Creating Risk Playbooks for Managing Risk

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  • Gainsight Employee: Golden Ruler
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Managing risk within your portfolio is close to, if not, the number one priority for CSMs. Many find themselves hesitant to open risks for their customers because they are concerned it might seem like they aren’t being a successful CSM. However, I would argue that identifying risk in your portfolio and raising it makes you a more successful CSM. 

As leaders, it is our role to ensure team members have a way to identify risks in their portfolio and share them back with the organization. 

One of the best ways to do this is to have a Call To Action (CTA) type in Gainsight for Risk.  The good news for you is that “Risk” is an out of the box CTA type in Gainsight. So you are already on your first step there! This allows your team to create CTAs for each risk in their portfolio. Then your leadership team is able to see reports on how many risks are in the customer base (more on this later).




When you’re starting a Risk process, best practice would be to identify 2-3 main risk types. Typically, risks can be groups into one of these three categories:

  • Customer Relationship and Adoption Risks
  • Product and Service Delivery Risks
  • Organizational Change Risks

For a more advanced step here, you can also create CTA Reasons that map to your risk types.

Now that we have a CTA type for Risk and Risk types, the next step to helping your team is to create 2-3 Playbooks to help them work through the risk. This enables them with the expected steps to take to mitigate the risk. 

With the above Risk categories, we can now begin to build out a playbook for each. I would recommend that each Playbook be similar. A playbook could be as simple as:

  • Create a Timeline update with the relevant information about the risk
  • Email your executive stakeholder at the customer requesting a meeting
  • Update your manager on next steps.

Using these few steps, you’ll be on your way to tracking and mitigating risk within your customer base! 


4 replies

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What a great set of early steps in creating Risk Playbooks, @lane_h 

One item I recently implemented within Risk Playbooks is adding a step (typically the first step) detailing which metrics are most likely to apply to the Playbook, so the CSM has the beginnings of a map on where to look next.

For example, if the Risk is adoption-related, look at the usage, and perhaps specifically (1) Healthy Monthly Active Users, (2) feature breadth and (3) number of admins logging activity in the last 30 days. Or if the Risk is due to a stakeholder change, the metrics might be (1) Most Recent Business Review, (2) Roles of Remaining Stakeholders and (3) NPS/Satisfaction at the customer. 

This helped my CSMs know where to start, and which metrics we would likely be looking at first after the Risk was addressed for impact.

Do you create these risk playbooks with a set of tasks and do you define the desired outcome or the point the customer is no longer at risk vs the exit from risk play?  I like our teams to have a final assessment “task” if you will that says what happened and was it successful or not.

Do others create yours this way?


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@burseer I haven’t seen this specifically before, but I love the idea! 

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@burseer I’ve weighed building CTAs and Playbooks with that concluding assessment task. So far, my CS teams and I have not built CTAs in this way.

  • Keeping a CTA open for up to 90 “extra” days was discouraging for some CSMs. That also led to neglecting CTAs that “wait and see” state. Thus, though the idea was right, the actual experience was that we weren’t getting the final assessment we had hoped for.
  • We decided to close the CTA upon completion of the work, then let the Ops team (which is actually me) run the analysis on if the CTA successfully led to an Outcome, a decreased Risk, etc.
  • We further decided if the issue or datapoint that caused the initial CTA was still occurring, we would issue a new CTA. The goal here was to a Cockpit full of CTAs which were actionable, and minimizing CTAs where we were waiting on the customer or on an Outcome.

I do like the idea, and I think there’s great promise within, and yet I’m sharing some results of my CS teams and I experimenting with this. As with anything, a great process precedes the tooling, so if you get clear with CSM expectations--and get their buy-in--this concluding assessment task could be a winner.