A customer journey analysis helps you improve SaaS client experience and increase retention by optimizing the steps customers take in their relationship with your product and brand. Today’s concept of the customer journey takes a customer-centered perspective that unifies the pre-sales (buyer) and post-sales (customer) experience of your brand into a single lifecycle. This cycle begins with brand awareness, progresses through an initial purchase, and culminates in a customer’s decision to renew, upgrade, or add additional products to their subscription. When you win truly loyal customers, this journey will extend to them recommending your product to others.
If your customer enjoys a positive experience at each step in this cycle, the odds increase in favor of retention, while negative experiences increase the risk of churn. A customer journey analysis identifies what needs to happen at each step in the process in order to deliver satisfaction and avoid dissatisfaction. In this article, we’ll review the goals of the customer journey before laying out a six-step path to customer journey analysis and optimization.
Understand the Goals of Customer Journey Analysis
Before undertaking a customer journey analysis, understanding the goals of your analysis will help you ask the right questions so you get useful answers. In general, customer journey analysis seeks to use data from each stage of your customer journey to identify where you need to improve their experience to optimize satisfaction. Specifically, this overarching goal encompasses a number of major objectives:
- Understanding key points in your customers’ journey which are “make or break” moments for their experience and must be perfectly executed to sustain engagement (such as completing onboarding)
- Understanding where you are outperforming customer expectations by delivering “a-ha” moments that drive home the differentiating value you provide in contrast to your competition (for example, through the usage of unique features of your product)
- Understanding the time requirements for the steps in your customer journey so you can increase efficiency (for instance, how long does it take customers to complete onboarding?)
- Finding unnecessary redundancies or wasted movements that could be eliminated to help journeys flow more smoothly (such as making it easier for customers to renew subscriptions automatically)
- Finding gaps that could cause the journey to break when transitioning across devices or mediums of engagement (such as problems transitioning from virtual chat support to phone conversations or handing off accounts from the sales team to the customer success team)
- Finding friction points where customers aren’t happy or excited about using your product (for example, identifying which types of support issues generate the highest ticket volume)
- Finding points where your company isn’t living up to its promises (for instance, if you’ve set success goals with your customers, how are their performance KPIs lining up with their objectives?)
Bearing these goals in mind provides you with a checklist you can use to guide your customer journey analysis and evaluate your results. You can do a complete customer journey analysis that seeks to achieve all these goals, or you may choose to do a more focused analysis that zeroes in on one of these items, depending on your needs.
Six Steps to Perform an Effective Customer Journey Analysis
You can approach doing a customer journey analysis as a six-step process:
- Gather customer journey data
- Map out your customer journey visually
- Map out success goals for each stage of your customer journey
- Apply your data to your customer journey map
- Establish procedures for monitoring goals
- Implement actions to optimize each step of your customer journey
Let’s look at what each step involves and how technology tools can help you perform your analysis and put it into action.
1. Gather Customer Journey Data
To be actionable, a customer journey analysis needs to be data-driven, so the first step in the process is to collect customer data which you will incorporate into your analysis. To do this, identify which key performance indicators you will focus on for each stage of your customer journey, and set up monitoring and reporting procedures.
You will find this easier if you use a software tool designed for the task. For example, Totango’s Spark platform includes modules called SuccessBLOCs which come out-of-the-box with KPIs for each stage of the customer journey, plus built-in scorecard dashboard and reporting features that make it easy to see the data you need.
2. Map out Your Customer Journey Visually
In order to organize your customer data, a useful visual aid is a customer journey map. A customer journey map helps you visualize your clients’ experience by laying out each stage in a format such as a flywheel or rows and columns which lets you see the steps at a glance and break them down into more granular categories. There are plenty of ways to visualize your customer journey from using a whiteboard to post-it notes to building it in Excel.
