How to Build Customer Success Playbooks

Customer Intelligence 8 min read

To optimize your company’s success, you want to find ways to make the lives of your customers as frictionless as possible and anticipate their problems before they know they have them. To help achieve this, you need to create customer success playbooks.

Customer success playbooks help maximize your ability to ensure your customers are happy. They are a framework that includes the set of steps a customer success manager should take to achieve a desired goal and what segment of customers they should focus their proactive efforts on.

The purpose of a playbook is to build scalable processes for your customer success team. A playbook helps you quality assure the basics of your customer success methodology. Playbooks help you align your teams, and help make on-boarding of new CSMs easy.

Think of Playbooks as a simple “if-this-then-that-manual" that help your CSM to be proactive.

General advantages of creating customer success playbooks:

  1. Your CSM division will scale better as your company is growing (playbooks make training, and implementing changes easier)
  2. You can add and roll out new playbooks at scale as you’re adding new features/products or encounter new solutions to customer challenges
  3. You don’t need to rely on individual superstars to “figure things out”
  4. Your clients experience a standardized process; you quality assure Customer Success
  5. Playbooks help your CSMs to plan, organize and prioritize the most important tasks each day
  6. You can pinpoint problems and improve parts of your overall strategy in a systematic way)
  7. You can measure, award or follow up with your under-performing CSMs

Should I use Customer Success Playbooks?

A comprehensive customer success playbook provides you with in-depth content & plays for onboarding, adoption/engagement, churn prevention, and renewals.

By fostering healthy communication, tracking all interactions, setting up helpful notifications, and integrating as much software as possible, your customer success team will get the most out of your playbooks. Having a customer playbook prepared and always visible at-hand is a great way to make sure your customers are set up for success.

Benefits of Comprehensive Customer Success Playbooks

They keep your CS teams accountable and help with tracking. As your CSMs easily chat through different scenarios, your customer success playbooks will ensure that your company grows its customer base and product robustness. Playbooks will also empower your CSM teams to act independently while creating a standardized, consistent experience for your customers.

They provide extra guidance and structure to most of the CS-customer interactions. A good playbook will help your CSMs operationalize and facilitate more proactive account management overall. So your customer success team will be much less likely to spend time on reactive steps in response to high-need customers and can therefore focus on proactive efforts as well.

And they also help with your overall CS efforts reports & insights. Combining and integrating your customer data with proven business algorithms will enable you to create a highly visible indication of every customer’s health score within reach. In turn, this will allow your CS team to accurately assess their portfolio in a flash, leaving them more time to act on the opportunities they’ve identified.

Accountability

The thing about sales is that it’s been around for many, many years, so people have figured out how to track and keep people accountable. Success is weird because there are a lot of moving parts. There are lots of variables that go on in terms of how somebody becomes a successful client over time.

Sales accountability is wrapped up in a rep’s quota. There are leading indicators like touches with leads, meetings booked and pipeline, but the ultimate signal of whether or not a sales rep is doing their job is if they’ve hit their quota.

For post-sale customer teams, such as customer success, the most common metric that compares to a sales quota is churn. Unfortunately, by not implementing the additional layers of accountability that most sales teams have figured out, their system of measurement will still not match the success of a sales team’s. A sales rep doesn’t just have a sales quota goal, they have forecasting goals, outreach goals, demo goals, follow-up goals, etc. Playbooks help introduce this critical layer of accountability to managing your established customer base.

Structure

Playbooks give guidance and direction to your CSM. They give them a goal.

Companies can’t afford to have a one-to-one ratio of CSMs to customers, and in many SaaS companies, a single CSM is overseeing over 100 accounts.

Leaving them entirely to their own devices without guidance about what they should be working toward or who they should be working with can lead to chaos and unproductivity — and that’s not good for your customers or your company.

Playbooks align your customer success team around what your company goals are and how they can help achieve them.

Reporting and visibility

In addition to helping you achieve your business goals by laying out the tactics you need to execute, playbooks also make your efforts measurable so you can understand if they’re effective.

