Has your company ever rolled out a tool that was supposed to make your life so much easier, but now you’re stuck learning a complex tool along with your day job?
When you really think about it, was it the tool’s fault… or was the technology onboarding process doomed from the start?
At work, our tech stack is more robust than ever. We have Slack for internal collaboration, Loom for async video messaging, Figma for design work, Front for customer communication, the list goes on…
But with more tools comes more complexity — especially in interoperability and management of each app. As you take on more tools that solve unique problems, help your business scale, and keep your employees happy, you usually need a designated leader to manage them.
If marketing operations didn’t manage tools like HubSpot, for example, most product and brand marketers would be doomed! Same goes for Salesforce: Salesforce admins have become critical at companies to help teams utilize and customize the platform to its fullest extent.
If a new tool isn’t working for your company, sometimes it’s not that the technology itself isn’t right — it’s that you didn’t have the right team to support it. With headcount planning — the planning of your team growth initiatives to hit your goals — top of mind right now heading into 2023, think about designating a team member to manage your technology.
And hiring on pause for many companies right now, know it definitely doesn’t have to be a net new hire — you can also shift an existing team member into the responsibility. Here’s why the role matters as an efficiency multiplier and what to consider if you’re thinking about bringing one on.
Assess your current team and where a customer operations manager fits in
First, take a step back and look at your current team. Can you clearly define each team member’s roles and responsibilities when it comes to new technology onboarding?
There are many challenges we see today with lack of new tool management:
No clearly defined roles = confusion: Neglecting to designate roles/responsibilities pertaining to management of a new tool can result in a lack of clarity and mismanagement. When team members don’t know the part they play in onboarding the technology and ensuring its success, they take less ownership over the work, leading to decreased productivity and morale (which has a direct negative impact on your bottom line).
Projects and new business initiatives can become stalled without proper executive buy-in and input: Without a leader steering the ship, it’s harder to come to firm conclusions and get the necessary approvals to kickstart a new initiative. Defined team roles when it comes to new tools means more streamlined decision making and someone to drive the process from start to finish.
Misalignment with onboarding expectations and training processes: With nobody to sustain the success of the new tool long term, it’ll lose its shiny new appeal quickly. Business processes come and go, people come and go — who will manage the continuous onboarding? Who helps with configuration downstream, and who is responsible for understanding the value and why this particular tool was chosen in the first place? The value of the tool is especially important during a downturn, as financial leaders look at the tech stack to make cuts. Without a key stakeholder owning tool success metrics and reporting, it’s likely to be deemed non-critical to business.
No proper internal escalation paths should an onboarding project become blocked: Without a designated lead to address and route any issues that arise, team members quickly become blocked and workflows stall, leading to a lack of productivity.
Some might see a customer ops manager as superfluous headcount, or hard to justify when budget is tight — but the role acts as a major productivity multiplier by driving more efficient workflows and happier teammates.
What does a customer ops role look like? And when to bring one on
We’ll explain the role of a customer ops manager through the lens of a Front admin (of course, all customer ops manager roles will vary depending on the nature of the technology adopted, and other factors: size of company, other tools already in use, etc.).
We define Front admins as team members responsible for helping a business get the most value out of the software — this person might be an internal ops/IT team member, or could be a centralized resource that helps enable employees to better use their technology. The Front admin understands the needs of the company and communicates feedback, updates, and business priorities with the Front team. This person is responsible for the day-to-day management of Front and is the product expert attending regular meetings and business reviews. Part of the role is also coordinating with internal stakeholders and managing long-term maintenance of Front, including onboarding of subsequent teams.
It’s also gathering data on where the team stands with Front use today. Does the Front admin understand the business value and how the team benchmarks success with the product? Does the admin know if the team is using Front to its greatest potential and getting the most ROI out of the tool?
As far as timing, many companies using Front, or another similar SaaS tool, wonder when it’s necessary to designate an admin. We recommend bringing on a Front admin once you have beyond 100 users, as any team size beyond that tends to have a consistent need for a resource to handle obstacles, onboarding, etc.
Getting started + planning for long term success
Hiring for new headcount or allocating existing headcount to manage new software means aligning with many teams across the organization: HR, finance, recruitment, etc.
The admin for managing new software can appear in a variety of roles. Here’s an example of roles and responsibilities in a sample job description you could use:
Consulting - Meet with internal clients to understand their business and collaboration needs, and recommend appropriate technology use
Change Management - Guide employees transitioning between retired and modern tools; provide input on service management project plans to include change management planning and the voice of the customer
Partnership - Work with internal service managers to understand and influence technology roadmaps
Analyzing user feedback - Research via surveys, interviews, metrics or other sources
Training delivery - Deliver technology training via webcast (and in person)
Customer support - Troubleshoot with customers, find creative solutions for their use cases
Measurement / data capture - KPI definition and measurement of effectiveness of team and change management activities
We also make sure the admin is set up for long-term success by providing ongoing support and resources. For self-serve options, we have learning paths, a help center, and webinars. For managed customers, we have change management strategy development, customized live and recorded admin/end-user training, and workflow consultation to achieve an optimized solution design.
As a business bringing on a customer ops manager, look to the software vendor for continuous advice and guidance on how to achieve success for this new role on your team.
Keep tabs on your process improvement
Of course with any new role, feedback is key. Track goals and get consistent guidance from both the broader team and the new customer ops manager on performance and what can be improved.
For businesses with hundreds or thousands of users, consider how teams across the org can better support the new role to ensure you’re getting the most value out of the new tool. And encourage the customer ops manager to lean into partnerships with their software vendor – your team may get access to betas/special customer advisory board/roadmap sneak peeks, and more.
We get it. It takes time and energy to carve out headcount for a customer ops manager — whether that means rearranging your current team or slotting in a new role — but the end result is worth it. In the case of Front, using the tool correctly makes workers happier and more productive, and it prevents frustrations and obstacles from incorrect usage. A recent study Front commissioned with Forrester Consulting illustrated that Front brought measurable efficiency and productivity gains to four representatives interviewed*, due to less application swivel, greater visibility into context of messages, easier collaboration tools, automatic message tagging and routing capabilities, and improved SLA management.
Front can eliminate the admin burden of distributing work assignments, empowering employees to be more efficient and effective in their work (and saving you a lot of money) — but only if deployed properly! Make sure you’re getting the most ROI out of the tools you deploy. January is the perfect month to set new headcount goals and make room for your team to scale ✨
See how you’re measuring against your peers without a Front admin.
Need an example of a customer ops manager job description? Check out our Front admin role.
*Study results were based on a composite organization.
Written by Sara Shaughnessy
Originally Published: 22 December 2022