There is a reason why car manufacturers strongly recommend that you regularly give your vehicle for periodic maintenance once every 12 months or after every 5,000 miles of driving. If you don’t—you run the risk of incurring engine malfunctions which usually turn out to be costlier than the periodic check-up costs.
Running a SaaS business is surprisingly similar to keeping your car running healthy. If you have a customer success team that regularly checks in with your customers, you will build a revenue engine that gives you great mileage and runs smoothly.
But if you don’t have a system to regularly check in with your customers, your relationship with them suffers and you will soon run into problems that can lead to a high degree of churn. There is, however, a huge difference between calling up your customers for a monthly check-in as a cursory gesture versus actually checking in with them to understand how they are doing.
Through this post, let’s look at how to run customer check-ins meaningfully.
Firstly, why should you run check-in meetings?
Regular check-ins with your customers are critical in helping your business deepen your customer relationships, align better to the workflow and goals of your customer, and identify potential growth opportunities.
A typical customer success check-in meeting is an opportunity to:
1. Understand how a customer uses your product
Customer check-in conversations are in some ways like a user research meeting. It’s the primary source of understanding product-customer fit, because these conversations are often show-and-tell sessions of how your product fits into the customer’s workflow, and gaps if any. These interactions help you understand how your customers are using your product, how happy (or sad) they are about it, or if they need any help along the way.
2. Identify expansion opportunities
Everybody likes a good follow-up—especially if they are paying customers of a SaaS business. Customers perceive regular check-ins as a sign of appreciation and care. Unlike the traditional form of customer service where customers are expected to contact the service desk and raise a support ticket, customer success check-in meetings offer a proactive and delightful customer experience that fosters deeper relationships.
And if you’re in SaaS, you know that with account management, your payback period comes down. That's because, the longer a customer stays with you, the higher are your chances of account expansion.
3. Reduce churn
Customer churn has almost become synonymous with SaaS. One of the biggest reasons why customers churn is not because of feature parity, but because of unresolved problems and bad customer experience. For instance, it could be because of a lack of seamless sales to customer success handoff, where the Customer Success Manager (CSM) is not aware of the promises made by the account executive in the deal stage.
For starters, as a CSM, you need to be in the conversation loop across the sales cycle so everyone has enough context. By setting up a regular customer check-in cadence, you can start seeing potential churn signals much in advance and take action on time.
Running effective customer success check-in meetings
Customer success check-ins done to check off your to-do list isn’t of much help. How you conduct your check-in conversation matters. Based on our experience, we’ve put together four tips that will help you prepare and run your check-in meetings in an efficient and effective manner.
1. Having a clear agenda
Agendaless meetings are rookie mistakes that customer success teams—actually, every business team—should avoid like a plague. When meetings lack agenda, they have corresponding outcomes, i.e. they lack action.
Creating meeting agenda is not about scripting your entire meeting. Having an agenda can be as simple as having a structure to your conversation—a list of points you want to touch upon during the course of your conversation.
It typically can be a set of bullet points such as:
- Use case (how a customer is using your product)
- Feedback (their experience with your product)
- Pain point (any issues they might have)
- Positives (what they love about your product)
- Action items from the conversation
The ultimate purpose of setting an agenda for a check-in meeting is to be able to gather important information, without missing out on covering any topic.
Here’s how a check-in template created on Avoma looks like:
Avoma’s conversation intelligence platform ensures that you can focus on the conversation, while the AI takes notes for you and smartly categorizes it under each of the bulleted topics (so that you needn’t be distracted from the conversation to take notes).
However, depending on how busy your schedule is—you are not going to be able to create a specific agenda for every check-in meeting. And that’s where Avoma really comes in handy. Based on your meeting purpose Avoma automatically assigns the right meeting agenda template to the right meeting, so that you can be ready for meetings in no time.
2. Share important updates
Exchanging important updates about each other is a great way to break the ice and jump straight to the point every time you get on a check-in call. We recommend you start every customer success check-in meeting on a positive note. For example, congratulate the customer for crossing an important milestone pertaining to their product usage or let them know about a new feature rollout that they had been asking for.
In addition to setting the tone for the entire meeting, this gesture will encourage the customer to really open up about their experience with your brand.
If you don’t have anything relevant to share with the customer, that’s ok. Don’t force superficial conversations for the sake of exchanging niceties. Instead, try to fill the void with information that can be useful in the future. For instance, ask the customers about the product experience so far, the highs and the lows of their journey with your product, or a suggestion that they can offer to improve the product’s offering.
Leveraging conversation intelligence can make this part of the check-in meetings really effective. If your team had used a conversation intelligence tool to record and analyze a previous check-in meeting—for example—you can refer to the highlights of that discussion as a conversation starter. Customers appreciate brands that offer contextual interactions that are personalized to their specific experiences.
3. Agree on upcoming meetings or goals
A customer check-in meeting is not a standalone event—it’s one of the several interactions in a series of engagements that your customer success team should have over an extended period of time. Therefore, every check-in meeting should be suffixed with a follow-up event—like agreeing to circle back about an issue or scheduling another meeting next month.
Agreeing on the next interaction also gives you a valid reason for you to contact your customer instead of spamming them with cursory check-ins. Instead of looking for a new excuse to get into your customers’ inbox, you can open a conversation loop by referring to an issue that the customers mentioned during one of the previous meetings.
Most importantly, aligning on the next meeting will keep your customer success team accountable about holding the next meeting and doing their homework before they get on the call. From the customers’ perspective, it’s a warm gesture that makes them feel valued and cared for.
As an extra measure, share the highlights of the meeting with your customer after each check-in to remind your customers of the meeting’s content. You can easily do this in Avoma by pulling out AI-generated summary Notes. These are essentially one-pager bulleted summaries of conversations that the AI automatically generates after each call.
The neat part is—these notes automatically sync to your CRM. Here’s how Notes (on the left half of the screenshot) appear on your Avoma dashboard alongside the full transcript (on the right half):
Share these Notes with your customers after a meeting is over and a few days before your next check-in to remind them of the topics that you discussed.
4. Monitor important insights and patterns
A power-packed meeting starts and ends on a high note. But a check-in meeting is rarely over when you hang up the call. Post-event analysis of a meeting is an equally important part of the meeting lifecycle so that you can curate actionable insights from it.
This is a stage where you collaborate with internal stakeholders to analyze the success of the meeting and prepare the next course of action. For example, CS leaders can take this opportunity to share feedback and coaching tips to CSMs to help them improve their on-call performance. Or, the CSMs can pass on relevant information from the meeting to the product team to help the latter prioritize the right product features.
5. Accelerate your workflow to solve problems quickly
Let’s say your customer talks about a set of product bugs they would like you to fix. You can save a lot of time without having to document their pain points and then raising a helpdesk ticket internally. Use Avoma to simply select the part of the conversation where the customer explains their problem, snip it, and share the crisp 20 or 30 seconds video with your engineering team to get it fixed.
In many ways, the actual job of a CSM begins where the check-in meeting ends because action speaks louder than words. Your customers might be signaling you to critical business information or product issues that you couldn’t stumble upon on your own. Active listening during every customer check-in call, and executing fast on the action items can make a world of difference to your business.
Just like you wouldn’t wait for the check engine light to appear on your car’s dashboard, you shouldn’t wait for your customer relationships to falter to the point of churn to start running customer success check-in meetings.
Take proactive measures and set up formal processes to hold regular customer check-ins to avoid possible damages to your business growth. Tackling churn proactively is at the core of subscription business.
Let’s keep it going!