Industry Insights

Customer Journey Mapping for the Growing Business

Mapping the customer journey is an exercise often conducted as the foundations of a business are laid. They are often created from a mix of hope, best practices, and ignorance. The initial customer journey map outlines what we hope will be true for our customers because of our efforts. However, as companies grow, the customer experience can grow and change as the company shifts processes in personnel to manage growing pains. At some point, it becomes necessary to revisit the customer experience map to see what’s still true and what has changed. As they say, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”

An accurate customer journey map guides marketing, sales, and operations. Defining the phases of the customer journey, as well as the desired customer experience at each phase of the journey helps each functional division within the business understand what to focus on and how to apply their talents. 

What is it Like to Be Your Client?

For each defined phase of the customer journey, it is helpful to define multiple facets connected with that phase, such as the ideal experience, marketing/sales/service strategies, collateral pieces necessary, operational activities, and content owners or subject matter experts.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical client experience journey to better understand how to implement this strategy

Phase 1: Pre-prospect

  • Definition: A potential client - one who fits our ideal client avatar – (learn more about creating an ideal client avatar here) does not know about us.
  • Ideal experience: The potential client only hears positive things via word-of-mouth, social media, testimonials, etc.
  • Marketing strategy: Brand awareness campaigns via digital marketing channels.
  • Sales strategy: Sales team analyzes potential client for fit and needs. Seeks referrals from existing clients.
  • Service strategy: Not applicable until prospect becomes a client.
  • Collateral: Brand identity package. 
  • Activities: Sales team gathers intelligence. Marketing team focuses on brand awareness via digital marketing campaigns.

Phase 2: Prospect

  • Definition: A potential client knows about us but aren’t ready to make the purchase decision.
  • Ideal experience: We add value and demonstrate our market differentiators.
  • Marketing strategy: Education and best practice sharing via email, vlog, blog, webinars, conferences, etc.
  • Sales strategy: Regularly paced touches. Always having a “next activity” planned.
  • Service strategy: Not applicable until prospect becomes a client.
  • Collateral: Educational materials. Marketing materials.
  • Activities: Sales activities as scheduled.

Phase 3: Active Lead

  • Definition: A potential client wants to work with us. We are preparing proposal documents.
  • Ideal experience: Sales team is responsive, open, and honest.
  • Marketing strategy: Invite potential clients to events and activities.
  • Sales strategy: Deliver a proposal to client’s decision makers.
  • Service strategy: Not applicable until prospect becomes a client.
  • Collateral: Process graphics to set expectations and explain operations. Proposal documents and presentation.
  • Activities: Sales team presents proposal, overcomes objections, and sets expectations.

Phase 4: Onboarding

  • Definition: A potential client has become a client by signing contracts.
  • Ideal experience: Expectations are clearly set and understood. There is a clean transition from sales to operations. Client feels known and appreciated. We are seen as helpful and efficient.
  • Marketing strategy: Clients are celebrated with gifts or recognition of some kind. Contacts are added to client list for promotions and event invitations.
  • Sales strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Service strategy: Introduction to operational contacts. Let client know who to contact based on their service needs.
  • Collateral: Helpful checklists to assist with the onboarding process.
  • Activities: Align operational team around new client’s contract, preferences, needs, and wants. Successfully onboard new client.

Phase 5: Client for 0-90 days

  • Definition: A client we are actively providing services for. We are learning how to engage with each other for a successful business relationship.
  • Ideal experience: We are a true partner, offering insight and solving problems.
  • Marketing strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Sales strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Service strategy: Bi-weekly or monthly check-ins via phone or email to answer questions, solve problems, and seek feedback.
  • Collateral: Any reports promised.
  • Activities: Ensure that operations are running smoothly, and any hiccups are proactively addressed to build confidence.

Phase 6: Client for 90 days-1 year

  • Definition: Client is getting into a rhythm with our service. We understand their needs, wants, and preferences more and more.
  • Ideal experience: We are exceeding expectations and actively seeking feedback to improve the customer experience.
  • Marketing strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Sales strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Service strategy: Offer analytics to demonstrate quarter over quarter performance. Reach out regularly to let the client know we care.
  • Collateral: Any reports promised.
  • Activities: Open communication to keep stakeholders in the loop on anything happening with the client.

Phase 7: Client for 1 year+

  • Definition: Established client.
  • Ideal experience: Client feels appreciated and part of a family. We are seen as a trusted partner and advocate.
  • Marketing strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Sales strategy: Not applicable to clients.
  • Service strategy: Annual reviews of service level. Client satisfaction surveys.
  • Collateral: Any reports promised.
  • Activities: Re-earn the business every day.

The phases you recognize or what to address for your clients may differ. The items you want to identify for each phase may also be different. You can use this structure as a guideline, to spark conversation and ideation within your teams. 

Ending Notes

My favorite thing about approaching the customer experience journey in this way is that it ties the functions of sales, marketing, and operations together to create a cohesive journey map. If the operations team is completely focused on serving existing clients, they may miss the opportunity to surface client compliments to be used as testimonials. Testimonials can be used to create a positive brand identity for Pre-Prospects, a customer group that they have no actual responsibility to. By the same token, when a sales person understands what an ideal customer experience should be for a client in their first 90 days, they can be more effective at setting expectations. This way, the operations team is set up for success when they begin to engage with a newly signed client.

So, what’s it like to be your client? Are you thinking about people out in the ether who don’t know about you yet? Are you focused on attracting clients more than delighting the ones you have? Are there silos in your business that keep the customer experience from being continuous, fluid and excellent? It might be a great time, especially as you begin to set goals for the next year, to take a moment and consider all the stages of experience your clients go through and how you and your teams can make them excellent. 

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams is a dot connector and story teller. In her current role as the Client Development Manager at EMERGICON, a Texans-serving-Texans emergency medical billing company, she is using her background as a communicator to help Texas Fire and EMS departments receive the reimbursements they earn so they can continue to serve their communities. She strategically employs technology to connect, educate and inspire colleagues and clients in an industry about which she is passionate.

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