Defining the Stages of the Customer Journey Map: Service

June 20, 2023

Kate McBee

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy, Digital Customer Success, Monetizing Customer Success

We’ve talked Awareness, Consideration, and Acquisition. Now buckle up for the longest segment of your customers’ experience: Service. Continuing our series investigating all the stages of a customer journey map, I’m diving into everything that makes (or breaks) this chapter of the CX story. There are three main facets of this critical phase, and CSMs play an essential role in ensuring customers realize value as they engage with your solution over the course of their contract.

When SaaS (and, by extension, XaaS) came along, businesses had to start thinking differently about how they were acquiring and serving their customer bases. New growth models evolved, and Customer Success was born out of the need to cultivate and expand relationships with current customers. These are the primary goals for CS during the Service stage of the customer journey. After implementation is complete and you’ve onboarded and trained the customer, we transition into adoption and daily use. CSMs take point during this stage, coordinating and carrying out a schedule of touchpoints designed to facilitate and encourage product use. It’s all about keeping the customer on track, checking in regularly (but not so much that it gets annoying), and being on alert for opportunities for when expansion and growth of the solution and of the commercial relationship makes good business sense for the customer.

Service – A steady state with room to grow

During Acquisition, the CSM’s job is to manage all the moving parts of implementation and to familiarize new users with the software. Once the customer hits first value, typically around the three-month mark, they move into the Service stage of the customer journey map. They’ve dipped their toe into the pool of possibilities and are ready for more. Depending on your particular solution, there may be lots of additional training ahead, or your customer could already be an expert with your tool and needs very little – if any – extra assistance. Whatever they require to continue on the road to self-reliance should be considered and built into the journey map during the beginning of Service.

If you haven’t already done so in Acquisition (or even Consideration), CSMs will want to sit down with the customer to develop a Customer Success Plan, which will help set expectations and determine how to measure successful outcomes from the customer’s pov. You should have a solid understanding of your customer’s current state and then work with them to develop a roadmap to get them to their ideal future state.

Once users are comfortable and confident with your product, Customer Success should continuously measure its impact as the customer utilizes it over time. Track and monitor metrics like health scores, consumption analytics, and escalations. Touchpoints could include monthly check-ins to see if users require extra assistance, providing updates when Product has improved or added capabilities, offering recommendations for additional product investment if the potential business case is clear and uncomplicated, and rewarding customers for referrals or community engagement. Service never really ends (unless your customer stops working with you). Your customer moves through a renewal motion (part of the “final” stage – Loyalty) and then cycles back into Service once their contract term resets.

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

Customer Success has three primary objectives during the Service stage of the customer journey. All are critical for ensuring every user is satisfied and engaged with your solution – ideally to the point where they seek to expand their relationship with your business.

Adoption: These actions set the stage for the customer’s positive experience. They have been onboarded, but you want their initial enthusiasm to stick around for the long haul. CSMs check in to ensure the customer is fully integrated and there are no kinks to work out. You want to introduce self-service resources and proactively engage to encourage usage. These touchpoints mark the beginning phase of Service.

Steady-state: Maintain the status quo. Even when other conversations are taking place (as in Growth, below), you can’t drop the ball on normal day-to-day activities. Here, you’re also identifying and mitigating risk. Perform the regular touchpoints, and address support escalations. In this middle segment, you likely have a lot of asynchronous processes: support cycles, EBR meetings, executive engagement series, program governance…really any activity that’s part of business as usual belongs here.

Growth: Finally, identifying, tracking, and fostering potential expansion opportunities. The CSM may hand these leads over to Sales or Account Management (I’ll discuss this more in my next article on the Loyalty stage of the customer journey map), or CS may be responsible for nurturing them over time. Either way, Customer Success directly influences this revenue driver during the Service phase.

Customer Success leads the way in Service, conducting an orchestra of internal processes and external engagement for the customer. The next stage of the customer journey is Loyalty, which overlaps with Service in a few places and can get complicated for CS teams. I’ll be delving into the nitty-gritty details of that final stage in my next article of this series. Are you getting goosebumps? I am!