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Journey mapping for customer success teams

April 11, 2023

Customer journey mapping is important for customer success teams because it helps them to better understand their customers' needs and pain points, which in turn helps them to improve the overall customer experience. By mapping out the customer journey, teams can learn how to better support customers on different channels like the helpdesk, phone, or forums – leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

We will cover the following key topics related to customer journey mapping:

  1. The relevance of journey mapping for customer success teams
  2. What is a customer success journey map
  3. Benefits
  4. How to create a customer success map
  5. Best practices & examples
  6. Summary

Why is customer journey mapping important for customer success teams

Customer journey mapping helps to understand the experience of customers along their use of a product or service, including the pre- and the post-service phases. Thus, customer success teams can understand customer pain points and learn what they have to optimize.

There are manifold reasons why customer success teams benefit from actively working on the customer journey.

Customer success teams are the ambassadors of an organization; they are closer to the customer than most other people and parties, they have great empathy or the potential to gain it. And they have the chance to show customers: we – the customer success team and this organization – are here when you need us the most.

Thus, the main goal of customer journey mapping is to provide better support and guidance along the entire service. This has impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention, ultimately driving business growth.

For customer success teams it’s of high relevance to understand and predict issues that customers face along their journey.

Customer success teams are not firefighters; they also have a strategic role when it comes to to optimizing delicate situations that can make or break an experience. 

Journey mapping has a special value for customer success teams. Many times when customers are in touch with customer success, they are clearly confronted with a problem or a challenge where they need customer success teams to support them. These moments of trouble are delicate and can make or break the entire experience.

What is a customer success journey map?

A customer success journey map looks at the customer experience with a strong focus on the impact that customer success teams have.

Other than e.g. a marketing journey map, a customer success journey map does not focus on the pre-service phase: how customers get in touch with a provide at first, or how they are keeping activated after they have cancelled a service.

A customer success journey map illustrates the steps where a company can take impact on the customer journey by providing useful information and guiding

Benefits of customer journey mapping for customer success teams

The key benefits that customer journey mapping can bring to customer success teams are:

  • Better communication with customers
  • More efficient channels of communication
  • More concise information materials
  • Better online ratings

Ultimately, journey mapping will have manifold benefits for your ovrganization, amongst them:

  • Increase customer retention
  • Shorten time to resolve tickets
  • Less repetitive tasks, e.g. explaining the use of a poduct

Customer journey mapping can help improve customer experience and drive customer retention because it helps teams to find solutions to the following questions:

  • What are to moments when customers need our support the most?
  • What knowledge or resources are they missing?
  • What channels are the best to provide them with the support they need?

Journey mapping can help customer success teams to work out solutions on the following questions:

In the daily work of a customer success team it’s not only about reacting to customers who are facing issues, but also proactively making customers successful: providing the resources they need, the knowledge, showing tricks and paving the way for successfully changing their life with the new product or service they have purchased.

How do you create a customer success journey map?

Creating a basic customer journey map is easy; however, it will save you a lot of time and misunderstandings if you keep a few important things in mind from the very beginning.

1. Create an assumption-based journey map

Important elements on customer success journey maps are:

What does success look like at every single step?

Success can be defined very differently based on the challenge, and the challenge varies along the journey. It’s not only subscribing or purchasing, but also moments like:

  • Finding the helpdesk
  • Understanding the instructions
  • Using a device successfully 
  • Receiving a swift email reply from the customer success team
  • Learning how to hack a product for other uses
  • Recommending solutions to peers

What are the channels used?

Customer success teams usually manage manifold channels and media – emails, telephone, images… Understanding which of these channels are relevant for the customer base, adding new channels and getting rid of inefficient channels is part of successful communication. Also this knowledge helps to tailor help to the channel. Submitting a PDF works in an email conversation, whereas in a phone conversation one needs to give very illustrative explanations of the next steps to take.

Satisfaction and pain points

What are the most frustrating moments today and how can you fix them?

