How to Improve B2B Retention With the Customer Journey Map
A person standing at the edge of maze, representing the intricate customer journey.
03 Sep

The customer journey map can provide insights into your audience, offering, and future as a company. But how can the customer journey map work for B2B audiences, especially in relation to a service or subscription instead of a product? Today we’re taking a look at a better customer journey model for B2B and exploring how it can be used to improve customer retention and success.

What Is the Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a flowchart or diagram that visually shows how a customer interacts with a company. It outlines customer touchpoints, typically categorizing them into four steps:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Action
  4. Retention/Growth

Why Is Customer Journey Mapping Important?

Customer journey maps are useful to companies for a number of reasons:

  • They put customers in nice, neat boxes
  • They help decision makers understand their customers’ motivations and needs (and inspire upsells and cross-sells)
  • They assist with identifying and fixing customer pain points
  • They identify gaps in the experience where potential customers may be lost
  • They provide actionable information about how to market to customers based on where they are in their journey
Illustrated hands hold arrows, representing the customer journey map

So, What’s the Problem With The Customer Journey Map?

Traditional customer journey mapping can be a helpful tool for a typical B2C, product-focused company. But what about B2B sales? What about service and subscription offerings? And how can the customer journey map focus more on customer success than acquisition?

The reality is that when it comes to an on-going customer relationship (especially in the B2B space), customers don’t fit into nice, neat boxes. Relationships are complicated, and can’t be boiled down to a small handful of factors or steps.

The real customer journey:

  • Doesn’t end with a single purchase
  • Doesn’t stick to a specific timeline
  • Is fluid, and can move between phases non-linearly
  • Should be focused as much on customer retention as acquisition

What Might the Typical B2B Customer Journey Look Like?

The truth is, there is no typical B2B customer journey. Instead, let’s look at three examples of a customer journey for a B2B SaaS company.

Scenario One

A decision maker learns about your software through an ad. They look into alternatives but eventually decide to book a free demo. After the demo, they subscribe to your software and are onboarded.

They use and like the product, but never adopt it to its fullest potential, due to a lack of focus on retention. They are always a high-risk account. You retain them for one year, after which they cancel and opt for another software.

Scenario Two

A decision maker learns about your software through another business unit within their company. They reach out and you make a direct cross-sell. There is no competition for your bid.

You onboard the customer and focus on their success and retention until they become one of your key accounts. After two years, you have upsold their business unit to an enterprise license and have cross-sold to three other units in the company on their referral.

Scenario Three

A decision maker learns about your software and reaches out for a demo. Unfortunately, your software doesn’t have the features they need. They opt for another software, but remain aware of your business.

A year later, you reach out after a major feature update, and after a demo, the client subscribes to your software. You onboard them and stay alert to their feedback so you can continue to grow your offering to meet their needs and prevent them from becoming high-risk.

A network of points that are all interconnected – a better visualization of the real customer journey map

The New Customer Journey Map

So, if the traditional customer journey map isn’t applicable to your business, what do you do? We suggest thinking of the customer journey map as a dynamic lifecycle.

It’s not as easy to visualize, but you can create a lifecycle with custom stages like onboarding, growth, and adoption that fit your customers far better than a one-size-fits-all solution. Customers may move through these stages linearly, or they may move back and forth over time.

How Can You Use Journey Mapping to Improve Customer Retention?

Now that you’ve built your customer journey map, how can you use it to improve your customer retention? Here are four ideas to maximize value.

Go Beyond Click Attribution

The traditional customer journey map can put too much focus on a single point of conversion. And data and analytics can back those conclusions up. But the true customer journey consists of many touchpoints in time that eventually result in a new customer.

Understanding which touchpoints your best customers encounter can help you replicate their journey for future customers and high-risk accounts. And, considering what the customer journey might look like for lost leads can be just as telling. How can these pain points be mitigated to reduce and prevent churn?

Understand the “Average” Journey

In addition to looking at best and worst case scenarios, consider the “typical” customer journey. 

Looking at individual customer data makes it hard to identify trends and prioritize adjustments within your customer journey. But, with a dynamic customer map, you can build a persona and focus your efforts on the tweaks that will make the most significant difference to the largest number of customers and leads.

Identify High-Risk & High-Opportunity Customers

Dynamic journey mapping can help you identify patterns and predict lost customers before their exit. It can also help you spot “ideal” customers earlier on who may be a great opportunity for an upsell or cross-sell. Understanding these two edge cases can help strengthen your renewal and retention strategy and boost your net revenue retention.

Drive Your Company Forward

Once you understand what your custom journey looks like, you’ll have the insights you need to drive your company’s success and growth. Taking a deeper look at your customer journey can uncover completely new opportunities, whether that’s developing a new software feature or opening a new pricing tier for smaller companies. Let the pain points and successes you discover be your guiding light moving forward.

Build dynamic customer maps, track relationship strength, and improve your net revenue retention with RevSetter, our intuitive customer success platform.

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