While your playbooks should be informed by data and analysis, they still are often hypotheses. You think they’ll have the desired outcome but the only way to know for sure is to run them.

By analyzing the impact your playbooks have, you can gain an understanding of how effective different communications and tactics are which can lead to you improving your customer success function as a whole.

Creating A Playbook

There are five main steps of creating your own playbook: setting a playbook goal, determining where the playbook belongs along the customer journey, creating assets for your team, constantly measuring impact and feedback and finally reporting on the success of using the playbook. Let’s jump in!

1. Set a goal for the playbook

The first step of creating a playbook is have an explicit goal to accomplish. Are you trying to increase product adoption and user engagement? Are you worried about new strategies to decrease churn? Does your team need a more consistent onboarding process for enterprise tier customers? It’s important to understand exactly what aspect of the customer experience your team is optimizing so that you can tailor the action steps to align with the aspect of the customer journey and the type of users that are going to be impacted. This way, you’re not only making your CS team’s jobs easier, but you’re also creating a repeatable process for customers to find additional value form your product.

Let’s walk through an example playbook. Say your company has recently signed contracts with a number of VIP customers and the success of those accounts is going to be essential for the business. One goal you may have for a playbook is to make sure the onboarding process for those accounts is as smooth as possible, so they can fully adopt your product into their daily workflow and receive the most value possible.

2. Plan for Each Stage of Your Customer Journey

Obstacles to success can emerge at any stage in the customer journey. A thorough customer success playbook should include plans for each stage in your customer’s experience. Here are just a few examples:

Onboarding

  • Initiate handover from sales to customer success team and gather relevant data
  • Alert CSM or Onboarding manager to customer(s) delayed in onboarding

Adoption

  • Schedule Executive to Executive meeting
  • Usage for key feature has dropped X% – make contact with the account

Escalation

  • Low NPS from key contacts – review customer account and initiate follow-up
  • Conduct post-resolution escalation meeting – ensure things are on track

Renewal

  • Initiate win-back campaign steps for at-risk customers
  • Send renewal notice

Preparing for success at each of these stages in your customer journey will reduce potential barriers to desired outcomes and increase the likelihood of success renewal and retention. Keep in mind that not all playbooks will be customer-facing, many will be internal steps for your team members to take.

3. Create playbook assets

So you’ve finally figured out why you’re creating this new playbook and exactly who it’s going to impact. Now it’s time to actually list out the activities and resources required for each step of the playbook. Included materials could be email templates, call scripts, meeting agendas, presentations for customer calls, or even additional guides and FAQs to be sent out. The idea behind asset creation is that when your CSM has a task to complete for a customer they already have all the resources ready to go. This ensures a quick turn around for task completion for the team, but also the necessary resources available for them to be able to personalize information being sent to customers as needed.

4. Keep Your Playbooks Current through Measuring Impact and Feedback

An effective playbook needs to be adaptable to keep up with changes in your customer’s situation and in your market. Use KPI monitoring and feedback from your customers to evaluate how well your current playbook is working. If you identify issues that need to be addressed, update your playbook accordingly.

5. Determine the success of the playbook

Simply creating and using a playbook as part of your daily workflow isn’t the end of the game. It’s essential to evaluate the success of the playbook. Is it helping drive the outcomes it was designed to? Are customers receiving new, additional value from it? Is there still lingering friction or a new set of issues that could be improved? For the VIP onboarding flow, how engaged are the VIP customers after onboarding?

Use key performance indicators, customer experience metrics, and customer feedback to evaluate the ongoing success of your playbook. As your product evolves and grows, continue to report on the success of each playbook and update the process as you learn more about your users’ and your teams’ needs.

All of the above mentioned Tips are designed to align your team to deliver an outstanding customer experience during the buying process and beyond. In order to create a best in class handoff process you do need the right data at the right time. With journy.io you will have all necessary informations at your fingertips to speed up the important transitions during the customer lifecycle.

Get in contact with us and start sharing valuable customer journey insights across different departments to enable an aligned and consistent customer experience, while still keeping granular control over what's being shared.