Driving Customer Success: Customer Journey Goals and Planning
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(Note – This is the first of a six-part series of posts on Driving Customer Success. We will release new posts in this series weekly. So, please sign up for notifications to stay informed when new posts are released.)
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, achieving customer success is a top priority for companies across virtually all industries. It is no longer enough to focus solely on acquiring new customers; establishing and nurturing lasting relationships with them is essential for sustained growth and a competitive advantage. Of course, achieving customer success requires a deep understanding of the customer journey and the ability to plan and execute an effective omnichannel customer success strategy.
This comprehensive article explores the significance of customer journey goals and omnichannel planning in driving customer success. It also provides a detailed overview of customer success, discusses its fundamental elements, and examines the immense value of customer journey goals and omnichannel planning.
Whether you are a corporate decision maker or an IT leader responsible for driving customer success initiatives within your organization, the insights shared in this article will help equip you with the knowledge needed to steer your company towards customer-centric excellence.
Understanding Customer Success
Customer success goes far beyond the transactional act of selling a product or service. It includes no less than the entire customer journey, and also focuses on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes with the products or services they purchase.
Customer success must take a holistic approach and encompass every aspect of the customer relationship, from the initial purchase to ongoing support, repeat purchases, and advocacy through word-of-mouth referrals.
Key Elements of Customer Success
To ensure customer success, your company must embrace several key elements:
- Knowing Your Customers: Understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, and goals is the cornerstone of their success. Gathering the necessary information through research, surveys, and interviews enables you to tailor your offerings and support to customers’ specific requirements.
- Effective Communication: Building strong relationships and delivering exceptional experiences requires clear and efficient communication. This involves providing accurate and concise information, actively listening to customers, and being responsive to their questions and concerns.
- Robust Support: Customers expect and demand reliable support throughout their journey. This may involve things like providing comprehensive training, troubleshooting help, proactive outreach, or simply being readily available to address their questions and issues.
- Metrics and Measurement: Measuring the success of your customer success initiatives is crucial to identify areas of improvement and track progress. Metrics such as customer satisfaction, retention rates, renewal rates, and advocacy indicators offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of your strategies and enable you to make data-driven decisions.
The Importance of Customer Success for Business Growth
Customer success is not only essential for driving customer satisfaction but also has a significant impact on business growth and profitability. Research conducted by Gartner reveals that companies with a strong focus on customer success experience a remarkable 30% increase in customer lifetime value and a 20% increase in revenue growth compared to organizations that do not prioritize customer success.
Additionally, a study by Harvard Business Review found that businesses with a high level of customer success are 60-70% more likely to retain customers, leading to long-term customer loyalty and increased profitability.
Finally, successful customers are more likely to become brand advocates and refer others to your business. According to a Nielsen survey, a striking 88% of customers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. By delivering exceptional customer success, your business not only secures repeat business but also attracts new customers through positive word-of-mouth.
Understanding the Customer Journey
The customer journey represents the path customers take from their initial awareness of your product or service to becoming loyal, satisfied customers. It encompasses the various stages that customers go through, with each presenting unique challenges and opportunities for engagement.
Stages in the Customer Journey
- Awareness: This stage marks the first encounter a customer has with your product or service. Awareness can be generated through advertising, word-of-mouth, online content, or other means.
- Consideration: During the consideration stage, customers actively research and evaluate your product or service. They seek information, read reviews, compare prices, and engage with your content to make informed decisions.
- Purchase: The purchase stage is where customers make the final decision to buy your product or service. This can occur through online transactions, in-store purchases, or other channels specific to your business.
- Post-Purchase: After the purchase, customers enter the post-purchase stage, where they begin to use and experience your product or service. This phase often requires onboarding, support, training, and ongoing assistance to ensure optimal utilization and customer satisfaction.
