Many coaches — for example, fitness coaches, nutritionists, sleep coaches, and more — struggle with how to keep their clients accountable. It’s hard to create an automatic process for checking in with clients on a daily basis to make sure they’re on the right track.
Coaches that only check in with their clients every few days or once a week (instead of daily) may find the following situation familiar:
Say a health and wellness coach is on a call with a client. The client says something along the lines of, “I’m going to start meditating on a daily basis.” But this never actually gets done, and it falls away until the next check-in call a few days later.
This used to be a problem for Mollie McGlocklin, the owner of Sleep Is A Skill (a company that helps people optimize their sleep through technology, accountability, and behavioral change methods).
Mollie thought it was important to have a set of questions sent out to her clients everyday to increase accountability, make sure they’re taken care of, and get a picture of how things are going. From there, you can course correct, and either amplify what’s working, or edge out what’s not.
Doing so on a daily basis (instead of once a week) is very important for implementing behavioral change methods effectively. The challenge, particularly with an insidious area like sleep, is that you normally have to track and take into account so many factors:
Light/darkness exposure, meal timing, movement timing, thought timing, consistency methods, morning/evening rituals, and so on…
There’s a lot of things that go into improving sleep. And in order to make behavioral changes last, you typically need (1) time and (2) a feedback loop that helps people become clear on how to improve, instead of getting easily discouraged, and potentially giving up on improving their sleep.
If you’re uniquely attuned to your client’s behavioral habits on a daily basis, instead of once a week, then that feedback loop becomes more constant, and consequently, more effective. Daily check-ins create a greater likelihood for your clients to implement your recommendations, not give up easily, and achieve behavioral changes that last.
In this article, we share how Mollie built an automated daily check-in system for her sleep coaching clients.
But the lessons and benefits in this post are irrespective of what kind of coach it is. They apply equally well to fitness coaches, life coaches, nutritionists, and anyone that thinks their clients could benefit from answering daily check-in questions.
How to Implement a Daily Check-In System That Actually Works?
At first glance, it may seem simple to implement a daily check-in system. Just type your daily check-in questions on a Google Doc, for example, and tell your client to answer them everyday. However, every coach knows that most clients, left on their own, will not consistently update logs and recordings — a system that prompts or triggers them to update is essential.
Mollie knew that there had to be something more effective than asking her clients to fill out a doc and hoping they follow through.
Originally, she tried building a text messaging system where daily check-in questions automatically get sent out to clients. Unlike Google Docs, they’d get an alert on their phone everyday, and would be more likely to fill out the answers. However, it was difficult to set up technically and automate.
So she set out to find a better way. Mollie knew that there had to be some tool or software that removes the technical challenges that come with building a text messaging system, and allows her to send daily check-in questions to clients automatically (without her having to do it manually every time).
After some trial and error, Mollie came across Geekbot, which she used to automatically send daily check-in questions to clients.
With Geekbot, clients wouldn’t only receive 1 alert on their phone — instead, if they wanted, they had the option to receive multiple reminders every few hours if the answers hadn’t been completed yet. So if they dismissed the first reminder because they were busy, then a second or third reminder may come at a later, more convenient time (when they’re done with that task and have time to answer the questions).
In the interview, Mollie said, “The ease of use of Geekbot and the customer service was incredible because I was putting together an automatic daily check-in system, which can get technically challenging. But Geekbot’s product was intuitive and easy-to-use. I could easily change the setup and functionality. And anytime I was struggling with something, Geekbot’s team went above and beyond to help. Having that guidance along the way was really invaluable. Between ease of use and customer service, I felt really taken care of. So it has become a real cornerstone of working with my private one-on-one clients.”
In this article, we’ll detail (1) exactly how Mollie used Geekbot to build an automated system to check in with clients on a daily basis, and (2) unique insights on the reasons behind her daily check-in process and system.
Logistics: How to Set Up a Daily Check-In System with Geekbot
With Geekbot, you can configure a set of check-in questions to automatically be sent out to clients via Slack using a bot.
As you can see above, the bot makes the check-in experience feel conversational by sending out questions one at a time, so the client feels like they’re communicating with an actual person and sending messages back and forth (instead of just answering the questions in one go, which feels more cold and non-personal).
You can also benefit from Slack’s messaging function, and it’s easy to get the client’s attention through instant notifications.
1st Step: Decide Which Check-In Questions You’d Like to Send to Your Client
This part of the process depends entirely on the specific program that you and your client have created over the phone or in a face-to-face session.