What are the most important of these?

Customer journey mapping does not only help you to highlight the most negative moments, but also prioritize them according to their importance: the more negative an experience and the higher the importance to the customer, the higher your priority to fix this.

2. Do your research

Don’t base any decisions on assumptions! Conducting proper research and looking at relevant data will help you to better understand your customers’ needs.

You may want to look at metrics that measure customer engagement, retention, satisfaction, and product usage. These metrics can help identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance the customer experience and drive business growth.

Besides metrics and quantitative data, don't forget to look into qualitative customer research insights

Cross-collaboration is beneficial to gain clearer research insights and better understand your customers. For example, it's possible that the marketing or sales team may launch a new advertising campaign or make changes during a demo call that trigger specific user behaviors. It's always advantageous to work with other teams and mix your research methods.

Here are some examples:

  • Customer engagement metrics: customer onboarding completion rates, product usage frequency, and customer support tickets
  • Customer retention metrics: Metrics such as customer churn rate, renewal rate, and customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer health scores: customer's satisfaction, engagement, and likelihood to renew, calculated based on a combination of factors such as product usage, customer feedback, and support interactions.
  • Net promoter score (NPS): NPS measures how likely customers are to recommend a product or service to others. You can use NPS scores to identify areas for improvement and track changes over time.
  • Sales metrics: Metrics such as revenue growth, cross-sell and upsell rates, and new customer acquisition rates can provide valuable insights into the overall health of the business.

3. Involve all relevant stakeholders in the process

How can you optimize a service without asking the users what they want?
You can’t. Thus, involve all relevant stakeholders in the process! 

Don't forget that your first and foremost stakeholder is always the customer. Sometimes, it can be difficult to reach out to them and receive helpful feedback. Customer success activities are not always linear and may not occur with the same intensity. We rely on the customers and their actual attitude, as there are periods when they are more active than others. You should simply account for this. What you can do is offer a wide range of possibilities for them to get in touch with you or your product/service, such as in-app communication, tool guides, onboarding wizards, helpdesk, surveys, emails, research calls, telephone, video, webinar, etc.

These other parties that might be relevant stakeholders:

  • Customers
  • Leads
  • The customer success team
  • Other employees
  • IT service desk

To better understand these parties, you can team up with your design research (UX/service design team) team and create user personas.

Communicate and collaborate as much as possible within your organization. Talk with customer-facing employees, marketing, sales, IT teams, and managers acting on different levels. Share your success stories and insights – this way, you can raise awareness for customer behaviors. Also, take your time to create customer success journey maps. Conduct interviews or surveys with your colleagues to find out how they perceive customer behaviors and needs. 

You're the in-house user ambassador, representing the user in the decision-making process in front of all stakeholders.

4. Pick the right tool for your journey map

Your tool choice will have strong impact on your journey mapping approach.

There are manifold tools for customer journey mapping – paper templates or digital journey mapping tools, simple or sophisticated, structured or unstructured.

The choice of the best tool for you will depend on the phase you’re in and on the expectations towards your journey map.

Beyond journey mapping, you might want to combine your journey mapping tool with other tools of your CX suite. We have prepared an overview on the most important CX tools along all phases of the journey mapping process.

Tip: For your very first journey map, we suggest starting with a paper template; afterwards, transfer your findings to a more standardized journey mapping tool, to give the map structure and make it easily accessible to others. 

Best practices & examples of customer journey mapping in customer success

Let’s explore some examples and best practices for customer journey mapping in customer success teams. Companies can use customer journey mapping to enhance their customer experience, reduce churn, and increase customer loyalty. We will also share some best practices for creating effective customer journey maps, including tips for identifying key touchpoints, gathering customer feedback, and measuring success.

Customer success in SaaS

By mapping out the user's SaaS journey from the initial interaction with the software through to achieving their desired outcome, SaaS companies can gain valuable insights into user needs, pain points, and behaviors. These insights can then be used to optimize the user experience, enhance product features, and improve customer retention. 

