Customer Journey vs. User Journey

There’s a lot of talk these days about the “customer journey” and the need to define yours. Customer journeys can be a great way to lead your customers on a path to success.

However, a customer journey is different than a user journey. In business-to-business products, we often conflate the two. Yet, both need our attention.

The Customer Journey

In B2B cases, a customer journey is about the enterprise you’re engaged with.  This could include:

  1. Key customer actors involved in the purchase, such as departmental leaders, executive sponsors, procurement, legal teams, etc.
  2. Key customer actors involved in the implementation project, including executive sponsor, department leader, project manager, IT resources, operations resources, etc.
  3. Key customer actors who will evaluate the success of your product’s implementation and whether it achieves their desired business outcomes

Think of these as the “top-down” activities: Coordinating these actors when they need to work together and with your company is an important objective. Your Customer Success teams spend a lot of time on these activities post-sale.

The User Journey

A User Journey, on the other hand, is about the people who will use your product regularly. In some sales models, they weren’t involved in the purchase process or implementation until it’s time to roll out the product to them.

User adoption is a huge factor in retention. The work to measure, engage and nurture User adoption one-at-a-time is necessary to ensure full adoption. Don’t count on your customer to do this for you.

Your business model determines how these journeys connect

How do these two types of journeys relate to each other? Your business model will be the guide.

There are multiple types of journeys. Consider which one fits you best:

  1. Bottoms-up. One user becomes multiple Users by buying a few more seats. Therefore, a “customer” is born. The customer journey might begin with this larger purchase.
  1. Top-down. A customer is sold, with multiple users included. The customer journey leads to the user journey starting with roll-out, training, etc.
  1. A User is added to an existing account. For example, a new hire takes over from a former User. A new User journey is kicked off even when the customer journey is steady-state. They need to be individually enabled, onboarded, trained, etc. I’ve written about this gap in many vendors’ process here.

Managing customer journeys and user journeys together is a big undertaking. Perhaps it’s even beyond the ability of your customer success team to manage. Therefore, consider involving product and marketing teams to spread the work in a coordinated fashion.

What’s at stake is a lot of money, if you believe (as we do!) that full and sustained adoption of your product is the best path to retention and revenue growth.

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