Are you really managing the customer lifecycle or are you reacting to it? Every business is challenged to effectively cultivate customer relationships, so where should we begin?
From my viewpoint, a customer lifecycle should provide a window into the creation and delivery of lifetime value to the customer. Many CRM practitioners, who I tend to agree with, define the customer lifecycle with three key management activities: customer acquisition, customer development and customer retention. The effective use of “Business Processes” determines whether we lose or grow our customer relationships within these three areas.
So why the processes instead of the experience? Shouldn’t the focus always be on customer experience? Let me use my most recent experience with a cellular service provider to explain.
To make a change to my cellular plan, I called the general customer service department. They mentioned that there will be no charges for the change, and additionally I was entitled to receive an ongoing promotion. This was an unusual and great surprise, leaving me, the customer, with a wonderful experience (for the time being).
Finally, a major telecommunication company that is actually proactive in giving the promotion to its long-standing customers. Unfortunately, this cell plan nirvana was short lived. My next monthly statement included multiple charges and I did not receive the promised promotional benefit.
After a 20-minute back-and-forth session, the customer service representative simply said “I am sorry I cannot do anything.” Disheartened, I hung up the phone.
The next day, I called back to rescind the change I initially made. This time I spoke to someone in the enterprise customer service department. I explained the situation and asked to revert back to the original plan. Surprisingly enough, the customer representative profusely apologized for the mistake, stating that “we don’t treat our customers in this manner,” and rectified everything at that very moment.
Although the overall process was disappointing, my story ended on a positive note. We all know that this is not always the case. So, how exactly is customer experience measured? Is it the journey or the destination?
If we define “experience” as a collection of interactions over the lifecycle, then the emphasis is on the journey. Thus, by focusing on its processes, a business can gain the appropriate insight as to how it can become more responsive in delivering a better experience. Otherwise, addressing the customer experience without fully appreciating the underlying business processes across the customer lifecycle positions the business squarely in a hypothetical one-off reactive mode.
It is equally important to note that we are not alluding to rigid ad-hoc business processes that are serving the departmental silos, but the well-designed optimized processes that are running effectively across the entire organization—the whole notion behind Business Process Management (BPM) software.
At the end of the day, a business that masterfully manages and aspires to influence the customer lifecycle by generating a living customer experience strategy must have the fundamentals of business processes in place.