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Customer Journey Management: Empowering CS Operations

Customer journey management
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    Customer journey management has become one of the biggest business growth tactics today. CS teams are leveraging this methodology to create a better customer-centric approach, with their playbook strategy now built around communication insights, human signals, and Voice of the Customer (VoC) data. Let’s learn more.

    What is Customer Journey Management?

    Customer journey management involves the creation of dedicated maps to improve the user experience, help customers achieve their goals, improve satisfaction, and reduce in-app friction. These customer journey maps are strategic tools that help create seamless experiences to promote engagement levels, enable more upselling, and elevate cross-selling activity – all proven business growth boosters.

    Customer journey management also allows companies to provide customers with seamless experiences. There is more context around customer actions and communications, along with correct action attributions.

    Customer journey management allows companies to continuously optimize the customer experience. When your customer journey is well defined, it’s easier to follow up on how customers react to it. The journey will include milestones both for the customer and the vendor. For example, if you define a process for onboarding a customer, you should ask yourself the following questions:

    • What does the customer need/want to achieve?
    • What’s expected from the customer?
    • What’s expected from me? 
    • What would success look like?
    • How can the customer’s success be leveraged?
    • How will issues be addressed and mitigated in case of failure? 

    As shown below, customer journey management has some key components.

    • Journey Design – This is the defining of the customer experience and the goals they are trying to achieve by engaging with your product.
    • Journey Mapping – This process helps define and track the customer experience across various touchpoints in the customer journey.
    • Journey Analytics – This is essentially the ongoing analysis of customer behavior data around the touchpoints you have defined in your mapping.
    • Journey Orchestration – This is the finetuning of the entire customer experience to personalize interactions and improve customer sentiment.
    • Journey Insights – This is the data that will eventually help you understand your customer behavior and determine if they are reaching their goals.
    • Journey Optimization – This is the use of technologies to create unbiased insights and help customers reach their goals faster. More on this later.
    Customer Journey Management

    The main customer journey management steps include:

    • Creating your customer journey map. This helps identify the various aspects of the journey that assist customer goals and predict business outcomes
    • Defining the exact in-journey signals that need to be monitored, along with the relevant customer communication channels to be supported
    • Creating an attribution model and connecting it with the customer success playbook for smooth handling of at-risk accounts and changing use cases

    Related: Customer Intelligence: A CS Playbook Essential

    Why Customer Journey Management?

    Now that we have covered the basics and fundamentals, let’s touch upon the main reasons businesses (especially customer success executives and teams) need to embrace customer journey management today. 

    1. Promote a Customer-Centric Mindset

    Like the “healthy mind in a healthy body” theme, every business today needs to be properly aligned towards a common cause or unified business goal, also known as the North Star metric. Having a transparent and accessible journey map can help multiple teams and stakeholders understand the common goal. This essentially promotes better cross-department alignment and collaboration.

    1. Lead Your Customers in the Right Direction

    In a global market with cut-throat competition, businesses need to have and project clarity. When your business has a customer-first mindset and this is constantly conveyed to the customers, good things happen. Today’s customers wish to get the “red carpet treatment”, which basically means getting a pre-planned customer journey that’s perfect for their needs, all with minimal friction or roadblocks. 

    1. Reducing Friction

    Customer journey management allows companies to take full control of their customer journey. Defining milestones and strategic touchpoints is obviously good for user attribution, but also helps as a real-time indicator of engagement drops or stopping of usage. This uncovering of sentiment drops or engagement fluctuations helps customer success teams jump in fast to resolve issues and risks.

    This indeed visibility means there is less siloed data. CS teams can understand issues faster and communicate better with marketing, sales, success, engineering, and support teams to boost resiliency and be more hands on with remediation efforts. For example, if your customers are not reaching a key milestone in the journey map, you can promptly investive and identify the reason this is happening.

    1. Understand Customers Better

    Customer journey management helps connect user actions to data. These journey actions can be tied to specific personas and identities, something that customer success teams can then use to make unbiased data driven decisions. Creating a customer journey map will eventually help you investigate user experiences, understand pain points faster, and create the optimal customer journey.

