Tag: Customer Journey

Enhancing your Customer Lifetime Value 3/3

In the first two blogs in this series we have looked at and identified the six stages of the Customer Lifecycle and discussed the link between your Customer Journey, (the journey your customers take to find and decide to purchase a service from you) and how you can use Customer Journey data to maximise productivity at each stage of your customer lifecycle sell more of your product portfolio and ultimately increase your overall customer revenues.

In the final blog in this series we are going to look at how you bring all the data together in order to manage and report on your findings and utilise these findings to maximise your productivity.

To enable us to get all this fantastic data we need to create a sales funnel, if done correctly, this sales funnel will lead to lots of Qualitative data with which to populate our sales funnel and provide us with empirical Quantitive data at the back end with which to make key business decisions.

So it is with most businesses in the internet age, your products and services are more likely than not found online. It may be through a blog post like this one or a Social Media post that results in a potential customer clicking through to your website to find out more. You may have very good Search rankings through effective SEO strategies and come up in the top results on google when people search for a particular product. Alternatively, you may have paid search campaigns running that send you traffic to your website when a particular search term is used. Your Sales Funnel should track all these types of leads as they come in and respond to them accordingly. For instance, depending on your customer service strategy, you may use a plethora of different contact methods to talk to customers and prospects alike. Automated methods like Email, Chatbots, SMS, Live Chat or IM are popular and will generally be part of most companies customer contact methods but all communication methods should be part of your overall sales funnel.

Most Sales Funnels will have a number of steps in them to take them from initial interest through to a closed sale. Lets keep it really simple and say these are the key steps;

  • Awareness – (untouched stage)
  • Interest – ( Contact Made / Qualified)
  • Decision – (Qualified / Proposal Made)
  • Action – (Negotiation / Won)

So we have our Customer Journey in place, (Predominantly online as we stated above) we know what our typical Customer Lifecycle should be (target, acquire, onboard, serve, grow and retain) we know how our products and services map to the stages of our Customer Lifecycle and now we have to build our sales funnel to bring all this information together. Sounds extremely complicated right?


The typical response I get at this stage of the process is “Ok we have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform for this we manage our Sales Funnel through that.”

Or “We use our Contact Centre platform to manage our Sales Funnel”

However, a typical CRM system can only do so much and is predominantly a service tool, its primary uses are for data storage and taking responses from a customer or prospect and storing this within a record for that customer. You get information like name and address, who they have interacted with in the past within your organisation and what products they have but very little else.

A Contact Centre is better equipped to provide more engagement in the sales funnel with its plethora of response based integrations like Chatbot, IM, email, Video Chat, Social Media etc.. but ultimately its main design is to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently and wont necessarily utilise the same workflow for new opportunities. Of course it will need to feed all these types of interaction back to a CRM system where its limited functionality will again simply store the information and rely on human inputs to arrange CTA (calls to action) and future sales opportunities.

Both these examples require significant people power and as we all know a CRM is only as good as the data you input into it.

That’s where CEM systems come in, Customer Engagement / Experience Management systems to be precise. A CEM System allows your business to understand its customers better whilst enabling your sales strategy and embracing cross functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It allows you to build your Customer Journey into it as the key parameters for your sales funnel. It allows you to plan your sales output for each of your products and provides you with the blueprint for each of your customers no matter where they are in your Customer Lifecyle.. (i.e Acquisition, Retention, Loyalty periods)

You can utilise the system to collate data from every one of your touchpoints (Social Media, Email, Phone etc..) and with all your data stockpiled in one central tool it gives your customer success team the information they need to get the message to the right customers.

Fully engaged customers offer a 27% increase on average for revenue, relationship and profit growth.

Below is an example of a basic Customer Engagement Management Workflow in action;

Customer Experience Schema

You will see the different types of interactions both inbound and outbound and you can see how all interactions go through the central hub or CEM. In this example we have four main areas of focus, Inbound Digital communications, Outbound Digital interactions, Payment Processing, Inbound and Outbound Voice and Existing Customer Interactions as part of the automated sales funnel.

Have a look at the diagram and see how many of your communication channels are automated and linked to data controllers within your business. Although the schema above is very simplistic, it will allow your business to do things like;

  • Suggest an offer based on or product based on their activity / order history / complimentary product set etc..
  • Give guidance on finding a feature update for their existing software version
  • Service & Support the customer via an automated journey sending them to a knowledge base or agent and recording feedback.
  • Combine this feedback with relevant external sources (e.g. CRM)
  • Analyse the data to derive meaningful insights

It provides you with all the data you require to create those Customer Personas we talked about in my earlier blogs in this series and allows you to take these customer personas and create your Customer Journey’s for each type. Taking your Sales Funnel and modelling this around your Customer Lifecycle gives you the ability to take the necessary actions needed to retain them and drive better business outcomes. 

Utilising the Voice of the Customer, Customer Experience Management software to create multi-channel, multi-lingual feedback and research programs that engage customers, empower employees, deliver a compelling respondent experience, and provide high Return on Investment whilst integrating it with financial, operational and free-form text data to generate powerful insight allows your business to take action that will deliver effective business change and create competitive advantage.

