Integrating Customer Experience Into Your Customer Journey

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By Jeremy Gillespie

There’s been a hot debate between Customer Success and Customer Experience. Customer Success professionals believe customer experience is a subset of customer success. Customer Experience professionals believe customer success is a subset of customer experience.

We’re not going to solve this debate today. Instead, I’m going to lay out 3 simple steps to ensure that the customer experience is an integral part of your customer journey. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the difference between customer success and customer experience.

Customer Success vs. Customer Experience

The difference is can be a little confusing, so rather than trying to explain it in my own words, I’ll let industry leaders articulate the difference.

The Customer Success Association says Customer Success is about customer relationship, retention, and optimization, and the most effective way to keep your customers is to make them as successful as possible in using your products. Essentially, in their words, customer success is based around the value customers get from using your product.

On the other hand, Forrester defines Customer Experience as “every interaction, or touch point, your customer has with your brand. It not only includes the whats (the interactions), but also the hows (perceptions, feelings) of the customer experiences.” Rather than the value customers receive from your product, customer experience is about how customers interact with your brand, and ultimately how your brand makes them feel.

The interesting part here is both impact one another and are often intertwined.

So how do you make sure Customer Experience is at the core of Customer Success? Well… it starts with your customer journey.

Step 1 - Map your ideal customer journey

Mapping your customer journey is the first step to defining outcomes and experiences at each stage of their journey. Typically, the focus is to define the measurable outcome at each stage, which makes sense, but I’m going to go a step further.

I think it makes sense to use the think-feel-do framework here. This is a framework often used in marketing to develop persuasive messaging, but it translates well to customer success. As CS professionals, we are often concerned with “Do.” This is the change or action that you want a customer to take at a specific stage in their journey.

To incorporate the experience more, we need to also define what the customer should “Think” and “Feel” as well.

Step 2 - Define the experience at each stage

Just as you define plays and processes to work toward a desired outcome for the customer, you need to do the same for “Think” and “Feel.”

Think refers to how the customer perceives your product and how it will make them better at their job. Your goal is to have your customers think about your product in a specific way at each stage of their journey. Think of it as a new “lightbulb” that goes off about how your product supports their goals.

Feel is all about the emotions they feel at each stage. While this is tough to define, when you knock this out of the park, it’s virtually impossible for them not to take the desired action. At each stage you need to define how they should feel and what emotions they should have.

So just as you map your desired outcome for each stage of your customer journey, go back and also define what your customer should Think and Feel. I know it sounds a little fluffy, but having these defined will make sure everyone is on the same page about not only what success looks like, but also what experience they should have.

Step 3 - Gather feedback on the experience

So how do you know if you’re meeting the customer experiences you’ve laid out in step 2? The beauty here is you do not need to implement any new platforms or measurements; you can use the existing measurement techniques you’re already (or should be) using. Here are three ways to measure your Customer Experience across your customer journey:

  1. Net Promoter Score - the percentage of your customers who would—or wouldn’t—recommend your company to their friends, family, or colleagues.

  2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) - the average satisfaction score that customers rate a specific experience they had with your organization—such as getting an answer from customer support or returning a product.

  3. Churn - the percentage of customers who either don’t make a repeat purchase (for transaction-based businesses) or cancel their recurring service (for subscription-based businesses).

When you integrate Customer Experience as part of your customer success journey you should see all of these metrics improve. Most notably, you’ll see success at each stage improve, which will reduce churn and increase your customer lifetime value.

Need help weaving Customer Success with Customer Experience in your organization? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers both customer journey mapping and process design engagements. Please visit TheSuccessLeague.io for more information.

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Jeremy Gillespie - Jeremy is a growth marketing expert who loves using complex data to build creative retention solutions. By leveraging data and technology, he excels at creating innovative retention and expansion marketing programs for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Jeremy is a founding advisor to The Success League, and is also the founder of Built to Scale, a Bay Area consulting firm focused on helping businesses build scalable customer acquisition and retention programs. He holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and MBA from Point Park University. He's a proud former Pittsburgher, currently living in San Francisco.