Defining the Stages of the Customer Journey Map: Tying It All Together

July 18, 2023

Kate McBee

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

So…quick question: What is a customer journey map? If you’ve been following along in my series, you might be wondering if it’s a bit too late in the game for me to ask this basic question. But let’s think about it for a moment. A customer journey map can be many things. Organizations that leverage them wisely use them as step-by-step guides for customer engagement throughout the customer lifecycle. But these maps can also be instruments of positive change in your organization – representing both the current state of your customer experience and what it could be in the future. Customer journey maps can also be guardrails for customer-centric growth, helping to underpin a business philosophy that encourages customer satisfaction, retention, and expansion above all else. At the other end of the spectrum, journey maps can be tools you work really hard on for a short period of time and then leave in a drawer to gather dust. It all depends on how well you operationalize your organization and whether your focus is on real results versus output.

During this six-part series, I’ve talked about each stage of the customer journey: Awareness, Consideration, Acquisition, Service, and Loyalty. Now, I want to talk about what happens when you put all the phases of the journey together into one wonderful, cohesive experience for all of your customers. It’s not easy – departments across the organization must work cross-functionally, communicate well, and agree on the courses of action you all need to take to elevate customer engagement. But here’s the thing. All the effort and the work of developing, implementing, and improving your customer journey maps is WORTH IT. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Some very smart business people out there agree!

Do I really (really!?) need a customer journey map?

I think you know by now that the answer is unequivocally yes! Customer journey maps are necessary to maximize and optimize the customer experience from every angle. They give you the whats, wheres, whens, hows, and even the whys of your customer’s behavior. They can help unlock the mysteries of churn. They can demonstrate where Customer Success is impacting revenue. They can get everyone – all your typically siloed departments – on the same page.

Of the many benefits of mapping the customer journey, Salesforce believes that “the biggest benefit of mapping is simply understanding your customers more. The better you understand their expectations, the more you can tailor the customer experience to their needs.”

Here are some statistics to bring all of this into focus:

  • A recent Salesforce survey on consumer spending found that poor quality of service is the primary reason 52% of respondents said they wouldn’t make a repeat purchase.
  • 81% said they plan to reassess their budgets in the next 12 months as they seek more personalized experiences.
  • In their State of the Connected Customer report, 88% of customers said that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services.
  • 85% expect a unified experience across departments, yet 66% say that they often have to repeat or re-explain information when they speak with representatives from different departments.
  • And 83% of customers say they’ll be more loyal to companies that provide consistency across departments.

This stuff isn’t just incidental or nice to have – it’s essential for keeping and growing a loyal customer base.

A wise investment in the full customer experience

From a Customer Success perspective, not all the stages of the customer journey are created equal. We tend to have the most impact in the latter segments – Acquisition, Service, and Loyalty. But we must look at the full customer journey to really dig into the big picture for our customers. In earlier stages of maturity, Customer Success leaders have no choice but to focus on the areas that concern their preliminary missions (like improving onboarding or diving into renewals). As CS organizations grow, so do their areas of responsibility, and it becomes even more critical to look at the entire customer experience.

As Salesforce puts it in their Connected Customer report: “As marketing, commerce, sales, and service teams innovate on their individual stages of the lifecycle, it’s critical organizations don’t lose sight of how it all fits together.”

Unfortunately, few Customer Success leaders have done this important work. Last year, TSIA discovered that only 57% of CS organizations had taken the time to create a customer journey map. Even worse, 28% of those who had, hadn’t done anything with it! All that time and effort invested, and it’s being wasted. Don’t let this be your organization. Building a comprehensive customer journey map isn’t the end of the story – it’s the start of something bigger.

Once you’ve got a good look at everything happening with your customers at the macro and micro levels (a huge feat in and of itself), share this critical tool with the greater organization. Continue working closely with other departments. Unite everyone together under this common definition of success.

“Customer journey maps are only as good as an organization’s ability to access, use, and share them,” says Jane-Anne Mennella, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner.

From here, you’re in a great position to collect and leverage a historical timeline of customer behavior throughout the lifecycle. Develop consistent control documentation across each stage, and empower every department to benefit from this customer intelligence data.

Harvard Business Review agrees, advising “companies [to] collect higher-resolution data that unveils the underlying pattern of their customer journeys, such as by tracking the emotional content of how customers mention their brands on social media, or by enabling consumers to continuously upvote or downvote a branded chatbot’s responses.”

Put it all together, and what do you get?


When I started this series, I wanted to find a universal customer journey map to help us all define and examine the most common stages a customer experiences when they engage with our businesses. We came up with a thorough model showing how these phases break apart and flow together for our customers, but you can customize it however you need in order to fit your own processes and systems. I hope that Customer Success leaders come away from this series inspired to find more ways CS can support their business across the whole customer lifecycle.