Importance of Each Stage in the Customer Journey
Each stage in the customer journey plays a vital role in shaping the overall customer experience and influencing their long-term satisfaction and loyalty. Failing to deliver a positive experience at any stage can (and usually will) result in customer dissatisfaction, churn, and negative word-of-mouth. Research by McKinsey & Company highlights that improving the purchase stage experience alone can increase customer satisfaction by 20% and boost customer advocacy by 10%.
The Omnichannel Approach to the Customer Journey
The omnichannel approach emphasizes delivering a seamless and integrated customer experience across all channels, both digital and physical. It also recognizes that customers engage with businesses through various touchpoints, such as websites, social media, physical stores, mobile apps, and customer service interactions, and aims to provide consistency and convenience throughout their journey to ensure success.
Importance of Omnichannel in the Customer Journey
The omnichannel approach is crucial in today’s digital age, where customers expect effortless interactions and consistent experiences across channels. Implementing an effective omnichannel strategy enables your company to deliver personalized experiences, build stronger connections with customers, and stand out from competitors.
A study by Aberdeen Group shows that companies with robust omnichannel customer engagement strategies keep an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for those with weak omnichannel strategies. Consequently, more companies are adopting an omnichannel approach everyday. Accordingly, adopting an effective omnichannel strategy will help ensure that your company doesn’t get left behind.
The Role of Omnichannel in Achieving Customer Success
Today, embracing an omnichannel approach is instrumental in achieving customer success. By providing a seamless and personalized customer experience across channels, your business can enhance customer satisfaction, drive engagement, and increase loyalty.
According to Salesforce, 73% of customers are likely to switch brands if they don’t receive a consistent experience across all channels. A robust omnichannel strategy ensures that customers can interact with your business in the way most convenient to them, driving customer success and business growth.
The Connection Between Customer Success and Customer Journey
It’s important to understand that customer success and the customer journey are intricately connected, with each influencing the other in many ways. Customer success is the overarching goal, aiming to help customers achieve their desired outcomes throughout their journey. On the other hand, the customer journey provides the framework and context for delivering effective customer success.
How Customer Success Relates to the Customer Journey
As mentioned above, customer success is directly tied to the customer journey, working hand in hand at every stage. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some ways customer success relates to the customer journey:
- Meeting Customer Needs: Customer success involves understanding and addressing customer needs and goals throughout their journey. By leveraging insights gained from the customer journey, your company can tailor its offerings, support, and resources to ensure customer success.
- Enhancing Customer Experience: Customer success is intricately linked to delivering positive customer experiences. At each stage of the customer journey, your business must strive to provide exceptional service, proactive support, and seamless interactions that contribute to overall customer satisfaction and success.
The Role of Customer Journey in Achieving Customer Success
The customer journey plays a pivotal role in achieving customer success. For that reason, thoroughly understanding customers’ needs, behaviors, and pain points at each stage, your company can proactively provide the necessary resources, support, and assistance required to enhance the customer’s journey.
For example, this may involve providing customers with educational materials during the awareness stage, clear and concise information during the purchase stage, and ongoing support and troubleshooting during the post-purchase stage. Aligning customer success initiatives with the customer journey ensures a cohesive and effective approach to driving customer success.
The Mutual Benefit of Successful Customer Journeys
Prioritizing customer success provides many benefits for your business. Some of these include:
- Increased Customer Retention: Enhancing customer success leads to higher customer retention rates. As noted by Forbes, even a slight 5% increase in customer retention can result in significant profit growth.
- Higher Customer Lifetime Value: Successful customers offer your business a higher lifetime value. According to Gallup, engaged customers have a 23% higher share of wallet compared to average customers. By driving customer success, your company can maximize customer lifetime value and drive sustainable revenue growth.
- Customer Advocacy and Referrals: Satisfied customers are more likely to become brand advocates and refer others to your business. The power of positive word-of-mouth cannot be underestimated. A study by Texas Tech University found that 83% of satisfied customers refer products or services to others. Successful customer journeys fuel customer advocacy, expanding your customer base organically.
