Customer VS. Business goals in the customer lifecycle journey
A good customer experience integrates business goals with customer goals. Why? Because you’ll never fulfill your business goals if you don’t fulfill user goals first. But, how can you find the happy medium between achieving your business goals and creating a pleasant experience for website visitors? Make sure you start with clear, actionable business goals for any digital product or service. More importantly, make sure that they are aligned with the target audience’s needs without working against them. The managers within the companies can probably confirm how they constantly feel that they are being dragged in different directions when it comes to balancing the needs of the business with the needs of the customers.
Why does it matter? Because very often, people have a specific goal that they want to achieve when looking for your services. As the economist, Theodore Levitt said: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”. So the first step here would be to determine which customer demands are realistic for you to meet and exceed and which are simply too much for you and your business.
Whatever specific vision a company may have for a product, the ultimate goal is to drive profit. So, it would be helpful to always think about the steps customers take from the moment you first draw their attention. So, we will talk here about the customer lifecycle, which refers to the stages that a customer goes through regarding product discovery, purchase, and loyalty to the brand. Understanding this process is the key to company success because it can help specialists create a personalized strategy that engages customers at every step of their journey.
In this article, we will help you understand how user and business goals might differ and then look at practical tips on how to align the two during the customer’s lifecycle.
Having a strategy based on identifying and understanding users’ goals can be a good starting point. It involves understanding the information users need for performing their tasks and how they want to feel as they undertake them. From our own experience, we recommend you to focus on areas where you know it might be helpful to make improvements (Onboarding? Product knowledge? New features?) and where you can gather this information.
Paul Boag, the owner of the respected British digital agency Headscape, tells in his book about a client who was so focused on his company’s business goal of generating sales leads that he failed to consider what his potential customers would want to do when they arrived on his website. “The client insisted that a user registers before viewing their site content. Usually, users don’t want to provide their info before they even know if a product is right for them, so they will be getting out of the site quickly. That intense focus on the business goal without considering the website users’ goals created a serious roadblock in the user experience.”
To make everything more straightforward, we’ve put together a list of tools that will help you better understand your users:
- An empathy map – is a template that analyzes a user’s behaviors and feelings to create a sense of empathy between the user and your company. Nielsen Norman Group sums it up nicely with their definition: “an empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to create a shared understanding of their needs and aid in decision making.”
- Customer journey maps ( also called buyer journey maps and user experience maps) – are a way of mapping customers’ entire experience with your brand across all channels and touchpoints. It’s used to understand customer experience: their feelings, questions, and needs while interacting with your site. Also, these user journey maps help your company gain insight into how customers experience your product based on their unique motivations and goals.
Company goals are generally used as a mechanism to measure performance, increase revenue to fulfill the aspirations at the company level. Of course, those goals are important, but they are only part of the picture. With their help, we may set specific priorities in the organization; we can align the activities of teams and employees with highlighting an increase in revenue and a performance of skills at the company level.
But first of all, maybe you are thinking about what types of business goals you should select? Therefore, the objectives can be separated into four types of organizational categories:
Time-based goals – this category includes long-term goals representing the big picture or overall direction of your team, company, or project. These can range from a few months to a few years. For example, one goal we set here would be: Algotech will become the market leader in React and Node.JS services in at most ten years. The second category includes short-term goals that more precisely involve dividing the big goal into smaller pieces. They’re clearly defined and easy to measure or evaluate over a set period, such as a month. Based on the example above, some short-term goals might be improving customer satisfaction, increasing customer awareness, etc.
Performance-based goals – are short-term objectives set for specific duties or tasks. More exactly are goals that employers define for employees to help achieve business goals. For example, an employee’s performance in a project will increase by 20% more after a qualification course.
Quantitative vs. qualitative goals – the first category of objectives is evaluated based on numbers or statistics, such as the number of site visits after implementing social media campaigns or making new changes. (SMART goals are an excellent tool for setting specific, measurable, and achievable targets.) Regarding the category of qualitative objectives, they are more challenging to follow and interpret, such as how your users receive changes made to your website or the ads that help them get there.
Ambitious vs. realistic business goals – a ‘dream’ goal or stretch goal can help motivate you to put in that extra bit of effort. And even if you don’t achieve it right away, you might get closer than you would have otherwise. However, stretch goals should be balanced with more realistic goals and milestones. For example, you might dream of your software company becoming the most sought after internationally. Still, your most realistic goal is to bring in at least five international customers this year.
