5 Critical Moments in Customer Relationships to Document in Customer Journey Maps

March 30, 2022

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

When you build a customer journey map, you’re focused on the customer’s experience from their perspective. You chart every interaction with your customer, everywhere you engage with them and everywhere they engage with your product. It’s easy to confuse this with a customer touchpoint map (also known as a service blueprint), where you look at the internal processes that support a customer’s external experience.

(Pssst If you’re stuck deciding between creating a journey map or a touchpoint map, you can check out five questions to help you make the choice or our deep dive into the difference between a customer journey map and a touchpoint map.)

It’s important to understand the distinction because you want to develop a customer journey map looking in from the outside – how your customer experiences your product or services, rather than the other way around. One way to ensure you’re looking at the journey map from the correct angle is to include critical moments in the evolution of your relationship as you work towards a more collaborative partnership with your customers.

Customer Success expert and leading influencer Ed Powers has discussed the five critical moments in the customer experience before. He believes they are vital if you want to engage with your customers on a deeper, more subconscious level. Including these five essential types of interaction in your journey maps will help CS teams recognize new opportunities to deepen the bond you have with your customers.

1. Moments of connection: Cultivating relationships through commonality

Journey maps are meant to track personal interactions with your customers, both physical and digital. However, layering in moments of personal connection to your map will help you understand your customer’s emotional journey. These are moments when a CSM has the chance to make small talk with a customer, ask them about their day, or give them more personalized attention than they usually have the bandwidth for.

This may sound small or insignificant, but psychology shows that these seemingly simple connections, particularly early on in a customer’s journey with your company, can send subconscious messages of comfort and safety to the human mind, potentially increasing loyalty and reducing churn over time.

By mapping moments where your customer and CSM can bond over shared experiences and goals, you naturally imbue the customer journey with a more human touch, ensuring that those moments of connection aren’t lost as you mature into a more digital-centric CS strategy.

2. Moments of proof: Places where you keep your promises

Trust might be one of, if not the, most crucial elements of any relationship. Moments of proof are places in the customer journey where you build trust by demonstrating your ability to meet a customer’s expectations. As Ed Powers puts it, we all have a “deep hunger for certainty,” and “we want to know what’s going on and what happens next.” Subconsciously, when we feel certainty, it alleviates anxiety and increases trust.

CS leaders and CSMs should know where there are opportunities for these moments of proof in the customer journey. Things like quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are fantastic opportunities to demonstrate that you understand your customer’s values and goals and how you are working to meet them.

When things go awry in a customer relationship, you may find yourself in a moment that’s the exact opposite of demonstrating how you keep your promises. Perhaps a deadline was missed, or someone simply promised something that couldn’t actually be delivered. I’m sorry to say that this is also a moment of proof – in the negative. Proof that you do not keep your promises. These are not necessarily insurmountable but can certainly be difficult to overcome. So, do everything in your power to ensure that promises that are made, can, in fact, be kept.

3. Moments of “wow!”: Going the extra mile to surprise and delight

Sometimes the simplest acts of kindness or appreciation can lead to the biggest moments of “wow!” For our customers, this might look like an expedited support ticket or a personalized e-card sent on their birthday. Zappos is an excellent example of a company that integrates “wow” moments into the customer journey. They are well-known for their stellar customer service and have a history of doing things like surprising customers with free overnight shipping and other VIP perks.

Identify moments where your CSMs can go the extra mile for your customers, or opportunities to operationalize and automate that surprise and delight. If there is a simple problem to solve, a CSM could use it as an opportunity to do a quick check-in for anything else they can do to go above and beyond. Or, at a critical moment in the customer journey, is there an opportunity to setup an automated play in your CS tool to deliver something to make your customer smile. Even small acts can have a positive ripple effect in a relationship.

4. Moments of power: Increasing mastery, autonomy, and choice

We love to be in control. It’s instinctual. When we’re in the driver’s seat, we feel safer and more self-assured. Moments of power are the points in time when you can encourage autonomy in the customer journey. Places where you can give customers a choice are great examples of this. When you can pick your preferences, you naturally feel more in control.

Moments of power are essential during the onboarding phase when your customer feels the most powerless. Special tutorials and technologies like in-app engagement software can lessen the friction customers feel when they’re learning a new tool by putting them in control of their learning curve (with some friendly nudging from you, of course). As customers increase their mastery over your product, they’ll feel more and more empowered – and happier and more satisfied too!

5. Moments of truth: When the chips are down, show them what you’re made of

No matter how well-organized and prepared you are, life always finds a way to throw you curveballs. By their very nature, moments of truth might be difficult to predict and, therefore, difficult to include in a customer journey map. However, it’s not impossible to forecast the rough spots. Be proactive in planning out your moments of truth, and you’ll be all the more prepared to turn them into an advantage if and when they occur.

Use other bad customer experiences as models for things that can go awry (everybody has them, nobody’s perfect!). Include a layer in your journey map that calls out potential hazards before they happen so that you can have a plan of action in already place. These moments of truth are really opportunities to show your customers how strong your character is when crisis rears its ugly head. Identified early and handled effectively, they can actually make your relationship with your customer stronger than ever by revealing your true character.

Layer by layer: The work is worth it

You can probably tell by now that there are many layers to a well-built customer journey map. It’s a lot of work to put together all the pieces, but it’s worth it to get them all right. If you want to learn more about journey mapping best practices, check out Journey Mapping the ESG Way.