How to Create a Customer Success Journey Map

12 min read

Before you begin implementing your customer success strategy, you'll want to make sure your company has a thorough customer success journey map in place.

What Is a Customer Success Journey?

A customer success journey map covers the stages your customer will go through when interacting with your product, including both the pre- and post-purchase stages. The customer success journey map usually includes key touchpoints and milestones for your customers.

What Is a Customer Success Journey Map?

A customer success journey map is a visualization of each engagement your customers have with your company. It depicts their attitudes, needs, and interactions as well as the problems they might have as they make their way from their first engagement to purchasing your product or service.

Before you begin implementing your customer success strategy, creating a customer success journey map helps you understand your customers' needs so you can determine what you're doing right, what's going wrong, and what you can improve across the customer life cycle.

Customer Success Journey Benefits

Improving Customer Experience

A customer success journey gives you deep insight into where your customers are feeling friction within your business. A customer success journey examines every step the customer takes and makes data-driven decisions to improve the process.

Simply put, a customer success journey takes the guesswork out of improving customer experience.

Increasing Profits

While examining every touchpoint in the customer journey, there will be opportunities to improve profits in numerous ways.

This could be through strategic upsells or discovering retention rates issues early on. When you have a complete view of the customer journey, it’s much easier to identify both pitfalls and opportunities.

Predicting Behavior

With customer data and a clear success journey map you can begin to understand and predict customer behavior. Instead of a crystal ball, businesses use customer data to understand when clients churn, unsubscribe, upgrade, or experience friction.

Armed with this knowledge you can proactively fix these issues and intervene when the data suggests a customer is at risk of churning.

For example, if customer data indicates a sudden drop in feature usage in the middle of a trial, you can automatically send a follow-up email offering one-on-one support.

Before we build a journey map, we’ll need to understand the customer life cycle stages across each product.

What Are the Customer Life Cycle Stages?

The stages of the customer life cycle are brand awareness, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty.

Similar to the buyer's journey, the customer life cycle also includes what happens after a customer makes a purchase, which is known as the post-purchase journey. An engagement plan for each stage lets you personalize their experiences across every touchpoint.

Customer Success journey map
  • Awareness – when a customer becomes aware of your company for the first time. This could be through paid advertising, outbound sales, or even referral.

  • Consideration – the customer evaluates what your company has to offer as compared to your competitors. This is when your customer is “shopping around,” looking for the best deals, finding coupons, and checking reviews.

  • Conversion – if satisfied with your brand, the prospective customer makes a purchase. Conversions can occur after a trial, from a retargeting ad, or during a sale.

  • Retention – your ability to keep your customers happy and turn them into loyal customers. This is where customer success really kicks in and helps improve retention by offering customized solutions, excellent support, and, of course, a great product.

  • Loyalty – a happy, repeat customer enthusiastically recommends your brand to others. Customers can be encouraged to express their loyalty through reviews, testimonials, reward programs, and affiliate opportunities.

  • Post-purchase journey – keeping a close eye on your customer to increase loyalty, decrease the risk of churn, and identify upsell opportunities. Customers have evolving needs and your competitors will improve their product to increase their sales. Keeping an eye on both of these areas can help keep your metrics trending in the right direction.

    How to Create a Customer Journey Map

    Mapping out the buyer journey means that you're mapping their journey to success, so you have to view the milestones, goals, and steps from the perspective of your customers.

    Step 1: Establish Clear Goals

    Establish clear goals so you can determine why you're creating this map. Many companies aim to improve customer retention and increase customer lifetime value. Prioritizing your goals early on will help you work backwards in order to create a process to reach them.

    Pick one or two primary goals and keep them in mind while designing your customer journey map. As your map takes shape, you’ll often see improvements across all customer analytics.

    Step 2: Create Buyer Personas

    A buyer persona (sometimes referred to as a customer avatar) helps businesses understand exactly who their customers are. You can use customer empathy interviews and surveys to create highly accurate personas for each one of your products.

    A great buyer persona will cover a few key insights:

    • Establish clear goals so you can determine why you're creating this map.

    • What are their major pain points?

    • Where do they work?

    • How did they find you?

    • What do they desire?

    • What do they not want?

    Personas vary from product to product. For example, you may find younger freelancers use your base-tier software, while more chief marketing officers prefer your enterprise package. Understanding these differences helps you design your success map in a way that naturally helps your customers.

    Step 3: List Customer Touchpoints

    A customer touchpoint is anywhere a customer interacts with your business. List these areas out and try to be as detailed as possible.

    A few common touchpoints are as follows:

    • Mobile app login page

    • Website (pricing page, sales page, thank-you page, etc.)

    • Product demos

    • Product trials

    Once you have your touchpoints listed, map them to the different stages of your customer journey. For example, a pricing page would be mapped for customer expansion, while the product features page would be mapped to adoption.

    Step 4: Take Your Own Customer Journey

    Take the customer journey yourself for each of the buyer personas to determine where their needs aren't being met. Be critical and make notes along the way. Do welcome emails arrive promptly? Do product demos feel overwhelming?

    Think about what the customer wants to achieve at every touchpoint based on their persona and aim to help them achieve that goal. For example, if demos feel overwhelming consider creating different demos based on your client’s specific goals and industry.

    Step 5: Makes Changes as Needed

    Review your map monthly or quarterly to identify any gaps and opportunities to do better. A common strategy is to flag each area that needs improvement and pair it with a task. For example, if a trial lacks engagement consider creating better training demos and resources.

