Back

A Guide to Customer Journey Optimization

Optimize the customer journey to map out the stages of customer progression and identify ways to add customer value along the way.

Being a customer-centered enterprise means acting as a trusted advisor and helping your customers get greater business value from your product. The aim is to create customer lifetime value by nurturing sustained expansion over time for mutually beneficial growth. But sustained growth is hard to achieve without a clear path forward. 

Customer journey optimization is a way of not only mapping the stages of customer progression but also identifying ways to add customer value along the way. Because the customer journey is not linear, your customers may be split between your sales and customer success team. For example, your customer needs to onboard two new employees while simultaneously working through an upsell with your sales team. By constantly monitoring the customer journey, you can proactively engage your customer to reduce churn and foster a long-term relationship with mutual rewards.

Customer Journey Optimization 101 

With the digitization of business, enterprises must align their goals with those of their customers. Successful enterprises are becoming customer-centered, deriving sustainable recurring value for themselves by delivering recurring value to their customers. Delivering value depends on understanding the customer at every stage of their product journey. Start out by setting a number of measurable goals based on the needs of the customer and your organization. These goals should be tracked, constantly re-evaluated, and adjusted at any stage of the customer journey if it is not providing results.  

In simple terms, you want to accurately understand the current customer experience, then improve it to realize the maximum possible customer lifetime value.

This challenge begins by mapping the road ahead. The customer journey is best understood as four main phases:

  1. Onboarding
  2. Adoption
  3. Renewal
  4. Escalation

Each phase of the customer journey can be optimized through the pursuit of customer-centric goals. These goals are drawn from customer data and should focus on metrics and proactive engagements that have a positive impact on a customer’s experience of value.

1. Onboarding

The primary goal of onboarding is to accelerate the customer’s experience of value. The customer will stay in this phase until they can integrate the product into their everyday workflows and start to realize business value. Until then, the customer needs to feel supported and have access to advice and assistance whenever required.

To provide that support, the customer success team needs to know all it can about the customer. A smooth handover from the sales team should include information on why the customer bought the product, what problem they are trying to solve, and their timeframe expectations. This information, and all future information generated through customer engagements, should be stored and organized in one accessible location. 

This information can be used to personalize and constantly improve the onboarding process. It should guide kick-off talks and be used to prioritize training so that features closely related to the customer’s business goals are adequately covered.

Each onboarding program should build on the lessons of previous successes and failures. The information gathered from previous programs should make it easier to monitor current customers, providing a guide for appropriate time to completion and a warning system for potential bottlenecks. Pairing previous knowledge with current customer monitoring makes it possible to establish achievable goals that define progress toward product familiarity.

Goals to Consider:

  • Consistently meet completion targets.
  • Track the customer experience.
  • Analyze support tickets and make adjustments to the onboarding process as needed.
  • Assess product usage after exiting onboarding.

2. Adoption

A customer exits onboarding when they are comfortable enough with a product to use it independently. The goal in the adoption phase is to use knowledge of the customer’s business goals to guide them toward recurring value. This is achieved by closely monitoring the customer to make sure they’re using the right product features in the right way.

There are a number of metrics that can be used to monitor the customer experience. Look at current customer information drawn from product and feature usage, Voice of Customer feedback, support tickets, and more to create a living understanding of the customer experience.

To optimize the adoption phase, this understanding needs to lead to action. Automated alerts can be attached to the customer data to make it easier to monitor accounts across an enterprise, but they are only as valuable as the engagements that follow. It is important to have strategies in place to boost product interest where the customer is shown to be waning and to make the most of expansion opportunities when a customer is fully engaged.

 Goals to Consider:

  • Product usage compared to benchmarks. 
  • High license utilization.
  • High product feature access.

Renewal

Renewal and churn are not tied to specific dates on a calendar. Rather, they are the result of the overall customer experience. The metrics outlined above are early warning systems that provide an enterprise with ample time to proactively engage with customers and make sure customer satisfaction is moving in a positive direction when the formal renewal process begins.

Once that renewal campaign begins, it needs to be personalized to the customer and their unique journey. By analyzing customer information accrued since the sales event, it is possible to trace a customer’s entire product history—provided this hub of information has been made accessible across the enterprise. 

Armed with personalized data, it is easier to demonstrate your enterprise’s deep connection to the customer and set them up for even greater success in the future. 

 Goals to Consider:

  • Focus on renewals at risk.
  • Increase renewals on time.
  • Focus on increasing renewal rate.

4. Escalation

Optimizing customer escalations is all about keeping the customer informed and working quickly. Every business relationship runs the risk of something going wrong, but optimal escalation strategies can improve customer satisfaction. Customers who experience a positive resolution to a problem are more likely to be brand loyal than those who have never been exposed to an enterprise’s customer support services.

For those services to operate smoothly, every member of the enterprise needs to have access to detailed customer information and product history. This makes it possible to personalize customer messaging, provide accurate estimates on resolution timeframes, and to keep the customer informed of every step in the resolution process.

Customers who feel they are being listened to also feel valued. Customers who feel valued remain loyal.

 Goals to Consider:

  • Respond quickly to escalations in the desired number of days.
  • Minimize number of new escalations
  • Seek Voice of Customer feedback after resolution.

Understanding the Customer to Optimize their Journey

There are customer journey optimization opportunities at each step along the customer pathway from onboarding to renewal. And rather than attempting to handle all these moving parts manually, we recommend you use customer success software. Such software makes it easy to gather, analyze, and share customer data across an enterprise. Because the customer journey is not linear, the right customer success software can help your team manage a customer who is onboarding new employees while navigating a renewal. You can track progress through the customer journey at a glance and set up automatic triggers that will notify you of any concerning behavior. 

With continual customer monitoring using customer success software, it is possible to maximize a customer’s experience of value at any point. You can only guide your customer toward future growth that benefits you both if you remain closely involved in their journey every step of the way.

Totango’s customer success platform helps enterprises simplify the complexities of customer success by turning customer data and customer monitoring into value-driven, proactive engagements. By staying in contact with your customers throughout their journey, you reduce churn, promote customer growth, and maximize value over time. Request a demo to get started. Or, explore Spark to chart a better customer journey. 

About the Author /

I'm passionate about customer success and writing great content that people love to read. Please drop me a line and provide your feedback.