Businesses know that their continued growth depends on personalizing the customer experience; however, a lot of them lack the expertise and resources to design an optimal customer journey.
The first step towards crafting a remarkable customer experience involves understanding every minute detail of the customer journey. Only then can you begin to design a customer experience that turns prospects and first-time customers into profitable, lifelong clients.
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What exactly is the customer journey?
A customer’s journey describes the way prospects move through the sales funnel, beginning from awareness through purchase and retention. Each step along the way constitutes a series of interactions, otherwise known as touchpoints.
As they progress along the funnel, leads are being influenced to take certain actions. Ideally, anyone who enters your sales funnel goes on to sign your managed service contract and become a loyal client. To achieve this, you’ll need to create an experience that draws prospects deeper into your funnel.
This is where the customer journey comes in.
Why is the customer journey so important?
A deep understanding of your customers’ journeys enables you to achieve the following:
- Get detailed insights into the motivations and behavior of prospective customers and existing clients.
- Gain a better understanding of customers’ expectations.
- Effectively market your service in a way that solves the pain points of your customers.
- Identify opportunities to enhance service delivery and provide more value to your client base.
Successful MSPs understand that technology and IT services make up about 30% of their workload, while communication takes up as much as 70%. This clearly shows the importance of optimizing interactions at every touchpoint along the customer journey. This is why the customer journey remains one of the cornerstones of the MSP business model.
Stages of the customer journey
To gain a better understanding of the customer journey, let’s take a look at its five stages.
- Acquaintance - This is the initial stage where prospects gather information about your company and the services you provide.
- Decision-making - At this point, prospects are deciding whether your services are good enough to solve their pain points. They weigh several factors, including features, benefits, pricing, etc., and compare them with the competition.
- Purchasing - After weighing all available options, prospects make a final decision and pay for their preferred service model.
- Onboarding - The onboarding process is an important part of the customer journey. Here, companies bring the client into the fold and help them understand their business process and workflow and get acquainted with the teams.
- Retention - Possibly the most challenging part of the entire journey, retention focuses on preventing onboarded clients from switching to other providers.
How to control each stage
In the face of today’s competitive global business landscape, it’s not enough to simply understand the customers’ journey. Savvy MSPs look for a way to control the outcome at each touchpoint.
To help you get started, here are some techniques you can use to control each stage, in order to ensure a more desirable outcome.
Also known as the discovery stage, this is where you should establish your presence on your target audience’s preferred communication channels . You can establish your company as an authority in the MSP space by providing informative and useful content on your websites and social media handles. Such content includes blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, infographics, etc.
While it’s a good idea always to keep your brand in the face of prospects, excessive marketing messages may backfire. Engage prospects by reacting to their comments and questions and sending them appropriate emails that showcase the value of your managed service offerings.
At this point, the major goal is to make the purchasing process smooth. Employ techniques that assure clients that they’ve made the best choice in partnering with your organization.
Rather than focusing on showcasing your company’s expertise, your team should be willing to help and answer all questions and show clients that you really care about their businesses.
An excellent onboarding program guides your clients through the initial setup and ongoing use of your services. To create one, you must find out your customers’ expectations and tailor your onboarding process accordingly. When onboarding clients, you should do the following:
- Set up appointments to plunge your clients into the process
- Explain everything they need to know
- Share some useful materials
- Prepare and sign the managed service contract and SLAs
- Allocate duties and responsibilities to your team members
Although it’s no easy task to get prospects to sign up for your MSP services, getting them to stay and become long-term customers is very challenging. Analyze your customers’ behavior and gather feedback to understand their needs and evaluate their experience. With this, you can tweak your customer-retention strategies to ensure optimal results.
Further reading MSP Customer Retention: 5 Best Practices to Reduce the Churn
How to create a customer journey map
Using charts and diagrams is the best way to depict the customer journey. This is because the journey of prospects through the B2B sales funnel is often cyclical, rather than linear. This is where the customer journey map comes in.
A customer journey map is a visual representation of customers’ interactions with the organization. With it, you get a more accurate idea of your customers’ needs, pain points, and expectations, which helps to improve customer experience.
Why do you need one?
Customer journey maps describe the average experience a client has with a business. This includes customer motivations, areas of friction, key events (such as conversions), and other factors that influence the customers’ perception of a business.
A customer journey map also helps you to compare your projection of how customer interactions should go at each touchpoint with actual customer behavior. You gain a deeper understanding of how clients perceive your services, while identifying experience gaps (unmet expectations that cause prospects to leave).
If you don’t know about these gaps, you won’t know what to improve on.
Once you’ve mapped out the current customer journey, you can see at a glance whether
- Your organization is achieving its goals
- Your customers are having the best experience you can deliver.
To help you get started, let’s take a look at the steps required to create a comprehensive customer journey map.
- Identify your objective for creating this map.
- Define your target audience and your ideal buyer persona — This involves knowing your target audience, their pain points and motivations, and the channels where they can best reach you. As an MSP, you also need to understand the business processes of prospective clients and at what point you can add value as an MSP.
- Identify all personnel that are instrumental to the creation and success of the customer journey — This may include sales engineers, customer success managers, project managers, technical account managers, etc.
- Define the touchpoints — Here you need to state explicitly what happens at each of the following touchpoints: acquaintance, decision-making, purchasing, onboarding, and retention.
- Create a timeline — You’ll need to estimate the time it takes from a client’s point of entry into your sales funnel to when they convert. This is the point where they sign your managed service contract and come onboard.
- Use templates — Although you can create a customer journey map from scratch, using tested and proven templates will help reduce the workload.
MSPs have their hands full ensuring that their clients’ IT infrastructure is up and running optimally. For this reason, many end up neglecting the customer experience and only realize their mistake when clients terminate their contracts and sign up with the competition.
Taking control of the customer journey from the first to the final touchpoint is a sure way to keep your clients happy, and your bottom line profitable.