From the moment a customer buys your product or subscribes to your service, they’ve chosen to take a journey with your brand. It’s a journey that promises recurring value, and it’s your job to make sure that every step of the way leaves a positive impression on the customer.
So, how can you understand the customer experience and know when to offer extra support to grow your relationship? Through customer journey mapping.
By mapping the customer journey stages, you can visualize the customer success cycle from the customer’s point of view, including their perceptions of received value and the actions customers take as a result. And that information helps you implement the right customer success strategy.
The Customer Journey Stages, Step by Step
Mapping the customer journey will enable you to follow a customer’s progress through each of the key stages and monitor the use of your product. Plus, you will be able to measure, track, and oversee customer health scores at every stage.
Here are the five steps you must complete when charting the customer journey:
- Determine the stages of the customer lifecycle.
- Customize notifications and health scores.
- Target events and address milestones.
- Automate tasks.
- Gather feedback.
Determine the Stages of the Customer Lifecycle
First, find out where each customer is within their journey. There are three main stages:
- Onboarding: The first step in the customer journey is onboarding. During the first week after the initial subscription, your goal should be to get customers to use the product at least once. Then for the next three weeks or so, get them into the habit of using the product on a regular basis. The onboarding stage is critical in terms of customer retention, so make sure your customer understands all the features of your product and the value it provides. Onboarding covers the amount of time it takes for a customer to start using the product independently, usually about 90 days. However, this phase may be longer or shorter, so continue monitoring and helping the customer until they can use your product’s features.
- Adoption: Once customers recognize the value they receive from your product, fully understand its features and use it on a regular basis, the customer will be an established user. However, don’t forget about customers in the adoption phase, which happens after customers leave the onboarding stage; instead, create nurturance campaigns to increase user engagement, advocacy, and growth. To be sure your customers are doing well, send regular communications such as emails, in-application messages, or educational content. In some cases, you may need to include high-touch or personal, live touch efforts. Each communication should deal with a topic that’s directly related to your product’s value and use, such as addressing common customer questions. Avoid sending trite messages and don’t overload the user with a flood of messages.
- Renewal: All subscription-based products have a renewal period. Depending on your product, this may occur yearly or bi-yearly. You need to know if the customer is having any problems with your product or service that will prevent them from renewing their subscription, so make sure your customer success team reviews any outstanding tickets or bad reviews. This is also a good time to add upsells to accounts that have high customer health scores.
Customize Notifications and Health Scores
A customer health score rates the status of a customer journey and assigns it a numerical value. By making an abstract concept like customer happiness a tangible number, customer journeys become easier to conceptualize and manage. Health scores indicate which customers may be receptive to cross-sell or upsell offers and which ones might require extra attention from your success team.
To make the process easier, use a customer success platform that sends notifications when a customer’s health score changes. That way, your team can immediately take advantage of upsell opportunities and repair low health scores.
Target Events and Address Milestones
Think of journey milestones in terms of customer-centric success. What problems do customers want to solve with your product? What outcomes are they looking for? How would they define success? When you and your customer have a shared definition of success, it becomes much easier to keep them happy.
Milestones vary by industry or product, but typical milestones along the customer journey include pre-sale trials or demos, the initial transaction, onboarding, full product adoption, upsells or cross-sells, and renewal.
Once you have identified the milestones that matter for a particular customer, use a customer success platform to identify when these key events occur and issue an appropriate response. For example, say you’ve upsold a package of additional functionalities for a cloud application. You could respond by sending an automated communication, such as a video showing the top ten ways to apply those new functionalities. Targeting journey milestones ensures customers feel supported as time goes on.
A customer success platform can perform automated tasks along every step of the customer journey. These ensure that events like milestones or changing health scores don’t go overlooked, which is especially important if you have a large number of customers or products spanning multiple channels.
Be sure to choose a customer success platform that can automatically assign tasks to members of your customer success team with due dates. That way, your platform can help you perform account reviews on a regular basis and notify teams of accounts primed for upselling. Such automated features will help keep customer success teams on track and standardize operations across your business.
Customer surveys provide valuable data you can use to provide better experiences for future customers. Or, your data may reveal patterns. Segmentation is a helpful strategy for identifying key customer trends. For example, you could look at churned customers and see if you can find any commonalities between them, such as churning at the same stage in the customer journey. With that information, you could send out a survey designed to shed light on what’s going wrong at this particular step.
Be sure to gather and analyze feedback on a regular basis, such as every quarter. You never know what helpful insights you may end up with.
Map the Customer Journey Stages to Increase ROI
Once you’ve completed these five steps, you can use a customer success platform to create an early warning system. This will help you detect accounts that have a high risk for churning and intervene quickly.
Remember, the customer’s journey doesn’t end at onboarding. In fact, that’s when it’s just beginning. You need to keep a close eye on customers to understand how they are doing with your product and ensure they are happy. By continually nurturing your customers, you can reduce churn, increase revenue, and create a customer success strategy that will retain customers for years to come.
Totango helps you track the customer journey and engage customers at every milestone. Learn how it can help your business become more customer-centered and sustainable. Request a demo or explore Spark, a powerful tool used to support the customer journey in every stage.