Customer Lifecycle: Don’t climb a mountain, have a fun ride
Customer Lifecycle is the holy grail of Customer Experience. When you understand it right, you are on the right track in designing an impactful experience for your customers and scale your business well. Otherwise, you need to play a constant catch-up or firefighting, thus slowing down your business growth and hurting your bottom line. Customer Lifecycle Canvas can quickly guide you to understand and define Customer Lifecycle in a structured and coherent manner.
In interaction with a brand, a customer usually goes through several stages. The first stage is the awareness stage when the customer becomes aware of the brand existence. Once the customer is aware, she may decide to engage straight away, delay engagement, engage with other brand alternatives or not to engage at all.
During an engagement, the customer may start using a product feature, compare with goods and services provided by others, enquire, recommend the brand to others, and many other possible things. An important moment is when she is converted either through successfully signing up for a service, subscribing to a newsletter, completing a purchase, or any other conversion goal.
After a conversion is complete, the customer may continue engage with the brand, terminate engagement, advocate the brand or engage with other brand alternatives. In this post-conversion stage, repeat engagement and advocacy are a couple of important elements, characterizing a successful brand strategy.
The Funnel and Metrics Mountain
Thanks to Jeff Gothelf who has explained the Funnel and Metrics Mountain metaphors in Metrics Mountain: A realistic visualisation of any Customer Lifecycle metrics. In his opinion, Metrics Mountain is the new beau on the block, which has more realistic visualisation for Customer Lifecycle than the Funnel.
Compared to the Funnel, the idea of climbing a mountain is appealing because it has an element of humanity in it. It illustrates that customers are not liquid or things going through the Funnel, but human beings with motivation, frustrations, desires and needs.
Even though the Metrics Mountain is a better metaphor than the Funnel, the metaphor breaks once a customer reaches the peak of the mountain (the Advocacy stage in the Pirate Metrics). The only logical subsequent action for the customer after reaching the peak is to climb down the mountain or jump off a cliff, which is only suitable for a linear definitive journey, not a circularly multi-path lifecycle.
The Theme Park
Theme Park or Amusement Park is almost universal in many different parts of the world. I remember going to Bakken, the oldest operating theme park in the world, opened in 1583 and located in Denmark. After a while, I started to think about what all theme parks around the world have in common.
The first common element is “the garden”. A garden traditionally represents a place where a community can enjoy live music, amusement rides, dancing, games, market stalls, etc., including a roller coaster. Evolving in many years, the garden itself may not look like a natural garden nowadays, but more like themed areas, thus the name of “Theme Park”.
Climbing a mountain usually requires a good stamina and endurance, while going to a theme park is a leisure activity without demanding preparation and requirements. In reality, when a customer interacts with a brand, the customer expects to get Job Done, usually through a path of least resistance whenever possible.
A Job to be Done is the process of a consumer goes through whenever she aims to change her existing life-situation into a preferred one, but cannot because there are constraints that stop her (Klement, 2016).
In the Metrics Mountain metaphor, a customer only has two choices, i.e. Climbing the mountain or not continuing to climb the mountain. This is rather unrealistic because in reality there are more choices and paths for a customer when interacting with a brand. A Customer Lifecycle is not linear as illustrated in the Metrics Mountain metaphor.
The Theme Park metaphor is more realistic, because a customer can choose which attractions to to choose, which rides to line up first, when to leave a themed area, when to abandon lining up for a ride because of a very long queue, etc. The Engagement, Conversion, and Advocacy stages may happen in a linear or non-linear way in the Theme Park metaphor.
Customer Lifecycle Canvas
Inspired by the Theme Park Metaphor, I created a tool to quickly define and communicate a Customer Lifecycle is the form of Customer Lifecycle Canvas. This one page (A3 or A4-size) document can guide you through the elements of a Customer Lifecycle coherently.
The canvas consists of four main areas, i.e. Awareness, Engagement, Conversion and Advocacy. These four areas represent all the stages in the Customer Lifecycle.
Awareness relates to the moment when a customer becomes aware of your brand existence, through which channel, the level of awareness, the problems in raising awareness, your hypotheses, the key results you expect to achieve and measure, and the key partners in raising awareness.
Engagement details how a customer interacts with your brand, their behaviour, motivation, engagement goals, the blockers that can delay or hinder engagement, and the reasons for engaging with another brand alternatives.
Conversion happens when a customer’s Job is Done. From the business point of view, it is the moment when a customer contributes positively to an organization’s business goals, such as: completing a purchase, handing in data, etc. In this canvas area, you can detail the conversion problems faced by the customer, your hypotheses, the conversion key results you expect to achieve and measure, any key partners in achieving your conversion key results and also relevant channels where you expect conversion to happen.
Advocacy is the biggest area underneath the other three areas. It is not a coincidence. Advocacy is a critical stage that should be mapped, designed and linked with the other three areas. This area details how the Awareness, Engagement and Conversion may result in Advocacy. In addition, there should be a brief impact analysis on how Advocacy can provide a positive feedback for Awareness, Engagement and Conversion. Last but not least, a list of Advocacy problems should be outlined in this canvas area.
In the header of the canvas, you can put your corporate logo or a photo of your relevant persona. You can also customise the title of “Customer Lifecycle Canvas” to be more specific, such as “Ali’s Lifecycle Canvas”, in which Ali is one of your Personas. On the right-hand side, you can insert your brand name, the author of the canvas, the date when the canvas is created, and also its version.
Since the Customer Lifecycle Canvas is still in its beta stage, there are many untested hypotheses and assumptions embedded in the canvas. I believe there are many things that can be improved in this beta version. If you have a good idea, constructive feedback, criticism for the canvas, please feel free to comment.