You get in the car, close the door, and buckle up. “Siri,” you say, “give me directions to 148 Wilson Line.”
Siri replies, “You have arrived.”
What? But you haven’t even left the driveway. You still have a ways to go.
Let’s be realistic – this would never happen. Siri, Google Maps, Waze – they don’t skip a beat when it comes to giving the exact, step-by-step map to get from Point A to Point B.
Their ability to help us navigate – even with detours and in peak traffic – has earned our trust. Our trust has increased our usage, making these apps essential resources in our daily lives.
Why does this matter? And what does it have to do with the customer lifecycle?
This analogy reminds me of mapping the customer lifecycle. Traditionally, the customer lifecycle was understood as a buyer journey. Businesses would analyze prospects’ path to purchase, and end there.
But ending the lifecycle at the point of buyer conversion is like never leaving the driveway.
When a prospect converts into a customer, that customer hopefully has lifetime value to offer your business. But building lifetime value is dependent on retention and loyalty, and achieving this requires understanding exactly what your customers need, when they need it.
Today, customer-centric companies have not only redefined the customer lifecycle, but they also understand and deliver what the customer needs throughout every stage.
In one mile, turn left onto mapping the customer lifecycle
To become a more customer-centric business, you’ll want to start with mapping the customer lifecycle. Taking a queue from Siri, Google Maps or Waze, you’ll want to take every single variable into consideration.
Okay, suddenly, this project became a huge undertaking. So, let’s simplify.
When you map your business’s customer lifecycle, the key to success depends on:
Prospect & Customer Interviews
The business’s perception of the customer journey, versus the the customer’s reality of the customer journey are often misaligned. Conduct interviews with your prospects and customers to truly understand pain-points and milestones.
Customer lifecycle mapping is not simply a marketing, or sales, or customer service, or IT activity. Who at your business interacts with customers? Each of these interactions must be documented.
Best Practice Research
What is your business striving for? What are the existing customer expectations and how are they being met among your competitors and at the industry level? How can your business exceed expectations?
Using these tools to guide your customer journey mapping, here are the elements you will want to incorporate into your lifecycle:
● Consider all stages of brand exposure
● Engage representatives from different departments who impact or influence the customer journey
● Create personas for the different prospects and customers your product / service attracts
● Conduct actual prospect and customer interviews for adequate representation and insights
● Establish the goals and milestones your business hopes prospects and customers achieve at different stages of the lifecycle
● It is okay if this is aspirational
● A customer lifecycle is not singular
● What are the different stages and experiences prospects and customers may be exposed to based on their needs and buying decisions?
● What are all of the online and offline mediums and channels you use to speak with customers?
● How can you unify the messaging to achieve successful omnichannel communication?
The customer lifecycle is complete with measurable actions and behaviors that your business can use to gauge success. This gives companies a more holistic view of the customer and generates business relevancy, as companies cater to ongoing customer needs at all times.
Imperial system? Metric system? And what are we measuring?
Depending on your offering, and the nature of your customer lifecycle, certain metrics will be more pertinent to your business than others. I recommend that you segment stages of the customer lifecycle (example: prospect, customer, post-customer), and assign 3-5 metrics that are indicative of the customer experience. Like this:
Prospect: Impressions, engagements, Website: Sessions, pages / session, bounce rate
Customer: Time to First Value, NPS score, retention rate
Post-customer: NPS score, repeat customer rate, referrals
Get directions or auto-start?
If you prefer to take your own path, there are many online tools to guide you in mapping your customer lifecycle. Alternatively, and depending on the complexity of your business, you may wish to auto-start, and enlist support from a digital advisory. A digital advisory can unbiasedly assess your existing and aspirational customer lifecycles through internal and external interviews, research and industry at-large best practices.