Journey Goals: The Foundation of Planning
To achieve customer success, your company needs to establish clear objectives for each stage of the customer journey. Journey goals provide the foundation for effective planning and guide you toward your desired outcomes. However, your goals should be aligned with overarching business objectives and measurable to enable progress tracking and evaluation.
Role of Journey Goals in Customer Success
Well-defined journey goals are essential to establish a strategic framework for planning and executing customer success initiatives. They provide clarity and direction, allowing you to monitor progress, make informed decisions, and adapt strategies as needed. By setting specific and quantifiable goals, your business can ensure actions are aligned with desired outcomes, ultimately delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Setting Effective Journey Goals: Key Considerations
When setting journey goals, there are several things you should consider. These include:
- Alignment with Business Goals: Journey goals should align with the broader objectives of your company. By ensuring this alignment, your customer success initiatives remain focused on elements that are crucial for both the business and your customers.
- Measurability: Your goals should be measurable to enable effective tracking and evaluation. Identify relevant metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide insights into customer satisfaction, retention rates, revenue growth, and other success indicators.
- Realism: In the beginning, setting lofty goals may seem like the way to go. However, your goals must be realistic. Setting realistic goals is essential to maintain motivation and foster attainable success. Goals should challenge your team but also be within reach based on available resources, capabilities, and market conditions.
Planning the Omnichannel Customer Journey for Success
Once you establish journey goals, your company can start planning the omnichannel customer journey. This should involve mapping the customer journey across various channels, integrating seamless experiences, and ensuring consistent messaging and brand presence throughout.
Incorporating Journey Goals in the Plan
When planning the omnichannel customer journey, it is crucial to integrate journey goals into the overarching plan. Therefore, each touchpoint and interaction should align with the defined journey goals, ensuring that customer experiences are optimized and contribute to achieving desired outcomes.
For example, if a goal is to increase post-purchase customer satisfaction by 10%, the plan should include initiatives focused on improving customer support, refining onboarding processes, and enhancing product education and support resources.
Challenges in Omnichannel Journey Planning and How to Overcome Them
Planning and implementing an effective omnichannel customer journey strategy may pose challenges. Some common challenges include:
- Channel Management: Managing multiple channels and touchpoints can be complex, requiring robust systems and processes to ensure seamless coordination.
- Consistency Across Channels: Maintaining consistent brand messaging and experiences across different channels can be challenging. Therefore, your company needs to establish clear brand guidelines and invest in technologies that enable consistent messaging and personalized experiences.
To overcome these challenges, your business can leverage technology solutions designed to manage the customer journey. Software tools are available that help you track customer interactions, manage customer data, deliver personalized experiences, and analyze performance. Alternatively, seeking guidance from experts or partnering with a professional contact center can provide valuable insights and support in planning and executing an effective omnichannel customer journey strategy.
Case Study: Successful Omnichannel Customer Journey Planning
Salesforce, a well-known cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software company, serves as an exemplary case study for successful omnichannel customer journey planning. Salesforce has placed a strong emphasis on customer success and implemented various initiatives to enhance the customer journey.
To improve customers’ journeys, Salesforce leverages Salesforce Customer 360, a comprehensive tool that collects and consolidates data on customer interactions across multiple channels, including online, in-store, and over the phone. Salesforce harnesses this data to create personalized customer profiles, empowering their customer service teams to deliver more relevant and engaging experiences.
Another notable initiative by Salesforce is the establishment of a dedicated team of experts available 24/7 to address customer questions and resolve issues promptly. Finally, the company also introduced self-service tools, such as knowledge bases and forums, to empower customers to find answers on their own.
The positive outcomes resulting from these initiatives are clear and include:
- Increase in customer satisfaction by 12%
- Improvement in customer retention rate by 8%
- Higher customer lifetime value by 5% (Source: Salesforce Annual Report, 2022)
The success achieved by Salesforce highlights the tangible benefits of prioritizing customer success and implementing a robust omnichannel strategy.
