What is the Customer Lifecycle Journey?
The Customer Lifecycle Journey can be quite complex to understand as it is compiled of many different parts, so in order to better understand what the Customer Lifecycle Journey is let’s break it down by its main parts and understand what each of them means:
- Customer Lifecycle Journey: Can be defined as the different stages your customers will go through with your product (and company) and what will be the touchpoints that happen within those stages in order to push the growth evolution of the customer while maximizing the customer’s lifetime value.
- Customer Journey vs Customer Lifecycle: Both of them together make the customer journey lifecycle but it’s important to understand the differences between them:
- Customer Journey: This refers to the specific touchpoints a customer will go through in each of the different stages of its lifecycle, so for example, if the onboarding is a stage, the KO Call could be a touchpoint within the onboarding stage. The main goal of the customer journey is to have a clear mapping of what will happen between one stage and another and how it will impact the outcome of the current and next stage.
- Customer Lifecycle: This refers to the different stages/cycles a customer must go through with your product (and company), the length of the cycles will be determined by the touchpoints and milestones within each stage, it is important to mention that the feature+ product adoption and usage should improve as the customer lifecycle advances.
- Customer Experience Lifecycle: This refers to “How” customers will achieve their Desired Outcome, so if the first two talks about the stages and the touchpoints, the customer experience lifecycle model focuses on how these stages will be executed in order to provide the customers with an optimal experience. Yes, delivering the expected results is crucial to increase your customer’s LTV, but if the experience wasn’t a good experience, it’s very likely that the customer leaves you if they find a solution that delivers something similar to yours, the Desired Outcome is achieved only by providing the expected results through an appropriate experience.
It is up to the CSM to define and deliver the best possible experience by tailoring the customer journey to its customer’s needs in order to guide the customer through the customer lifecycle in the best possible way to ensure the customer’s success.
Why defining the Customer Lifecycle Journey is essential?
Now that we understand what the Customer Lifecycle Journey is and its impact on the overall customer’s success, we can really grasp why defining it is imperative for any CS organization/department.
Having a Customer Lifecycle Journey and a Customer Experience Lifecycle Model clearly defined will enable any CSM to easily guide their customers toward their expected results while providing the best possible experience during every stage, ultimately and constantly, reaching the customer’s Desired Outcomes. We can refer to it as the Customer Success Lifecycle Stages.
What are the risks of not defining a Customer Lifecycle Journey?
The biggest and most obvious risk would be customer churn, which is a derivative of the following “symptoms”: lack of product/feature adoption, the customer developing a limited view of what your product can achieve, customers getting stuck in a specific stage, no clear idea of what needs to be done to achieve the customer's outcome, weak/limited success plan, your product goes from “must have” to “nice to have”, customers get limited value from your product, among others.
How should you define the Customer Lifecycle Journey?
The best approach to customer lifecycle journey mapping is by breaking it down into the different stages in the lifecycle, defining the touchpoints in the journey, and establishing how the customer journey lifecycle will be carried out (Customer Experience Lifecycle).
So on a high level, it should look like this:
- Customer Lifecycle Stages:
- Sales Process.
Now we add the touchpoints within the stages (customer journey)
- Customer Lifecycle Journey:
- Sales handover (CSM Intro).
- KO Call.
- Product Training.
- Advanced Integrations + Training.
- Onboarding Review.
- Mid-term/long-term success plan.
- Strategic Monthly Meetings: QBR/EBR.
- Planning ahead -> Update success plan.
- Value-based growth/expansion.
Once you have the stages and the touchpoints defined, the CSM should identify how it should be executed in order to provide the most optimal experience to each customer. Another very important point that wasn’t mentioned, each of the stages/touchpoints should have a strong reason for “WHY” is it valuable to the customer, if the reason is not strong enough then you know that that particular stage/touchpoint can be improved/skipped/removed.