To make everything easier to understand, we’ve put together a list of tools to help you analyze your business and then set your goals as accurately as possible:
- KPIs (key performance indicators) – provide a way to measure how well companies, business units, projects, or individuals perform in relation to their strategic goals and objectives. Also, KPIs are useful for strategic and operational improvement, create an analytical basis for decision making and help focus attention on what matters most. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets done.”
- Stakeholder map – will identify all of the key parties interested in your business and will effectively align them on an XY axis based on their relative interest and influence in your project. By doing this, you can effectively prioritize resource allocation, communication strategy, and service direction through the eyes of your stakeholders. Moreover, this allows you to easily see who can influence your project, and how each person is related to the other.
- Business model canvas – is a visual representation of a business model, highlighting all key strategic factors. In other words, it is a general, holistic and complete overview of the company’s workings, customers, revenue streams, and more. More precisely, it covers the four main areas of any venture: customers, offering, infrastructure, and financial viability.
We must always focus on the customer lifecycle
“The customer lifecycle has emerged as a framework to describe the stages – over time – of the relationship between a customer and a business. It starts when they are a prospect, and extends through their lifetime as a customer and ends when they become a former customer.” Specialists have established a set of basic phases of the customer lifecycle that are common to most companies: acquisition, adoption, retention, and expansion. Now let’s talk about the goals that the company and customers have in each of these phases:
Acquisition – is an activity that deals with finding and acquiring knowledge from various resources. Bouthillier and Shearer (2002) describe an acquisition process that makes the possibility of bringing the knowledge into an organization from external sources.
- Customer goal: quickly assess pain-product fit and obvious benefits
- Business goal: influence prospects to try a product or service
- Action/metrics: signup, trial
Adoption– one of the most important lessons learned here is that we need to closely monitor adoption by tracking customer use, activity, and progress toward defined milestones.
- Customer goal: learn how to use the product, evaluate, and make a buying decision
- Business goal: onboard prospects and showcase relevant value of the product
- Action/metrics: onboarding, initial value delivered, convert to a customer
Expansion – this stage establishes a profound engagement between the company and the customers. Additionally, the customer expansion stage expands the organization’s customer base through word-of-mouth marketing and active interactions with the company (Park and Kim, 2003).
- Customer goal: explore how to be more empowered and successful
- Business goal: influence customers to renew, increase product usage, upsell, cross-sell and advocate the product
- Action/metrics: renewal, upsell, cross-sell, advocate
Think about your customers’ ultimate goals in each phase (and remember that these may change as the process unfolds). A great way to do this is to identify your users’ key points visiting the website. Thus, the first thing he could do is log in for a pre-existing member or customer. Other activities involve browsing, searching for products, comparing products, and more. By doing this, you will be able to examine how well you are meeting your clients’ goals and know how to answer any questions they may have.
Communicating company goals to your employees
Customer experience and employee experience are now two of the driving forces of business. Independently, each function leads to valuable relationships — with customers and employees — but when CX and EX are managed together, they create a unique, sustainable competitive advantage. Therefore forming a bond with customers and your team will help you ensure that your projects and company stay on track.
Just ask a simple question in your mind: if your employees don’t understand what the goals are, how can you expect your goals to be met? It is important to answer this question because when your employees understand your vision, strategic goals, and company culture, they are more likely to take your business to the next level. But, unfortunately, many of them feel that they do not understand their company’s objectives. According to research by Harvard Business Review, 95% of employees do not fully understand the company’s goals or what is expected from them to achieve these goals.
When you think about your company goals, consider your end objective and see how that can be broken down into achievable milestones for your staff to accomplish. Here, it would help if you kept in mind that work teams need to be well-formed so that people work well together. Many studies have found that personality is a predictor of product team success and provide some preliminary rules in selecting product design teams. Also, several researchers have suggested that team member personalities may be useful as a predictive device for future performance (Cattell, 1951; Golembiewski, 1962; Hackman and Morris, 1975; Ridgeway, 1983).
