Customer success aims to enable your customers to get the most value from your offering, and that’s something that happens over time throughout the entirety of their customer journey.

In order to best scale and transition your company from the early state to the growth stage, you should invest time in creating playbooks and scripts to help you handle every type of situation you and your CSM team might be faced with.

This article will help you find out not only what exactly a customer playbook is, but also how to efficiently implement one that will work for your expected business outcomes and your customers’ goals in using your product/service.

What Is a Customer Success Playbook?

A simple & straightforward answer would be: Customer Success Playbooks are internal lists of predictive and reactive steps & best practices, created generally by your CSM teams, for any activities they usually encounter. They’re like a set of sure-fire winning tactics from your football team coach.

A playbook is like a script for different scenarios throughout a customer’s lifecycle that your CSM should know how to approach and manage. It can either be for time-bound scenarios (e.g. 3 months before renewal) or event-based scenarios (e.g. when a customer says they intend to cancel).

CS playbooks help you map out your customers’ lifecycle progression with their product usage. In turn, this will help you with improving your customers’ loyalty, quicken their adoption & conversion rates, while also reducing overall churn. Not only do they help your customer success teams be consistent in their efforts, but they’re also easy to review & reiterate in order to identify necessary updates and changes based on customer feedback and the experiences of your CSMs.

Playbooks help you drive customer success, and they enable you to have a customer-centric approach to drive further revenue.

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.

Still not feeling 100% sold on this? Here’s a list of benefits that you should consider before making the leap:

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.

How to Make Customer Success Playbooks that Actually Work?

Before you start defining playbooks that work for your business, you must consider the following aspects:

  1. First, consider your business case or objective. Think about what issues your clients are trying to solve with your product or service and how you’ll cater to them specifically.
  2. Then consider the different customer relationships, if they’re low or high-touch ones. Think about the type of business clients you have and what’s your relationship with them. Custify, for example, enables our clients to automate low and tech touch playbooks. And for the high touch ones we help simplify with alerts, tasks, and a customer 360 view.
  3. Last but not least, be mindful of who is using your product – is it a niche product or is it useful across multiple departments? This means your playbooks will either be very limited to only focus on product usage/adoption or be customized per user type if this can be identified.

customer success playbook venn diagram

So here’s our step-by-step guide to building your own Customer Success Playbooks:

Step 1: Decide on a Goal for Your Playbook

Start by defining the business outcome for your playbook. Ask yourself and your team: which aspect of your customers’ experience do you want to impact most?

Some goals may include increasing the product adoption rates, increasing customer engagement, improving retention forecasting, or improving product expansion. Your business outcome will also positively impact your customers’ goals too.

For example, if your company is working to decrease overall churn, you could create a playbook with the main objective of helping near-churning customers gain more value from your product.

Step 2: Determine Where You’ll Place Your Playbook within the Customer Journey

You know what they say — timing is key.

Customer success, in general, looks to enable your customers to get the most value from your product. That’s something that happens over time, throughout their entire customer journey.

You want to have a playbook for every touchpoint of a customer’s journey from a timeline point of view. So you need to identify where you’ll place your playbook within the customer journey in order to have the most impact.

Step 3: Segment Your Customer Base

Different playbooks will be effective with different portions of your customer base and, therefore, your ability to make traction toward your goal will also differ.

So you’ll have to segment your customers and then figure out which custom reach-out tactics and other means you’ll use for each segment, to engage them effectively throughout their customer journeys.

Once you segment your customer base, you’ll be able to prioritize reach out and address each customer individually as needed.

Step 4: Create Playbook Communication Assets

CSMs can use ready-made communication assets to conduct many customer interactions as quickly as possible. These assets can include email templates, presentation decks, meeting agendas, or phone scripts.

Of course, these assets should serve as a starting point and should be easily customizable to suit a customer’s individual needs.

Step 5: Remember to Track and Report on Your Results

In order to determine if your playbook is worth the resources you’re investing in it, you need to track its performance. This will also help you understand how the playbook is helping you achieve your set goals.

If your goal has been accomplished or the playbook you’ve defined didn’t perform as desired initially, you can then move on and try other strategies.

Bonus Advice: Automate Your Playbooks

Once your team’s playbooks are sufficiently advanced, they can be automated to alert every CSM that it’s time to deploy a play or to reach out to a customer based on a predefined trigger.

When I was first thinking of playbooks for Custify, I decided to use the term differently – and I made them part of the software’s automation process. That’s because I wanted CSMs to be able to transform their playbooks into automation directly. For example, after a customer support ticket is closed, the associated customer success rep gets an automated notification a week later to remind them to follow up with that specific customer.

Automation drives proactive, personalized engagements that create a more consistent experience and it ultimately increases renewals & reduces costs. One of the biggest advantages of automating your playbooks is that it will give your CSMs a clearer path to approaching your customers exactly when they need it the most. It basically takes away the ambiguity and leaves more room for creating a consistent customer experience.

Stick to the Playbook of Your Success

Playbooks play an important role in improving the overall accountability and efficiency for your customer success team.

There’s no denying that they’re an invaluable tool for building consistency within your CSM operations. Your CSMs will be able to optimize their daily responsibilities and prioritize their proactive efforts. An efficient playbook provides them with the information they need in order to bring value to your customers. You’ll be able to empower your customer success team to successfully help customers onboard, grow and adopt your SaaS platform.

No matter where you are in the process, you can start working on (or improving) a playbook for your company. Like customer success itself, it’s an ongoing process. The most important thing you can do is to get started.

Do you have any other advice on how to build a successful playbook? Share it with us in the comments section below.

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