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Customer lifecycles: five valuable applications

How does a business structure it’s understanding of customer experience into actions that can be implemented by a wide range of internal departments? How can a customer engagement model be translated into technology requirements or business processes? These challenges have a level of complexity that requires structure and a shared perspective. Customer lifecycles provide a framework that enables us to relate customer experience issues into business activities.

Map the cycles of customers' experiences

Customer lifecycles are a mapping of the phases and stages that most customers move through in their interactions with a business or service provider. They map the cyclical nature of human experiences such as the annual cycle of an insurance policy or the daily cycle of a train trip to work. Understanding them enables us to analyze customers’ experiences and to relate them to business activities. Here are five typical ways lifecycles can help us.

Understanding customer experience hotspots

When a business challenge is closely related to customer experience, such as customer retention, lifecycles help to pinpoint the specific points where action will have a positive impact. We call these hotspots. Starting with the issue – i.e. customers not renewing – we can research the causes of this decision and map them back to the moment in the lifecycle when it occurs, enabling us to address the cause with surgical precision.

Defining relationships between businesses

In many business contexts a major challenge is to establish clear roles between businesses working together such as manufacturers and distributors or partners. The customer lifecycle provides a framework to understand which party is responsible for the customer at significant stages in the relationship – sales, service, support. Agreeing this avoids customer confusion about who their relationship is with.

Mapping how customer experience impacts business functions

Customer insights enable us to create new scenarios for improved customer engagement. However, this is the tip of the iceberg. These scenarios carry multiple implications for a range of functional areas within any organization. A service change can impact sales, marketing, operations and legal, to name the most obvious. Using the lifecycle to map these impacts enables a concept to be stress-tested and all parties to be clear what is being asked of them.

Designing cross channel customer engagement

Different customers will need to be engaged through different channels – but the lifecycle they move through is the same. Mapping these channels to the customer lifecycle provides clarity about the customer journeys that we aim to enable, how the different channels relate and, most importantly, how to support customers to move between channels without disruption.

Aligning customer experience with business goals

Customer experience concerns can feel far removed from business goals. Customer lifecycles enable the connection to be made and developments to be prioritized in terms of business value. Each stage of the customer lifecycle has a corresponding business activity that can be aligned and measured. For example, the customer lifecycle phase ‘consider’ relates to the business activity of ‘making an offer’. Understanding the customer needs leads to more effective offers and increased sales.

In our discussions about who owns the customer we couldn’t agree, until we saw the customer experience mapped and it became clear how one party had to take the lead in customer relationships.

Product Manager, Orange,

Customer lifecycles move your business forward

The value of a customer lifecycle is that it helps understand how customers experience your business. The value of this is to help the organisation move forward in their understanding, strategy and actions in a way that is structured, aligned with business goals. Lifecycles start with the customers but they finish with a stronger business.

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