White Paper: How to Map the Customer Journey

June 24, 2015 Kaiser Mulla-Feroze

The way customers buy products and services has changed forever. Today, if you offer an online service with recurring fees that are dependent on customer renewals, then most of your revenue comes after the initial sale. In order to lower churn, maximize revenue and promote evangelism you need to establish a customer success strategy that manages your customers throughout their lifecycle with your product. To do this, you have to establish your customer journey, allowing you to map out the ideal path that leads to recurring value for your customer and in turn recurring revenue for your organization. 

 

The customer journey starts with your first engagement with a customer, while they are still a prospect, and tracks them through each touch point with you and your product all the way through renewal and, possibly, upsell. This process is incredibly important because it allows you to track, measure, and monitor customers throughout their entire lifecycle with your product. Through their journey, you must measure your customer’s health, which will allow you to intercept them before they stray too far from success and provide a course-correct that ensures the delivery of business value.

In order to accurately chart your customer journey there are five key steps you must complete:

  1. Define the customer lifecycle stages
  2. Identify milestones and events that require attention at each stage
  3. Create health scores and alerts customized to each stage
  4. Define key customer success plays for each stage
  5. Implement a feedback loop, using signal analysis

DEFINE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE STAGES 

When determining how successful your customers are, it’s important to understand which stage they are at in the customer journey. For instance, someone who has just started using your product will likely act entirely differently than an expert user who has had the product for months. The stages you define are totally unique to each individual company, but generally companies have at least the following three stages:

STAGE #1: ONBOARDING

It is often said, that the first 90 days decide the fate of most implementations. Depending on the complexity of your product, this timeframe may be shorter or longer. If the customer feels let down during onboarding, then the journey ahead could be precarious. This is the stage after someone has purchased the product and before they have seen their first value. To ensure a smooth start to your customer’s journey you need to invest in making sure that they have the right support and resources from your company to implement your solution and deploy it across their organization. This stage generally ends when the customer first begins seeing the business impact and value of using your solution. 

STAGE #2: ESTABLISHED

Once a customer has begun to see value from your product on a regular basis they become an established user. Ideally, at this stage your product and the value it delivers would be integral to the customer’s success, but it still requires monitoring by your success team to make sure the customer stays on track. Ongoing milestones should be based on establishing goals around product usage and adoption, increased user engagement, user growth, and advocacy. Your customer success team can help meet these goals by creating nurture campaigns that ensure the customer continues to experience increasingly more value.

STAGE #3: PRE-RENEWAL

As a customer approaches renewal it is important to be aware of any challenges the customer may be encountering and carefully measure the business impact and results your solution is providing. This allows you to be sure that you’re delivering enough value to have the customer continue using the product. At this stage, it is particularly important for your customer success team to address any outstanding issues that may cause a negative experience for the customer like support tickets or new user training. Renewals can also be good time for upsell or add-on sales to accounts that are in good health, so monitoring positive behavior is also important. 

IDENTIFY CUSTOMER MILESTONES AND EVENTS THAT REQUIRE ATTENTION 

Once you’ve mapped out the stages of the customer journey, the next step is to highlight the key milestones that show whether or not your customer is seeing value at each stage. Milestones should be things like usage of key features, particular business outcomes, the number of users who are logged in, etc. With each milestone you should also be able to determine how long it should take for a user to accomplish this.

In addition to milestones, it’s important to track any key events that may need the attention of your team. These can be both positive and negative and include things like: significant increases or decreases in usage, changes in administrators, data exports, a drop in health score or specific user behavior like the CEO not signing in. Using active, real-time monitoring to notify your Customer Success team about these actions enables them to proactively monitor customers and manage them appropriately.

