Innovation/Emerging, Learning

Customer Lifecycle vs. Customer Journey

By Zimm Zimmermann September 7, 2011

I really get a kick-out of this one. I’ve been talking about the difference for over 7 years now, and I still enjoy bringing up the topic at customer relationship management (CRM) discussions, customer experience mapping reviews, or when I am simply geeking out about marketing automation optimization.

A customer lifecycle is a term typically referred to during CRM discussions when the customer is aligned to a transactional process–of either a product or a service.   

However, there lies the rub. 

If you align the customer relationship to a product lifecycle, you are inherently defining a beginning, middle, and end. That is from reach to acquisition, to conversion, to retention and loyalty, with loyalty having either a positive or negative direction. (Personal opinion: loyalty is not the ultimate relationship. Advocacy is, but that is another discussion.) 

The concept of a customer journey can be rather simple. 

Take all of your customer lifecycles, and then develop the correlation and interactions between those lifecycles. That is, instead of aligning your customer to a single transactional process, you are aligning them to all of your processes, transactions, services, and interactions.  

The correlations, intersections, and experience of the multiple lifecycles are what create the customer’s journey. In this manner, you are recognizing that the customer has more than one relationship with your company.You realize that the one lifecycle can affect another one. You recognize that the customer can have more than one relationship with your company, and that the various relationships can affect one and another.

And the typical response that I get to such a statement?

That’s good idea–theoretically.

Of course the entire diatribe is nothing more than a SETUP! 

Having done it before, I start walking them through a workshop that I have used a number of different times. A workshop that takes a company through the process of identifying the various triggers, flags, and data that moves a customer through the entire journey.  

A workshop that is safely stored upon my laptop.  

(Like nothing is going to happen to my laptop.)

About Zimm Zimmermann


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