Customer Success is a proactive approach to reducing churn and driving revenue. The concept of CS has been around in many shapes and forms, under various names such as Account Management, Customer Support, but it essentially came into existence with the rise of the SaaS businesses.

The entire process around Customer Experience and customer satisfaction is nurtured through relationship building. In the current phase of continuous technological evolution, it’s not merely the quality of your product/ service that determines your company’s success, but also the quality of your customer’s experience that differentiates you from other competitive offerings.

Customer experience is no longer siloed by the roles in different departments: Sales, Marketing, Product, Support. CX is integrated right from the start of the journey – from the corporate website to nurturing, followed by onboarding, and interactions with multiple functions within a company. The key to long-term relationships with customers lies in optimizing and improving customer experience along their journey. A successful customer journey is a culmination of outstanding relationship building, with the ultimate goal of converting your customers into brand advocates.

The customer journey refers to the process by which a customer interacts with a company to achieve its goals. Even though Customer journey maps are time-consuming to create, they are extremely valuable in streamlining the various points of contact between the customer and the organization, in order to create a seamless experience. When creating a customer journey map, the most crucial task is to get a complete picture of your customer’s business goals.

Mapping the Customer Journey

Companies map the customer journey in numerous ways based on their business model, range of customers and so on. A customer journey map has to be designed such that your CS team can use it to align their activities with customer needs.

While mapping the customer journey:

1. Focus on the Major Stages in Your Customer Journey
Major stages include categories like Trial, Onboarding, Adoption, Expansion, Renewal and Cancellation/ Churn. The first step is to understand the customer needs or requirements. The next step is to design or establish clear triggers/milestones in each section of the customer journey to reach the desired target.
2. State the Optimal Experience at Each Stage
Understand what the customer is seeking to achieve. Utilize the required skills, tools, and systems to deliver the desired outcome. At each stage, evaluate the value gained by customers from the solutions provided by your CS team. Test and learn which methods have the most impact and establish them as best practices. Also, use metrics to evaluate the customer experience at each stage of the journey.
3. Examine the Current Activities that Occur at Each Stage

During the Onboarding stage, your CS team will undertake the following activities – attend a kick-off meeting, hold discovery calls, create a project plan, hold weekly status update calls, hold resource calls with product or engineering team members and attend a wrap-up meeting
Follow a simple, flexible, and repeatable process to ensure successful onboarding. Keep in mind these simple questions while designing the customer journey:

  • At a particular stage of the journey, understand what the customer is seeking to achieve?
  • How do you want the customer to feel at a given stage?
  • In order to deliver the promised results, what is your designed experience?
  • What are the required skills, tools, and systems to deliver the designed experience?
  • What metrics will show the profitable delivery of the designed experience?

4. Bridge the Gaps

Check if you have missed any activities that would support the optimal customer journey. Monitor those stages which are low on activities. Focus on delivering a consistent and seamless experience at every stage of the journey. Train your CSMs about the topics to be covered at different stages of the life cycle.

Putting It All Together

While each team has a set of roles and responsibilities, the unifying goal of all the teams should be customer-centric, revenue growth, increasing market share, and exceeding investor expectations. The collective goal is to provide customers a product or service that is satisfying and hard to find elsewhere.

There is no doubt in saying that Customer Success owns the customer journey and that its success is the result of combined efforts. Each team plays its role during the different phases of the customer journey. Teams have seized to work in silos, making way for better alignment between departments. This has facilitated crossing hurdles and reaching targets quickly. CSMs are dependent on other teams like Engineering, Product to get their customer requests fixed. Therefore, teamwork results in happy employees and happy customers.

The whole idea behind a customer journey map is to monitor if your customers are currently reaching their goals, and if not, how they can. In CS, customer health score empowers CSMs with detailed information about the customer journey. The red, yellow and green health scoring works like an early warning system and directs CSMs to take the required measures. Usage reports, surveys, support tickets, and other KPIs help CSMs monitor customer health. Customer data, alone, at times fails to highlight the experience they’ve gained, optimizing customer interactions is better for capturing real-time customer experience.

Shreesha Ramdas is SVP and GM at Medallia.  Previously, he was CEO and co-founder of Strikedeck. Prior to Strikedeck, Shreesha was GM of the Marketing Cloud at CallidusCloud, Co-founder at LeadFormix (acquired by CallidusCloud) and OuterJoin, and GM at Yodlee. Shreesha has led teams in sales and marketing at Catalytic Software, MW2 Consulting, and Tata and also advises startups on marketing and growth hacking. 

Shreesha Ramdas

SVP & GM , Medallia