Q&A: Lessons Learned: A Reflection on Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a tool to help visualize the experiences of interacting with your company from the customer’s point of view. By understanding your customer’s journey, you can better deliver on their expectations.

For those of us who have never created a journey map before, it might seem like an intimidating development to undertake. That’s why we asked one of our customers to share their experiences and lessons learned in building out a customer journey map.

Sarah Dunn of Quorum joined us to discuss the key insights and knowledge gained from their learning experience as well as:

  • Why you should consider developing a customer journey map
  • How to get program buy in from cross-departmental teams
  • Questions to ask to gather information from key stakeholders
  • How to develop a framework that can work for your organization

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on-demand.

Q&A Recap

Speaker: Sarah Dunn, Federal Customer Success Team Lead, Quorum


Q: I’m curious why the customer journey begins before they’re even a customer. Does this hurt the relationship between Sales and Customer Success? I’m worried that Sales teams might feel that Customer Success is infringing on their own sales journey. 

A: When you think about the customer journey and all the experiences that your clients have, they’re going to have an impression of your company and your brand and your product before they even start working with the Customer Success team. Part of your job on the Customer Success side is to fulfill the promises that were given to your clients when they were going through the sales cycle. It’s really important that both are reflected in the customer journey, so you can see the language that was used when they were a prospect and make sure that you’re continuing with that language when they’re a customer or fulfilling the promises that were given to them when they were a prospective client.

It is true that a lot of the time Sales teams will put together their own stages. When you’re conducting your roundtables, it’s great to talk to them to understand their stages and why they built them out that way because you can use their information to help you fill out that portion of the customer journey.

Q: My company is in three distinct markets with different customer personas. Would you suggest having three separate customer journeys or commit to just one?

A: If possible, I would try to commit to just one at first so that you can map the common experience across all your markets and personas to learn about your company. For example, what is the unique thing that draws people to us across all of those different pieces? I’d first attempt to create one customer journey or build out a framework that could work for just one and then take the next step to be more granular and use that same framework to then map it out for each market and maybe each persona. Once you have those, you can compare them and see where and how the experiences differ. You may find that there are things that you’re doing in one market that you should be doing in another and vice versa.

Q: For the roundtables, did you consider including anyone at your company that’s not involved in Customer Success, perhaps for a totally fresh perspective? Do you think that would be disruptive or helpful?

A: For our roundtables, we involved people that weren’t just specific to Customer Success, especially when we did the roundtables with prospective clients and with sales leads. A lot of that was with our team members who are a part of Marketing and Communications or who are Business Development Representatives and Account Executives to get different groups in the same room. Because they may be talking to people who are all in the same stage but doing different work. When we were working with clients on the Customer Success side, we also made sure to include not just Customer Success Managers, but also our Product team in the roundtables because they have a lot of insight into when your clients see value in your product.

It’s also really important to include your Support team in those roundtables as well because they interact with your customers as much as you do so they help bring insight into what the holistic customer experience is like beyond the touch points that you might have as a Customer Success Manager. You can consider bringing in other departments that may not interact with clients nearly as much as the Customer Success team but may have to reach out to clients. For example, ask your Finance team if there are client pain points with the renewal process and dealing with contracts or invoicing that you might not know as a Customer Success Manager. When you’re putting together those roundtables, I really recommend including people that aren’t just on the Customer Success team.

Q: Can you describe any visualizations of the customer journey that you created as a result of the framework and the mapping? 

A: That is actually what I’m currently working on. The next step is taking your framework and putting it into a visual. Because I’m currently working on that, I don’t have anything to share just yet. Something to note is that filling out your framework makes doing that next visual step so much easier because you already have the categories that you want to organize and the touch points that you want to map. Then, it’s just a matter of creating the visuals instead of having to start from scratch. Even with just building out our framework, before we go on to the visual part, we found a lot of the projects that we’re working on now just from creating the framework like updating our adoption metrics in ChurnZero. We’ve also made various changes to the onboarding process for our clients to make it smoother. We’re also better communicating to our clients what to expect when going through onboarding including our team’s outreach to them along the way.

Q: Do you capture the various framework milestones in ChurnZero? How do you track progress towards your customers achieving these milestones? 

