Scale Customer Success: OpenPhone’s Grow, Defend, and Maintain Framework

Giancarlo Gialle
Giancarlo Gialle
Head of Sales and Success, OpenPhone
Playbook Overview

When should you run this playbook?
As soon as you have enough customers that it becomes difficult for CSMs to track what customers are at risk of churning versus which customers need nurturing and have high growth potential. 

Who to target?
Existing paid customers. 

Playbook goal?
Improve retention and expansion with existing customers. 

Responsible team(s)?
Customer Success.


Not your 90s VOIP 

Turns out, businesses need to use the phone to get things done, but they no longer want the antiquated systems of the 90s. 

OpenPhone provides users with a business line and related phone services with a simple app, Making it easy for users to keep their business calls separate while still using their own devices.

OpenPhone in the last two years has seen massive growth. Two years, two rounds of funding totaling $56M later, and the team is trusted by companies like GetAround, Deloitte, Bungalow Sonder, Y Combinator, Ramp, and more. 

Thanks to the PLG model, the team sees millions of calls made by new users each month. 

The challenges of growing and maintaining your self-serve user base 

OpenPhone has evolved a ton since its inception. What was first a simple iPhone app is now available on Androids, on desktop, and has integrations to popular tools (Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack, Zapier), and advanced team features like shared address books, call recordings, analytics, and more.

Alongside the product evolution, OpenPhone has matured its go-to-market function. OpenPhone added Giancarlo Gialle, former head of SMB sales at Pinterest as Head of Sales and Success in February 2022.

Now that OpenPhone has 20K+ customers and reliably generates new business through their free trial motion, the go-to-market team, led by Giancarlo, has a few new challenges with their self-serve and managed book of business:

  1. How do you identify what free trial users the sales team should pursue? 
  2. How do you identify opportunities for growth within existing accounts?
  3. What accounts should your team focus on defending versus maintaining? 

Giancarlo needed a way to use product usage signals to inform both his Sales and Customer Success team's playbooks. The problem? Both teams needed help to getting access to the right data and insights for their various playbooks. 

In this template, Giancarlo shares the step-by-step guide on how OpenPhone’s Customer Success team uses Pocus to run an offensive strategy to keep customers happy, find opportunities to expand, and retain high-value accounts.   

Use Product Signals to inform Customer Success Playbooks

OpenPhone’s team was already using Pocus to uncover high-potential free trial opportunities, so it was a natural extension to use Pocus to surface opportunities for the Customer Success team. Like their new business playbook, Giancarlo and team outlined their goals for the Customer Success team and which playbooks would help them achieve those goals. Then it was all about operationalizing those playbooks with product and customer data in one easy-to-use interface. 

Try this Playbook yourself

What you’ll need:

  • Product data about how customers are using the product 
  • Salesforce or other CRM for customer data 
  • Stripe or other tools for billing data
  • Enrichment providers like Clearbit
    Outreach or another engagement tool for emailing customers 

#1 The team identified 3 categories of accounts they wanted to target 

Giancarlo explained that the Customer Success playbook was all about being proactive about their existing user base and the best way to think about this cohort was by looking at their growth potential and current happiness with the product. 

The 3 categories they cared most about were: 1) Grow 2) Defend 3) Maintain


There is high growth potential, the customer is very happy, and we can potentially upsell or cross-sell to them. 


This could be a great account but they are currently not happy - need to prevent them from churning. 


These accounts no longer have growth potential, they have grown all they can, they are happy, and we need to keep their business by continuing to offer them our support.  

The bonus Nurture category is not something the OpenPhone GTM team is focused on at this time. 

#2 Outline goals for each playbook

Define a goal for each playbook so you can track progress. For example, in the Defend playbook your goal is to prevent that account from churning. What this would look like in your data is something like “Account = Inactive.”

#3 Define signals that qualify customers for Grow, Defend, and Maintain playbooks

For each playbook choose signals that qualify them for each playbook.

For Grow identify signals which indicated whether the account has potential upside opportunity: 

  • Ratio of # of employees in the account to # of users on your product 
  • Spend increases in the last week or month 
  • User growth in the last week or month 
  • New feature usage 
  • Recently hit a paywall 
  • High NPS 

🔥 Tip: In addition to product signals, look at firmographic signals that tell you they fit other use cases you could potentially upsell or cross-sell. In OpenPhone’s case, they use Clearbit data to tell them if a customer has Salesforce so they can upsell that feature. 

For Defend you want to define leading and lagging signals that indicate a potential for churn:

  • Low NPS
  • Reduction in key metrics like users (seat-based) or dollars spent (if you are usage based),
  • Lack of activity on key features
  • Cancelled plan at a future date (i.e. did not renew for next billing cycle)
  • Stripe failure (billing failed or they removed credit card)  

For Maintain identify signals to ensure usage remains good and customers remain happy:

  • High NPS
  • Full expansion potential (seat usage) 

#4 Build out actions your team should take in each playbook

Each of these CSM playbooks requires a nuanced human touch point, where the CSM comes into Pocus, reviews their prioritized opportunities in the inbox, and takes the appropriate actions.

#5 Operationalize and measure results with your team

Once playbooks are set up in Pocus, CSMs can onboard on to the Inbox. The Pocus Inbox is where the CSM team checks in every morning, it has their highest priority customers organized by playbook ready for them to take actions.

This has simplified the CSM workflow from reconciling data across multiple tools (Data Warehouse, CRM, Zendesk, Stripe, etc.) to one source of truth with proactive alerts on where to focus.

The Results

  • Reduce time wasted looking for data. CSMs now have access to proactive insights about their customers instead of digging across multiple sources to reconcile what is happening within a single account. 
  • Run offense instead of defense. With insights readily available to the CSM team, OpenPhone can now run an offensive playbook. By proactively monitoring for specific signals, the team can get in front of customers with the right message instead of reactively engaging after something has already happened.  

About the Author

Giancarlo is currently Head of Sales and Success at OpenPhone where he's helped to build and scale their PLG revenue organization. Prior to OpenPhone, Giancarlo spent seven years at Pinterest in various go-to-market leadership roles. Having been in adtech the last 10 years, Giancarlo was eager to apply his knowledge to the B2B SaaS space.

About the Author

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