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 ;
- Customer Facing Portals
- Social Media
- Internal / External Customer Facing Teams information
- Geographical region
- 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.
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.
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;
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;
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.