When asked what the most important characteristic of a SaaS business was, 58% of people said that being customer-centric was key.

And according to Deloitte customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren't focused on the customer.

So what are they doing differently?

They’re mapping their customer’s journey to enhance user-experience, save money and increase revenue.

Max Smith-Gee, Head of Customer Success at Simpo took the time to answer some burning questions on everything from onboarding to aligning the sales process to customer journeys.

If you’d like to learn more about customer journeys catch the replay of Simpo’s presentation ‘Customer Journeys: Why is the ride so bumpy?’ From this year’s Customer Success Festival.

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Q: What are some of the most common pitfalls you see being made when it comes to customer journeys and what’s your advice on how to avoid them?

A: One of the biggest pitfalls we see is when onboarding users to the product, teams tend to focus on the beginning of the journey only.  In other words, just past activation and “just about” onboarded, which let’s face it, means different things to different people. Of course, it depends on the product’s complexity and how long it takes to become proficient but we see too often, users are left to their own devices. That takes time and energy. That’s when you can see a drop-off.

The second pitfall is treating all users the same in terms of their onboarding experience. It’s simply not true. Everyone learns differently and at different paces. It’s never one-size-fits-all.

We recommend that you lay-out your customer journey and every team supporting users along that path should have the same view. Mark the important milestones and exactly how to help users nudge to the next natural step. It’s a combination of tech and human touch and you need to figure out which lever to push, and when.

Carve up the segments within your user community. Determine the playbook to onboard that particular segment, based on a variety of factors that you’ll learn and adjust over time. Last, don’t forget to measure results. Otherwise, you’ll never know what works.

Q: What’s the best way you’ve found to align the sales process to the customer journey, particularly when the customer is B2B?

A: Selling SaaS has changed a ton over the last several years. It largely depends on sales price and packaging but for the most part, reps ‘don’t get out of bed’ unless it’s ~$30k ARR. To that end, it’s often a hands-off, digital, or product-led sales cycle. So, shared data from shared systems is critical. That usually involves Salesforce CRM, Hubspot, or whichever MA system and the tool of choice for customer success /support which could be a combination of Salesforce, Simpo for user adoption, or perhaps a customer success platform for high-touch CSM teams.

As long as sales and front-line teams are focused on helping users see value, the coveted Aha!,  then it should be a predictable journey path thereafter. Hand-off is critical so the customer doesn’t have to re-educate and repeat what they’re trying to achieve. Clear hand-offs and shared visibility with the right metrics wins the day.

Q: Which steps in the customer journey tend to be the most neglected? And what can businesses do to address these?

A: Unfortunately once a trail user converts to paying, most organizations tend to step off the gas. In other words, they focus on chasing new logos! When renewal time comes around, CS teams put their head up and try to figure out what playbook to follow and avoid the deadly churn. Touching base just before renewal is terrible. It’s annoying for the customer. Also, the health check which is really a mask for an upsell check can be equally frustrating.

Users really just want to quickly move from novice to pro. Spend the cycles to get a user fully onboarded and comfortable to the point where they say “I now can’t do my job without your product” and “I’m confident to find my way from here”. It’s this midpoint stage that we see most neglected and it’s actually a prime opportunity to really build a long-lasting relationship and expand within an account rather than wait for a user to upsell themselves.

Q: What are the signs that a customer journey needs to improve? And how can these be quickly identified?

A: Depending on the product complexity, a customer journey could be multi-stages or by contrast, could be straightforward and completed in a matter of days. Regardless, you still need a clear picture of what the journey looks like. Improvement comes when you collect and share metrics at the inflection points along the journey.

These stages can be aggregated into the following 3 revenue proof-points.

  • Convert to Paid
  • Expand with Upsell
  • Renew for long-term

The key questions to ask are:

  • What indicators do we need to watch for better conversions?
  • What traits and behavior do we see for upsells?
  • What traits and behaviors do we see with renewals?

It does take time to see the right set of indicators and traits. An active trial user may log in multiple times a day or week, invite a colleague to join, or run X number of reports. Those are things you need to figure out and optimize for early in the journey.

Ultimately, you need to align all team members on the shared indicators, traits, and behaviors and ideally track them in the systems so you know where to spend cycles and resources.

Q: Do you have any tips on how best to align multichannel customer journeys?

A: SaaS users communicate and learn in a variety of ways. Examples include docs, help, or academy tutorials plus videos for faster onboarding.

Additional communication occurs over chat, zoom, tickets, or talking to support live. It gets confusing and can be hard to collect all touches for detailed analysis, across all channels. We recommend keeping the user in-app as much as possible. Provide the relevant content, easy access to help, and onboarding at the right point in the journey but always keep the user inside the product. Easier to manage and measure.

Only lean on email and zoom, which are unavoidable, for the human or high-touch.

Q: Buy-in from key stakeholders can be a real barrier when it comes to customer journey mapping. How can people communicate the importance of an engaging customer journey to senior figures to alleviate potential struggles internally?

A: This ultimately boils down to the “so-what” journey proof-points which we mentioned earlier. If the GTM team is spending marketing dollars and resources to drive users to evaluate and trial the product, then you expect some pay-back or return at a future point. Of course, the product needs to be designed and built for a self-serve trial experience but you need to see conversions over time.

Converted customers will absolutely provide feedback and insights on their journey experience and that should be shared across all teams including product and engineering.