Every customer journey map is a little bit different (or a lot different) depending on many factors, but one thing they all have in common is the end of the contract term. Eventually, subscriptions come up for renewal, and that’s when the customer decides if they want to continue their relationship with you or cut ties indefinitely. Obviously, we’d prefer they renew without even thinking about it. But that requires careful connection building throughout the entire lifecycle. Every stage of the customer journey is about developing that kind of relationship with your customers, but to bring it all home, we need to look at the final stage of the customer journey – Loyalty.

In our series defining and exploring all the pieces and parts of the customer journey map, we’ve gone from the moment a customer first learns about your business to the long stretch of time when they are using your product on a regular basis. Now, we’re in the last leg, the run-up to renewal, and (hopefully!) the part where we continue to strengthen our bonds with our customers well into the future.

Loyalty – The story continues…forever?

In our universal customer journey map, Loyalty comes after Service, and it’s not just about renewal. In this final stage, we’re ramping up contact with users, scheduling summary executive business reviews, and interviewing our customers (at least three to six months before renewal) to uncover issues that lead to churn before it’s too late. Touchpoints vary depending on how well you’ve established a rapport with your customer. Some users’ enthusiasm may be waning. During this phase, you want to catch the warning signs early and set them on a path to be successful well before the contract period ends. In a perfect world, all your customers want to stay with you forever. The Loyalty stage is your last chance to make that happen and discover ways to elevate your relationships beyond the basics into advocacy and growth.

This stage of the customer journey map should focus on activities that build loyalty (no surprise there!). We’ve steered our customers into a sturdy steady state during Service, and we’re continuing to proactively check in, demonstrate value, and manage the conversations that need to happen to facilitate renewal. Loyalty overlaps with Service a little when it comes to expansion and growth. CSMs monitor their accounts for new opportunities the entire length of the contract, but it’s especially important during Service and Loyalty because this is when users have grown comfortable with your product and are engaging with it regularly. The business case for additional investment in your solution is strongest when the fit is right and the customer realizes value daily.

Who owns renewals? The role of CSMs in revenue generation

Customer Success Managers are perfectly positioned to discover and develop these leads, but not everyone does it this way. It’s 2023, yet many CS organizations still struggle for a seat at the revenue-generating table. Customer Success leaders know they need to prove their team’s impact on metrics like Net Revenue Retention (NRR). The Service and Loyalty stages of the customer journey offer the perfect opportunity for CS to drive expansion by providing Sales with hot leads.

As trusted advisors to their customers, CSMs shouldn’t necessarily be tasked with closing these contracts. But, much like a Sales Development Rep, they can identify and qualify opportunities within their book of business before handing them off to Sales for further discussion. This way, Customer Success can be measured on the revenue generated from these leads while maintaining a special, no-pressure relationship with their customers. In turn, customers learn about other offerings that will perfectly fit their needs, and Sales doesn’t have to waste time pitching to customers that don’t have a need in the first place. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. Of course, there are many ways to integrate growth targets into the CSM role. This is just one of them.

Customer Success’s role in the Loyalty stage of the customer journey

There’s no such thing as unsupported, infinite growth. Businesses must invest in systems, processes, and operations to keep the engine running. Customer Success is that engine. During Loyalty, it’s clear that Customer Success plays a critical part in maintaining customer relationships and reducing churn. There are three components to this in this phase:

Renewal: Regardless of who owns the renewal motion, Customer Success Managers support the process. From complex enterprise-level discussions to quick, digital touchpoints and everything in between, CSMs talk the talk and walk the walk so customers end up signing on the dotted line again.

Expansion: CSMs should spot when customers could benefit from other offerings or an expanded set of solutions. Then, pass those leads along to Sales. Track these efforts and prove that your organization is an important revenue driver once and for all!

Advocacy: Just as we watch for expansion opportunities, CSMs should also be on the lookout for super users who love you and want to shout their love from the rooftops. Pass these leads to Marketing for case studies, testimonials, referrals, and other fun stuff that makes their lives easier. Yay!

Oh, boy. We’re nearing the end of the series, but I’ve got one more article up my sleeve. Now that I’ve covered all the stages of the customer journey, I will tie everything together. Don’t miss my final piece summarizing everything we need to consider about customer journey maps (so simple and straightforward, I know!) – coming soon.