Seven Proven Steps for Successful Customer Journeys

Historically, many organizations have taken a linear approach to the customer journey. However, recently there has been a major shift in perceptions as businesses now recognize that the journey is not linear but rather a constant loop. No longer do we believe the customer journey starts with sales and ends with customer support. It's more fluid than that.

Many organizations still take a traditional approach, which can be simply described in the five steps below:<

  1. Sell a product to the prospect.
  2. Hand them off to customer success to get onboarded.
  3. Hand them off to customer support for technical issues.
  4. Never hear from them again.
  5. Find a new prospect and repeat.

This is wrong. Customer support and customer success should not be viewed as separate disciplines. They intertwine and are very much dependent on each other. Every step on the customer success journey is fraught with technical difficulties that are often the responsibility of customer support. This is where a single view of an account makes an enormous difference. Without a holistic view, problems can accumulate and negatively affect the customer success journey.

The above five-step approach no longer works, and it certainly doesn't maximize revenue potential. If you accept that the customer journey is a continuous loop, then the seven steps listed below are a good way to increase profits, retain clients, and, most important, grow your business:

  1. Sell a product to the prospect. This first step never changes!
  2. Hand them off to customer success to get onboarded. The onboarding experience should mirror the sales and marketing effort and the promises made. Unfortunately, many people think the sales process ends when the customer signs the check. That's simply not true. Companies frequently have separate teams for dealing with sales and onboarding/support (most likely customer success teams). Either way, having money in your account doesn't mean the job is done. Onboarding should be seamless experience. If done properly, companies will immediately increase customer lifetime value, reduce churn, and turn new users into advocates. Onboarding is not just about providing customers with all the information they need to use a product or service; it's about understanding them and their needs, a role that is increasingly becoming the remit of support, especially in terms of technical grievances.
  3. Use data provided by customer success to identify upsell/expansion opportunities. Upselling and cross-selling are not just sales and marketing tactics to make more money . If you analyze and fully review data provided by customer success, it helps customers derive more value, do their jobs better, and make their lives easier. It generates more opportunities to provide good customer experiences and build deeper, stronger customer relationships.
  4. Hand them off to customer support for technical issues. Support has been traditionally viewed as a black hole of costs. It should not be. Support should provide an integrated view of customer experience and product performance. Support reps can solve customer issues in real time. Product engineering and development teams can see what needs to be fixed or opportunities for future products. And management can access real-time, predictive insights and take action on them. Support now becomes a driver of revenue for the business while also ensuring a competitive advantage.
  5. Use data provided by customer support to identify upsell/expansion opportunities. To find cross-sell opportunities you need to take a journey-based approach. By continuously measuring journeys, companies can better understand customer interests, behavior, and goals. Unfortunately, many companies are challenged by data and organizational silos that prevent them from interacting with customers in a way that enables them to upsell or create expansion opportunities. This is where an automated support data platform steps in. It allows companies to get to the root issues customers are experiencing. Companies can use the platform to understand what is happening with a product and see the relationship between product features and support tickets. This data can be used to improve the product and fix problems. Reps can use the platform's built-in AI to identify where the user is facing a problem and predict where additional problems might arise in the future.
  6. Use data provided by customer support to build new features and products that you can sell to existing customers. Reps have the most contact with customers, and they might be the first people to hear about problems or missing features that are disappointing customers. As such, it's critical that they are trained to approach customer calls with a data-driven, data-collection mindset. It's essential to create a culture where data is embraced and teams understand the value and insights that data can bring. If you want a data-centric customer service team, you need to be able to access data quickly, and it all needs to be in one place. Data can then help you address potential issues that customers might encounter later on. By taking a journey-based, data-driven customer support approach, companies can ensure that upsell and cross-sell opportunities are not proposed to just achieve a marketing goal; they should be helping customers achieve their goals.
  7. Use data provided by customer support to identify churn risk early and prevent customers from leaving. Real-time customer data is key to understanding the root cause of customer issues. An automated data platform helps you gather real-time data on customers and share it across the organization. This enables product-led growth companies to retain at-risk customers and prevent other users from having similar negative experiences. To reduce churn, automation is required. Automated support operations integrate customer product data and use AI to provide unified customer visibility. This is key to an effective digital customer experience and scaling revenue growth. Getting everybody on the same page regarding interactions and understanding the revenue-at-risk makes support a lot more strategic.

To improve customer lifetime value, look at the whole picture. Customer experience involves everything customers think and feel when they encounter your brand. Interactions, such as support ticket resolutions, can influence customer perceptions of your brand. Resolving or staying ahead of customer issues is about having automation on the back end, which is learning from user journey clicks, from errors within logs, to past interactions. It's about finding the hidden nuggets across data sources and contextualizing them within seconds, to not only be proactive but also preventative.

Slowly, people are realizing that support can be a competitive advantage rather than a cost center. Your customers are your most important source for funding your business. When you lose customers, you lose returning revenue and direct cash inflows. Support can prevent this from happening. To succeed, stay in the loop.

Somya Kapoor is CEO and co-founder of TheLoops.