What we love about the customer success journey phenomenon is that it captures the entire lifecycle that your customer goes through — from the initial purchase to independently using your product. And then comes the epic customer success journey map: a visual representation of the entire customer journey process. This customer journey is ideally broken down into relevant stages and milestones in order to track the journey’s progress and evaluate its success;
- Customer Success
An effective customer success journey requires cooperation and collaboration between various teams and stakeholders. This is why it’s important to map out the process into different stages, each of which come together to facilitate a smooth handoff of responsibilities between teams, without milestones falling through the cracks. This cohesive process will also ensure that each of your customers gets a homogenous experience that can be successfully replicated for future customers as well.
Having a customer success journey map allows you to set customer experience standards that are built on an ideal blueprint of the journey your customers will undertake.
Here are specific steps you can take to make this happen smoothly:
- Draw up separate maps to reflect the current and the ideal journey.
- Subsequently, can work on aligning the current journey to the ideal case.
Having these segments all mapped out improves the efficiency of the whole process and helps individual teams set their own KPIs, based on their responsibilities within the customer journey.
And the advantages don’t end there;
Having a journey map allows your organization to build step-by-step relationships with your customers, despite the shifting of internal stakeholders across the journey. This means that customer relationships will get deeper over time, and prevent the need for members across different teams to start building a relationship afresh each time they take over a customer account.
Drawing up a customer success journey map
Customer lifecycle journey mapping is a complex and iterative process. This complexity can be explained by the fact that each customer lifecycle progression is subject to change over time and you may need to tweak your customer success journey from time to time. Keeping this in mind, it's important to map out the basic stages and individual stakeholders responsible for each stage’s execution. This will help your teams understand their responsibilities across the different customer success lifecycle stages — leading to more effective collaboration while simultaneously improving the overall customer experience.
You first need to identify the key stages in your customer’s journey and then delegate those stages to the relevant teams. As the next step, you can plot the various routes of knowledge, information, and document transfer across each stage. You’ll then be able to choose the appropriate metrics you’ll be using to track progress and satisfaction across every individual stage.
To take it a step further, you can also add estimated time frames for each stage’s completion. This will ensure the punctuality of each customer onboarding process so that it then results in production adoption in a timely manner. The timeframes for each stage can vary far and wide, based on your industry and product workflow.
How to Use EverAfter’s Customer Journey Template for the Ideal Customer Journey Paradigm
The task of plotting the ideal customer journey may seem daunting when you’re just getting started. To alleviate this challenge, you can use the customer journey template as a starting point, as it outlines the responsibilities of various stakeholders within your company, covering every stage your customers will go define your current customer journey into effective, workable stages with designated KPIs. The template covers everything right from the initial touch points to the final stage: where the customer success team handles the account till posterity.
The plotted stages of the customer journey in the template can be heavily customized to your product and service workflow. You can initially use the broad stages highlighted, and then further break them down as and when the operational need arises. The template will serve as a good starting point which you can then tweak and revamp according to your unique workflow and operational requirements.
As we specified earlier, the ideal SaaS customer journey generally follows the following paradigm:
Stage 1: Prospecting
The prospecting stage encompasses the search for new customers and probing the demand among potential leads, in order to close meaningful accounts. Ideally, the sales and marketing teams lead the prospecting effort: the marketing team tries to bring in qualified leads, while the sales team probes for demand and conducts outbound sales campaigns. During this phase, when potential customers express interest in your product — the marketing and sales work in parallel to increase market awareness of your product.
Stage 2: Purchase
After the prospecting stage, some of the interested prospects will proceed and purchase your product. This is where the sales team fully takes over and sees to the fulfillment of every financial commitment. The sales team also makes sure that the terms and conditions surrounding the purchase are explicitly laid out. Any NDAs or other documents that need to be signed are usually signed at this stage, wherein the sales team receives all the paperwork and contracts required to transfer the account.
Stage 3: Onboarding
After the money has changed hands and all the paperwork is in order, the sales team hands over everything to the customer onboarding team and introduces the customer to the onboarding team on the kick-off call. Then, the customer onboarding team takes over the entire process and ensures that the customers learn and adopt the product. The onboarding process itself can be subdivided into multiple stages.
