Bluewolf, 2014 Report: “You think your customer service department owns the customer relationship. In reality, no one department “owns” the customer. Organizations need to reorganize around the idea that all employees share ownership of a series of customer moments. With each customer interaction, or moment, customers are forming an opinion about your brand, and companies need to capitalize on those moments to create satisfaction and further engagement.”

“When you transfer customers you’re essentially exposing your departmental silos. This means that you don’t have a single view of your customer and your contact queues are determined by your organization setup rather than customer needs. Customer information and knowledge transfer must flow freely across departments to serve customers in the moment. Otherwise you may lose them.”

Customer_SONAR_Cycle
#1: The Circle

Let’s start with the most obvious: the circular shape. 

Cycles and a 360-degree View (+)

When we talk about sales cycles, product cycles, business cycles or customer life cycles we mean to say that a process, after a complete round or series of occurences, tends to repeat or is repeated.

When the customer life cycle is repeated, or extended as we prefer to call it, the customer becomes a returning customer. When the customer does not return, he/she is either ‘churned’ (subscription-based business model) or ‘dead’ (license-based or pay-per-product business model).

The objective of most businesses is to retain as much returning customers, and/or obtain as much referring customers, as possible.

Since the customer life cycle is at the heart of the Customer SONAR™, the process of acquiring, creating, retaining and extending a customer is best perceived as a circle, offering a true 360-degree view of the customer.

Growth as a Series of S-curves (++)

Businesses often portrait future growth as some sort of exponential line. The reality is that growth is all but continuous, rather a series of s-curves.

One of the most notable s-curves is the Diffusion of Innovation Curve by Everett Rogers. You’re probably familiar with the five personas for innovation adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

S-curves are mostly devided into 3-5 phases:

  • Infancy (also: Birth, Irruption or Spring)
  • Expansion (also: Growth, Frenzy, Disruption, invasion or Summer)
  • Synergy (Carlota Perez)
  • Maturity (also: Stabilizing, Sustaining or Autumn)
  • Decline (also: Death, Destruction or Winter)

Technological disruption typically occurs i.e. starts to destruct (hurt) previous technology during the expansion phase.

Innovation and Economic Growth (+++)

Economist Joseph Schumpeter was convinced that innovation is the sole driver of economic growth. Each innovation has a life span. Once a product life cycle reaches the synergy phase (see image below), a new life cycle of innovation begins to emerge, causing the previous one to become obsolete.

Schumpeter called this a process of creative destruction and each occurrence a business cycle.

Other highly respected economists, like Carlota Perez and Nikolai Kondratiev, supported this notion of recurring economic cycles.

Perez’ Phases of Technological Innovation (see image below) are in fact s-curves, while both Perez and Kondratiev helped us to describe destinct technological ages.

In other words: businesses need to innovate as destruction (disruption) is indispensable for growth to occur. To represent growth cycles – be it an economy, a business cycle, or a customer life cycle – a circle is the obvious shape.

#2: The Sonar

Until a decade ago, in a mostly offline commerce world, it was relatively easy to detect customer behavior and intent. Today, with a rapidly growing percentage of online buyers, behavior is getting harder and harder to interpret.

The percentage of dark social – traffic that occurs outside of what can be measured (and attributed) by web analytics – is greatly to blame. While privacy concerns and regulations aren’t going to make the lives of marketeers any easier.

I needed something to represent this new reality of ‘luring in the dark’. Of spotting potential customers that can’t be ‘seen’, let alone be individually influenced.

Then the concept of a sonar came to mind. A submarine is able to constantly monitor its surroundings by sending out ping-sounds to detect its surroundings. Not just to detect nearby vessels, but even their movements, shape and size. Fishermen use sonar imaging to detect where to fish. Bats use sonar to catch insects in pitch dark.

The idea of using sonar (communications) to detect obscured objects, is pretty similar to how we believe a brand now has to operate in our modern, digitalized and globalized world.

Cycles and a 360-degree View

When we talk about sales cycles, product cycles, business cycles or customer life cycles we mean to say that a process, after a complete round or series of occurences, tends to repeat or is repeated.

When the customer life cycle is repeated, or extended as we prefer to call it, the customer becomes a returning customer. When the customer does not return, he/she is either ‘churned’ (subscription-based business model) or ‘dead’ (license-based or pay-per-product business model).

The objective of most businesses is to retain as much returning customers, and/or obtain as much referring customers, as possible.

