5 Steps to Better B2B Customer Journeys

5 Steps to Better B2B Customer Journeys

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch

A customer’s journey consists of all the touchpoints and interactions they have with your company. Driving a successful engagement strategy is critical to delivering the experience your customers expect — and to guiding them to your desired business outcomes.

Delivering a seamless, omnichannel experience across the full B2B customer lifecycle poses two key challenges:

  • Given the complexity of the technology involved, how do you go from a documented customer journey map, to an operationalized process?
  • Given the cross-functional nature of a customer journey, how do you align siloed teams and disconnected system around end-to-end customer lifecycles?

Most teams are really good at optimizing within our individual silos — for example, perfecting open rates and click-through on an automated marketing email. But it’s much more difficult to optimize end-to-end customer journeys without context at every touchpoint. And when there’s no holistic hand-off between teams, it’s hard to know the true impact of any given touchpoint.

We recently sat down with Isaac Wyatt, Sr. Director of Go-To-Market Strategy & Operations at HashiCorp, to learn his five-step approach to customer journey strategy, and how he aligns key stakeholders around a holistic journey.

A good customer strategy isn’t focused on optimizing individual touchpoints — it’s built around a “global conversion rate,” measured by customers’ progress through their journey, and overall business outcomes.

When you do this correctly, you don’t just optimize conversion, you also discover who your market is, where in the journey you need to spend more time optimizing individual touchpoints, and which technology solutions actually help you deliver the best customer experience.

Here’s Isaac’s five-step approach to customer journey strategy.

1. Identify your core audience

The first step in operationalizing your customer journeys is to analyze your customers and identify your core audience.

Questions to answer:

  • Who is your buyer(s)?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are they trying to achieve, and how can your product help achieve that?
  • What are their challenges in achieving those goals?
  • What are the questions they ask, as technical decision makers, in order to identify solutions to those challenges?
  • What are their blind spots? The things they don’t know that they don’t know?
  • How can you help them be successful?

2. Develop your narrative

Developing a narrative is more than just telling a good story about your customer’s current pain point. The best narratives are the ones that guide them effectively from their current state to their goals — specifically, showing how your product or service will help them achieve those goals.

Once you know who your customers are, what their challenges are, and the objectives they’re working toward, then you can identify the questions they’ll ask in the process of getting to that solution. Your narrative should answer these questions, in the appropriate channel, at the appropriate phase of the journey.

For B2B customers, you must understand your buyer’s technological infrastructure and their org structure — and build narratives for both the buyer and the end user of your product.

3. Sequence the key milestones

For B2B journeys, you must identify the critical path: the quickest, fastest way to connect someone from their current state to the better, future state.

This path is a series of mandatory touch points. For example, if you offer a free trial, getting into that trial is a key milestone. If a customer won’t see value until they’ve engaged with your product, then product usage is a key milestone.

Even if you can’t implement a connected end-to-end journey in your current technology, it’s important to map it conceptually. These journeys should be holistic from the customer’s standpoint of what an ideal journey should look like for them (even if there’s no connective tissue between your systems).

4. Build and instrument your digital infrastructure

For most companies, three types of technology generally impact the customer journey:

  1. Systems of record that store customer data like contact information, communication preferences, and historical interactions with your company
  2. Systems of engagement like email, display ad, push notifications, and applications
  3. Systems of intelligence that apply business logic, automation rules, or apply lead scoring

Making sure that these systems are integrated and that customer data is connected is key to understanding and optimizing the customer journey.

For many companies, this means making the choice between a fully integrated, single-vendor stack or buying best-of-breed apps and investing in integration infrastructure, aligned around a single objective. Whichever approach you choose, your technology stack should support the mechanisms of guiding customers through the critical path. 

This breaks down to three key metrics:

  1. The volume of customers who hit each milestone
  2. The velocity of customers moving from one milestone to the next
  3. The conversion rate from one milestone to the next

5. Orchestrate, scale, optimize, and repeat

Orchestration is the next evolutionary stage of automation. Automation works for a single touchpoint or task — orchestration is the strategic coordination of systems, tools, processes, and people around the customer’s journey.

If you’ve properly aligned your technological infrastructure around supporting the customer’s journey, it’s much easier to test and optimize end-to-end processes. As you scale your customer operations, you can optimize metrics between customer journey milestones — especially where key handoffs between teams or business functions exist.

The result will be much more aligned marketing, sales, customer success, and product teams. If you’re including key stakeholders at every step of implementing journeys, the output should be a customer strategy that helps prioritize where to invest your resources, and where optimizations can drive overall business outcomes.

Want to learn more about how to operationalize your customer journeys?

Watch the full 30-minute webinar with HashiCorp’s Sr. Director of GTM Strategy & Operations, Isaac Wyatt, and Usermind’s Director of Product Marketing, Drew Lewis: 5 Steps to Operationalize Your Customer Journey

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch
Senior Marketing Manager at Usermind

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