    1. Improving Brand Advocacy 

    Implementing effective customer journey management strategies also help with brand awareness and advocacy. Having a well-tailored customer journey with strategic touchpoints and gamifying the reaching of milestones helps create demonstrated wins. This can help convert even the most skeptical customers into new brand advocates and ambassadors, possibly leading to exponential growth.

    Related: Relationship Intelligence Matters

    Customer Journey Management: Best Practices

    Here are some best practices you should consider while getting started.

    • Create a Customer Success Center

    Creating a dedicated customer success center can help you guide your customers in the right direction without causing any friction or added stress on support teams. This “hub” should ideally have educational videos, tutorials, guides, FAQs, and infographics to answer all relevant questions that may arise. It can also be a good idea to track the usage of these resources and invest more in the popular ones.

    • Not All Customers Are Equal

    Your journey map planning should take customer diversity into consideration. Different companies, accounts, and stakeholders may have different needs, not to mention the tiers and KPIs needed in each of them. For example, an admin and a normal user have completely different kickoff and onboarding experiences, which essentially means that their journeys are completely different on many levels.  

    • Be Consistent Across All Channels

    Digitalization has become a double-edged sword. While customers can use different channels to get in touch and engage with products, customer success teams have to deal with siloed customer information. It’s extremely important to create a consistent experience across all channels to elevate customer sentiment and minimize confusion. Your playbook should have a foolproof engagement strategy.

    • Use the Right Tools for the Job

    Customer journey management requires optimized workflows and automated processes to reduce the pressure on CS and support teams. Creating a seamless experience is possible only by picking the right tools for your specific use cases. You are going to deal with a lot of human insights and signals. Only modern tools integrated into a capable customer engagement platform will help you succeed.

    • Collaborate with Customers Actively

    Being reactive won’t get you far today. Adopt a proactive approach where your strategy is influenced directly by the customers. Use their inputs and feedback in your customer journey planning. Consider creating a Mutual Action Plan (MAP), where both sides brainstorm to identify milestones and integrate key requirements. These types of action also help build trust and brand credibility. 

    Related: Top 10 Customer Success Tools for the Productive CSM

    B2B Customer Journeys: It’s Not Just the Experience

    B2C businesses have pretty much solidified their customer journey management since it’s primarily about the user experience. While this is a major factor also in the B2B space, there are many more things to consider and incorporate into the strategy. 

    Here are just a few of them:

    • There are many more use cases that need to be taken into consideration. For example, a Slack account can have just one freelancer working with the Freemium option, while another can be a corporate one with 55 paid users in total. From the customer success standpoint, this means that there are multiple stakeholders to monitor and nurture in B2B setups.
    • B2B customer journeys also have many more touchpoints and milestones that need to be reached. For example, there are more steps to be taken during the onboarding process, following which the CSM reaches out for a referral or review. This is followed by additional emails and satisfaction surveys. 

    This is assuming the user has gone past the complex B2B buying process

    • B2B journey maps are complicated with more touchpoints and milestones. Usage patterns are also more complex, unlike B2B where buying is the primary goal. Data in B2B ecosystems is much more siloed, making it harder to generate unbiased insights and predictions. With dozens of tools in play, B2B business CSMs have a much harder time than their B2C counterparts.

    Related: Customer Success Strategy: Identifying the Blind Spots

    Customer Journey Optimization with Staircase AI

    Staircase AI helps you better understand your customer journey with its AI-powered live journey map. This dynamic and interacting tool helps you discover events automatically across your customer lifecycle. With Staircase AI, you can get much more done because you’ll be able to spot sentiment drops, relationship changes, and other key occurrences in real time, things that allow a more proactive approach.

    Customer Journey Optimization

    Not only will you get a bird’s eye view of each company’s journey in real time to determine the best course of action, you can also isolate specific customer journeys for added clarity and analytical capabilities. With Staircase AI’s revolutionary solution, it’s easy to gain visibility into the customer’s experience, challenges, engagement, and sentiment, all in a scalable and data-driven manner. 

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