How to Take Better Meeting Notes & Increase Productivity During Customer Calls

Learn how to take better and more detailed notes during customer calls that will boost your productivity and deliverables as a CSM.

As a CSM, being able to build a strategy that will deliver value to your customers is one of the most important aspects of your role. Yet, something even more important is being able to execute a strategy and lead your customers to achieving their desired outcome(s).  A desired outcome, in the simplest of terms, is the end goal or business objective the customer is hoping to achieve with a given product or service. 

During the customer journey, you will have multiple touch points with your customer, for instance, emails, DMs, and customer calls or meetings. It is during the customer calls and meetings that you will get the opportunity to interact the most with your champion and key stakeholders. Additionally, during these meetings, CSMs should take the lead with their customers' journey and move towards their desired outcome. Ultimately, every meeting should contain an added value for the customer, and most importantly it should set the stage for the next milestone or objective.

There are multiple actions a CSM can take to improve their meeting deliverables and productivity. Nonetheless, it is impossible to do so without having high-quality actionable notes that clearly detail:

  • Who is responsible for what?
  • When can the customer expect this to be done?
  • Why are these of value to the customer? 

In this article, I’ll share my main takeaways on how you can take better and more detailed notes during customer calls that will boost your productivity and deliverables as a CSM.

Meeting Notes or Meeting Minutes: Which to use?

Before deciding which one to use, let’s first understand the difference between meeting notes and meeting minutes:

  • Meeting Notes: Brief notes about the important items that were discussed during the meeting without any specific timestamp. Meeting notes are mainly used for personal reference. 
  • Meeting Minutes: These are formal and detailed transcripts of the meeting, including the main action items and takeaways. Meeting minutes are mainly used for team members or customers that couldn't attend the meeting.

Now that we know the differences of each, which one is better to use? For this particular purpose, CSMs should be using a meeting note format as it allows them unlimited flexibility on how they keep track of the most important items of a meeting and what the next steps are.

How to take effective meeting notes during customer calls

To write effective meeting notes, first identify what components are needed to have a meeting summary that will be effective. 

"For me, I like to break it down into sections or stages first. Then pan out what key items I need from each section or stage of the meeting," - Enrique Roth, Head of Customer Success at Solidify

Prior to the meeting

The list below pinpoints the key pieces of information that you should pull prior to your meeting with a customer as it will allow you to effectively prepare for the meeting.

  • Meeting Title: What is the meeting about? Examples: QBR, Training, KO, etc.
  • Date: This will allow us to document the customer journey and have a timeframe we can refer to later on. 
  • Attendees: Who will be attending the meeting (internal & external)? Listing out the attendees will allow you to prepare keynotes in advance on the people that will be attending, and also attribute any main items that were mentioned during the meeting to the right person to be used in the next meeting(s).

During Meeting

These are the main items that will be discussed during the meeting, but for each of the items, we need to have a clear understanding of what our deliverable goals are and document what the customer’s feedback was for each item. For customer feedback, be sure to document their reactions, if they consider it important or not, or if they fully grasped the value or not. All of these notes will be a key component in, not only improving your deliverables with that customer as you move forward in the customer journey, but also with any future customer you will work with.

Post-Meeting

You managed to deliver your meeting on a high note, now it’s time to use that to keep the positive momentum going. Have a detailed response for the following questions:

  • What are the next action items?
  • Who is accountable for executing them? E.g. CSM, Customer, Product, Support, R&D
  • When should these be completed?
  • Why are they of value to the customer?

