An Intro to Customer Lifecycle Management

When we talk about great products, we often focus only on the product itself; however, we forget that for the customer, their experience is actually defined not just by the product but by every interaction they have with us.  Take my Apple Iphone – the in-store experience, the packaging, the setup, the support after I dropped it in the ocean – everything has gone to making it an excellent customer experience almost every day.

This is where customer lifecycle management comes in: at each point in the customer’s experience, how should they feel and what is it that they should do next to become an even happier customer?

Because we can build products really quickly on the web, the experience beyond the product is often an after-thought; however, if we’re really going to build experiences people love, it really matters. The goal of this post is to help frame our thinking as we think through how to build that experience using the Iphone as a case study.

The Iphone Customer Lifecycle

Let’s look at the first few phases of Iphone ownership:

  • Getting the phone setup
  • Configuring Email
  • Making your first call
  • Adding Contacts
  • Installing your first app
  • Buying your first paid app

The key thing to note is that each phase is defined in an action (something Apple would want customers to do), and not just a time frame (which sadly is how the web mostly works currently with drip email campaigns). For the Iphone, I’m guided to the next phase in many subtle ways – by employees in store, by ads in Itunes, by emails I receive and by the phone itself (via prominent app store and email buttons).

Why this matters and what You should do

Unlike the Iphone, most web apps don’t lock you into multi-year contracts – so if people don’t reach a phase, they might leave. A simple way to get started thinking through your phases is to use your successful customers as a starting point.

Some questions to consider:

  • What makes a successful customer? If you look at your happiest customers, what do they look like?  How do they use your product?  What’s different about them vs people who don’t do as well?
  • What has a successful customer done by day 2?  By day 7? By day 30? Now – rewind the clock.  What does that customer look like earlier in their relationship with you?  Are they the one who’s logging in multiple times a week?  The one who adds data right away?

You probably won’t know the answers (and over time you can use cohort analysis to get a much better answer), but just thinking through this initially gives you a good starting point.

Pulling it all Together

Based on what successful customers have done, you now have both the phase (the customer should have done X) and a point at which you might want to reach out to them (successful customers have usually done X by day Y – so if you haven’t done it by Y-1, it might be a good time to email the customer).

The great thing about this way of thinking is that:

  • You always have a next step for each customer
  • You have a measurable way to determine how a customer is doing

Once you’ve got a few ideas for the phases and days above, start to experiment with reaching out to users based on what they have or haven’t done.  Perfecting it may be as difficult as rocket science – but doing it pretty well is infinitely better than doing nothing at all.


Klaviyo helps you easily identify and target your customers at every stage of the lifecycle. Try it for 14 days today with no credit card!

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