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Maximize Customer Lifetime Value by Managing the Customer Lifecycle

The ability to seamlessly manage customers across the entire lifecycle and thereby maximize customer value remains an elusive goal for most organizations.  There are many reasons for this: companies have established artificial customer service boundaries and silos that require multiple departments to service a single customer; different customer specialists are required to receive then fulfill a given service request; or they simply don’t have the right software technology and business processes to match customer need and service ability at the moment of interaction.      

As a result, organizations are only realizing a fraction of potential customer wallet share, experiencing high rates of churn and spending far too much time and money delivering repetitive information that only frustrates the customer.  From the customer’s perspective, they experience doing business with disparate individuals and companies, rather than a single cohesive organization.  Too often, customers hear the dreaded phrase, “I am going to have to transfer you to another department,” or “I am sorry, I am not empowered to do that, you are going to have to speak to someone who is…can you call back later when they are return to work?”.  When customers interact with the company, too often they are starting from scratch with every interaction, unable to benefit from the context provided during prior interactions.  

With social media’s ubiquity and pervasiveness, customers are empowered to communicate their every experience, and unfortunately, negative experiences are more frequently broadcast, so it’s more critical than ever to manage the customer across the lifecycle.  Savvy companies are breaking down the artificial and historic boundaries between marketing, sales and service so that in any conversation with the customer, they can make an offer, sell new or additional services, fix an outstanding issue, or proactively address a potential future issue – without the machinations required when these functions operate across organizational silos.   

Consider a typical customer who walks into a mobile phone store. They may have an expiring contract on their existing phone and have received an offer for a new phone and renewed service.  When they interact with store personnel, the conversation encompasses selling (find the right device that best matches that customer’s usage), setup (configure/update the account and all the critical information for that customer), and servicing (show the key features and functions of the device so they are ready use it right away).

In reality, many phases of the customer lifecycle do not happen within such a compressed time frame — they occur over time and across different channels, but the impact is the same.  A customer calling for service represents an opportunity to sell additional value-added products. The on-boarding or set up process is the right time to align customer needs with best-suited products and to educate customers on recommended product usage, which in turn can deflect future calls to the call center and lower the cost of servicing the customer.  

To fully manage customers across the customer life cycle, companies need: 

  • A commitment to customer-centricity – to rise above competing business goals and focus on the bigger goal of overall customer value and profitability;
  • The ability for business stakeholders to visualize, create and execute their vision in a collaborative manner and align operational ability to customer needs;
  • Access to a common repository where policies, procedures, processes and content can be reused across the lifecycle but may also be specialized for by customer types or categories;
  • The ability for content to be automatically applied in context for the specific role and usage – such as a marketing, selling or servicing interaction;
  • The ability to not only have a conversation with a customer, but also put work in motion and fulfill the promises made – regardless of the systems that need to be accessed or boundaries that need to be crossed.

By aligning organizational capability to customer need and seamlessly managing the customer across the entire lifecycle, companies can improve operational efficiency, enhance brand loyalty, increase customer retention, create net promoters and, most importantly, build customer lifetime value.  To achieve this level of customer centricity requires a new model of organizational collaboration and the right level of operational agility to both serve and fulfill the customer need, and in so doing, maximize customer value in every interaction. 

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