How to Use Customer Lifecycle Analysis to Build Loyalty

By Elaine Cascio, Vice President  |  April 30, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

Your customer calls, tweets, or sends a web form about an issue with service or billing. How you deal with that customer at that moment affects whether that customer will recommend your business or plaster the web with negative reviews.

There are four important steps at this moment of truth:

Do you remain neutral and focus on the problem? Or do you let a tweet escalate in anger?

Are you able to resolve the issue in one contact or one channel? If not, do you let the customer know exactly what to expect and a timeframe for resolution?

Follow through
Do you provide the customer with status updates for the case and when he or she can expect resolution? Do you keep your word?

Follow up
Do you follow up in writing if necessary to close the issue? Do you thank the customer for his or her business? Do you do that something extra to surprise the customer?

Ok, you’re saying that all these things are simply good customer service. But are you sure you’re providing good service on all channels on every moment of truth?

Understanding the Customer Lifecycle

Regardless of the type of business we’re in, all our customers have unique lifecycles. Take this example of a PC customer lifecycle. If we don’t meet their expectations at every step, they’ll probably go with another brand when it’s time to replace their PC. And they’ll complain to anyone who will listen if we fail them at any moment of truth.

So where in this lifecycle are there opportunities for you to provide amazing service? What are the key moments of truth?

Acquisition and Sale

Especially if the sale is made online, it’s critical to let customers know the status of their orders. Mini Cooper lets buyers know the status of their cars – from when it’s in manufacturing to custom paint jobs, to transport. And Dell (News - Alert) gives you updates on the progress of your PC from production (kitting, building, testing, and boxing) through shipment.

PC delivery and setup is the next critical moment of truth. Aside from making setup easy and intuitive, are there ways that you can reach out to customers? Send an e-mail or a text welcoming them to your “family” with links to frequently asked questions, or introduce them to online forums. Attentive onboarding can make a huge difference in customer loyalty.

Warrantee issues and product fixes can be minefields for customer service. Regular outbound communication and sponsored customer forums can help. But remember to communicate with customers in their channel of choicewhenever possible, and not force them into your preferred channel.

Ongoing support can also rapidly turn into a death spiral for customer service. If you understand what typical questions are for your product, be proactive. Either offer tune-ups at critical times in equipment lifecycles or find partners who can offer such services. Best Buy’s (News - Alert) Geek Squad is a great local resource for many.

And finally, what happens at end of life? If you’ve done a super job at all the moments of truth, your customer is going to consider buying your product again. Help them out by offering a discount on a new PC at three years or so.

Like customer experience mapping, building customer lifecycles can be a real eye opener. I recommend that you create lifecycles for all of your customer types (you may have separate lifecycles for specific customer segments as well). Use the moments of truth you identify to create stronger bonds with your customers and ensure that the next time they’re ready to buy,  your product will be the first one they consider.

Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi