How to Create a Customer Success Playbook (+ 4 FREE Templates)

How to Create a Customer Success Playbook (+ 4 FREE Templates)

A customer success playbook gives your CSMs the knowledge they require to add value for your consumers and includes all the tools they need to successfully onboard, develop, and retain customers.


Last updated: October 16, 2022

7 mins read

In a competitive market, where ten companies around the block are selling the same product or service, you cannot stand out as the buyer’s number #1 solution without a well-crafted strategy to create the ideal customer experience throughout the whole customer journey.

There are different ways to create and effectively implement such a strategy. One such way is customer success playbooks. These playbooks help:

  • Gear your business strategy towards prioritizing the customer.
  • Help customer success managers to onboard, support, and retain customers.

If created for customers, these also help your customers use the product better.

Today we’re going in-depth about the customer success playbook. We explain what a customer success playbook is and does and how to create one. If you stick till the end, you get four free templates too!

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Let’s begin.

What is a Customer Success Playbook?

A Customer Success Playbook is a list of proactive best practices or instructions for Customer Success Managers (CSMs) to follow or refer to. It is a collection of strategies, actions, and next steps that your customer success management team can employ to help customers use your product through the full customer lifecycle.

Read More: What is a Customer Exit Survey and How Can it Help Your Business?

A customer success playbook also helps your CSMs work with customers effectively by giving them repeatable procedures they can follow. Playbooks allow a customer success manager to create repeatable, targeted, and scalable actions for the entire customer journey.

Depending on the type of playbook, both the customer success managers and customers can use it.

Let’s explain this with an example. Suppose your company is working to reduce product risk—in this scenario, you could create a playbook that helps customers use your product safely and help them reap greater benefits from your solution.

What you should include in your Customer Success Playbook

Here is a comprehensive list that encompasses the different components that make up a good customer success playbook:

  • Timeline, team, and objective: It is imperative to specify the intended objective, the team(s) in charge, and the amount of time needed to complete the operations;
  • Precise instructions/steps: The activities must be explicit to leave as little room for misunderstanding as possible;
  • Responsibilities of customer success managers (CSMs): The tasks that CSMs must undertake to set their customers on a path to success;
  • Triggers and notifications for mapping the customer journey: If the customer deviates from the initial plan, triggers and notifs signal the CSMs and the customer success team to get them back on track; and,
  • A strategy for communication: It should include materials like email templates, scripts for the phone, meeting decks, communication sequences, and supporting content collateral.

How to create a Customer Success Playbook?

Generally, there are six steps to creating a great customer success playbook. Let’s see what these are:

Determining Pain Points for Customers

The first step is to detect the customer’s problems while using your product or service. For example, your SaaS product may be subject to an unprecedented churn rate; in this scenario, you need to identify what may be causing your customers to jump ship. Whether it’s due to corporate strategy, budgetary changes, low product adoption, or a change in their preferences, you need to detect the contributory factor and rectify it.

Creating an End Objective for the Playbook

Your playbook needs to be specifically targeted to provide solutions for one aspect. This means that one single playbook cannot focus on strategies to increase product adoption, decrease churn rate, elevate customer engagement and reduce product risk. It is like the five fingers of a hand—each extremely essential to ensure the complete success of the task.

Assessing a Playbook’s Position in the Customer Journey

Since playbooks serve many purposes, they must be placed at various points during a customer’s journey. It is advisable to have a playbook for every facet of a customer’s journey so that there is no stone left unturned to leave the best impact.

For example, a customer engagement playbook is helpful after you make the first product sale, while a customer upsell playbook may come in handy after the customer provides positive feedback about using the first product and seems interested in buying from you again.

Customer Segmentation

Your CSMs cannot possibly interact with every customer one-on-one and provide all of them with actionable advice. Knowing each customer’s needs at any time is tedious— which is why customer segmentation is an effective way to get things done quickly. Thus, grouping your customers based on priority and problem area simplifies reporting, targeting, and monitoring.

Updating the Assignments and Directions

You now possess all the knowledge you need to build a customer playbook, including the intended audience, challenges, and the ultimate goal. The next step is to build out assets, i.e., all the step-by-step instructions and directions on implementing the perfect strategies for your customers to get their desired results.

Effective Monitoring and Reporting on the Playbook’s Usability

Making your playbook available to customers or support agents will not cut it. You need to track whether they are using it to troubleshoot their issues. You can assign one CSM to a particular segment to better survey the same. You can also decide on KPIs and OKRs to better gauge your playbook’s performance.