    It's also just as important to note the changes and milestones your customer experiences. A customer milestone is any achievement your client makes inside their business. Acknowledging these milestones helps build the relationship and provides an opportunity to offer helpful products and features that align with their new goals.

    Lastly, you’ll want to optimize your customer success journey based on new data from your customers. Consider reviewing this data at least every quarter. As your product evolves and your customer’s needs change, you’ll see new opportunities and areas to improve.

    Types of Customer Journey Maps

    Not every company will use the same customer journey map template. This is because every organization has different goals, clients, and challenges.

    What you choose to measure should reflect your primary goals you set in step one. For instance, if you’re looking to improve lifetime customer value you’d want to monitor metrics like average purchase value, customer lifespan, and average purchase frequency.

    With these metrics in mind, you can apply the right map you feel fits your goals and team structure best.

    Below are five of the most common journey maps used today.

    Current state map – details the customer journey as it exists today, identifying how a buyer interacts with your service or product and highlighting areas of strength, need, and opportunity.

    Future state map – documents the ideal scenario for a user, allowing success teams to build strategies that align with client goals from the start.

    Strategic map – shows you the big picture of a client's goals, experience, and dreams.

    Tactical map – this day-in-the-life journey map can focus on a particular aspect of an experience, such as when a user registers for a service.

    Persona map – a map to represent the individual journey of each persona. This allows teams to create highly customizable solutions for particular types of users.

    Choosing the Right Journey Map

    If you’re new to customer success maps, consider choosing the Current State, Strategic, or Persona map. A Current State map allows you to plan your map based on where your company is now with a limited amount of data.

    Persona maps are also great for those new to customer success maps, as persona data can be gathered through simple surveys and customer interviews. These options typically require less time and resources than the other options.

    Strategic maps allow you to design your product, marketing, and interactions with your customers goals in mind. Just make sure you’re confident you know what your customers are really after.

    For teams that have more resources and data available, Future State and Tactical maps can provide excellent results when armed with the right consumer data. Understanding the ideal scenario for each client can require more resources and data collection, especially for companies with multiple products.

    Tactical maps are usually more resource intensive and require more attention, especially for products that have a longer customer journey. The upside is that with more data you’ll have a more granular insight into how you can improve your process.

    Last But Not Least... The Post-Purchase Customer Journey

    In the pre-subscription economy, a successful customer journey would lead to a closed deal, and a new happy customer, and then… the end. But this is no more.

    Instead, in the world of software-as-a-service and customer success, it is after the sale the most important—and most fun!—part of the journey begins. Because a customer that doesn't use or understand the potential your software will soon churn. But a customer that understands your tool and uses it to grow their business will—if attended to right—soon become an even more valuable customer.

    Therefore, the post-purchase customer journey is the most important part of the relationship you have with your customer. Personalize the Buyer Delivery Experience

    Customer data collection gives us the opportunity to create highly personalized solutions, product offerings, and features. It can be argued that Amazon’s success is largely attributed to personalizing the customer experience. Use the data you collect on your customers to create unique offerings that solve their problems, make your product easier to use, and your product feel tailored to their needs.

    Organizations can use split tests to measure the conversion rate of products with and without personalization to determine if personalization is worth the investment. In many cases personalized experiences increase engagement and product adoption, but split testing can help you identify where it is most effective.

    When testing personalization consider monitoring key performance indicators such as click-through rate, adoption rate, and cost per acquisition.

    Create Useful Resources

    Product demos, video tutorials, and knowledge base articles are just a few resources that add immense value to the post-purchase stage. While these resources may take time to build, once they’re in place they will continuously help your customers. Product resources not only help improve retention rates, but can also cut down on help-desk tickets and negative reviews.

    Meet Your Customers On Their Turf

    Offering omnichannel support allows you to be wherever your customers feel most comfortable. If you offer support on Twitter, offer it in Facebook groups, and other social media platforms as well. In some cases you can review your customer data to prioritize the channels that are the most popular with your customers.

    How Can Planhat Help Me with My Customer Success Journey Mapping?

    Can a third-party tool help you handle the customer success journey? Yes, with Planhat you can structure workflows to manage all phases of the customer journey, including events like onboarding, business reviews, and renewals.

    With the use of real-time, easily accessible usage data you can create a post-purchase customer journey that is focused on creating real business value for your customers and expanding your own business. Among many other things, Planhat lets you do the following:

    • Manage customers through the life cycle - Use predefined, repeatable processes to efficiently manage your customers, through the customer life cycle.

    • Task management for all phases - A clean task management system lets you add events and activities and automate tasks so you can focus on driving the most important actions.

    • Get insights on actions that deliver value - Understand what actions and initiatives of your team that deliver value and what slips. Build customized dashboards and widgets, or use the out-of-the-box outcome and trend widgets.

    • Collaborate through customer life cycle - Collaborate with your customers to drive adoption; show transparency and build trust. Share success plans, playbooks, usage dashboards, and much more.

    To find out more:

    • Or sign up for a demo and learn more about the possibilities with professional lifecycle management.

What Is a Good Retention Metric?

What are retention metrics? How do you choose a customer retention metric that is meaningful?

What can impact NRR?

Discover how to calculate your net revenue retention, what factors impact your rate, and what you can do to proactively improve your revenue retention.

How do you increase net dollar retention

To increase your net dollar retention (NDR), you need to have a customer-centric approach. Check out these tips to help you cross that 100% NDR threshold.

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