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How Using Customer Journey Maps Can Guarantee a Better Customer Experience

Learn how you can use customer journey maps and customer touchpoints along a customer's journey to improve your customer's experience for the better through the use of Motivational Personas.

When I began writing my eBook “How to Land and Succeed in the Customer Success Profession,” I wanted to focus on how the customer journey and what I call the employment journey could correlate analogously. I began searching for a type of customer journey map that could reflect this idea equally.

And since the writing of that eBook, I realize a 3rd way you can use a customer journey map...there are many ways to use one of course, but this use hasn't been touched on yet. I love when that happens! ;)

I'll show you how to map what I call each stakeholder’s "Motivational Persona" to each phase of the customer's lifecycle on a customer journey map to better guarantee customer loyalty, customer retention, and most importantly, improve the customer experience. Yeah, baby!

Understanding your customers' behaviors in this way, and how to respond to them is a winning customer success formula that will ensure brand loyalty for years to come.

First, what is a Customer Journey Map?

Unfortunately, the terms “customer journey map” and “customer lifecycle”, and "customer journey" for that matter are used interchangeably in the customer success field. However, these 3 terms are not the same thing.

The customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer's journey your company takes them on to achieve success with your solution/product, and a customer lifecycle are the stages/phases a customer goes through during that journey.

Think of it this way:

The Customer Journey Map, is just that, a map that draws out a specific path, like using Google Maps to find the best path to your mom's house.

The Customer Journey is a way of describing what you're doing on the way to mom's, "I'm journeying to my mom's place".

The Customer Lifecycle stages/phases are like the necessary pit stops you have to make on your way to ensure you get there in one piece, like grabbing food or gas, going to a rest stop to potty your overly anxious mutt, stopping to buy flowers, or renting a motel if it's a long drive.

[For in-depth information on this topic read Part 2 of my eBook: "How to Land and Succeed in the Customer Success Profession: a success playbook for your employment journey"].

A Customer Journey Map:

  • Is a framework that helps your company decide what teams should be involved during each phase of the customer journey.

  • Is a way to recognize customers' needs and critical customer milestones/customer touchpoints they need to achieve in order to be successful with your solution/product.

  • Helps determine what actions are essential to get the customer to the next step.

  • Standardizes processes during each stage of the lifecycle and across tiers and segments to make actions repeatable.

  • Can optimize the ability for CS operations and CS teams to provide a high level of service without a significant headcount of Customer Success Managers.

Second, How Can a Customer Journey Map be

Leveraged to Improve a Customer's Experience?

I realized that creating a customer journey map can be more than just a way to document various touchpoints, milestones, or activities to be achieved at each stage. There’s also a human element involved at every step of the customer journey, so that human element should be accounted for and leveraged too, to ensure an exceptional customer experience!

Each stage of the customer journey involves humans and I realized there is a better likelihood of achieving each milestone if the stakeholders’ human motivations were taken into account by the employee/CSM, especially at the high touch level of customer engagement. I termed these human motivations "Motivational Personas".

So, I aligned each Motivational Persona to each of the 4 lifecycle stages of the customer journey with suggested interactions along the way. And voila! A better customer experience!

The LAER Model as a Framework

To simplify the process, the model I chose to illustrate the personas you will encounter as a Customer Success Professional (CSP for short), during each phase of the customer journey is known as LAER—Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew. It was a model developed and named by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), a research and consultative firm that helps companies achieve their business goals with advice, data, and community education.

The model is simple, and provides a foundation for us to build on as we add each Motivational Persona and what they're thinking, from the customer’s perspective.

Below is the purpose of each lifecycle stage in a customer’s journey:

  • LAND is every effort to get a prospective customer interested in your service(s) and change them from a prospect to a customer. This stage encompasses all sales and marketing efforts.

  • ADOPT is all the work to keep your customers after purchase. The best way to keep a new customer is to get them using your product immediately and as much as possible. That means they need to adopt or use it successfully.

  • EXPAND happens when a customer realizes the value of your product and solution after using it consistently. They are more likely to expand their use to other features, tools, and solutions. The Expand stage concentrates efforts around cross-sell and upsell that is relevant to the customer’s needs.

  • RENEW is what happens when a customer’s contract ends and they decide to continue as your customer. Renewals are imperative for the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) subscription model to be profitable. Every step and team involved in the customer’s journey with your organization should have helped your customer reach their desired goals and outcomes stipulated in their sales contract. So, renewal is the result of every conversation, every day of use, and every effort to keep the customer “healthy.” The goal of renewing the contract should be the top intent during each phase of the customer journey.

Human Motivations

If you want to have a better chance of a customer achieving each milestone, it’s important to understand the human motivations at every stage of the customer journey.

That means understanding what makes them tick and keeping an eye out for certain behaviors. In this way you're able to give them the the customer experience THEY want on the way to achieving their goal.

