It stands out like Prince Harry at a royal function.
It’s in bold type, masquerading as some strategic touchpoint, scattered throughout the customer engagement or success plan in so many startups.
It’s the “Customer Check-in Call.”
Yuk! It’s a bugbear I can’t overlook. Rarely have I seen any value from Account Managers (or Customer Success Managers) making customer check-in calls based on some arbitrary time-frame.
As a startup leader, you should consider it time wasted. Talented staff playing cat and mouse with the customer point-of-contact to nail down the elusive “check-in” call. Whatever that is.
As a customer, it can be infuriating, too. The notion of someone checking-in can feel disruptive and like a hindrance to progress. It reminds me of my teenage years and Mum “checking-in” on my girlfriend and I as we watched a movie upstairs on the couch. The only purpose of Mum’s touch-point was to make sure she was in front of mind — an outcome much more in her interest than mine. Trust me.
“Maybe you don’t have to go all Minority Report-like and precisely predict the future… well actually….yes, that should be a stretch goal.”
It’s 2020, and every subscription-based SaaS business should have a better strategy for contacting customers than a hope to be constantly in their thoughts. Instead, you should be capturing an abundance of data.
As early as you can in your startup, start instrumenting and capturing customer usage data from your SaaS solution. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do. Instrument everything. You should know every checkbox your customer toggled on and off. Every login and session time. Things they try to do that don’t work. Things they aren’t doing that would work. If a user sneezes while using your app — find a way to know about it.
This data — and the learnings you’ll obtain from it — is more powerful than every check-in that’s ever been done. Ever. This data gives your team the almighty superpower of context. Using context, you’ll know exactly when and why to connect with your customers. With some great analysis, you’ll uncover propensity insights that’ll indicate when a customer is likely to need you. Often, you’ll reach out to them before they even fully comprehend they wanted you to. It’ll just feel like the magic of your customer experience.
Maybe you don’t have to go all Minority Report-like and precisely predict the future… well actually….yes, that should be a stretch goal. With the right data and analysis, you can certainly get close. Put on a Tom Cruise voice if it helps.
Instead of check-ins, do this.
- Ensure well-defined, meaningful milestones aligned to your customer achieving value, and measurable with your instrumentation, are set up in your onboarding process.
- Have black and white criteria (i.e. not grey subjective wishy-washy stuff) to define when a customer meets the milestone and when they are at risk of not achieving.
- Use data and automation tools to alert account/success managers when milestones are met, likely to be met or at risk of not being met. Trigger actions for CSMs at each of these points — using these actions to drive customer touchpoints.
This results in your customer interactions being more timely and relevant. Calls no longer go like this: “Hi, this is Sarah, I was just calling to check-in on things.” Instead, they sound like this: “Hi, this is Sarah, I can see you’re going live tomorrow, and I just noticed you have some configurations which aren’t best practice which I thought we could quickly fix together.”
Magical, don’t you think?
Context is king when it comes to high-value customer interactions — particularly in a subscription lifecycle.
Leave “check-ins” at the airport.