The milestones and events will be specific to your customer journey; here are some examples for the various stages:

STAGE #1: ONBOARDING

  • Is the customer fully utilizing their subscription?
  • Administrator completed system setup
  • New users have been added to the account
  • 20% of license have been used
  • First “wow” moment with product
  • Implementation not completed in set time period
  • No activity since purchase

STAGE #2: ESTABLISHED

  • Consistent and frequent user logins
  • More users have been added to the account
  • Administrators are viewing reports daily
  • Use of advanced features has increased
  • Decline of use by champion user
  • Adoption of a new module

STAGE #3: PRE-RENEWAL

  • Decrease in user engagement
  • Administrator has left the company
  • High number of support cases are still open
  • Licenses are being under utilized

MONITOR HEALTH SCORES AND ALERTS 

As you determine the milestones and events that must be tracked you can use them to help you build a customer health score for each stage. This score is based on a combination of data including; product usage, business outcomes, service utilization, customer satisfaction, and other customer touch points. By combining these key data points, the health score will tell you whether an account is happy, at risk or somewhere in the middle. Your Customer Success team can monitor this health score over a period of time to get a good idea of where the customer is and why their status has changed. Additionally, you can then set up alerts to notify you of changes in account status enabling you to quickly deal with any issues as soon as they occur. 

Good customer success teams use objective, data-driven leading indicators and alerts that help them identify:

  1. Which customers are in trouble so they can proactively reach out and intervene for the better. 
  2. Which segments of customers are struggling and which are doing well so the team can focus resources and efforts where they are needed the most. 
  3. Which customer success team members are tracking more risk account, in order to balance load and improve overall team performance.

DEFINE CUSTOMER SUCCESS ENGAGEMENT PLANS FOR EACH STAGE 

Once you’ve defined customer health, as well as key the milestones and events at each stage, it’s important to tell your teams what to do with this information. Customer Success Engagement Plans are customized, defined programs that help your team target the right set of users and move them on to the next stage in their journey. These plans can be as simple as a phone call or more complex including automated email campaigns and in-person training.

As with all other parts of the journey these key plays must be tailored to your customer journey but below are some examples of customer success plays that you can implement:

STAGE #1: ONBOARDING

  • Account is in good health: This is great! Let the customer continue along their journey.
  • Onboarding has not started yet: Reach out to stakeholder to make sure they get started. Schedule a progress review to follow up in a week.
  • 10 new users joined the account: Schedule training session for new users.

STAGE #2: ESTABLISHED

  • Started using new feature: Send best practices and power tips documentation. Schedule an adoption review in 30 days.
  • Low engagement with reporting functionality: Invite executive sponsor to a complimentary review session.
  • Account is in poor health: Escalate this account. Schedule a meeting with key stakeholders to understand what the issue is.

STAGE #3: PRE-RENEWAL

  • Open support tickets: Escalate tickets within support to make sure they are resolved quickly. Reach out to key stakeholder and notify about progress. 
  • Account is in average health: Set up business review with key stakeholder and establish plan to ensure renewal. 
  • 20% decline in active users: Add this account to watch list to keep an eye out for further decline. Escalate internally to create win-back plan. Invite all users to training webinar.

IMPLEMENT FEEDBACK LOOP USING SIGNAL ANALYSIS 

Manually tracking each customer’s journey is like drawing a map by hand and expecting it to be accurate and to scale. Implementing technology to help you measure, map, and track your customer’s journey allows you to drill-down into each milestone and verify, through data, that you are looking at the right metrics. 

Once you’ve established your customer journey it’s important to revisit it regularly with any data you’ve collected to ensure that it evolves as your product and customers do. By looking at lists of churned and renewed customers you can determine if there are new events or milestones that you can use to help refine your customer journey. At a minimum it is recommended that you review your customer journey once a year and for the best results re-evaluate every three months.

PUTTING THIS INTO PRACTICE

Once you’ve mapped the customer journey you can take action by using it to implement an Early Warning System for your organization. This solution helps you move away from fire fighting at risk accounts and helps your customer success team focus on proactive customer retention by alerting you to customers who need attention. Learn more about implementing this solution here: http://www.totango.com/early-warning-system-white-paper.pdf

As you move along your customer success process, you can find more in-depth
resources here: http://www.totango.com/resources/

We hope that you have a good understanding of how to map out your customer success journey. Our customer success team is always excited to talk through best practices and offer any guidance. Feel free to reach out to us.

   info@totango.com

  @totango

  1-800-634-1990

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