SaaS Customer Journey Mapping: What is it and how to get started? - American Technology Consulting

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SaaS Customer Journey Mapping: What is it and how to get started?

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Vaishnavi Shah

Published November 29, 2022

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Most SaaS companies believe that their product is the best in the market. While this may be true in terms of functionality, the success of SaaS products depends largely on customer experience. 

Today, most businesses use around 200 different SaaS products. So even if you have a brilliant product, but customers are driving away, it means that you need to identify the common customer journey and move away from your traditional method of delivering customer experience. With SaaS competition becoming fierce, you should create a hook that keeps customers engaged with your product. 

And this is why you need to create a user journey map. 

Let’s explore the crucial aspects of customer journey mapping for SaaS companies, its benefits, and how you can start implementing it. 

A quick dive into what SaaS customer journey mapping is

The SaaS customer journey map visualizes all the events and actions a user takes when interacting with your company and application. You map out all the stages the customer goes through, from the awareness to the adoption stage, and include their emotions and pain points across multiple channels. This map tells you a story of their experiences. Your goal is to gather these insights, analyze them, and improve their experience by adding value at each touchpoint. 

Why does customer journey mapping matter for SaaS companies?

Customer journey mapping offers a world of benefits to SaaS companies. Here are a few critical ones: 

Reduces churn rates:

If customers don’t see value in your product or have a bad experience, they will naturally lose interest in it. This can increase churn rates. Journey mapping allows you to identify friction points that customers find annoying and create strategies to eliminate them. 

Increases retention:

Monitoring ongoing customer interactions and relationships can help you identify who will stay and who will churn. For instance, if a particular customer is dropping off at the payment page, you can follow up with them to understand why they are not converting and whether they are facing any issues with the payment portal. This will reduce the costs of acquiring new customers and improve customer retention. 

Tracks brand health:

Customer expectations are constantly evolving. And this is why it is crucial to track brand health. User journey mapping will help you understand how satisfied customers are with your product and whether or not your brand is delivering its promise. They analyze data from every channel and survey to help SaaS companies strengthen their position in the market. It answers three essential questions that will help you track brand health: 

  • What do customers think about your brand? (Their perception and emotions)
  • How do they interact with your brand? (Analyzing touchpoints and brand attributes)
  • How memorable is your brand? (Brand recall)

Creates personalized experiences:

Studies show 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And when this doesn’t happen, they feel frustrated. At its heart, SaaS customer journey mapping is about putting user needs at the center of everything you do. It will help you identify personalization opportunities across every touchpoint. 

For instance, if you are experiencing higher churn rates during the onboarding process, you can send personalized emails with helpful guides and video tutorials to help users navigate the product. Companies like Salesforce, Zoho, and Zendesk use personalization techniques to nudge users gently to explore their products. 

How to get started?

While there is no sure-shot way to get started with SaaS customer journey mapping, most companies do a thorough analysis of the six stages of the customer lifecycle. 

Stage 1: Awareness and Evaluation

This is where customers start learning about your product, and your relationship begins. At this stage, they are facing a problem and will be doing some research to find the best solution. They may search the internet or social media for information. So you have to put out enticing content that is relevant and captures attention to make them interested in exploring your product. 

Crucial digital touchpoints you need to pay attention to: 

  • Website content
  • Social media posts and engagement (Comments and likes)
  • Affiliate websites
  • Paid marketing channels such as Google ads, Facebook ads, and more
  • Online reviews

Stage 2: Acquisition

Typically in SaaS, a client is not purchasing a product but subscribing to it. Your goal at this stage is to convince your target audience to sign up for a trial and convert them. And when a prospect decides to try your product, their onboarding experience will be the deciding factor on whether they will convert or not. 

Making your onboarding process engaging and easygoing is vital. When clients finish the onboarding process, you should be able to demonstrate how your product brings value to their organization. If your onboarding process is complex or fails to convey necessary information, prospective clients will drop off. The touch points at this stage will power the client’s decisions. 

Crucial digital touchpoints to be aware of: 

  • Demo requests
  • Onboarding emails
  • Free trial
  • Videos educating the users
  • In-app messaging

Want to learn more about how to design a seamless onboarding experience? Read this guide here

Stage 3. Adoption

Once your prospective client converts, you should stay in touch with them and introduce them to advanced features and settings. Doing this builds a practice and helps them derive better value from your product. You want the clients to integrate your product into their workflow, so you need to keep demonstrating value and nudge them to keep exploring. 

