Customer Success Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide [Free Template]

Nick Kang

Nick Kang

3 min read

The customer success plan you need to keep your customers happy and help your company grow more.

Customer success strategy cover

CUSTOMER SUCCESS PLAN TEMPLATE

Outline your company's customer success strategy with this free template.

A customer success plan is a set of workflows and processes performed on a customer to achieve a goal. There are onboarding plans, upsell/cross-sell plans, and retention plans. It is an important piece in scaling a customer success team. Customer success plans are also referred to as a customer success playbooks.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan. Every company will have a unique set of plans for their product and customer segment.

This article goes over points to think about as you develop your own set of customer success plans.

Customer success plans help customers achieve their goal

When customers subscribe to your product they have an end goal in mind. Customers expect your product to help achieve that end goal.

1. Determine who the plan is for

You will have at least one customer success plan for each account segment.

An account segment is a group of similar accounts. Accounts get segmented based on how their users expect to experience your application. You can figure out segmentation by grouping accounts based off the following criteria:

What is the customer's goal? How will your product fit into the customer's daily routine? Does the customer have experience with your product category? Does the customer use similar products?

It is tempting to segment accounts based on how much they're paying, but this is a mistake. Segmentation based on revenue metrics is taking an internal view. Segmentation should be from the customer's point of view.

Customers paying the same amount will have different expectations

Customers paying the same amount can have different expectations. By normalizing segmentation on revenue, you incorrectly normalize their expectations.

For example, an enterprise account in a high ARR range may have lower expectations that requiring less human coverage. This can result in a profitable account.

By not accounting for expectations, we take this profitable account and over-deliver - eroding margins.

You should have at least one customer success plan for each account segment. You should also have one customer success plan for each of your product and service.

2. List the desired outcomes for each plan

You can bucket plan outcomes into three groups: onboarding plans, growth plans, and retention plans.

Onboarding plans center around what needs to happen for a new customer to be successful. Structure onboarding plans around what must happen for customers to:

  • Quickly achieve first value
  • Reach their internal adoption goals

B2B Accounts will be more likely to renew if you can help them achieve these two goals.

Growth plans revolve around customer's success and evolving requirements. It can include upsell, cross-sell, and customer advocacy. Customer success is a revenue center. To expand revenue, customers need to renew, increase product usage, and begin using your adjacent products.

Growth plans should consider:

  • What customer milestones trigger an upsell/cross-sell?
  • How will you manage the upsell/cross-sell process?
  • What customer milestones trigger a request to advocate for you publicly or internally?
  • How will you mange the advocacy process?
  • What to do when the customer's internal champion moves to another company? i) How do you handle the current customer? ii) How do you leverage the champion's connection at the new company?

Retention plans address negative situations. You can set up alerts on customer success management software to track account health. Automating account health tracking will help you scale customer success. The common events that lead to running a retention playbook include:

  • Declining product usage
  • Declining account user count
  • Missed invoice payment
  • High unresolved ticket count

3. Determine how customer success will prioritize accounts

Each account segment will have its own user engagement requirements. You will have segments that require:

  • High manual engagement

These are accounts that need significant in-person training or have complex integration requirements. Large enterprise accounts will make up most of these high manual engagement accounts.

  • Low manual engagement

Put these accounts into a fully self-service program with monitoring for usage anomalies. You should include triggers that alert for growth opportunities and retention problems.

  • Hybrid engagement

Most of your accounts will fall into this group. We recommend putting in the work up front and guiding these customers through the onboarding process. Have checks in place to make sure customers are fully trained on your product. After onboarding, you can gradually transition to a lower manual engagement model.

4. Set success metrics for each plan

Measure customer usage to quantify customer success plan impact. Companies achieve this in two steps:

  1. Track usage with an analytics tool (Segment, Mixpanel, Amazon Pinpoint).
  2. Integrate the analytics tool with a customer success management ("CSM") platform. The CSM platform will provide customer success specific analysis and workflows.

Conclusion

In this article, we go over the points to consider when creating a customer success plan.

  1. Determine who the plan is for
  2. List the desired outcomes for each plan
  3. Determine how customer success will prioritize accounts
  4. Set success metrics for each plan

Published January 4, 2021