If you live in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) world, then you probably understand the gravity of customer retention.

Recurring revenue is key to sustaining any SaaS business, which is why it is critical to understand not just how to win customers, but how to keep them.

A customer journey mapping process is a key tool which can build cross-functional collaboration and create a culture of customer obsession and increase retainment. Customer journey mapping enables you to outline the entire journey of a customer, from the point of initial engagement with your brand onwards, capturing every interaction they have with your company.

While it may sound like a daunting task, it’s worth its weight in gold; siloed organisations have a very hard time in delivering great experiences for customers. That’s because customers know when there is misalignment between various departments. When the right hand isn’t talking to the left, it’s apparent and it’s the primary reason siloed organisations run into so many issues when serving their customers.

For example, sales teams don’t communicate their customer conversations to customer success managers or various departments are bombarding customers with emails without any clear strategy or direction, and so on.

Here’s what a customer journey mapping process looks like in action.

Effective and targeted marketing campaigns

How can you better engage with your existing customers through marketing campaigns that really address how they are using your product?

Effective marketing that speaks to your installed base is critical; unfortunately though, this specific marketing task is easy to de-prioritise. Chances are, most of you have seen email blasts from vendors that are fairly generic and not at all tailored to your specific use of the product. This is exactly what you want to avoid.

The goal is to create targeted messaging that speaks to customer’s specific needs. It’s also critical to leverage your marketing and customer success systems to allow for a feedback loop. For example, can you identify when a customer opens a specific email or downloads information from your website? This type of data ultimately helps your company have a 360-degree view of the customer’s journey.

Engage with the product team

How can you ensure that your customers feel aware and engaged with your product and roadmap?

We are always excited to share new products or features with our existing customers, but many times they wish they had a heads-up about what is in the product pipeline. Customers crave the inside scoop. With no information, they may just assume you are not bothering to innovate, or worse, neglecting them completely.

Regular conversations about product initiatives in the works can be very beneficial to increasing customer engagement and loyalty. A journey map allows you to determine when is the most effective time to share this overview – monthly, quarterly, etc – and segment the information so that it is relevant to the right customer at the right time.

Follow through on sales promises

Following through on sales promises post-sales is one of the most critical drivers of customer loyalty. When you deliver on the promises you make in the sales cycle during implementation, you have just built the foundation of a lasting partnership with your customers because you have established trust.

It is important to enable a smooth transition with systems and processes whereby the sales team carefully documents key customer priorities and criteria that are used to educate the project manager and customer success manager involved in implementing the customer’s solution. This keeps everyone on the same page.

Final words of wisdom

From my experience, there are two critical pieces of advice I would stress if you’re about to start this process:

1. Start your journey map with the customer success team. Yes, you will need buy-in from the C-level, especially because this will involve participation from virtually every department. But when it comes to execution, tap those individuals who interact with customers on a daily basis and have a working understanding of the existing customer lifecycle and segmentation. Starting from the ground up will be much more effective.

2. Always check your journey map with the customer. Once you have a map of the Customer Experience outlined, the best way to check your work is to go to the source. Select a sample of appropriate customers in each segment and ask them if your map matches their experience, and if there is any room for improvement.

Collaboration is at the heart of the journey mapping process, both within and outside of your company. Every department should be involved in the process of journey mapping, and, when appropriate, you might want to turn to third parties. Every customer journey is different; if you evaluate yours carefully, you’ll start to get a better picture of the road you’ll need to take together.

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