the people working with that customer of the good news. On the other hand, a negative survey response would need to trigger an escalation ticket notifying the employees responsible for that customer’s success and experience to create a response plan.
While the specifics of determining who gets contacted for various outcomes may fall to the leadership of customer success and service teams, ensuring that each automated step occurs properly would be the job of service operations.
The Overlap Between Internal Operations and Service Operations
You can’t have a great customer experience without a happy internal team delivering that. The tools the internal team uses needs to make them more efficient and scale them up as opposed to bogging them down.
If internal tools are difficult to use, team members might have to spend so much time on day-to-day documentation and communication that they’ll struggle to carve out the time to focus on customer success or delivering results.
Because of that, service operations can’t effectively operate in a vacuum. They need to work in tandem with the marketing and sales operations leading up to customers closing and the internal operations that enable customer support, service and success teams to do their jobs.