For instance, your journey map can let you see what a customer should be feeling at a certain stage in their journey in order to have a positive experience, what action they should be taking to achieve satisfaction and what steps you can take to deliver a satisfying experience. You can also map out what could go wrong and what steps you can take to correct different scenarios. This helps you plan an optimized customer journey as well as strategies for recovering when the journey is disrupted. A customer journey map displays this information in an easy-to-read, quick-view format which helps you digest and apply the information.
3. Map out Success Goals for Each Stage of Your Customer Journey
To tie your customer journey map into your data, the next step is to define measurable goals for each stage of your customer journey. You can do this by selecting key performance indicators which represent successful outcomes for customers. For example, your SaaS implementation team might test how long your onboarding process normally takes when everything goes smoothly and use this to set a goal for average onboarding completion time.
As you work with individual customers, you can also define goals that represent success for that particular customer. For example, a customer might hope that your SaaS product enables them to achieve an improved level of efficiency, represented by a metric such as tasks completed per unit of time. Choose goals that fit your product and customers.
To chart progress toward goals, identify benchmarks that represent steps to success. For instance, you might set goals for 30, 60, and 90 days in relation to a particular success goal.
4. Apply Your Data to Your Customer Journey Map
With your data collected and your journey map correlated with KPI goals, you can bring your KPI targets and data together, applying your data to your map. Review how the data you have from your customers as a whole and from individual customers stacks up to your KPIs. Analyze correlations and different customer segments between data that provide clues to which factors are influencing your numbers.
For example, you may notice that customers who take too long to onboard also have low retention rates. This may be a sign that you could improve your retention rate by making your onboarding process more efficient.
Doing this type of analysis may lead to adjustments to your goals. Use insights from your data to bring your goals into alignment with your customers’ actual experience and needs.
5. Establish Procedures for Monitoring Success
To make customer journey analysis actionable, it’s critical to implement procedures for evaluating whether your customers are achieving the goals you’ve mapped out. The best way to do this is to set up an automated monitoring and reporting system.
For example, the Totango Spark platform includes user-friendly dashboards which make it easy to see the KPIs you need. Spark also provides powerful reporting tools to display whatever data you want to focus on. You can use data segmentation to zero in on variables of interest, groups of customers sharing common characteristics or even data sets relevant to individual customer accounts.
6. Implement Actions to Optimize Each Step of Your Customer Journey
Customer journey analysis sets the stage for actions that promote an optimized experience at each stage of the customer lifecycle. In keeping with the goals of customer journey analysis, use your data monitoring to identify trends, promote what’s working and adjust what isn’t. This provides customers with a map to success as well as a path back when they go off track. Action items can include:
- Ensuring that the “make or break” moments in your customer journey occur smoothly for all users, delivering outstanding value which outperforms the competition
- Minimizing time requirements for each step in your customer’s journey to increase convenience and satisfaction
- Removing unnecessarily redundant steps
- Closing gaps between mediums of engagement
- Removing friction points that are impeding customer journeys
- Improving experience where customers are not achieving expectations, such as taking steps to increase usage among customers who exhibit drops in activity
The most efficient way to execute such actions is to use automation to implement best practices that promote successful outcomes and correct undesirable patterns. Totango Spark SuccessBLOCs are a component of SuccessPlays which trigger processes and workflows to promote successful outcomes at each stage in the customer journey.
Use Customer Journey Analysis to Optimize Client Experience and Retention
A customer journey analysis maps out what needs to happen at each stage of a customer’s relationship with you in order for them to enjoy an optimal experience as well as what to do to prevent dissatisfaction. By using the data you gather on your customers, developing a visual customer journey map, and thoroughly analyzing your map and data, you can implement best practices at each stage in your customers’ journey to create an unbelievable experience that outperforms the competition.
Totango Spark SuccessBLOCs provide the tools you need to put your customer journey analysis into action by automating best practices in order to deliver a smooth experience at each stage of customer lifecycles, at any scale you need. To see how it works, try it free to experience how Spark can help you perform an effective customer journey analysis and implement it for higher retention rates and revenue.