Humans are different and are looking for various experiences based on their personality and their roles. To achieve the Moments of Truth (MoT) during each touchpoint it’s important to discover:

  • What messaging each stakeholder will be the most receptive to at each lifecycle stage of the customer journey.

  • What lifecycle activities will give them the type of outcome that their motivational style is hoping for

  • What message, insight, and experiences will resonate with them the best

By learning to speak the human's/stakeholder's/persona's language, read their emotions, and focus on what resonates with them, you will ultimately put the human first, which is a winning CX strategy!

Read on for how to put this into practice with your customers...

The Three Motivational Personas:

The Expert, Friend, and CEO

To simplify this process, I've consolidated about 13 typical human motivations into three overarching Motivational Personas that can be assigned to each stakeholder you work with. I have also included what they're thinking at each stage of the customer journey, the outcome they want, and their motivations at each stage of the journey.

Overview of the 3 Motivational Personas


The Expert persona is motivated by being seen as the expert in the room. Their motivation is high achievement, so they focus on goal achievement. Don't be surprised if they present you with their own desired goals to be achieved at each lifecycle stage of the customer journey.

What's also important to them is a job challenge, autonomy, and being surrounded by competence, both internally within their own team, and externally with your account team. They are driven by being an expert, which means that you, as the CSM, should find ways for them and their team to master your platform.

They enjoy finding solutions to challenges so if you have one to overcome, bring it to them with the goal of finding a solution together! You always want to provide clear goals, identify challenges to be solved, and provide impeccable customer service and support.

The Expert's Desired Customer Experience

During Each Customer Journey Phase

During the LAND and ADOPT phase it’s important to focus on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the progressive achievement of certain metrics and tasks. They especially love calendars with dates of completion, checklists, an outcome achievement blueprint, diagrams, and organized success plans with start and end dates. along with checklists, and dates of completion. Anything showing progress toward achievement is right up their alley.

Every Motivational Persona is laser focused on a particular outcome. You'll gain a better understanding of The Expert’s desired outcomes by asking questions like:

  • What pain points need to be solved for, and what outcomes are critical to your success this year with our solution?

  • How are you measuring and analyzing those outcomes?

  • What KPIs are important to move the needle on?

  • What's your current state and desired state?

  • What KPI’s do you have for us to measure progress?

  • How do you plan to use our product to further your goals and reach your future state of success?

The Experts are all about finding and filling gaps that solve problems. So, when it comes to the ADOPTION and EXPANSION lifecycle stage of their customer journey, you really want to focus on that. Give them the opportunity to see both their achievements as well as what's outstanding. Also be sure to follow up on how you plan to build on any successes or finish the projects that weren't completed on an agreed timeline.

Don’t ever appear lazy or unmotivated around this persona. With their focus on solving problems and achieving goals, the last thing you want to seem is uninterested or unaligned on their end goal. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a negative customer satisfaction review.


The Friend Persona really wants to be involved at every lifecycle stage of the Customer Journey. They want to make sure that you're focusing on their team and that you're not ignoring them. Their motivation is found in shared success. Providing an exceptional customer experience to them means caring about them and their team...and their end users, first and foremost. They are motivated by affiliation, engagement, and feeling nurtured and cared for...not just of themselves, but of everyone under their purview.

The Friend's Desired Customer Experience

During Each Customer Journey Phase

During the LAND/onboarding stage, as a CSM, you really want to focus on outcomes that help them, their team, and their end users achieve their particular goals. Try some of the following:

  • Provide in-depth walk-throughs of the customer community for their entire team. During this motion, you should focus on showing how they can collaborate with other end users and the power of voting on requested features.

  • Offer to schedule regular touchpoints to keep each other "in the know".

  • Concentrate on things that benefit the team, such as group training, and customer on-site workshop visits.

  • Lastly, convey what everyone’s role is on both sides of the fence, including each person’s purview in the project so everybody knows who is responsible for what.

There are particular types of questions that resonate with The Friend Motivational Persona. For them, their focus is on team success and collaboration, so ask questions like:

  • Who are the key stakeholders on your team?

  • What is their role and responsibilities to this project?

  • How does our solution fall under their purview?

  • How is your team's success measured?

  • What outcomes are essential to ensuring everyone under your purview is successful with our solution?

  • How can our internal account team best collaborate with yours?

When it comes to ADOPTION and EXPANSION motions, involve this person in anything that brings you and your company together. They are great for beta programs, user group sessions, workshops, customer feedback, and advisory board training sessions. You can even consider assessment tools that involve group discussions on how to use that assessment to achieve the goals the team has set out for themselves.

Some other motions to think about are “ride alongs,” back-office shadowing, and chair-sides. Any participation opportunities that will help you review their process while assisting them in understanding what's missing in terms of features and functionalities and integration into devices is a good thing.

In terms of RENEWAL, you really want to focus on team success stories of collaboration to achieve goals and what value was derived on both sides.

