Customer Success Manual vs Playbook

Jared Orr
Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
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edited September 2020 in Metrics & Analytics
I just had a great conversation about CS playbooks and wanted to share some thoughts with my GGR network. 

First off, in my opinion, there is a difference between a manual and a playbook. A manual is the 200+ page book that most companies have yet nobody reads. A playbook is a compilation of processes outlined in concise, efficient steps. The foundation of any playbook should be to make the reader effective at the job they have. 

I believe every Customer Success team should have a playbook that can be divided into two main categories: 

1) The outline of the product/services and how they should operate to best serve the customer
2) The weekly and monthly expectations to be an effective CSM for the company 

Playbooks are simple yet contain everything you need to know to excel at your job and manuals, while they do have important information, are usually long and ignored. 

What's been your experience with playbooks and manuals?

Jared Orr

Customer Success Whisperer


  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
    Office Hours Host 2022 5 Likes First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited September 2020
    100% agree with you Jared.

    Manuals are paperweights.

    A playbook, just like any methodology, should be prescriptive yet flexible. They should provide people with direction and guidance. Playbooks can range from the very detailed to a punch list of action items. Whatever works best for your customers and your organization. 

    We developed a playbook builder we use to build plays for our consulting clients. If anyone is interested in getting a copy of it, email me directly and I'll send it to you. 



  • Benedict Fritz
    Benedict Fritz Member Posts: 30 Expert
    First Comment
    edited September 2020
    Agreed-I've heard people describe playbooks as the backbone of any CS operation!

    Does your team use any playbooks for specific customer situations? Things like onboarding, a customer becoming at-risk, introducing a new feature?
  • Tiffany Morin
    Tiffany Morin Member Posts: 20 Thought Leader
    edited September 2020
    Completely agree with this discussion. I've created a few playbooks in my day. One of the most effective ones was the sales and customer success handoff process. Unless the playbook was followed, Sales wouldn't get a commission on the sale. It helped teach the sales team to be more strategic and make the customer more successful on the back-end.
  • Daryl Colborne
    Daryl Colborne Member Posts: 50 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper First Comment
    edited September 2020

    Would you mind if I took you up on your offer with the playbook builder? 


    Daryl Colborne

  • Patricia Ascurrein
    Patricia Ascurrein Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    edited September 2020
    @Tiffany, that is a great incentive for a sales team to follow an appropriate handover ??????
  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    This was huge for us as well. Putting a playbook in place. We actually have. I automated our playbook tasks in our implementation tool. That way it never gets missed.
  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    One of the things I am trying out now is taking the playbook and allowing for some personalized approaches or individual cm modification. The bones of the playbook and strategy is there but giving the individual cm the ability to make it his or her owns has really been an enlightening exercise.
  • Anita Toth
    Anita Toth Member Posts: 246 Expert
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    edited September 2020

    @Chris Guzek I like the idea of a playbook with some freedom for the CSM to make it individual at the same time. This creates consistency while allowing for some fluidity.

    How do the CSMs like this arrangement?

  • Chris Guzek
    Chris Guzek Member Posts: 19 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020

    It's been received positively for those who have done it. Others have chose to stay generic in the information and structure. 

  • Shari Srebnick
    Shari Srebnick Member Posts: 111 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited September 2020
    We have playbooks for a few key things, especially the Sales to Services Handoff.  That particular playbook *has* to be executed properly, mostly by Sales, or we don't move forward.  They know this and they've gotten really good at being prepared and being collaborative.

    I'm in the midst of trying to organize - and build out - what other playbooks we need (or need to revise) - @Andrew Marks I'd love to get a copy of your Playbook Builder if you're still open to sharing.

    Thank you!