Over time, the “Big Five” personality taxonomy has developed, which summarizes all personal traits into five factors (“Consciousness,” “Extraversion,” “Neuroticism,” “Agreeableness,” and “Openness to Experience”). Using a test based on this model, we can measure each dimension to see the most important personality characteristics and if the roles match the people.
Conscientiousness – a person displaying the factor of ‘Conscientiousness’ has been described as being dependable, careful, thorough, responsible, organized, planful, hardworking, persevering, and achievement-oriented (Digman, 1990; Barrick and Mount, 1991). Given that each person in the team is performing his/her job by participating in the team task, it is logical that the factor of ‘Conscience- tediousness may also be related to the task performance of the group.
Extraversion – is exemplified by such traits as Sociability, gregariousness, assertiveness, talkativeness, and activeness (Barrick and Mount, 1991; Digman, 1990). Dominance, the level of Sociability, and the degree of participation within the group, loads’ Extraversion factor, which proved to be positively related to the group’s performance.
Neuroticism – is characterized by traits such as anxiety, depression, anger, embarrassment, emotionality, and insecurity (Digman, 1990; Barrick and Mount, 1991). It may also be thought of as a lack of “Emotional Stability” or “Adjustment.” It has also been noted that ‘Emotional Stability or lack of nervous tendencies was positively correlated with group effectiveness (Haythorn, 1953; Mann, 1959; Shaw, 1971).
Agreeableness – a person exhibiting traits included in the ‘Agreeableness’ factor is courteous, flexible, trusting, good-natured, cooperative, forgiving, soft-hearted, and tolerant. Agreeableness is an obvious advantage for building teams and maintaining harmony on the work floor.
Openness to experience – traits associated with this factor include imagination, culture, curiosity, originality, broad-mindedness, intelligence, and “artisticness” (Barrick and Mount, 1991). It is currently unclear whether the openness to experience displayed by team members has anything to do with team performance.
A deeper understanding of these behaviors can help coworkers and managers create trust, better relate to one another, and cultivate a strong workplace culture. Instead of focusing on raw intellect and experience, the big five personality traits allow you to look at how well someone fits with your organization. This should be coupled with a healthy co-working attitude and positive team spirit. Our advice here is to look for what matters to every employee who is part of your team – reliability, responsibility, and a passion for achieving ambitious goals within your company.
Practical tips to consider
It’s essential to define what success means for your customers: this will help you figure out what you need to do to help them get there. Your mindset should be customer success = business success. So, the only way to truly understand your customers’ goals is to have a focused, one-on-one discussion. This way, you can begin to map out a process to help achieve these goals in a good time.
It’s essential to have measurable milestones attributed to every single business goal so you and your customer both know where you stand. This can help in the long run by eliminating confusion or miscommunication since everyone knows where they need to be and when. In addition, this will help when you follow up during your customer lifecycle or journey strategy.
Keep customers informed (KCI strategy) about issue resolution, needs status, or complaint resolution. If you’re upfront and honest with your customers, they will appreciate your efforts and understand that you have their best interests at heart. So, put yourself in your users’ shoes and make sure you tell the story they want to hear, not the story you think they should know. Also, we suggest you come to them with new proposals, solutions for possible problems, or new changes in the collaboration process. This will ensure that you do not deviate from the pre-established goals and keep up with certain changes that will come along.
Form teams of employees who work well together and openly communicate with them the objectives set over a certain period. Why? Because when employees understand how their work links to company strategy, they are more satisfied with their work and become more effective. What’s more, good work relationships are related to better customer engagement and increased profit. Precisely, you convey to them the feeling that only together will you develop your company and satisfy your customers’ wishes. Also, a study by the Harvard Business Review proved the close link between performance metrics and business goals. Over two-thirds of employees surveyed said that the most impactful employee engagement driver is when business goals are effectively communicated and understood.
Strengthen your customer relationships – these relations have always been at the heart of successful businesses. So, you need to invest your time to build and maintain them over a period of time. In a recent study, 86% of customers claim their experiences are just as meaningful as the actual product or service they purchase. Therefore, consider all the interactions in the client’s journey and other factors influencing their relationship.
What should you keep in mind after reading this article? First of all, you need to understand your business and possibly set your goals correctly. Second, you need to form a team where employees work well together to achieve the set goals. And last but not least, you have to analyze if the clients keep up with your objectives and if those objectives correspond to their expectations.