To reduce complexity, the high-level user journey can be further broken down into detailed journeys, for example:

  • Onboarding journey
  • Upgrading journey
  • Downgrading journey
  • Cancellation journey
A journey map visualizing the experience a customer has with a software, starting with the initial interaction and ending with cancellation.

Expand SaaS journey map

Decoding the customer success journey through email analytics

Email analytics give you an excellent view into your customer journey. As your email campaigns send to leads and customers, you can track:

  • Who and how many people open your emails
  • Whether people are clicking through to your content
  • The number of replies your emails generate
  • If people are unsubscribing
Email analytics in QuickMail.

You can use this data to:

  • Identify touch points in your customer journey where your leads need your help
  • Find out where your leads drop out of the sales process
  • See what content your customers enjoy receiving from you

For example, suppose you’re running a cold email campaign to qualified sales leads. In one email template, you mention a specific value proposition and it receives a 30% reply rate. In another, you change your value proposition and receive a 10% reply rate.

You can use that information to both make improvements to your email campaign. But, you can also use it to optimize other parts of your marketing, such as your landing page or advertising copy.

There are similar learnings to be hard when running your regular email marketing campaigns. If you notice that new customers engage at high rates with emails containing educational content, you can send more of those.

All good email software lets you track your email engagement across a sequence. You’ll be able to identify the emails that your leads and customers interact with most, and use your knowledge to improve your sales and marketing campaigns. 

Customer success in banking 

A bank can use a journey map for a typical customer who is opening a new account. The customer success map identifies each touchpoint, including online interactions, phone calls, in-person visits, complaints, or problems. 

A journey map showing the experience a customer has with a bank.

Expand the banking success journey map

The bank can use this information to optimize the account opening process, simplify the application process, and provide more personalized support to customers.

More about journey mapping in banking

Patient success in healthcare

A hospital can map out the patient journey from the time they first seek medical care to their discharge. The map can help identify each interaction point with healthcare staff, including doctors, nurses, and support staff. 

A patient journey map visualizing the healthcare experience.

Expand the patient journey map example

The hospital can now use the information to identify areas for improvement, such as streamlining the admissions process and reducing wait times, to improve the patient experience.

Read more about journey mapping in healthcare

Customer success in retail

A retail store chain could create a customer journey map for a typical customer who visits their stores. They start when the customer enters the store and end at the point when they complete their purchase. 

A customer success journey map can help identify each touchpoint and how the customer feels and behaves at each stage, for example:

  1. Pre-purchase: Identifying how the customer feels when browsing products online or in-store, finding products, product information, and customer service quality.
  2. Purchase: Identifying how the customer feels when making a purchase, including checkout, payment options, and delivery speed.
  3. Product usage: Identifying how the customer feels when using a product or service, such as ease of use, quality of user experience, and satisfaction with features.
  4. Customer support: Identifying how the customer feels when interacting with customer support, including responsiveness, helpfulness, communication clarity, and issue resolution speed.
  5. Post-purchase: Identifying how the customer feels after making a purchase, such as satisfaction, likelihood of recommending the brand, and level of loyalty.

The company uses this information to optimize the store layout, staff training, and product placement to enhance the overall customer experience.

Here are some examples of experiences from retail that could be derived from customer-centric insights.


Journey mapping is a powerful tool that customer success teams can utilize to demonstrate to customers that their company is always there to provide support when needed. Empathy plays a vital role in this process, as customer success professionals are responsible for ensuring their customers achieve success and proactively addressing any potential future needs. By incorporating journey mapping into their customer success strategies, companies can establish strong relationships with their customers and enhance their overall satisfaction.

And now?

Now it's about implementing what you've just learned: Create journey maps to provide human-centered services.

The journey mapping tool Smaply lets you easily create journey maps for legal services and client personas.

Sign up now, it's free!

Visualize your customer success journeys with Smaply!