Keep optimizing your playbooks from time to time. Work on the feedback provided by your customers and A/B test their suggestions to see what performs best! You can also automate the steps in your playbook once they are sufficiently advanced. This means that once you launch a playbook geared toward a particular customer’s success goal, you will receive automated alerts to inform you that it is time to proceed to the next step. This can save CSMs a lot of time on monitoring and customization.

Examples of Customer Success Playbooks

Every customer success team should have the following playbooks to improve customer support and experience. Let’s see the list!

  1. Partnership Starter Playbook

Doesn’t it help to have a little checklist to tick things off from as you provide your customers with all the information they need to begin using your product or service and let them know what to expect? Using a partnership starter playbook, you can start your customer relationship on the right note by addressing significant issues and aligning partner expectations.


  1. Customer Onboarding Playbook

Building a customer onboarding playbook gives you insight into what you’d like to include in your onboarding process. You can use an onboarding playbook to characterize interactions (whether low-touch, mid-touch, or high-touch), have use cases for your customers to understand your offering better, and introduce entry and exit points for each stage in the customer journey.


  1. Customer Journey Playbook

The user journey has multiple touchpoints that CSMs can track and monitor to gauge customer success. A customer journey playbook helps you break down the different stages in a customer life cycle and tackle each step efficiently while keeping the big picture in mind. It can also help you save hours on tracking multiple customer milestones as a CSM.


  1. Business Review Playbook (Quarterly or Half-yearly)

A business review playbook contains directives on how to collect proof of your successful use cases, gather evidence from critical metrics that reveal areas for improvement, and review notes to better define your strategy in accordance with your customer’s initial business goals and draft questions that help vital stakeholders think about the company’s future.


  1. Churn Analysis Playbook

Customer churn is unavoidable, but if you focus on alignment across departments to enable faster customer service, i.e., quicker time to value, you may successfully reduce it. That is where a customer churn analysis playbook comes in. Using it, you can conduct an exit procedure with your customer that leaves you with feedback to improve on relevant metrics, such that your other customers can benefit better from your product or service and not go for alternatives.

Suggested resource: Click here.

  1. Customer Health Score Playbook

The customer health score gives insight into how satisfied your customers are with your product. It is essential to take multiple health scores at different stages of the customer’s life cycle, then use the average to determine your customer’s contentment correctly. The customer health score playbook implies the steps you need to take to calculate this metric and improve the score so your customers can feel more satisfied with your product.

Suggested resource: Click here.

  1. Customer Renewal Playbook

Once a customer makes their first purchase, you must consider customer renewal. Your product, in this case, has done its part; if your customer is pleased with the same, they will return to you for their following requirement. In such a scenario, your marketing and sales teams must be primed with the next steps to ensure further retention and sales. Use a customer renewal playbook to make it happen!

Suggested resource: Click here.

  1. Customer Upsell Playbook

The ultimate goal of any business is to retain customers—that’s how subscription models work, and businesses grow! For customer retention, upsell and cross-sell are essential activities. A customer upsell playbook helps your CSM identify the numerous possibilities for upselling that you will come across during the client journey and help you figure out how to ideally induce customers into repurchasing time and time.

FREE Customer Success Playbook Templates you can get started with!

Suppose you are just getting started with qualifying customer success for your business. In that case, you don’t need to be overwhelmed by all the different templates you need to create—look through this list of FREE customer success templates and get started!

  1. Check out these customer success templates provided by HubSpot. They provide templates for customer profiling, customer service scripting, customer service training, and customer support strategy and planning.
  2. Check out these customer success templates from SmartSheets. They provide templates for various functions, including customer success, sales-to-customer-success-handoff, customer success management, customer success satisfaction reporting, customer success account project planning, customer success QBR meeting preparation, and customer retention.
  3. Take a look at Airtable’s free customer success management playbook that you can tailor to your business.
  4. To strategize your complete customer success agenda, you look at Xtensio’s customer success plan templates. With 100s of free templates that are super easy to edit, share and organize, you can start your customers on their quest for success today!

Final Thoughts

Successful customer relationships translate to retention, upselling, cross-selling, increased brand loyalty, and even acquiring new customers through word-of-mouth marketing. Playbooks are invaluable in building such connections. A practical playbook gives your CSMs the knowledge they require to add value for your consumers—that includes all the tools they need to successfully onboard, develop, and retain customers. So, go ahead and craft customer success playbooks for all the stages in your customer’s journey and set them on a smooth path to success!


Sanjana Sankhyan is a freelance writer who specializes in delivering data-driven blog posts for B2B SaaS brands. She helps businesses attract more audience and sales with her writing. If not writing, you’ll find her helping other freelancers improve their work. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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