I have been thinking more on the topic of the customer lifecycle and its interrelationship with the product (or business) lifecycle. This diagram shows how these two connect today at the sales and shipping touch points.
The main elements in the product lifecycle are the design and development of new products, the construction of the business processes to support those products, the manufacture and creation of the products, the marketing and sales of the products and the shipping and supporting of the products. These are business capabilities as defined in Motion.
The main elements in the customer lifecycle are the purchase of the product, the collection of the product, the installation and early use of the product, the learning of the full capabilities of the product and finally the extended and sometimes innovative use of the product. These are customer capabilities.
Looking at the customer capabilities in more detail we can see that the installation phase today is most closely supported by the business, the collaborative web allows rapid and context specific FAQ generation for this capability. This phase is where most of the customer satisfaction improvements and support cost cutting will be made.
The learning and education phase is where customers communicate different uses and facilities of the product between one another, making the product richer and better understood. This is the phase which builds most of the customer loyalty and retention and so decreases future sales and marketing costs.
The extended or long use phase is where long term customers find new and innovative uses for the product or add significant new functionality or information to the product set. This phase is where most of the feedback and innovation for the organization comes from.
What the web is doing today is allowing the two cycles to be more closely aligned and connected. For example it is getting easier for the R&D department to speak to long term users of a product and find out new ways that the product is being used. It is getting easier for the marketing department to work with customers familiar with their product to generate new ways to attracting new customers (e.g. evangelism). Finally it is getting easier and easier to gain understanding of customers installation and early use problems through on line feedback and collection.
The understanding of these customer capabilities and how they can be used to support an organization is going to be an key element of successful enterprises going forwards.