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Customer Life Cycle

Just as products have life cycle, customers also have a life cycle. In its most simple forms the customer life cycle consists of two phases.

  • How will the customer request service? The customer may request service by phone, email, web page, or in person.

  • How will payment be received ?

  • How will the product be delivered? In the case of a service, the process of delivering the product is called provisioning and may consist of touching a number of unrelated systems and configuring myriad devices and systems.

  • Product Use

    Every product is designed to ultimately be used by a customer. The customer may use a product and have to repurchase before another use or the product may be such that the customer uses it over and over after purchase. The payment may be made once or on a recurring basis.

    Periodic Contact

    Throughout the product use phase, the customer may have periodic contact with the company. These interactions take the form of.

  • Customer service

  • Technical support

  • Billing

  • Sales calls

  • In each of these events, the company has an opportunity to make a positive or negative impression on the customer. These periodic contacts are usually managed using some sort of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that tracks all interactions with a customer from all channels. The CRM system thus allows the product manager (and others) to capture vital information about missed sales opportunities, customer complaints, common problems, etc. Using this data the product manager can mold a product so that it better meets customer needs and reduces customer support costs.

    Product Upgrade

    When a customer is finished using a product, the things can happen: the customer can be upgraded to a follow on product that meets their needs or deprovisioned. The product upgrade path is desirable because it keeps the customer and reduces customer reacquisition costs. Customer frequently outgrows products or their needs change. If a company has a well-managed product portfolio, a product more suited for the customer's current situation will be waiting for them.

    Deprovisioning

    Deprovisioning a customer may seem like an issue that need not be dealt with: the customer stops using the product and nothing more need be done. However, in many cases, particularly where service with a recurring billing has been provided, if the customer is not properly deprovisioned, there will be future costs resulting from either providing service that is not being paid for or from billing a customer who is not receiving service. In either case there are likely to be costly customer support calls and an unhappy customer. Customer deprovisioning, where appropriate, should be planned for and built into the product from the beginning.

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