Some of the questions that Mollie sent were:
- Would you call your sleep last night sufficient?
- Did you hit your goal wind down time +/- 30 minutes? If no, what could you do differently tonight?
- Did you experience negative self-talk last night? If so, what was the dominant complaint? What is one action you could take to improve this primary concern?
- What will your morning routine look like today?
A personal trainer or fitness coach may send questions like this:
- What were your macros for yesterday?
- Did you get your workout in?
- How is your energy level today?
A mental health professional may ask:
- How would you describe your mood and energy level today?
- Which activities did you complete today to help you relax?
With Geekbot, the questions are completely customizable, and you can send whatever number of check-in questions you want, which will vary depending on who the client is and what the program requires.
According to Mollie, “What I really like about Geekbot is that I’m able to shift the daily questions periodically with ease for each client. So every couple of phone calls, there might be new things that we’re cuing into, and that we’re going to be focusing on for that month, or those couple of weeks. I’m able to go right into Geekbot’s dashboard, and very intuitively change their setups, and add new check-in questions if needed.”
2nd Step: Configure Geekbot’s Settings
Once you settle on a set of questions to be sent out to a client, it’s time to configure Geekbot to automatically send those questions on a daily basis, so you don’t have to waste time doing it manually.
We created a “Getting Started” user guide, which you can check out here.
3nd Step: Client Receives and Answers Daily Check-In Questions
Once the daily check-in questions get sent out, your client receives a mobile notification via Slack, alerting them that the questions are ready to be answered.
They can type out the answers with ease via their Slack app. Then, the answers are published inside Slack in a channel that’s visible to both the coach and the client.
The answers can be sent out in private Slack channels.
This means that the coach can use one central system of communication with their clients but also protect their privacy and personal information.
You can customize personal reminder settings and set how often (if at all) Geekbot sends clients mobile notifications when they haven’t completed their answers.
For example, let’s say the daily check-in questions get sent out to a client at 3:00 PM everyday. But they’re busy, dismiss the questions, and forget about them. In that case, you can set a reminder to go out to them at 4:00 PM (after 1 hour) and another one after 2 hours at 6:00 PM. This is just one example, and the reminder time intervals are completely customizable. You can configure Geekbot to remind them after 30 mins, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 5 hours, and 8 hours.
This feature is one of the main reasons why Geekbot is so effective for creating habit behavioral change using daily check-ins. Clients often get deep into work or other activities, so they can easily forget about the questions. But mobile reminders throughout the day keep the check-in top of mind, which ensures it actually gets done, and in turn, improves the client’s results.
Creating Daily Dialogue with Clients Inside Slack
After a client completes the check-in questions, you have the option to chat through the Slack app, comment on specific answers if needed, and start a conversation.
During our discussion, Mollie emphasized, “Geekbot helps create a dialogue, because I can respond to individual daily answers. And then my clients feel supported because they can see that someone is actually reading their daily log, tracking their progress, and caring about their results.”
Here’s an example of a daily check-in report, where a client answers a certain question, and a coach chooses to chime in with a reply:
If a client isn’t on top of their diet and sleep, for example, then the coach could share encouraging words. This can boost the client’s morale and discourage them from getting frustrated and giving up on the process.
Maintaining a daily dialogue helps clients feel supported, and they sense they have a partner in crime in this area of life they’re taking on. Mollie knew how important this was first hand. “My company came out of my own troubles with sleep. For many years, I was this night owl who was going to bed super late. And that was fine until I actually struggled in my own period of insomnia. During that period, I felt so alone and embarrassed that I was having a problem with sleep.”
So it was part of Mollie’s commitment to build something she didn’t have during that period, so that her clients could feel supported on a daily basis, know they have someone on their side at all times, and get through the mental struggles that come with sleep issues.
How Mollie Handled the Concern of Onboarding Clients to Slack
When Mollie first found out about Geekbot, she was excited because it’s uniquely suited for something like sleep, since it often requires the use of behavioral change methods. A daily check-in system would help clients build the right habits more easily and stay accountable. Geekbot automated the process and ensured clients didn’t forget to fill out the answers using mobile alerts/notifications throughout the day.
However, she was concerned about facing difficulties onboarding clients who are not familiar with this kind of process using Slack and Geekbot (especially older clientele that are less technical). That’s the reason that she originally thought about building an automated text messaging check-in system, to remove some of that onboarding.
However, in the interview, Mollie mentioned, “With Geekbot, my experience has been that once you get over the initial hump of getting everything set up, it becomes really reflexive for clients. There are a few times when clients get confused at the beginning, but largely, once they get the hang of it, this becomes such a part of their daily routine that it isn’t much of a problem.”
