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A Critical Moment of Truth in the Customer Life Cycle for Technology Products and Services

by Hank Barnes  |  April 5, 2016  |  1 Comment

Last week, I introduced a new image that represents Gartner’s expanded thinking beyond the buying cycle to look at the entire life cycle–from buying to “owning” to repurchase.

As mentioned previously, the image reflects the conceptual model, but does not show every nuance and activity.   This week, I want to focus on one area that drove much of the impetus for the expanded view and the need to go beyond buying.

Throughout any life cycle, there will be a number of Moments of Truth.  These are key situations that either push buyers forward, cause them to rethink or abandon, or–after buying, trigger value generation or rejection.

In technology, there is one point in every life cycle that could be the most important moment of truth.  That point is the switch from a buying cycle to an owning cycle–the time immediately after a purchase is made.   This is the first step for customers to start to get value, rather than think about the potential value.


To maximize that moment, tech providers need to think about:

  • Installation or Activation (for As a Service) – How to make it easy to start using the product or begin the project.  (Some of the most popular product videos on YouTube are “unboxing” videos.
  • Onboarding – Helping everyone involved to understand the path to value and what is available to them.
  • Help Options – Guiding users on where to go for assistance.

None of these activities should be taken for granted.  In fact, I’d posit that more emphasis should be placed in all of these.   Do it right, and things get easier.  Do it wrong, and your steering the customer toward thinking about other options or just giving up.

While all of these sound straightforward, they can be tricky.   First, you may be dealing with new players.  Many of the people that you engaged with on the buying team may no longer be involved.  You’ll have a whole new set of people to engage with.   Second, these people may have different interests and motivations–they may not even understand the goals of the purchase (don’t take for granted that they do!).  Third,  you often have little to no guarantees of their focus and attention–you have to win them over–just like you did with other folks during the buying cycle.

Do you focus enough on the experience immediately (again, this is relative time–could be seconds or could be activities over a few weeks) after the deal is done?    Could you improve that experience and set you on a path toward more loyalty, faster value attainment, and advocacy?

I believe that most providers can improve in this area and that it will have a significant impact.  Give it a try

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Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: buying-cycle  customer-life-cycle  customer-lifecycle  installation  life-cycle  onboarding  owning-cycle  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on A Critical Moment of Truth in the Customer Life Cycle for Technology Products and Services

  1. Todd D. Lyle says:

    Good read – simple, excellent points that are often overlooked

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