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What do a Road Trip and a SaaS Customer Journey Have in Common?

Customer Adoption
Customer Adoption

If a person you had just met told you that you are going on a road trip without any further information other than to explain how the car engine operates and then told you to hop in the car, would you?

I suspect like most of us, you would feel a bit apprehensive and would want a lot of questions answered before you did hop in that car.

Where are we going?  How long will we be gone?  How are we getting there?  Who will be going with us and who will be there when we arrive?  What will we do when we get there? 

And who are you again?

Those may be some of the questions floating around in your head.

How the engine operates would probably be the last thing on your mind.

What if that same person shared with you that they were going to take you on a road trip to your bucket list city? 

They established their credibility by explaining with clarity that you would get to go to the restaurants and shops on your wish list when you arrived, building up the excitement of the trip further. 

They would carefully outline that the drive would take 4 hours, that you would be gone for one week and to pack accordingly.

When they finished painting the vision, they would ask you if you had any questions and whether there was anything else to add that could make your trip more enjoyable.

How would you feel then?

I bet a lot more excited and ready to go!

When we in Customer Success start to onboard the customer with our technology, diving right in to the education and implementation of the software without setting the context for what the customer is trying to achieve and how it will be accomplished within their business environment, we are in essence telling them to “hop in the car” right away.

We potentially reduce their excitement about the product, create angst and inadvertently slow down the process by raising more questions than we answer.

Last week I was in Seattle with another awesome customer whose people are super smart, motivated to do the right thing and have high integrity.

This company is totally successful, they are doing all the right things, their processes and people are set up really well, and they have been growing like crazy.

In order to scale they wanted to figure out how to build a customer centric organization so we started to map out their customer’s journey.

As it consistently happens, even when I point out to think about the journey from the customer’s perspective, the first pass of the journey consisted of the software implementation steps that this company wanted their customers to follow.

The journey started right away with the kick off call to discuss the technical details and was from the vendor’s perspective as to how they envisioned the customer should adopt the software.

It did not take into consideration circumstances such as the customer implementation team not being aware of the objectives for purchasing the software because they were not part of the sales cycle, or that the team is new to software and therefore uncomfortable with technology, or that some people are threatened by the impact of the changes that software will have on their responsibilities.

In other words, they were telling their customer to “hop into the car” without setting the context first for the overall vision of this exciting “road trip”.

What was missing were all the necessary steps to set the context for the business goals to be achieved and to ensure that the team necessary for successfully launching the application, were also comfortable in proceeding.

When we started to look at the journey from the customer’s perspective – what the customer’s daily priorities are (which the software they are purchasing is almost never one of them) and what challenges typically occur when bringing the software into the organization – we could start to add the necessary deployment steps in place to address the reality of the customer’s journey more holistically and from their perspective.

The resulting customer journey included a number of steps prior to any training or implementation of the software, as well as a number of steps after for addressing end user experience. 

It included first establishing credibility with the customer by understanding their business and empathizing with the challenges they face (creating the “these guys get me” moment) and then painting the vision of how the software will meet their objectives and improve their business.

That is, level setting with all the folks on the customer’s side why they purchased the product, the needs they are trying to address, the overarching goal they are trying to accomplish and how the software will be operationalized within their organization to facilitate the objective.

The key moment of truth identified by my customer was to have their customers understand and appreciate what the journey will look like so expectations and positive excitement could be set to drive a successful implementation.

In doing so, the Customer Success team is setting themselves up for a smoother and more efficient deployment by spending the time upfront to build the trust required to have the customer follow their lead and “hop in the car” so to speak.

Is your software deployment methodology considering what it takes to bring your customers along to the point where they are really comfortable in understanding the vision of how your product meets their needs and the benefits they’re going to achieve?

Does it look at the overall holistic journey from the customer’s perspective and set expectations with them accordingly so they are comfortable in not only understanding how your product will meet their objectives but in the effort and change involved on their part in order to succeed?

If not, take another look at how you’re interacting with your customers and remember that their journey is not just the software component.

It includes the effort required to bring the customer along the journey in a manner that establishes trust and credibility quickly so they can continue to be excited about the prospect of improving their business with your product and follow your recommendations effectively.

Next time you find yourself tempted to metaphorically tell the customer to “hop in the car”, give pause and enjoy spending some time discussing the exciting road trip they’re about to embark on and what adventures you together are just beginning to venture off on!

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