In 1898, E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model which mapped a theoretical customer journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of action or purchase. St. Elmo Lewis’ idea is often referred to as the AIDA-model, an acronym which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.
The Purchase Funnel is also often referred to as the “customer funnel,” “marketing funnel,” or “sales funnel” or "conversion funnel." The association of the funnel model with the AIDA concept was first proposed in Bond Salesmanship by William W. Townsend in 1924.
What E. St. Elmo Lewis and others of that time did not know is that roughly 110 years later SaaS software would radically change the way business is run.
Introducing the real customer funnel!
The real customer funnel tracks the customer journey of actual customers post sales, not prospects through the marketing and sales funnel pre-sales.
Amazingly we in post sales have never had an analogous funnel to track the progress of customers through their journey.
We’ve tracked deployment plans, professional services utilization, support and education metrics, product usage statistics and customer satisfaction scores to name a few, but never has a funnel existed to track the customer’s adoption progress.
What is a Customer Funnel and why is it important?
A customer funnel is a model which illustrates the journey a customer takes to successfully adopt the product and therefore realize value from it.
Analogous to a marketing and sales funnel where prospects are measured through key stages towards the purchase, the customer funnel tracks the key phases towards the renewal, and further expansion.
In other words, the customer funnel measures and monitors the key phases of a customer journey that a customer must go through to ensure they are fully adopting the software.
The insights gained from the customer funnel – conversion rates, velocity through the journey, customer health, trending bottlenecks in the journey, revenue through the journey, just to name a few elements of what I’ve named the Customer Journey Index – are invaluable to Customer Success in managing the retention and expansion of customers.
The customer funnel is also the fundamental component to creating agile, customer centric, operations and scaling the organization in the most effective and accelerated fashion because it aligns to the customer.
How then does an organization build a Customer Funnel?
1. Create your Customer Journey map.
There is a reason why my first blog, “Your Secret to Success – Lies Within Your Customer’s Journey”, was about how to create a customer journey.
The customer journey is crucial in creating a customer funnel to monitor adoption progress because it outlines the phases of the funnel (i.e. the adoption success path).
It is the single most important foundational element in the success of Customer Success.
2. Define funnel metrics to create the Customer Journey Index.
Armed with the customer journey map in hand, Customer Success can then proceed to define the measures specific to its customer’s journey denoting real adoption progress.
By real adoption progress I mean metrics that quantify that the customer has exhibited behaviours proving they understand and are using the product, not to be confused with metrics that denote Customer Success has completed some activity with the customer.
3. Monitor and measure customer progress through the Customer Funnel.
Review the Customer Funnel on a regular cadence to manage the customer adoption “pipeline” observing the velocity and conversion of customers through the funnel.
Track how customers are progressing through their individual journey’s, as well as how the aggregate customer base is adopting the technology.
Use customer health and the customer’s specific funnel data to provide insight into how an individual customer is progressing with their product adoption.
Use the Customer Journey Index to identify the current, average, adoption velocity and the insights from the aggregated funnel movement to determine areas for improvement (i.e. where bottlenecking in the customer funnel is occurring) within the product or adoption process that will improve the adoption velocity overall.
With the advent of Customer Success came the need to renew.
With the need to renew comes the requirement that the product delivers value.
To demonstrate value realized, the product must be adopted.
Product adoption as I consistently highlight, is the fundamental underpinning to customer retention and expansion.
Adoption is a journey.
By using that journey to create a Customer Funnel which measures and monitors the progress of product adoption, Customer Success has a disciplined means to drive a repeatable, measurable and scalable practice that drives revenue retention and expansion.
DesiredPath Founder & CEO Kia Puhm developed the Intelligent Framework™ (driven by industry first benchmarks and metrics) to lead the world's earliest Customer Success organizations through the realization of the full Customer Funnel. If your organization needs help building out your customer funnel, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.