Hospitality has been my lifelong passion, which led me to my professional career in relationship-building and improving customer experiences. One of my earliest jobs was in a catering hall, where I collaborated with couples to achieve the vision of their dream weddings. I was usually the first person to greet them and the last one to leave. I was always interested in customer-facing situations.

In 2009, when the financial world suffered a recession, I was one of the many workers who lost their jobs. Instead of brooding over the situation or rushing for a new job vacancy (which could have repeated my situation), I decided it was time for a change. I scoured the online job boards and re-tuned my CV. It was then that I discovered the fascinating field of customer success (CS).

Account and joint success plans are two fundamental approaches to Customer Success, and I have worked closely with my team to develop original templates on the subject. Our templates expand from  The Success League’s Business Model worksheet, which offers insightful questions that shape the plans according to a company’s specific needs. We decided to dive deeper, through unpacking organizational structures and assessing competitors by segmentation, among other considerations.

Account Plans

An account plan is an in-depth internal document that serves as a north star for the multiple facets of customer management. These should include risk identification, accountability, and a detailed map of the customer journey, along with their expectations.

Account plans should involve more than the CS team and should include every department responsible for revenue generation, such as sales and marketing. The compiled information helps refine a rhythm with the customers. It can guide the sales team toward the right customer fit and help ask the right questions.

Joint Customer Success Plans

Customer success requires a multi-faceted engagement strategy between CSMs and the customer. The joint success plan is an external document that focuses on fine-tuning the “five why’s”. While it might seem like customers understand what they want, they usually lack the know-how to translate goals into actionable outcomes.

A joint success plan helps CSMs track an idea’s workability while providing customers with a more transparent breakdown of the intended progress and outcome, which helps avoid sudden directional shifts. The result is a series of unique use-cases for their solutions and a defined action plan that advances customer goals and objectives.

Not One and Done

One of the most crucial caveats with account and joint success plans is that CS teams should not be afraid of making mistakes or omissions – decision paralysis is counterproductive and ever-present. Account and joint success plans are living documents that teams should improve and revise according to the evolving needs of customers.

Implementation

Account and joint success plan templates are recent additions to my customer strategy and have added clarity and accountability to the CS experience. We have tested the approach with new customers and have received overwhelmingly positive responses.

We plan to apply the approach to all customers at the beginning of 2021, which could be the right time to renew our CS structures and start the new year on a high note. My team looks forward to sharing our story sometime down the road as a successful inspiration in partnership.

As parting advice, I would highly recommend that CS teams set time aside to formulate the plans that best suit their operations and customers. Take what you have, change it, and start enjoying a powerful tool that takes the current business model to the next level.

Shari Srebnick is a passionate CS leader and innovator, Head of Client Success at Searchmetrics -US, and a founding member of Gain Grow Retain, a free customer success leadership network

Shari Srebnick

Head of Client Success, Searchmetrics