August 19, 2020
Dave Blake

5 Best Practices to Build a Customer Success Journey Map

Follow these 5 best practices to improve your customer journey map and overall customer experience

5 Best Practices to Build a Customer Success Journey Map

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Each touchpoint matters throughout the customer journey. The old saying is true, “you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression”. The first 90 days of a customer relationship can determine the outcome whether good or bad. A big focus of the first 90 days is implementation, product training, and initial relationship cadence. However important those first days are, the journey to customer success is constant and never really ends.

Post implementation, your customers need to feel like they have your support at every level. Too many times a company finishes implementation in a strong proactive manner and then moves to a reactive strategy. This doesn’t work very well and introduces renewal risk. The best practice is to develop a customer success journey map with defined tasks, milestones, and alignment throughout the whole lifecycle.

Focus on the Entire Journey, Not Just a Single Aspect

One of the main ways to make customers successful is focusing on the entire journey of the customer, not just one single aspect. It’s important to realize that your customer experiences many changes throughout their journey. Creating a seamless customer experience throughout the lifecycle helps them know what to expect from your company, and in turn feel valued no matter where they are on the journey. Once you develop a strong journey, your next goal will be to put measurements or metrics in place that allow you to quickly measure success and optimize it for improvement. You’ll need to take an outside-in approach. To know which metrics you should be measuring, read our free ebook here.

The Customer Journey for Companies of All Sizes

Building a customer journey map is an important exercise for organizations, even though it might look different for companies at various stages. For instance:

Startup: For startups, the customer journey is limited, siloed and fragmented. At this point, very few processes are in place, so the team is trying to help shepherd the customer across onboarding, renewal, and other important milestones. For customers working with startups, the journey can often feel scrappy.

Emerging: Emerging companies are often focused on onboarding and implementation points on the customer journey because those are the first experiences the customer will face. They work hard to define these processes first and foremost.

Scaling: For scaling companies, the customer journey is defined and executed across the entire customer lifecycle, and it’s usually proactive in nature.

Enterprise: For the enterprise, a comprehensive customer experience is tracked and optimized across lifecycle and executed across teams so surprises are minimized, if not eliminated altogether.

Someone Always Owns the Moment

“Someone always owns the moment” is a phrase that Disney uses in their approach to just about everything. And it shows, because Disney realizes that consistency of great moments create great experiences, great experiences create happy memories, and creating happy memories is how Disney measures success. The same principle applies to customer success. So who owns the moment and when? Let’s dive into it below.

5 Best Practices to Build the Customer Success Journey Map

Your whole team will need to be involved as you develop your customer success journey map. This will take collaboration and alignment. Your goal, the outcome, will be that everyone in your organization understands their role and timing in helping your customers succeed. Here are a few principles that will help you during this process:

  1. Use an outside-in approach: Remember to view the journey from the customer’s perspective first, rather than just your company. The map starts at first brand impression and guides the customer to success (renewal).
  2. Define the handoffs: As you build your journey, identify the handoffs between departments. Who does what and when? This should be very clear. Also, you will need a game plan on how information will travel and be consumed between handoffs.
  3. Focus on key moments of truth: Define success milestones along the journey. This should be very clear to everyone. These milestones are moments that manifest that a customer is progressing and having success with your product or service. We call these moments of truth.
  4. Share with customers and give them insights: Share the journey map with several trusted customers and have them help you validate whether it’s true or not. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable enough to get their feedback – it will pay dividends in the long run.
  5. Measure and optimize the journey map: Remember this map will change as your organization and customers evolve. It should never be something that you did years ago. Make sure that you are measuring results and optimizing the journey on a regular basis.

Below is a simple example of a customer success journey map. It’s simple to help illustrate the point.


Are You Ready to Build a Customer Success Journey Map?

No matter that stage of your company, it’s never too early to start thinking about the customer journey. Start by asking questions: What does our current process look like? What do we need to improve? Where and how could we improve the process? What does a successful customer look like? Once you have a clear picture of success, then work backwards to define the journey, milestones, and handoffs that will help you achieve it. This process will help you take customer success from being a department and move it to the forefront of company culture and conversations.

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