Good Luck in creating fantastic Customer Experiences for your business! I hope the three blogs in this series can have a positive effect on how you see your Customer Journey, helps to increase your Sales Funnel and ultimately helps to enhance and grow your Customer Lifetime Values.



Enhancing your Customer Lifetime Value (2/3)

In blog one of this three part blog series, we looked at the six stages of the customer lifecycle and talked about how you can utilise the data from your customer journey to maximise the productivity of each one of your customer lifecycle phases. We also discovered that the six stages of the customer lifecycle are intrinsically linked to the four stages of the typical customer journey.

In this blog, we will focus on these four stages of the customer journey, which we shall call the Discovery Phase, Consideration Phase, Purchase Phase and finally the Retention Phase.

When you undertake any exercise to understand your customer journey and the lifecycle that you ask your customers to take with your company, you first need to list all the sources of Quantitive and Qualitative data that exist for you to collate.

Here is a typical list ;

  • Website
  • Customer Facing Portals
  • CRM
  • Social Media
  • Internal / External Customer Facing Teams information
    • Demographics
    • Behaviours
    • Challenges
    • Geographical region
    • History
  • Typical Industry challenges by customer
  • Size and technical ability of customer

Studying each line item above will help you gather data that can help you understand what your potential customers are looking for in a supplier, what their challenges are, how these challenges differ by region, sector etc.. how different behaviours affect the customer lifecycle and how size and resource can affect and limit the amount of product (and therefore the customer journey) you can sell to a customer.

Once you documented all this information, you can then utilise the four stage process of the customer journey to create your pathway to success for your customers and give them a great user experience that uses the stages of the Customer Lifecyle to introduce and automate new product introductions that coincide with the customers own lifecycle journey no matter where they are individually.

So how do we start to visualise and record all this information across our disparate marketing and internal systems?

First lets look at some typical questions we can ask at each stage of the customer journey. Examples are documented in the graphic below, which sits on top of the typical six stage customer lifecycle journey.

Four Stage Customer Journey

So lets look at the first stage – The Discovery Phase;

In this stage we need to understand how our potential customers find us, what their reasons are for wanting to talk and what their main pain points are. By asking these questions we can find out huge amounts of information.

Information like;

Where did they hear about us? Social Media, Website, Word of Mouth, another customer recommendation.. all great sources of information and all can be acted upon when we start to optimise our customer journey.

Typical pain points is another key part of the Discovery Phase of the Customer Journey and one that we can utilise with great abandon to target and acquire new customers and start them on phase one / two of the six stage Customer Lifecycle once we know what these typical pain points are.

We can begin to Map out this Discovery Phase similar to the one in the image below;

Customer Journey Map Example

Discovering why your customers choose you is relatively easy if you have a marketing team and you have a decent user experience via your website. A good CRM system is important if you want to automate the provision of queries and sales leads into your workforce whilst maintaining accurate data.

Now lets look at the Consideration Phase;

Usually at this point your customer has identified you have the product they need and they want to begin to talk to you. Find out what is motivating them to learn more about your business. What their pain points are and why they believe your solution will help them to overcome them. Ask them about their experience with competitors and how they feel dealing with you over them. Record actions in CRM so you have an accurate record of events regardless of how far the prospect goes.

Create your Consideration Phase Data Map like we did for the Discovery Phase, collate your answers to the questions you have asked and use these to quantify improvements to the consideration phase for your prospects. Your aim should be to slimline the Discovery and Consideration phases down in terms of how long a prospect takes to show interest and turn that interest into a firm purchase.

If your hard work has been rewarded, the customer will be ready to move onto the Purchase Phase of the Customer Journey.

Its not just a simple take their money and shake hands and off you go. We need to ask questions on why they chose us, discover what actions they took to confirm they wanted to use us during the negotiation and consideration phase, how easy they found us to work with in order to make that purchase and what challenges they had to get the purchase over the line. Understanding the customer experience to buying your products is fundamental regardless of if your an online orders only business or a 6 month technical cycle SaaS business.

By the time you move into the purchase phase you should be looking at the Customer Lifetime Value and planning that customers roadmap to maximising their value to your business. Depending on the product they are purchasing, what added value “quick wins” can you give them? What product integrations do you have that they may choose to purchase to compliment their new services? How far on your customer lifecycle are they at the moment – Target, Acquisition and Onboarding phases should be covered by their initial purchase, but how are you going to make them sticky? Retention and Loyalty phases should be looked at when you plan their customer roadmap.

The Retention Phase;

Their are many different criteria and KPIs to how you retain a customer and I could write several blogs on this subject alone but we will look at some of the key elements to successful customer retention here.

Your Service Delivery, Project Management, Customer Service, Account Management, Post Sales activity and Marketing Departments will all play a significant part in retaining your customers. These departments and their performance will ultimately provide the service that decides if your customers purchase from you again, their actions after the first purchase and critically what their overall first purchase experience was like.

The results of these questions will determine if you can grow your customer through all six of the key Customer Lifecycle Value phases we mentioned in blog 1.