Don’t ever ignore this persona. They can take negative experiences personally. They care about mutually beneficial relationships and part of achieving that is communication. Acknowledge them and their efforts in creating a cohesive team. Though their focus is on teamwork and experience, they are leading the pack. So, take the time and effort to recognize it. Also, they need responsiveness. If they reach out to you, answer in a timely manner. If you don’t have an answer to their question or request, own it with honesty. Find the answer and encourage them to share it with the team, or offer to share it yourself.


The CEO can come across short, impatient, and uncaring, but they’re still very “human.” It is just a matter of understanding what makes them tick. They want to know what successes and wins you are going to achieve for them. The CEO is power focused on how their leadership is influential. Their motivators in work (and life) are often power, esteem, and influence. They're driven by a need to be respected.

They are most satisfied when they're winning, so don't use them for beta programs, because they don't enjoy being guinea pigs. Instead provide them a stage or a platform to shine, exude their authority, and show their accomplishments. Find anything that brings a level of notoriety to the work and effort they and their team have achieved using your product. Some of these might include inviting them to:

  • Speak at your user conference

  • Have them lead a breakout during a conference

  • Spotlight an achievement of theirs with your platform through a company blog

  • VIP roundtables

  • User group moderator during user group sessions

  • Be featured by Marketing for a Use Case Success Story

During the LAND/onboarding phase for instance, it could be something as simple as putting their stated vision in quotes (which you should ask for) in the onboarding deck above their goals for the year, so everyone can rally around their vision during the kickoff. Be sure to focus on any VIP offerings or resources available to them and how those will help them put some wins on the board.

The CEO's Desired Customer Experience

During Each Customer Journey Phase

During the ADOPTION phase work to negotiate or provide dedicated resources that will get them to adopt the platform quicker. Any action or possible customer engagement should be gift wrapped in a this-helps-you-win-because bow tie.

Their #1 outcome their focused on is achieving solid wins, so:

  • Find ways to de-risk any potential challenges they're up against, like multi-step smaller upgrades.

  • See if you can provide more hands-on custom case handling or expedite certain cases.

  • Determine any quick wins you can get for them and deliver.

  • Perform training clinics for their users.

  • Review the product roadmap with them focusing on how they can influence it.

During the EXPANSION phase communicate solid wins you’ve achieved for them, like progress toward their stated goals. They will be more susceptible to upgrades, upsells, and cross-sells if they have wins to communicate to their leadership.

They can be meticulous about TCO (total cost of ownership). So, during the RENEWAL phase they will expect deals and will find ways to "come out on top", so your messaging is best received if delivered from that perspective.

Whether that be getting some one-on-one time with your CEO to discuss what's important to them for this next year, or showing the ROI they've received thus far, as long as it shows that they got the upper hand in some way, you're speaking their language.

Don’t ever tell this persona you can't do something. You want to ask them what their expectations are and find a way to align to those goals. They will inform you of what those expectations are at a high level, but will expect you to figure out how to make it happen. One fundamental way to approach this is to ask more in-depth questions so you can determine whatever solutions might be available that are acceptable to them.


Using Motivational Personas to Achieve

Exponential Success for Everyone

There are definite benefits to understanding customer motivations and then leveraging them using a human-first lens. Understanding each persona requires a level of empathy and active listening. Approaching each of these stakeholders with understanding, while trying to speak their language and align to their goals, with the sole intention of supporting them in their function is all a human-first endeavor.

By understanding the motivations of each customer, we’re inherently giving them the type of customer experience they want.

Speaking their language to create a great customer experience, while also achieving their desired outcomes, gives you a remarkable ability to guide them through the customer journey to overall success, which in turn makes you, and your company, and your employees a success.

I’ve created a formula that describes this. I call it the Human First Success Multiplier.

But, what does “Human First Success” mean? The dictionary definition of “HUMAN” is defined as “consisting of people”, which includes customers and employers. “FIRST” is defined as “before all others or anything else in time, order, rank, etc.”. And “SUCCESS” is defined as “the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for.”

So, achieving Human-First Success means “putting people before all others, resulting in what was wanted or hoped for.”

And we’re able to multiply that success by expanding on Gainsight’s Customer Success equation (Customer Success = Customer Experience + Customer Outcome, or CS = CX + CO) to include each human’s/stakeholder’s motivations. This can be represented by the formula:

Success for all Humans at the Customer


Success for all Humans at the Employer


Exponential Success for all HUMANS.

Or in shorthand:

Understanding your customer's motivations at each stage of the customer journey gives you a pathway to create an exceptional customer experience and even provides hints at what their desired outcomes are. So, when you're providing that to each "human" customer, you're now multiplying the success for all.

And using the three (3) Motivational Personas I’ve outlined is a great step forward toward achieving just that!

If you want to understand more about this subject, watch my Pulse Everywhere conference 2021 Lightning Talk hosted by Gainsight, and sign up here to get these blogs straight to your inbox!

Your Friend, The Expert,


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