- Kick-off - The kick-off call is the first call between the customer and the customer onboarding team. The sales team usually joins the call and makes an official introduction. Before the kick-off, the customer onboarding team receives all relevant documentation from the sales team and performs background research about the client’s business. On the call, the customer onboarding team lays out the customer onboarding journey map. The onboarding plan is ideally shared with the customer using some form of a document or by using an immersive, two-way onboarding hub.
- Initial Setup - The initial setup involves setting up an account for your client and migrating any pre-existing data that they may have. This can be done during the kick-off call or after, depending on the workflow of your product and the volume of data that needs to be migrated.
- Training - The training phase is the most critical phase in the onboarding phase; During this stage, the onboarding team trains the customer on how to use the product. Moreover, the onboarding team must brief the customers on how to derive the maximum value from your product so that they experience a better return on their investment. The effectiveness of the training will determine how well your customers adopt your product.
- Adoption - After your customers have been trained on how to use the product, they will start using your product for their operational needs. Your onboarding team should initially monitor the usage and adoption level in order to gauge your customers’ comfort level with your product and guide them wherever necessary to ensure a smooth adoption process.
- Transfer to Customer Success - Once your onboarding team is reasonably confident that your newly trained customer has started adopting the product and can use the product independently, then the account is transferred to the customer success team. The onboarding team hands over all the relevant documents to the customer success team. It also gives the customer success team an update on the progress made and the current health of the account.
Stage 4: Customer Success
The customer success team retains the account for the rest of its life cycle and aims to improve the lifetime value of accounts by upselling and cross-selling. Additionally, the Customer Success Team is also responsible for timely renewals and it targets to close renewals at a higher price than before.
The customer success team is also responsible for monitoring and maintaining the health of all customers. They probe for new business opportunities and accordingly sell new features and help in building new solutions. Monitoring the health of accounts is important in order to predict and prevent churn and also to gauge customer satisfaction levels. The Customer Success Team is the voice of the customer and feedback from this team should be used to improve the product and internal processes.
Tracking the Customer Journey
The customer journey needs to be tracked right from the moment the account is sold and all throughout its lifetime. A customer journey map allows you to break down the journey into manageable stages but that in itself might not be enough unless you monitor certain customer journey metrics.
The classic customer onboarding metrics like NPS and CSAT scores can be used to evaluate customer satisfaction and account health at various stages throughout the customer journey. To take the tracking of customer journey a few steps further, you can also track the following:
- The Reach of Product Adoption - Tracking the reach of product adoption is a good way to assess how well the customer journey is going. Higher adoption effectively means that your customers are able to use your product to their benefit, and this result increases product dependency in the long term, aka customer retention. Increased product dependency leads to reduced risk of churn and better overall customer satisfaction.
- Customer Engagement - This is a good metric to track in order to evaluate how satisfied your customers are with the services that you’re providing. You can track how your customers are engaging with your product and how they’re interacting with your marketing outreach or emails. Additionally, you can also take feedback from the customer success team regarding customer sentiment and engagement that they experienced on customer calls.
- Objective Fulfillment - You can track how well your products and services enable your clients to fulfill their objectives and alleviate pain points. This metric clarifies where you need to optimize your product or re-train your customers in order for them to derive even greater product value.
- Analyze Support Tickets - Especially during high-touch processes, your customers will often reach out to your support channels when they have a query or problem to solve. Thus, support ticket data can serve as an information repository which can also shed light on how to optimize your software and your customer success practices. You can run analytics to find out what the top issues and queries are, and subsequently work on solving them preemptively for the new customers that sign up. Support tickets also help you understand how well your customers are using your product at different stages throughout their journey.
Customer Journey mapping is an important exercise that can help you provide a homogenous experience to all your customers which can be successfully replicated. It helps in laying out responsibilities and assessing customer satisfaction throughout the journey.
Another advantage is that it helps improve collaboration across teams and brings a certain degree of order to the onboarding and customer success procedures. You can start small with a basic customer journey roadmap and then heavily customize it to your company’s workflow.