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Article: Get Better Business Results from the 4 Stages of Your Customer Lifecycle -- Service by Karin A Ferenz
Published 11/29/2018

Identify Unique Needs and Opportunities at Each Lifecycle Stage

Each stage in the customer lifecycle—acquisition, service, growth, retention—has its own unique customer needs, attitudes and behaviors. This creates the opportunity to identify and measure competitive performance requirements and metrics for both a particular stage and its relationship to the entire lifecycle.

In the first paper in this series, we examined factors driving acquisition of a profitable customer base:

  • How to identify the ideal customer;
  • Customer segmentation;
  • Customer profitability objectives;
  • Customer lifetime value;
  • Generating profitable leads;
  • Low-cost acquisition of customers; and
  • Effective onboarding to reduce churn.

With this information an organization can develop both a targeted customer acquisition and retention strategy and up-selling programs; furthermore, it can also leverage the desired communications channels in order to improve lifetime customer value.

However, acquiring the right customers is just the first step in building and maintaining lasting customer retention, customer loyalty, and improved business results. How well you meet customer needs with service that meets or exceeds their expectations determines whether the targeted customers you have secured will remain satisfied and loyal or will leave due to dissatisfaction with what you are providing.

This paper on Service is the second in a series of four papers that will discuss how to get the best business results from each stage of the customer lifecycle.

                   Fig. 1 – The Customer Lifecycle


Service is Not What You Think It Is

It is well-documented and generally understood by most companies that high levels of customer service are necessary for high levels of customer attraction, loyalty, retention, and profitability—and even business survival.

Many surveys show that existing and prospective customers will defect to competitors if companies deliver poor service or do not deliver on their service promise. An Accenture consumer survey of more than 1000 US consumers reported that 46% of respondents indicated they quit doing business with a company in at least one industry category in the past year as a result of poor service. And the literature is full of similar reports. Given the importance of superior customer service as both a competitive differentiator and a profit driver, many organizations continue to fail in delivering a superior or even an acceptable customer experience.

Service Is What the Customer Thinks It Is

In many cases, service delivery is poor because the service provider doesn’t understand that superior service is what the customer thinks it is, not what the company thinks it should be. Good service exists in the expectations and requirements of the customer, and the company providing it needs to thoroughly understand the drivers of customer attitudes and behaviors.

In Acquisition, the first paper in this series, we pointed out that defining an ideal customer in a target market, either a company or an individual, is the first step in developing a successful acquisition and service strategy. It is necessary to reduce the definition to one single type of prospect that best fits a company’s core competencies, its product and service value proposition, and its culture. By spending time researching the ideal customer, acquisition and service strategy will be much more effective.

Clarity on an ideal customer in a target market makes it possible to achieve each of these objectives:

  • Focus marketing efforts to attract the best prospects;
  • Invest marketing dollars efficiently to acquire ideal customers;
  • Establish expertise in  a target market or niche; and
  • Create differentiation in a fragmented market.

High-performance businesses not only develop a corporate strategic intent for what they want to achieve in the marketplace but also a well-defined customer relationship intent regarding the types of customers they want to acquire and retain. It’s critical that the customer relationship intent is used as a key factor that goes into setting and delivering service levels.

Successful companies also understand that providing a service delivery experience that creates loyalty and retention requires the entire organization to understand what customers demand in a service experience. They incorporate the voice of the customer into every aspect of the company’s daily operation. 

Superior Customer Service is a Process

Developing an effective customer service process involves establishing a clear customer-focused line of sight through the entire organization and identifying customer requirements for performance at every touch point the customer has with the company.

Not all customers have the same expectations and criteria for superior service delivery. Consequently, it is useful to segment the customer base thereby enabling organizations to identify the unique requirements of various purchasers at each touch point and also to develop service delivery standards for each function based on meeting and exceeding the needs of each segment. Furthermore, segmentation makes it possible to optimize both service delivery and service profitability by delivering neither more nor less than what will be experienced as superior service by customers in a particular segment.

The chart below outlines a typical customer touch point service process and functional touch point optimization as developed by Dr. Jim Heisler from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Figure 2 depicts the relationship between key touch points and their relationship to loyalty and business outcomes.



If you would like a copy of Acquire, or any of the other whitepapers in the Get Better Business Results series, they can be found in the reference section of our website at, or feel free to contact us for assistance.