A: In ChurnZero, we track the milestones that our relevant to Customer Success since only our Customer Success team uses ChurnZero. One feature in particular that we use for onboarding is ChurnZero Journeys. This is really helpful for us because our major milestone in going from the onboarding to the steady state is completing your onboarding journey. Completing that onboarding means you complete that milestone and move on to the steady state. ChurnZero Journeys allow us to see if our team has done all the things that they need to do to ensure that the client has completed their onboarding. Have we had the kickoff call? Have we done the team training? Have they started to use the platform? Is there any technical setup needed? You can also use Journeys to keep your eye on certain tasks that you expect from your clients during that time to know that they can complete that stage. 

A nice thing about Journeys is that you can use them to help you set up metrics and goals for what you want your onboarding experience to look like. For example, when you set up a Journey, you can choose a timeline for how many days a client is expected to be in that Journey. So, if your goal is to have clients complete onboarding in 30 days or 60 days, the Journey helps track that for you. Then you have those metrics to know if you’re getting clients through onboarding at the rate that you would expect.

Q: How long did your journey mapping project take you?

A: The version of the customer journey mapping project that I showed with the framework probably took me a little under a year. That being said, working on journey maps is not my primary role at Quorum, so there’s a lot of day-to-day Customer Success work that I’m also working on. I didn’t always get to spend as much time on it as I wanted throughout the year. It took about a year to ensure that the right people were in the roundtables to have those valuable conversations. We had many versions of the framework going back and forth. We had to edit those and make sure that they were useful before we had our final framework version to show our leadership team for approval. Depending on your bandwidth, I think it could take you a lot less than a year, but that’s how long it took me.

Q: Do you have any tips for involving the customer in this process to truly get their perspective? 

A: For our current framework, we used a lot of anecdotes that we had heard from customers previously. This is where it was really helpful in those roundtables to pull in more tenured people that have worked on the Support or Customer Success team because they could recognize trends and feedback that they’ve heard across all different customers to make sure  that was reflected in the customer journey. Once we have our visualized framework, the next step that I’d love to take is putting the visualized customer journey map in front of our clients, especially an array of those that know our company really well versus those that are newer to Quorum to ask: Does this accurately reflect your experience? Would you edit this and how? That’s not something that we’ve done just yet, but it’s the next step that I want to take.

Q: How detailed should the journey framework be? I’m worried that the roundtable concept would spiral into the details forever.

A: You can’t map out every single email that your customer may receive or every individual live chat question that they may ask your Support team. This was a challenging part for deciding how detailed we wanted to be. To help decide how to make those distinctions, I considered the outcomes for each of those touch points—whether it’s emails or live chats from your company. If the outcomes were the same, then you could record it once on your customer journey map and not have that touch point in there multiple times. 

For example, because it’s going to be a different experience for every client interacting with your Support team, you can’t say this customer will have five different live chats and they’re all going to be about this. You can assume that your customer is going to reach out to your Support team over live chat probably at least once during their experience. What is the general sentiment of that? What overall goal is accomplished from that live chat outreach? Being able to map it to that one particular goal makes you not have to get way too detailed in choosing those touch points.

Q: Do you have recommendations on how to get buy-in from other internal teams to support your work on the customer journey, especially teams that are far removed from the actual customer experience?

A: It’s helpful to get leadership buy-in, especially if you can start with your Customer Success team. If you have your Vice President of Customer Success on board or someone higher up in the Customer Success team believe in this project, they can talk to the other department heads and then interest will trickle down from there. Instead of you having to reach out to individual people to say “Hey, can I grab you for this?” or “Can I put an hour on your calendar to talk about this?” and not really knowing what you’re asking for or why you’re having that conversation. If you’re worried about getting people in other teams to participate, I would go to leadership first and see if they buy-in on your project and then can trickle down to the others.

Q: What would you do differently if you had to start over with your customer journey mapping project right now?

A: If I had to start over, I would rethink the roundtable format. I found the questions that I asked were thought-provoking, but I’d love to find a way to make the roundtables more hands-on for individual team members. Instead of sitting there and asking people questions, people answering, and writing all those answers down or listening to people have side conversations about some of the questions, I’d do more of an interactive exercise while you have everyone in the room. For example, ask people to write touchpoints on individual sticky notes and then organize them on the wall by things that worked well with the customer versus things that didn’t work well, or to allow people to vote on ideas.

To learn more about why you should use customer journey maps to optimize your customer experience and the tactics to do so, watch the webinar on-demand.

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Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

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