A customer journey is typically defined as the sum of all the experiences that your customer has with your brand and product. In the case of your SaaS product, it includes interactions prior to buying, the actual buying process, on-boarding, continued learning about how to use the product including best practices, up-selling, technical problem resolution, invoicing, other problem resolution and learning about the future direction of the product.
Your customer’s journey and their perception of that journey is key for a number of important SaaS financial metrics including customer retention/churn percentage and up-sell percentage. It can also have substantial influence on new customer acquisition cost in the form of how easy it is for the customer to buy and the amount of customer referrals.
The customer journey for a SaaS company typically includes interactions with your website, with your product, your staff from different departments and your partners. Existing data for understanding your customer’s journey include your CRM system, web analytics and any product usage analytics you have. Your staff and your customer’s current perceptions and understandings are also good data.
A common first step in understanding your customer’s journey is doing a customer journey map. There are a variety of types of customer journey maps but the best way to think about them are that they are visual and written descriptions of the interactions your customer has with your product and company.
A few key points to keep in mind when developing an understanding of your customers journey include the following:
- An actual documented customer journey map is a great idea. It is a way to have a common understanding among internal departments of the customer journey. It can also be used to talk with customers.
- It’s important to focus on the journey as the customer perceives it and actually experiences it, not what you think they experience. Those perspectives may be very different.
- Use the baseline customer journey as a way to improve and evolve the customer journey. The value of understanding and documenting the journey is obtained when action and improvements occur.
- Some form of measurement of the customer journey is important to understand how it changes over time and the impact of your programs to improve the customer journey.
- As a practical matter focus a lot on the cross-functional aspects of the customer journey. The times when a customer crosses your functional silos are likely to be some of the most difficult aspects of the journey.
There are software providers who have software that is designed to document, measure and analyze the customer journey often in real time. Two leading providers of customer journey software include Kitewheel and Thunderhead. Forrester has also published a Wave report on Customer Journey Orchestration Platforms which is available free on the website of either of these providers.
The specific tools and data you use to develop an understanding of your customer’s journey are less important than keeping the above 5 key points in mind especially focusing on making improvements to your customer’s journey.