Magic Moments: Engaging with Customers in a Meaningful Way

It's the moment that matters most to any retail business – the moment when a customer finally decides to make a purchase. But getting to this pivotal point isn't usually a straight, predictable line, especially in today's new digital age. Rather, a customer's journey today can involve a myriad of engagements, including online browsing, live chats, referrals from friends with a deep dive into reviews and in-store visits.  The challenge in today's retail environment is to empower all associates with the information they need to help the customer and to close the deal.

The key question is how to get the right data in front of the right associates at the moment of engagement with customers. And while this might seem like a steep and complicated task, it can be done.

Creating the customer lifecycle
The process of empowering associates with the right data to be used at the right time with customers starts with the creation of the customer lifecycle. The customer lifecycle represents the stages of engagement that the customer traverses in their relationship with a business.  Every time a customer touches a business, no matter if it's via a mobile device, over the Internet, or in a store, that engagement is a touch point along the customer journey. Tracking, measuring and understanding each touch point along the customer lifecycle helps businesses start to get to know who their customers are. By understanding customer behavior at each lifecycle stage, a company can begin to put together an enriched profile of each customer and his or her journey.

The construction of customer lifecycles can benefit from identifying and defining the "moments that matter." These are the moments that are significant to both the customer and the business — the moments that drive customer engagement, make customers want to shout a brand's praises from the rooftops or create the desire to purchase a product. These "moments" can include a consumer's Internet search, having an associate help a customer, or a social share by a customer. This practice suggests that for any retail business there are roughly 20 key moments that should be standardized, including:
  • Contact with the company (through a company newsletter, a login form, etc.)
  • Customer's search efforts
  • A scheduled event or appointment
  • Product research
  • Adding product to a shopping cart
  • Customer purchase
  • Customer writing a review of the product or service
It must be noted that these moments are channel agnostic: they can occur anywhere.  Organizing customer lifecycles around a list such as this this provides a consistent framework for the business to use as it considers the customer's path to purchase in a way that is not hindered by channel silos.

One of the important benefits of creating customer lifecycles is that they provide ongoing visibility into and measurement of how revenue is truly generated. As the line between online and offline customers continues to blur, it is important for businesses to embrace visibility as a by-product of the attribution process.

Most businesses are in desperate search of the moments that drive engagement and advocacy in a customer's path to purchase. Unfortunately, organizational silos often make it difficult to see customers or their influencing moments — as the data across channels is almost always inaccessible and organized differently.

Putting all the data together
The last step in implementing customer lifecycles is to observe the actual behavior of customers across each and every channel.  Central to this approach is compiling data from all customer engagements into a common framework.  A collection of journeys from similar customers allows for the creation of personas based on common behavioral patterns that can be analyzed across a common customer lifecycle.

The customer lifecycle also enables a business to create metrics to help it understand how well the business is doing in meeting customers' needs in the aggregate.  It's important to understand that today's customers will engage with a business on their terms; and when they do, their digital and physical interactions must drive the attribution process.  By identifying and measuring the "moments that matter," it's possible for businesses to realize increased revenue, attribute sources of revenue correctly, and to really serve the customer experience to the best of their ability — which at the end of the day is where the magic happens.

David Trice is co-founder and CEO of, an experience-driven CRM for enterprise. Prior to launching Trice was VP of CRM at Oracle, where he led the launch of Oracle's Fusion CRM.

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