Customer Lifecycle and the Value Gap

John Culter, @johncutlefish,  tweeted a link to Customer Retention Hacking: How to get Users to Commit. Reading the article I was struck reading this quote

You don’t interact with your significant other the same way on your first date as you do on your 50th or 200th date. Similarly, giving a customer a great experience on day one isn’t going to be the same as on day 50.

with how the long tails of an application’s clicks could be organized to make it work with the customer lifecycle.

We start with the 1st day, the onboarding. Different things happen from there. Learning happens differently in each user. Expertise develops over time. Roles diverge over time.

Value projection has its timeline as well. John tweeted a link to The Success Gap: A HUGE Opportunity You Haven’t Considered.

So we’ll review the long-tail of application’s clickstream. Let’s say that every control in your application emits an HTTP request to an HTML page for that control, so that every click get counted, sorted, and summed up by a directory structure. This will tell you what the users are doing. If you can isolate this down to a particular user, you might want to get permission or default permission in an EULA. This will timestamp the application’s clickstream. What’s important for the purposes of this post is the timestamp. You could see what the users does with your application each day via server log analytics. You could see what the user doesn’t do efficiently, or what the user doesn’t know how to do. That knowing or not will be role specific. You need to know the user’s role, and when the user changes roles. Is your user doing self-support? You can see it. Likewise, you can see where a bug happens, because the histograms will change drastically.


The histograms on the left aggregate several of the histograms on the right. We save a named file via the menu. We save a named file via shortcut. Those would each have their own histogram. They would be added together in “save a named file.” These aggregations would be defined by the directory structure containing the file for each control. We can save the control clicks by use case. The structure can get messy. With continuous delivery, we would save the server log and put a new server log out there. Play with it. Aggregate down the timeline.

Every click of a control is a micro conversion. Click and you see the next set of controls. Another click could tell you what use case the user is attempting to perform.

Value is projected outward from the application. Further various value propositions are projected from the application. Some use does not move the system towards a value proposition. We can sort that out. The value not yet delivered would constitute the Success Gap.


In this figure, I started with the triangle model where an application is a decision tree. The base of the triangle (right side) is the user interface (UI). Ideally, the UI would be organized by the one task, one dialog, or in contemporary terms one use case, one dialog. We do not deliver value. We deliver enablers that enable the user to deliver value through the use of those enablers. The user has an orientation towards the application. A good measure of location would be what training would be required to efficiently use the application. That training can be pushed into the buying cycle, rather than waiting until after the application is installed. Post install training would show up between the user and the UI. There would be various, numerous users each with different competencies and competency.

The triangle model here is correlated with the roadmap and the releases. Released functionality should always deliver value and reduce the value gap. When this is the case, the user is induced to continue subscriptions. Software as Numbers discussed this need to induce in the client-consultancy, custom-build engagement, the type of engagement where discontinuous technologies find client productizations and vertical markets for that product. The focus in such engagements would be carried content in the software as media model.

Notice I’m counting bits here. Used bits and Delivered bits can give you an idea of leverage. Each release delivers some bits to the ultimate value proposition. The value delivered may the users or that of an economic buyer. The economic buyer’s value generally reaches deeper into the future.

In an agile development environment, the iterations would be tactical; the value delivery, strategic. Why the labels? Consider the machine intelligence environment for a moment. Strategic is not a continuation of the tactical. In phase change environments, you have to stop collecting data and begin a new collection. How wide is your tactical learning needs? How wide is your strategic learning needs?

So we have seen how to collect the data about the customer lifecycle, the daily use under different situations. We’ve looked at the success gap. Both of these ideas tie to a timeline. You can measure against the time to return, or the time to value delivery. The retained customer would have to learn again with each release. Permission campaigns can move that learning earlier. Content marketing likewise. The economic buyer might have to be taught the value proposition, and in value-based marketing, sold on the price and configuration. Microservices can partition, so the amount of UI is variable, so the UI purchased is the minimal UI for the expected value projection.





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