Customer loyalty begins with a great customer experience. As Vince Lombardi once said, “It takes months to find a customer… seconds to lose one.” Customer loyalty is built on trust, understanding, and problem-solving. By implementing these values into every step of your customer journey map, you’ll be able to improve the overall customer experience, increase loyalty, and decrease customer churn.

Define Your Current Customer Journey Map

Take a moment to define your current customer journey map as a baseline. Include all touchpoints, from the first customer contact to the last (or continual) customer contact. You’ll notice that there are multiple teams involved in your customer journey. From marketing to sales to customer experience and beyond, the opportunities to build trust, understanding, and create solutions for your customer are endless. Identify the touchpoints that will be most important to nurturing the relationship with the customer and work from there.

Set Yourself Up for Success

While a customer is typically introduced to your company via marketing materials or your website, the first human touchpoint in a customer journey will likely be with a sales rep or setter. The experience with sales can make or break a deal. A sales rep that takes the time to understand the customer’s needs before jumping into a pitch will lay a foundation of trust and confidence. This “needs analysis” changes the pitch from being “feature” focused to being “solution” focused, and the customer will appreciate a customized sales experience. This is also the perfect time to set expectations for your product or service. Whether the deal is won or lost, you can use Win Loss Analysis to follow up with your customer and show you care about their experience regardless of the deal outcome. This allows you to gather unbiased, detailed feedback on what your team did well and what could be adjusted.

Keep Up with Customer Needs and Expectations

Throughout your customer journey, your customer’s needs will change. Shifts in market, budget, goals, and other factors will impact what your customer cares about. Your customer’s expectations and their perceived value of your product/service will always be aligned with their needs—despite initial conversations and set expectations. To combat this, include touchpoints within your customer journey to check on customer needs. Quarterly reviews and frequent touch-bases can help build relationships and keep you from being blindsided if a cancellation or non-renewal occurs. You may find that needs that were well defined in the discovery phase of your sales process have changed, and you’ll need to adjust your customer experience processes to ensure needs are met. Adding a Customer Experience Analysis before your customer’s renewal period gives insight into your customer’s perception of the solution and service your company provides. This is crucial to understanding what steps need to be taken in order to improve your customer experience and decrease churn when it comes time for renewal.

Keep these steps in the customer journey in mind as potential pain points the customer might encounter:

Customer Journey Touchpoints

  1. Transition from sales to operations. It is not uncommon for issue to occur when this transfer happens. Whether sales promised things that operations cannot fulfill, or operations is not following through on the reasonable promises made by sales, there is a reason to focus on this transition. Ensuring proper communication of expectations is a critical step to making their journey a success.
  2. Implementation. If it is a software solution, implementation can dramatically impact the buyer’s journey. Having the checks in place to monitor and resolve any issues can be a lifesaver to maintaining the relationship. It is just as important with a services-based product.
  3. Mid-term. Too many companies lose sight of a customer’s experience midway through their contract. Don’t forget periodic checks to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty are still at optimal levels.
  4. Pre-renewal. As the contract/purchase term approaches its normal end date, review your customer’s experience before they begin the process to decide on a new term or solution. Solving any issues before your buyer begins to the evaluation process again eliminates potential deal breakers going into the buying cycle.

Care About the Renewal

As companies, we sometimes get so caught up in prospecting and lead gen that we discount the value of a customer renewal. During renewal discussions, take another opportunity to build trust and appreciation, understand your customer’s need (because it likely has changed), and ensure that your customer is benefitting from your solution. Whether a renewal is won or lost, you’ll want to understand why. Performing a win loss analysis for a renewal deal will help you to identify the strengths of your employees, processes, and product/service while giving you the unbiased feedback you need to improve your customer experience through training and process changes.

There are many areas within your customer journey where you can take actionable steps to improving customer loyalty. Through carefully understanding your customer’s needs and gathering the necessary data to make informed decisions about process improvements, you’ll be able to build trust, win more deals, and increase customer retention.

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