What’s the key to success for SaaS companies? It’s happy customers who receive a lot of value from your service.
Here’s the thing about creating happy customers: you need to start building the relationship as soon as customers walk in the door.
And the best way to make that happen is developing a customer journey.
What is a customer journey?
In simple terms, it is the path to success for you and your customers. The customer journey defines the key steps that a customer follows, along with their experience, as they learn, implement and embrace your product. It establishes the tone and direction of the relationship - hopefully, a long-term relationship! - with your customers so they receive value from your product as quickly as possible.
Why is it important to define the customer journey?
Would you try to achieve a goal without a plan? Would you start climbing a mountain without mapping your route to the top? Would you start a business without knowing what you are going to sell? A SaaS business that doesn’t understand their customer’s journey is making these fundamental mistakes. It is operating blind rather than having a clear direction of how it is going to make its customers successful.
By having a well-defined customer journey, adoption is accelerated because customers can be successful faster, your product is better embraced because successful customers will use more features, and retention rates are higher because successful customers stay loyal.
In other words, by focusing on helping make customers successful each step along the way, you will make your customers happy, loyal and buying more. Success for both you and your customers!
So how to start?
For any company focused on customer success, the customer journey needs to be easy, quick and, heck, pleasant. You want customers to feel comfortable, confident and excited about being successful with your product. You also want the same experience for yourself while helping your customers be successful.
The key then is to understand your customer’s goals, your business objectives, and to create a path that align the two.
Here are the key steps to creating that exciting win-win vehicle - the customer journey:
Identify your customer’s objectives: The customer journey begins by identifying your customers’ key goals and objectives. You need to know why a customer buys your product, the challenges and/or opportunities they are trying to address, and their motivations. This will deliver valuable insight into what a customer wants to achieve, which will make it easier for you to serve them effectively.
Identify your business objectives: You will most effectively drive success for your customers when your organization is achieving as well! Identify what you are trying to accomplish - e.g. faster adoption, increased retention, referenceable customers or higher revenue? What value did you promise your customers that your product will deliver? A key part of this process is knowing what you want customers to do so they can get on the path to success. Look at the path taken by your most successful customers to extract value from your product, use it as a template - aka the recipe for success.
Map the journey: Now that you know what both you and your customer are trying to achieve, and you have a recipe for success, map it out! Remember to think of the journey from the customer’s perspective, how they experience the value of your product as they fully embrace it. It is a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, rather than defining the customer journey from how you think it should unfold or how your internal operations are structured. For many companies, this can be a challenge but being customer-centric is about focusing on what works most effectively to make your customers successful.
This is the essence of your customer journey. You are now ready to use this to drive your customers to success. But it gets better. By identifying and aligning the goals of both you and your customer, you have also made it easier to create alignment within your organization to produce that win-win proposition - aka everyone gets what they need because there is structure to drive the customer journey.
The bottom line: The key to your success is proactively managing the customer journey. It is the path to success for your customers and your organization. It aligns everyone’s objectives - your customers get value from the product to achieve their goals, while you are better positioned to accelerate your sales and customer growth. Now that’s a secret worth knowing!
About the Author
Kia Puhm is an entrepreneurial executive with 21 years of experience leading strategic corporate initiatives. She has held executive positions in account management, customer success, services, and support at companies such as: Oracle, Eloqua, Adobe (Day Software), Intelex Technologies, and Blueprint Software Systems. Kia has pioneered the art of Customer Experience by leading businesses through the transition to customer-centric organizations. Her methodology provides clients with a disciplined and sustainable approach to increasing customer lifetime value & loyalty.Follow on Twitter More Content by Kia Puhm