Are Playbooks The Key to Customer Success?

June 9, 2017 Aman Singh

Are Playbooks The Key to Customer Success?Playbooks are a CSM’s best friends. When leveraged properly, playbooks allow your team to spend less time planning and worrying, and more time actually getting stuff done.

Amity asked the experts from the Waterstone Management Group about the challenges facing CSMs when working with playbooks to drive adoption.
 

When it comes to adoption, what are the biggest hurdles facing Customer Success teams? 

The Customer Success function is in a prime position along the customer lifecycle to drive and foster product adoption. CSMs can leverage their product knowledge, understanding of their clients’ goals, and other capabilities to help their customer along their adoption path. That said, CS teams and CSMs face three big challenges when it comes to adoption: first, it’s hard to define what “adoption” is for your customers / products; second, it’s difficult to measure how much customers are adopting; and most importantly, once you recognize there is an adoption issue, you need to determine what CSMs are going to do about it.  It’s this last challenge where adoption playbooks can make a huge difference.
 

What are the main advantages of using playbooks for Customer Success teams?

There are two key advantages to leveraging playbooks within CS.  Playbooks give CS teams and Customer Success Managers a repeatable, systematic process to follow, which is critical for driving scale. In addition, well-defined playbooks offer a prescriptive step by step ‘checklist’ for CSMs which helps them quickly identify the key resources they need to do their job, whether that be content, contacts in other departments, etc. This, in turn, allows CSMs to spend less time worrying about what to do, when to do it, what to reference, and who else they may need to work with - and more time strategically engaging with their customers to ensure their success.
 

How does leveraging playbooks affect the customer?

While the customer may not be aware that their CSM is ‘running a play’ during their discussions or when they receive an automated outreach, adoption playbooks are impacting the customer experience. If well-designed and executed, playbooks address key customer needs at the right time, via the customer’s preferred channel. For example, if a customer has yet to use the product after purchase, a ‘zero-use’ playbook may be initiated that results in an automated email sent to the customer with resources to help the onboarding process. Ultimately, playbooks help customers achieve their desired outcomes, which can include quick and easy onboarding, increased usage, value realization, etc.
 

What are some challenges that teams face when designing these playbooks?

One of the challenges we see CS teams face when designing playbooks is making sure they are aligned to the customer journey and focused on the customer experience. Keeping the customer perspective in mind is critical to ensuring that playbooks are in fact usable in the field. Usability is another important consideration - if a playbook is overly complicated or too simplistic, there is little chance of playbooks being consistently leveraged. Lastly, it’s important to identify the measures and metrics needed to monitor playbook operationalization, performance, and impact. Along these lines, CS teams need to ensure they are tying data to their playbook triggers to help drive proactive engagement.
 

How often should teams re-work and update their playbooks?

CS teams should follow an ongoing improvement process when it comes to updating playbooks. Teams should expect playbooks to continuously evolve and be iterated on as additional insights are derived. As such, it is important to establish roles and processes, including feedback loops, to facilitate improvements. This process should be driven by a designated owner and include an ongoing cadence with relevant stakeholders, assessment of data / analytics, and steps for updating the playbooks themselves.
 

What would you recommend to Customer Success Teams that are interested in driving more adoption?

Just get started. Playbooks don’t need to be perfect when they are first rolled out, and should be continuously improved and iterated on over time. Pick a few plays to start with; don’t worry about formatting - we’ve seen everything from Word to Excel to customer success software. Also, be sure to incorporate feedback from CSMs, customers, and other stakeholders once playbooks are put into practice.
 

>> To learn how to design the playbooks you need to drive phenomenal adoption rates, make sure to save your seat for our webinar with the Waterstone Management Group!

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About the Author

Aman Singh

Aman has over six years of experience working in technology and strategic advisory. At Waterstone, Aman has worked with clients across a variety of technology sectors, with an emphasis on enterprise software. Aman’s recent client work has been focused on growth strategy, Professional Services improvement, and Customer Success operations. Aman has supported multiple clients with their Customer Success offerings, ranging from new offering development and launch to the optimization of existing operations.

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