What is a customer journey?
When customers purchase your solution, they expect you to have a plan to help them achieve success. A customer journey is a map of a process that your customer completes to reach key goals throughout their customer lifecycle. Customer journeys outline clear expectations of what’s needed from both your internal team and your customers. Examples of customer lifecycle journeys include customer onboarding, adoption, renewal, expansion, and advocacy.
How do you create an effective customer journey?
Your customer journey should prioritize the customer perspective. The most common mistake companies make when creating their customer journeys is to start by mapping the meetings and processes they want to have. They assume those meetings and processes align with what the customer wants to experience, which rarely holds true.
To create an effective customer journey, you first need to sketch out your base map. This is the success that the customer experiences in the customer’s own terms, including a timetable of their desired events and actions. To start, define the customer’s end goal. Then, identify the milestones and events that must happen to get there. What does the customer need to experience? What’s the quantifiable value of this phase? Then, layer on the meetings, engagements, resources and everything else that you, as the vendor, provide in service of that timeline. Lastly, add contingencies for when a customer gets off track. Think of ways you can foster responsibility and collaboration in a given scenario.
A well-designed journey shows a customer the pathway to success and makes them feel like they understand what needs to happen to progress. It also holds the customer accountable when they don’t take the actions required of them to achieve their goals.
What to consider when mapping a customer journey
When building your customer journey, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Divide and conquer. The challenge with most customer journeys is that companies believe they need to build one massive customer journey all at once. Customer journeys become easier to define and manage when you break them into many smaller journeys. Onboarding is a good place to start since most customers already have expectations about its process and timeline.
- Hold all departments responsible for the customer journey. Although Customer Success owns the majority of the customer journey, all departments play a role in influencing the customer experience. When a customer deviates from or stalls out in their journey, consider how you can raise those insights across the company to gain a broader perspective.
- Never assume customers know how to measure their own ROI. Throughout your customer’s journey, you should always be thinking of how you can quantify value for the customer. If you can’t, you’ll have churn related to undefined ROI, failure to launch, and low adoption.
- Establish a unified POV of the customer. All departments need to understand the customer journey and where your customers are in it. Otherwise, functions are left to interpret the journey through their own lens, which can result in a fractured customer experience. Without a structured journey, teams don’t know the right time to get in front of a customer’s problems or capitalize on their success. Democratizing customer insights across the company breeds consistency and reliability.
- Practice what you plot. Journeys shouldn’t just be a pretty picture you hang on the wall. If you can’t operationalize your customer journey, then it starts to lose its purpose. Your journey’s milestones and touchpoints should exist because they produce a specific event or chain of events. If your customer journey doesn’t drive action, then all you have are vanity steps that make it look like you’re holding a customer’s hand when you’re not.