Since the customer life cycle is at the heart of the Customer SONAR™, the process of acquiring, creating, retaining and extending a customer is best perceived as a circle, offering a true 360-degree view of the customer.

Growth as a Series of S-curves

Businesses often portrait future growth as some sort of exponential line. The reality is that growth is all but continuous, rather a series of s-curves.

One of the most notable s-curves is the Diffusion of Innovation Curve by Everett Rogers. You’re probably familiar with the five personas for innovation adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

S-curves are mostly devided into 3-5 phases:

  • Infancy (also: Birth, Irruption or Spring)
  • Expansion (also: Growth, Frenzy, Disruption, invasion or Summer)
  • Synergy (Carlota Perez)
  • Maturity (also: Stabilizing, Sustaining or Autumn)
  • Decline (also: Death, Destruction or Winter)

Technological disruption typically occurs i.e. starts to destruct (hurt) previous technology during the expansion phase.

Innovation and Economic Growth

Economist Joseph Schumpeter was convinced that innovation is the sole driver of economic growth. Each innovation has a life span. Once a product life cycle reaches the synergy phase (see image below), a new life cycle of innovation begins to emerge, causing the previous one to become obsolete.

Schumpeter called this a process of creative destruction and each occurrence a business cycle.

Other highly respected economists, like Carlota Perez and Nikolai Kondratiev, supported this notion of recurring economic cycles.

Perez’ Phases of Technological Innovation (see image below) are in fact s-curves, while both Perez and Kondratiev helped us to describe destinct technological ages.

In other words: businesses need to innovate as destruction (disruption) is indispensable for growth to occur. To represent growth cycles – be it an economy, a business cycle, or a customer life cycle – a circle is the obvious shape.

hunter_submarine_3d_model_c4d_max_obj_fbx_ma_lwo_3ds_3dm_stl_1504812_o1-blackwhite
#3: The Propeller

Following the analogy of a sonar, to represent the growing percentage of obscured customer engagements, a submerged submarine needs to manoeuvre swiftly to be able to adapt to its surroundings. Very much like a brand needs to adapt to changing customer demand or competitive behavior.

The Customer Life Cycle, at the heart of the Customer SONAR™, is shaped like a 8-bladed propeller that drives the vessel forward and gives it the agility to change its course when needed.

#4: The Four Sections

Russian economist Nicolai Kondratieff, when asked by Stalin, discovered that economies in capitalism evolved in waves or cycles of 55-60 years. Being an agricultural economist Nicolai devided each long cycle into four seasons, indicating that the two phases of growth (innovation) and the two phases of decline (destruction) collectively formed a full life cycle.

Much to Stalin’s grief Kondratieff concluded that capitalism created slightly more economic value than socialism, despite its destructive elements.

He did not ellaborate at what cost (other than economical) this value was being achieved. It is sad to notice that to this date the majority of consumers are (kept) unaware of the consequences of large scale consumerism and to the implications of planned and perceived obsolescence.

My admiration for Kondratieff, who was exiled to Siberia and later executed at the command of Stalin, made me to devide the Customer SONAR™ into four sections as well. This then helped me to destinct four silos of customer facing processes. It also helped me to discover a vital breach in value creation and it helped me to describe two new business models.

I’ve represented some of these cycles of natural growth in a series of metamophoses. Have a look (below) and see if these make sense to you.

The Kondratieff Long Wave or Cycle
Customer_SONAR_Core
#5: The Core

The core of the Customer SONAR™ is formed by an eight-step process that aims to transform a suspect into a returning customer and/or a brand advocate.

…. (more to follow)

#7: The Life Cycle

The life cycle of the Customer SONAR™ started off with AIDA, an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. The AIDA model is widely used in marketing and advertisng to describe the steps that occur from the time when a customer first becomes aware of a product or brand through to when a constumer makes a purchase decision.

However, AIDA tells only half of the story or 180-degree of the customer life cycle. i had to figure out the missing other half and created a new acronym: AHHA – Anticipation, Honor, Happiness and Advocacy.

These 8 essential buying steps don’t happen spontaneously. I’ve described 8 acts of engagement that intent to drive the customer forward: Attraction, Awareness, Consideration, Confidence, Exchange, Experience, Statisfaction and Significance. Easy to remember by the acronym AACCEESS or double aces.

Still, the essential buying steps and the acts of engagement are merely two perspectives of the same process. I had to bridge the two cycles and did so by added the pre- and postconditions.

Customer_SONAR_Lifecycle