Why Customer Success Playbooks Are the Best Tool for Team Growth

Customer Success Managers (CSM) are the eyes and ears of your organization, and they often serve as a customer’s first point of contact. A customer’s experience and interactions with their CSM will easily influence how they perceive your company and, ultimately, your product. This makes both hiring the right people and developing a CSM training plan of critical importance.

The role of a CSM is fast-paced and carries high expectations, requiring a creative mindset and the ability to strategically pivot with agility. Even when you’ve hired the right people, training them for their roles in the context of your company and customer relationships could last weeks in order to cover the different proactive actions and reactive scenarios for which CSMs are responsible.

Constant, copious training programs are daunting when scaling a customer success team during your company’s period of hyper growth, especially when you may not have a dedicated person or team on staff to conduct training. This training process is much more manageable through the use of customer success playbooks.

What Are Playbooks, and Why Are They Important?

A playbook is a prescriptive approach for both proactive and reactive activities that a CSM typically encounters. Much like a sports team has its tried and true “plays,” with customer success playbooks you are essentially deploying a similar approach for your CSMs.

A playbook scripts how a CSM should approach and manage different scenarios throughout a customer’s lifecycle. This can be for time-bound scenarios—for example, three months before a customer’s renewal—or event-based scenarios—for example, a customer says they intend to cancel.

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Once your team is sophisticated enough with playbooks, they can be automated to alert a CSM that it’s time to deploy a play or to send an outreach to a customer based on a trigger.

Playbooks are an important part of a customer success strategy for several reasons:

  1. Achieve Consistency
    With playbooks, an early-stage company with a handful of CSMs can more easily achieve consistency in its account management activities, as CSMs can easily chat through different scenarios and craft fairly simple plays to use. These plays become extremely helpful as your company grows its customer base and product robustness, both of which make the role of a CSM more complex. As you scale your business, playbooks allow you to scale the abilities of your CSMs by empowering them to act independently while creating a standardized, consistent experience for the entire team and your customers.
  2. Perfecting to Reiterate
    A playbook is never perfected and is always in need of being revisited and iterated upon. Your customer success team should plan to hold scheduled reviews in order to identify necessary updates and changes based on customer feedback and the experiences of your CSMs.
  3. Scale CSM Bandwidth

As a CSM’s book of business approaches, say, $2M, a playbook operationalizes and facilitates proactive account management activities so that the CSM is much less likely to spend time on reactive steps in response to high need customers.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of any customer success function is to partner with customers to achieve their desired business outcomes. Investing time in creating playbooks and outlining how situations are handled is a key piece of foundational work to have in place and vetted in order to best scale and transition your company from early to growth stage.