Understanding the touch points for a newly onboarded customer is critical to retaining them in the long run. Map these touch points out from initial interaction with the prospect all the way through to the final sale and after care with a section on the individual customer roadmap.. you might end up with something similar to the below;

Customer Touch Point Mapping

In the image above, I have created a basic customer touch point journey but you will be able to go much deeper and break each department out into many smaller tasks that have the ability to affect the customer and their journey with you (You may include Finance and Legal in your touch points too). Once you have fully broken down your internal journey you can utilise the different sections of the journey to gain more information towards your overall Customer Lifecycle strategy.

For example, your Service Delivery manager has access to teams within the customers infrastructure that might not be visible to anyone else. They will learn of other areas within the customers product stack that could benefit from one or more of your product portfolio but they need to be encouraged to discover, rewarded for creating upsell and have a place within which to report their findings, this is why its critical to the Customer Lifecycle Value process that all Customer facing teams have access to CRM and more importantly, everyone uses it.

Ideally every touchpoint in your customer journey should be feeding back information that you can use to increase your Customer Lifecycle (CL) and enhance your Customer Lifetime Value (CVT).

In the final blog in this series we will look at how we can manage and report on your Customer Journey and your Customer Lifecycle Engagement phases and how you can get the most out of your product portfolio.



Enhancing Your Customer Lifetime Value (Part 1/3)

The Holy Grail for most businesses is to increase your customer loyalty and retain the customer for as long as it remains commercially viable to do so thus maximising your Customer Lifetime Value.

Typically the customer lifecycle is seen separately to the customer journey, with the key areas of the lifecycle broken down into the following phases ;

Typical Customer Lifecycle

In the image above, you can see the six typical customer engagement phases, Targeting and Acquiring customers, Onboarding and Serving those customers and then Growing and Retaining them for the medium to longer term.

Of course in certain sectors like Insurance or Gambling / Leisure businesses its commonplace to maximise the lifetime value of the customer over a much shorter lifespan whilst expecting to lose the customer due to high competition in their industries.

Too many businesses have a marketing department focusing on the Customer Lifecycle in their PR and marketing collateral whilst not focusing at all on the actual customer journey. Too many websites and social media campaigns focus on the brand first rather than the customer.

In truth, the Customer Lifecycle and the Customer Journey are intrinsically linked and your brand pr on a semi functional website means very little. If your doing one without the other, your commercial positioning of your products will be off, your added value sales will be hard to come by and you will have significant issues in service delivery or project management as your customers will not be making the most of their journey with your business.

Do both together and you will not only understand your customer behaviour better but you will also have much better chance of added value sales in the sales cycle and more customers with multiple products from your portfolio which increases your revenue as a result.

How do we do it?

In order to maximise customer loyalty and increase revenues for the lifespan of the customer with our business we must first research and understand four key areas of our customer sales process;

In the list below I have included some examples of the types of key questions we need to ask when we start to create our Customer Journey;

  • Customer Interactions – (The Discovery Phase)
    • What do you customers search for to find your products?
    • Where do they hear about you?
    • Reliability?
    • Assurance?
    • Responsiveness?
  • The Sales Process – (Contemplation Phase)
    • Why do they pick your business?
    • What are their touchpoints?
    • Approach?
    • Discover?
  • Motivation to Purchase? – (Purchase Phase)
    • What motivated them to make a purchase?
    • Solving a problem?
    • Enhancements?
    • Functionality increase?
    • Business Growth?
  • Address Pain Points? – (Retention & Loyalty Phase)
    • High Delivery Charges
    • Third Party costs in the product cycle
    • Service Delivery Delays
    • Navigation issues in customer service channels

The best way to collate and interrogate the data you will get from asking these types of questions is by actually writing your own customer journey down on paper. If you have a Customer Success Software solution then you need to think carefully when you build your own KPIs into it in order to get the correct business intelligence out of it to enhance your customer sales cycle.

By gathering your own Quantitive and Qualitative data streams on your audience you can then begin to build audience personas, identify all your touchpoints and understand the different parts of the customers journey to purchase with you. This in turn will allow you to take those same journeys and optimise it for maximum customer lifecycle revenue return.

Look at your product portfolio, does it cover the six typical Customer Lifecycle phases? If it doesn’t then what areas does it cover? Does this effect the Customer Journey? Do you have third party integrations into your own product set to give you the complete end to end product set? If you do then does this effect the Customer Journey? What are your competitors offering? How does your product offering compare commercially, functionally and where does it sit in relation to the customer lifecycle?

Take time to quantify all the questions you need answers to in relation to how your customers and opportunities interact with you from the initial interest all the way through to a sale. Perform Competitor analysis focusing on the customer journey with each of your competitors.

Once your have your data set, you can then look at the journey your offering your customers now, how it compares to competitors and make changes accordingly.

In the second blog in this series we will look in depth at the FOUR key phases in the Customer Journey and I will provide more details on the types of questions you should be asking and the information you should be finding out in order to achieve the very best Customer Journey for your business.

Finally in the third blog in this series I will talk about how you bring your Customer Journey and your Customer Lifecycle engagement phases together, how you collate the data and report on it and how ultimately you utilise these data sets to get the most out of the Customer Lifecycle Value for your business.