Risk Process for CSMs and Managers

Alex Tran
Alex Tran Member Posts: 38 Expert
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edited August 2023 in CS Conversations
Hi there! 

I'm helping to build out the risk management process at my company. We use Gainsight as our CS tool.

Right now - what I'm thinking is:
  1. CSMs surface up risks through a "CTA" (just think of this as a way to flag to managers and themselves)
  2. Once per week, CSMs provide account risks for high ARR accounts
  3. Managers review risks for the week and work with CSMs to ask questions and drive mitigation
The challenge is - if a Manager has, say 7 people on their team, these weekly updates can be overwhelming.

A few questions:
1. How do we ensure CSMs are kept accountable to drive risks forward?
2. What's your general process for risk management? (What's your regular rhythm or process?)

Thanks so much! 


  • Jay_Mohammed
    Jay_Mohammed Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    This could certainly be a full blown discussion, though below are some thoughts to start this off. This strategy is best for high touch accounts, though I'm sure it could be molded to a more automated / tech touch environment too.


    Touch points - Measure touch points over time and create threshold that bubbles up accounts that aren't getting touched. This should be coupled with enablement around what type of touch points you're expecting out of the team. If your systems are dynamic enough, you should try to measure how many inbound messages over time you are receiving also (if a customer is not engaged, it might be a sign that messaging needs to be updated).

    Weekly "risk" meeting - IMO managers shouldn't be talking about risk in one-on-ones, it should be a group meeting. This allows everyone to learn from everyone and strategize as a group. I would generally go over the "Top 10 at risk" (or whatever number seems right for your org) and allow time for anyone who wants to talk over situations they need guidance on. CSMs will be motivated to be knowledgable on the happenings of their at risk accounts when this meeting is in a group setting. 

    General Process

    Identify risk - Less seasoned CSMs may need some definitions of what risk looks like, though an experienced IC should find this part to be the easiest 

    Discover the "root" of the risk -
    If a customer says, "we want a lower price or we're leaving" that's certainly cause for concern, though we have to dig into the WHY. Why does the customer need a lower price? Was there something that happened with your relationship for them to make this statement? Is there something going on with your customer for them to need a lower price? Did the value of your product not get realized? 

    Define what success looks like
    - CSMs will have no path forward if they don't know where they're going. There needs to be a consensus (either internally or preferably with the customer's alignment) on what it would look like to have the customer considered "not at risk." CSMs should try to avoid defining success as "the customer renews," as the root of the risk is never "the customer is not renewing" (WHY is the customer not renewing?!)

    Create a plan - How do we get from today to the aforementioned "what success looks like" stage?

    Engage and follow plan - This is where you hold ICs accountable for their touch points. Make sure they're following through.

    Close loop - Did you deliver the value to make the customer successful? Or did they churn? As the company matures and it's more evident on what type of risks the company will run into, you can start measuring the success of the plays ran to retain a customer. In the early stages, it's more than likely it'll be more of a "all hands on deck" strategy. 
  • Cheryl Luft
    Cheryl Luft Member Posts: 14 Contributor
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    We're actually piloting a risk process through Gainsight as well. We've added a Timeline Activity for this, will be implementing standardization for titling to make these easy to find. We've implemented a template  to ensure that specific information is added to each update, with tiers, and the root cause of the risk. 

    There are three tiers:
    1. CSM level so that it's raised, but they are currently handling the situation
    2. Manager level intervention, getting help for CSMs from their direct managers 
    3. Cross-Functional partnership bi-weekly meetings with representatives from support, product, etc to ensure that there is full collaboration to reduce the various types of risk that occur

    To answer your questions regarding accountability, we're trying to share the mindset of if it isn't in Gainsight, it didn't happen, and also show how much support is available to mitigate risks. Once it's raised, there's a dashboard for tracking, and seeing what needs to be done to resolve issues. There's also a field for "next update" on the timeline activity to show when they need to log any additional details by. 

    Ours is a WIP but happy to provide updates once we've iterated on the process after our pilot completes this month.
  • Chad Horenfeldt
    Chad Horenfeldt Member Posts: 57 Expert
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    -We raise up risks in a similar way to how you descrive in Gainsight. Managers track the progress of these risks over time and work with CSMs to ensure there is a plan to resolve these.
    -They are part of a monthly report to the executive team. We look for additional support to help address these risks
    -We've started a quarterly internal QBR where CSMs review their at-risk clients and we invite a cross-functional audience.