Are You There Yet? How to Road-Trip with Your Customers


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Services are an integral part of the customer journey, whether they include implementation, consulting, support, training, and managed services.

Customer success managers need to know when customers have been provisioned; whether a solution's design has been completed; if support tickets escalate; when training will be delivered; and whether customers experience outages. In other words, they need to have visibility into service delivery for every milestone in the customer journey. They need to tag along on their customers' journeys, and getting all the data into a customer success management application is vital.

Is your company there yet?

If not, here are four vital steps, or directions, for road-tripping on your customers' journeys:

  1. Define the critical moments of truth in the customer journey. It is impossible for a customer success manager to monitor every interaction from each department for all customers. There is simply too much going on. But tracking when key milestones are achieved, when exceptions occur, and when resolutions are reached are all fundamental to optimizing the customer journey. Defining these moments of truth in the customer journey allows the customer success manager to focus on the critical factors that make a customer one for life.
  2. Capture all the customer's milestones. Milestones represent progress in the customer journey, but milestones are scattered across all of your applications. Capturing milestones' status in your customer success management application gives you a 360-degree view and can trigger best practices from your playbooks. When a new milestone starts or completes in any of the applications, the status automatically updates for the customer success manager, eliminating the need for extra email, phone calls, and manual tracking.
  3. Monitor for exceptions. Exceptions occur when service delivery is not going according to plan. Exceptions represent risk in customer satisfaction and, sometimes, in customer retention. Like milestones, exceptions can occur in implementation, consulting, training, support, or managed services. Monitoring for an exception and automatically capturing the necessary data for the customer success manager helps to cut down on firefighting by exposing issues early. And when a resolution has been made, it allows the customer success manager to quickly close the loop with the customer.
  4. Keep everyone informed. Customer success management can keep other groups apprised of milestones and exceptions by making sure that they are synchronized across all the customer-facing applications. For example, if a tier-two support case in Zendesk escalates to a tier-three issue in JIRA, the escalation should be visible to both the tier-one support manager in Intercom and customer success manager in Gainsight. When updates are properly orchestrated, all of the departments can work in unison in their tools of choice. Beyond status of service delivery, a customer health score is critical to share. As customer health changes, it informs each group how to triage engagement and which best practices to use.

Matt Shanahan is chief marketing officer at Azuqua. Previously, he was a co-founder and senior vice president of marketing at Scout Analytics (acquired by ServiceSource for $32 million in 2014), and vice president at Documentum through a 2003 $1.7 billion acquisition by EMC.