Customer Meeting Notes Template

If we follow the guidelines mentioned above, a meeting template should look somewhat like this:

Pre-Meeting

  • Meeting Title: “Your Company Name”/Customer: KO Call
  • Date: MM-DD-YYYY
  • Link to Customer Account: CRM and/or CSM software
  • List out attendees, stating the relevance and title for each person. For Example, John Smith: Relevance (champion, stakeholder, decision maker, power-user, advisor, etc.) - Title

During Meeting:

Items that will be discussed should have the following components mapped so that you can later reference the notes to optimize:

  • What message do I want to get across? - Was the message successfully delivered or not, and why?
  • Why is it important? - Did the customer see the value in it or not, and why?
  • How will I deliver it? - Was your deliverable successful or does it need optimization?
  • What is the expected outcome? - How far away from your expected outcome were you? How can we close the gap?

Post-Meeting:

Clearly communicate and get confirmation from your customer on the follow-up action items by detailing:

  • What are the next steps?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • When should next steps an/or deliverables be completed?
  • Why is it important for the customer?

Tips for writing customer meeting notes

Regardless if you’re writing the meeting notes on paper or digitally, the goal is to have a format or template that you’re used to. Additionally, a format or template that enables you to easily find and repurpose the key items of the meeting is critical as the important parts and takeaways from each meeting should be later added into a CRM or CSM Software for future references, training purposes, reporting, handovers, etc. Another tip for meeting note taking is utilizing the notes capability in the Vitally Customer Success platform. This was created with the intention of developing effective note taking, allowing users the ability to templatize their note formats, tagging, categorizing and teammate mentions. 

Tips on running a productive meeting/call with customers

In this section, CSMs can learn about some additional tips on how to stay productive during customer meetings, improve customer experience, and more. 

Prep

  • Have a clear list of the top 3-5 outcomes you want to achieve with this meeting. Each meeting should be built with those outcomes in mind.
  • Identify how this meeting will be of value to the customer.
  • Who is attending the meeting and how can I build or strengthen my/my company’s relationship with them?
  • Have a clear outline of what items will be discussed and you I will deliver them. In other words, build the story.

During

  • Always remember, the meeting is for your customers, so pay close attention to what they say, their body language, what questions they are asking, and most importantly, don’t forget to ask them what they think of what you’re presenting. Asking their opinion on what is presented to them will be the only way for you to tailor the meetings to what your customers are looking for.
  • Write down any important action items, feedback, or questions that are mentioned during the call as you will use them to align on the next steps with the customer in the follow-up meeting. 

How to nail the meeting follow-up

  • Before wrapping up the meeting—go over the next steps, any action or open items that have arisen, any additional questions, and coordinate along with your customer to set a plan in motion to get closer to achieving their desired outcome. 
  • Note: Momentum is key, so make sure to be clear on the “w’s” – what, who, when, and why.
  • Extra Note: In addition to the Vitally platform’s note taking capabilities, users can take it to the next level taking better track of next steps by creating tasks and creating projects for even bigger tasks. 

Once you find your way for creating meeting note templates that enable you to identify the key items and develop an execution plan from them, then it’s only a matter of repetition and refining until you reach a point that you will improve every deliverable during customer meetings.

Remember to work closely with your customers, making sure you understand their challenges, objectives, and business goals. This empowers you to continuously provide added value to your customer calls and meetings by always enabling them to achieve their desired outcome.

Every CSM is different, so finding the meeting note taking method that works best is unique to each person. That is something that Vitally recognized when creating the note capability in the Vitally platform, so each user has the opportunity to create a meeting note structure that fits their needs and then templatize that meeting note format to easily repurpose for future meetings. A templated meeting note format can ensure that each meeting includes the following key takeaways: 

  • What are the next action items?
  • Who is accountable for executing them? (Ex. CSM/Customer/Product/Support/R&D)
  • When should these be completed?
  • Why are they of value to the customer?

Additionally, there is immense value to having all of the customer meeting notes, projects, data, action items, and next steps housed in once place. This eliminates possible confusion on the current status of a customer project, clarifies future actions, and keeps CS teams productive and on track to achieving their customers desired outcomes. Lastly, make sure to check out the Vitally platform and request a demo to see how Vitally can transform your CS organization.

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