What is customer lifespan mapping?
Customer lifespan mapping is an extension of customer journey mapping. While journey mapping visualises a customer’s relationship with a specific product or service, lifespan mapping visualises the customer’s relationship with an entire category of products.
For example – journey mapping will identify the touchpoints of a customer with Acme Car Insurance. Lifespan mapping identifies a customer’s inherent attitudes towards car insurance broadly, as shaped by their previous experiences with it, and the stage of life they have reached.
Together they provide a powerful insight into the messaging, experience, interfaces and product design that will appeal to a target sector. In addition, it can be combined and undertaken as part of a customer journey mapping project, increasing the value of the process without a significant increase in cost.
When to use customer lifespan mapping
ExperienceLab were recently challenged by a multinational private health insurer to help them to identify how they could increase client retention in the US for their dental insurance product, and consequently reduce costly customer churn.
As our direct research with customers progressed it became evident that the drivers behind the purchase of dental insurance products went significantly beyond the experience of product selection and purchase to an understanding of customers experience and relationship with dentistry in their lives.
We talked directly to dental insurance customers in order to discover the drivers behind their purchase of the product. What we discovered was that their criteria were more closely linked to their relationship with dentistry throughout their lives than the attributes of a specific product.
This was a crucial insight – and led us to reshape the structure of our research, extending it from a journey map into a full lifespan map.
What the insurance customers told us
When our participants talked about dentists, they tended to talk not about a specific dentist – instead, they often talked about their emotions towards the act of visiting the dentist, beginning with their childhood and continuing through to early adulthood, married life, and starting a family.
“I’m terrified my kids will have bad teeth”
“I’m afraid of dentists because of what happened when I was a kid”
“I hate drilling – I have to be put under”
At each major milestone in participants’ lives, their attitudes towards dentistry shifted. What happened early in their lives often affected their attitudes in later life, too. One participant talked about how they’d neglected their teeth as a child, which caused problems as a young adult – as a result, they’re now militant about their children’s dental health, taking them for four checkups a year.
Again and again we heard anecdotal examples of the life events that had impacted the emotions customers associated with dentistry and, consequently, their dental insurance. These provided us with a wealth of insight such as the following :
1) Make your product and its value easy to understand:
Major life events had a big impact on customers’ opinion of the value of dental insurance – but they struggled to perceive differences between provider’s products and their relative values.
For example – when two people get married, they tend to select just one of their insurance policies to continue with. But a lack of transparent, easily accessible policy and product information means choosing between them is guesswork for many.
2) Give parents more than just product information, add value with advice on children’s dental health:
A lack of advice from dental insurers can leave parents feeling feel uninformed regarding how they should approach their children’s dental health.
3) Appreciate that dental health for many people is an afterthought:
Look to provide prompts and clear, easy to understand information to help customers overcome this inertia.
4) Make your product distinctive and accessible:
People don’t feel like they have a choice in insurance. Advice, support and personalised service can help to make a product distinctive, and in the long term help to forge a far more positive, loyal relationship between customer and insurer.
Why this matters to businesses
Customer journey maps are a highly effective tool – they’re a great way of reducing churn, increasing conversion and building loyalty. Customer lifespan mapping takes them one step further, enabling businesses to better understand how their product can respond to the influences that shape a consumer’s attitudes towards an industry. Understanding this broader landscape is vital to brands that aim to transition their customer relationship from transactional to emotional.
Businesses that harness this are well positioned not just to impact their figures for this year or the next, but to build a rock solid foundation for fortifying and growing their customer base into the future.
To understand how customer lifespan mapping could help your business, talk to us today.