The Power of Churned Customer Interviews

Gemma Cipriani-Espineira

Churned Customer interviews are some of the most powerful tools for CS leaders.

I always find these meetings so insightful and strongly encourage others to dedicate time to them. I aim for at least 1 per week to ensure I am keeping a strong pulse on customer sentiment and pain points.

When I first started running these meetings, I struggled to get the format right. How do I find a way to separate these from “win back” calls? How do I trade my “fixer” hat for an “understand your problems” hat? I started by mapping the process that happens after a customer churns. The AMs responsible for the win-back call. After that call happens and notes are logged and verified with the CSM, I reach out for the churned customer interview.

I considered how much more valuable these interviews would be if they were run by a third party since I am inherently a biased party in the equation. I sought out templates to sound less partial. I found Jeanne Bliss’ “Lost and Lapsed Customer Calling Process” incredibly helpful:

1. Initiate the conversation: “Can you please tell me what happened?”

2. Probe for detail: “Would you be willing to tell me more about your experience?” Repeat back what is said and clarify.

3. Earn the right to help: “Would you accept help to resolve any issues?”

4. Close the conversation: Sorry and thank you

I took this template and built it into Churn Reporting playbooks in my CS tools. It helped with prioritizing churn and identifying where to invest company resources and enablement to fight churn. Job well done I thought…

That was until I sat on the other side of a churned customer call with Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight

Nick knew I was a previous Gainsight customer who had opted for another CS tool in my new role at Chili Piper. He had one question and one question only: 

  1. I want you to help me build a SWOT analysis of Gainsight.

And we spent the next 30 minutes going through my take on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on my experience as a previous customer and churned prospect. It was devastatingly simple and effective. Nick is a CEO, he has plenty of people who could have done this for him but he decided to prioritize it himself. I felt like my feedback was worth something.

And to top it off, he followed up with a personalized “thank you for your time” bottle of bubbly. 

Unsurprisingly, Gainsight’s playbooks and human-first approach set new standards for the rest of us. 

We're sharing these experiences with our network for anyone who needs inspiration on how to level up your churned customer interviews. And to thank Nick for continuing to be the gracious trailblazer that he is for the CS world.

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Gemma Cipriani-Espineira
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