Mollie’s oldest client using this app is 70 years old, and he loves it. He’s very entrepreneurial and sprightly. And he’ll always say, “Can you add this new question or that new question to Sleepbot”, which is his nickname for the tool. “He continually thinks of different things he wants to be tracking, and then has me see if he completes it or not. So it’s really cool in his eyes, and it helps gamify this area of sleep, where many people have been resigned about and frustrated. Geekbot brings a sense of partnership and play/curiosity. It’s really wonderful for behavioral change and offers the opportunity for clients to celebrate their progress.”
During the interview, Mollie also said, “I’m able to go right into Geekbot’s dashboard, and very intuitively know how to change different client’s setups, and add new check-in questions, depending on the client’s specific needs. I found it really easy to use, whereas some of the other bots that I had tried before felt clunky. Things would break, the functionality was confusing, and there were just a lot of extra layers. With Geekbot, everything is simple and intuitive, and it feels like I can simply focus on the goal, which is to help people really make a difference in their sleep. Having frequent touch points on a daily basis allows you to understand why clients are struggling in real time. And it’s really important to ensure that we maintain a conversation so they don’t drop the ball on something and stay accountable.”
Using Geekbot to Build a Community of All Your Clients
We asked Mollie if she plans on extending what she does with the tool in the future.
She answered, “I plan on doing small group activities so there’s more interactivity. Because right now, it’s a very insular experience where it’s just one on one. Whereas naturally, there’s an opportunity for people to play off of the group dynamics and improve commitment around their sleep, because you see other people doing it too.”
For example, with Geekbot, you have the option (if you’d like) to publish answers in a public Slack area that is visible to multiple clients:
So aside from private and personal one-on-one check ins, you could send out a separate set of questions meant for a group.
It could be as simple as, “What’s one thing you did today to help you relax?”
Once the responses flow in, clients can learn from each other, get introduced to ideas they hadn’t thought of before, and implement unique new habits into their lives. It makes the process of improving sleep less lonely and introduces a social/collaborative component.
Summary of Geekbot Benefits for Coaches
Using Geekbot enables automated prompting for daily check-ins, which can be transformative if you compare it with what most coaches do, which is email their clients and ask for an update every few days (or weekly).
Calls are still an essential part of the process, but clients can drop the ball in those 7 days and break habits without you knowing (and potentially stepping in to help). That’s why it’s important to stay uniquely attuned to your client’s behavioral habits on a daily basis and keep them accountable.
Geekbot can help make the daily check-in process effective for several reasons:
- Saves Time
If you perform check-ins frequently on a daily basis, then it saves time relative to a call, or typing out the check-in questions manually and sending them out via email.
- Ensures More Responsiveness
It’s easy for clients to forget about the daily check-in questions, because they get too busy or caught up in everyday life. But with Geekbot, clients can receive multiple mobile notifications throughout the day if the questions are left unanswered. So if they dismiss the first reminder because they’re in the middle of a task, then a second or third reminder may come at a later, more convenient time (when they’re done with that task and have time to answer the questions).
- Build a Community
Allows you to build a community of all of your clients in addition to private, one-on-one check ins. Clients can start helping each other while feeling more motivated to improve their results as part of the group dynamic.
- Allows for Dialogue
After a client completes the check-in questions, you have the option to chat, comment on specific answers, and start a conversation. As Mollie mentioned, “Geekbot helps create a dialogue, because I can respond to individual daily threads. And then my clients can see that someone is actually reading their daily log, tracking their progress, and caring about their results”. So they feel less lonely, and they have someone on their side everyday to ensure they’re in a healthy mental space.
Frequently asked questions
What is a check in meeting?
Check in meeting is a type of meeting that coaching professionals and other specialists use for regularly reaching out and engaging with their clients to keep them accountable. The goal of the meeting is to ensure that clients are on the right track, set next goals, or identify current struggles that should be addressed.
How do you begin a meeting?
There’s no one good way to begin a meeting, but one of the best practices is to establish a clear goal of the meeting right away in order to keep all the conversations focused around a certain problem. Sometimes the best way to start a meeting is with an icebreaker question or praise to facilitate the atmosphere of trust and sharing.
What is a good icebreaker question?
Every company should make an effort to create a specific type of icebreaker question that works for their culture. Some examples include: “The best memory of the last week”, “What did you or your team improve over the last week?”, or “What are you going to buy with your next salary?”. Focus on positives to set the right tone for the meeting.