Critical digital touchpoints you should be aware of: 

  • Blogs and helpful articles about the addition of new features
  • Video tutorials
  • In-app notifications
  • Email sequences
  • Webinars and how-to videos
  • Case studies
  • Self-serve resources like how-to-guides
  • Customer support forum
  • Weekly email summaries of product usage 
  • Chat assistants

Stage 4: Renewal

Renewal is essential in terms of revenue generation. When a customer decides to stay with you, it means they derive value from your product and may turn into loyal advocates in near future. It is a stage that helps you grow your business, so it is vital that you continuously follow up with them and ensure that they are not facing any friction. You can send emails, reminders, offers, and surveys to gauge their experience. Also, keep reminding them about your product benefits to influence their decision. 

Critical digital touchpoints to pay attention to: 

  • Promotional emails
  • Surveys
  • Educational videos and how-to guides
  • In-app notifications and reminders
  • Accounting and billing receipts (post-purchase)
  • Sales call

Stage 5: Expansion

At this stage in the customer lifecycle, your customers may be somewhat satisfied with your product. So it makes sense to expand your product offerings and create up-selling opportunities. 

A vital point to remember here is not to push or overdo it. You can send some triggers time-to-time about offers or upgrades, but that’s about it. For instance, if a user has a basic subscription, you can send them emails about how the professional package can help them better or make things more streamlined. The content here must be personalized and to the point. 

Stage 6: Advocacy

Studies show that 74% of consumers believe word of mouth to be a critical influencing factor in their purchasing decision. And this is why you should turn loyal customers into your brand advocates. Clients at this stage may have tried your subscriptions and explored your features so they will portray their positive experiences better. 

You can simply send social media sharing buttons. Many SaaS companies also design a brand ambassador program that offers rewards to their loyal advocates. 

A 5-Step checklist to create a SaaS customer journey map 

Once you have data from the customer lifecycle stages, you can create a SaaS customer journey map in five easy steps. 

  1. Decide which map you want to create:

There are four types of SaaS customer journey maps. Let’s review them quickly:

  • Current state maps: These center around the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they experience during their journey as it is currently structured.
  • Future state maps: As the name suggests, these maps aim to anticipate the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that customers will ideally experience when interacting with your brand. 
  • Day in the life maps: They showcase the everyday customer experiences with your brand, providing you with deeper insight into customer pain points.
  • Service blueprint maps: They typically identify the underlying factors that can influence customer experience.
  1.  Define all customer interaction touchpoints:

From blog posts to emails, strengthen your understanding of all touchpoints. Visualize all the touchpoints, including the post-purchase ones, and find ways to optimize them. 

  1. Gather data from the customer lifecycle:

You can gather data from the above six-step customer lifecycle and break it down into sub-stages. With these insights, you can create customer milestones, analyze whether there is friction, and get a better understanding of how your customers feel about your product. 

  1. Mark events that need action:

We have talked about how you can take action during each lifecycle stage. However, certain events may require deeper analysis. Here you can compare how an event should ideally look like vs. what really happened and how you can improve the process. For each issue, you can develop solutions and communicate with the client. 

  1. Keep optimizing the map:

After your SaaS customer journey mapping is complete, you need to make continuous improvements to it. You can plan and optimize your marketing initiatives to gather more feedback to make the map as relevant as possible. 

Bridge the gap between customer expectations and reality today!

With 70% of companies using SaaS-based applications, the competition is getting fierce every day. Having a detailed SaaS customer journey map is no longer a nice-to-have strategy, it has become a necessity. Seeing things from your customers’ perspectives gives a better idea of how to create powerful products. 

And if you want to build a SaaS product that exceeds customer expectations, ATC can help! We have a team of dedicated developers, software engineers, and designers to meet your complex project requirements. Just shoot us a mail, and we will help you take your product to the next level.

Interested in becoming a certified SAFe practitioner?

Interested in becoming a SAFe certified? ATC’s SAFe certification and training programs will give you an edge in the job market while putting you in a great position to drive SAFe transformation within your organization.

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