Tools and Technologies for Omnichannel Customer Success Journey Planning
A range of tools and technologies are available to support planning and executing your omnichannel customer journey strategy. These tools provide you with capabilities, such as tracking customer interactions, managing customer data, automating marketing processes, delivering personalized experiences, and measuring performance.
Some key tools and technologies include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: CRM software, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM, enables your business to track customer interactions, manage customer data, and deliver personalized experiences at scale.
- Marketing Automation Software: Marketing automation platforms like Mailchimp, Marketo, Pardot, and others automate marketing tasks, streamline campaign execution, and enable targeted messaging across multiple channels.
- Customer Support Software: Customer support solutions such as Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Intercom facilitate efficient support interactions across multiple channels, including phone, email, and chat, to ensure timely issue resolution and customer satisfaction.
- Analytics Software: Analytics tools like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and Mixpanel provide valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing you to measure the effectiveness of your customer success initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.
Selecting the Right Tools for Your Business
When selecting tools for your implementation, it is important to consider specific needs, scalability, pricing options, and industry requirements. Factors to consider include:
- Size and complexity of your business;
- Your specific industry and its unique requirements;
- Desired features and functionality;
- Integration with existing systems;
- Scalability to accommodate future growth;
- Pricing and budget considerations.
It is advisable to conduct your own thorough research, seek recommendations, and evaluate multiple options before making an informed decision that aligns with your company’s objectives and resources.
Future Trends in Customer Success and Omnichannel Journey Planning
The realm of customer success is dynamic and continuously evolving. Several notable trends are shaping the future of customer success and omnichannel journey planning. A few of these trends currently include:
- Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI technologies, including virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and chatbots, are revolutionizing customer service and support by automating routine tasks, enhancing self-service capabilities, and delivering personalized experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2027, 25% of customer service and support operations will integrate VCAs or chatbot technology across engagement channels.
- Growth of the Mobile Market: With the proliferation of mobile devices, customers increasingly rely on smartphones and other mobile devices to interact with businesses. Mobile optimization and seamless experiences across devices are becoming paramount to delivering exceptional customer journeys. GSMA Intelligence estimates that the number of smartphone users worldwide will reach about 7.6 billion by 2025.
- Importance of Data: Data-driven insights are becoming increasingly critical to customer success. As a result, organizations must leverage data to understand customer behavior, identify trends, personalize experiences, and optimize the customer journey. Gartner predicts that by 2024, 70% of customer success teams will use machine learning or AI to improve operational efficiency and decision-making.
In today’s competitive business landscape, prioritizing customer success should be paramount for your business. Therefore, by understanding the customer journey, planning and executing an effective omnichannel strategy, and focusing on customer needs and goals, your business can enhance customer satisfaction, drive customer success, increase loyalty, and fuel growth.
- Customer success is about helping customers achieve their desired outcomes and requires a deep understanding of their needs and goals.
- The customer journey is the path customers take from initial awareness to becoming loyal customers and serves as the context for driving customer success.
- The omnichannel approach provides a seamless and integrated customer experience across multiple channels, fostering personalized interactions and customer convenience.
- Journey goals serve as the foundation for planning and achieving customer success objectives, guiding your company towards desired outcomes.
- Using tools and technologies, such as CRM software, marketing automation software, customer support software, and analytics software, can empower your team to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
- Key considerations in tool selection include alignment with business goals, measurability, and realism.
- Emerging trends, such as AI, mobile optimization, and data-driven insights, will shape the future of customer success and omnichannel journey planning.
In the next post of our series, we will explore the value of providing customers with more choices for interacting with your company using omnichannel strategies. Stay tuned for valuable insights on how omnichannel can enhance your customers’ journeys and drive success.