The splendor of the customer lifecycle is that each stage in the lifecycle of the customers during their journey through a brand can be optimized and the consequence of one prudent change can resonate through the entire customer journey which might in turn enhance the cumulative customer experience that a consumer has with a brand.
So, how can you improve the customer lifecycle for your business?
Now the three most effective ways to keep the buyer’s journey relevant and fresh is by tracking KPIs, re-evaluating the customer journey and delivering tailored messages thereafter to the customers.
Hence over here as one of the most prominent vendors of Salesforce Alternative CRM solutions let us discuss the basics of the customer-buyer journey and also illustrate some ways to optimize each customer lifecycle stage for finding sales and business growth.
What Are The Five Customer Lifecycle Stages?
This is the beginning of all stages when the prospective customers become aware of your brand through content marketing channels, social media or email marketing. Most often prospects want more content to move to the next stage.
In this stage, the prospective leads interact with the employees or other resources in your company. At this point, you need to find the opportunity to engage your prospects and provide them information about the important aspects of your offerings through the contents that you publish or over phone calls.
Modern marketers use this opportunity to focus on marketing efforts on developing better relationships with their prospects in this stage rather than prioritizing on a quick sale.
After the first two customer lifecycle stages, once the prospects get in touch with the brand, it is time now for them to decide whether or not your offerings are compatible with their needs.
Therefore keep your prospects connected with your brand by soft-selling to them about the benefits of buying your products and services with helpful resources. In fact, informative contents sent through email marketing and social media posts are all great ways to soft-sell to the decision-makers.
In this stage, the prospective lead finally decides to commit to your brand and buy your products and services.
Therefore, once the sell is completed, in this phase your focus should shift from customer acquisition to customer retention for the future growth of your business.
Support and Retention
This last stage in the customer’s lifecycle with any brand can continue indefinitely and by the modern marketers, it is considered as the most important part of the customer lifecycle.
Hence once the prospects become a customer continue delivering targeted marketing messages and promotional items at regular intervals to extend your customer’s value with your company.
The Dynamic Nature of the Customer Lifecycle
Now that you have got your customer and have assessed your data to know that you have a profitable customer lifecycle- you might as well think “why do I need to improve it?”
We as one of the vendors of easy-to-use CRM tools have often seen business owners following the old English adage which says “don’t fix it if it’s not broken”. Therefore, most people only think about revamping their customer lifecycle marketing strategies once they start suffering severe losses.
But then again, at this point, many times it becomes too late for businesses to make the right changes and so before they can understand they find that their ‘loyal customers’ have disappeared for other competing brands in the marketplace.
So let us dive deep and explore why exactly businesses need to continue improving on their customer lifecycle stages.
Here are three key reasons why they need to do so, which are because:
• Results are impermanent
Simply because your business is on an upward trend, it does not mean you shall always remain blessed to stay there forever. Adjustments in the economy, changes in the industry, global social and natural calamities, and even new competitions in the marketplace can all affect how leads, prospects and customers perceive your brand.
• You will enter new markets
Never think that just because you are offering the same product or service to your customers, it does not imply that every customer will respond to your brand in the same way.
We say this since different markets have different expectations. Hence once you are entering a new market and start funneling in new prospective leads, you can waste your time and opportunity if you are not thinking about their specific customer journey from a different perspective.
• Customer behavior changes over time
While the modern customers are less dependent on sales nowadays since we are living in a digital age where information on any brand or offering can be found online, nevertheless just a decade ago customers were keen to coordinate with sales reps when making decisions.
Therefore this gradual shift from sales-centric to customer-centric and thereafter along with it accepting the content-first position for selling is needed to stay competitive in this evolving and shifting business landscape.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE
Now optimizing and improving your customer lifecycle through its stages is not as complicated as it might sound. Therefore in order to understand it, you just need to think of it as a never-ending process of multiple refinements and adjustments, as your customer lifecycle in reality scales with your business and inevitably evolves with it.
Hence here are seven ways you can keep your customer lifecycle pertinent and relevant with the growth of your brand:
1. Keep Consulting Recent Data
Always remember data predictions can only do so much as the market can completely shift in the opposite direction overnight, which can make all your old information, data analytics stored in the business CRM that you use obsolete. Hence never rely on the old data and trends store in your business growth technology and tools when making crucial decisions for your brand.
Always consult recent and trending data, when dealing with new customers, which will provide you with more influence over each customer lifecycles stages, and allow you to shape it according to the existing customer’s demands and needs.
2. Track Progress Against KPIs
As a part of business growth ideas and training, all marketing gurus insist on data tracking which is one standard practice adopted for optimizing the customer lifecycle for any brand or business.
We have seen there are many lazy marketers who will simply look at these numbers like stage-by-stage conversion rate, lead volume, or inquiry rate to determine whether their brand’s customer lifecycle is optimized.
However, in reality, different customer lifecycle measuring metrics means different for different industries.
For example, while an e-Commerce brand might track just the ‘visit-to-buy’ ratio on their site a SaaS-Based Salesforce Alternative CRM software solution might think about ‘cross-selling opportunities’ as its core metrics to follow.
Hence track your progress against your brand’s key KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) instead of defying success with just about any kind of data.
3. Tailor Messaging
Most of us know that building better customer relations is one of the key aspects of all businesses. Hence, it must be remembered that at every stage customers expect the same (if not more) level of support, engagement, and transparency from businesses.
One great way for creating tailored messages to your customers is by paying attention to the resources that they require.
Hence at the beginning, you can highlight their pain-points and bottlenecks and explain to them your solutions, which can make them understand whether your offerings will be the right fit for their needs.
Once they cross the fifth stage as explained above, businesses can develop their resources and launch email marketing campaign, with the help of an easy to use CRM tool, for the purpose of retention of the customers and strive for harvesting customer loyalty to reduce churn.
4. Streamline Customer Data Sharing
Decisions made by the customers in their lifecycles cannot be contained inside a vacuum, this the reason why it is important to share all data across the organization. This is because every interaction that your customer had with your brand is filled with actionable insights.
Hence access to customer interactions should be freely shared will all members of your sales, marketing, and customer support teams so that they can harness this information and develop a consistent customer experience as they go through their sales funnels.
Now data sharing is not just exclusive to big organizations, in the present times even small and medium businesses use business CRM tools to consolidate their data from inquiries, calls, customer reviews, and just about any other interactions that the customers had with the brand since it was in Stage #1 of the customer lifecycle stages.
5. Prepare Campaigns At Each Stage
More than everything else, think of the customer lifecycle as a journey. So make your customer lifecycle management strategies feel seamless and well-coordinated to your customers.
Ensure that your contents are appropriate to avoid redundancy. For example, customers would never expect the same message at the Onboarding Stage and then again during the Retention stage.
Like during the Onboarding Stage your messages in your campaigns to the customers should resonate with the facts on how your business can provide amazing customer service so that you can convince your prospects to convert with confidence in their minds, while later during the Retention Stage your right and meaningful campaigns should be designed just to keep the customers happy long after they have said yes.
Just remember in customer lifecycle each stage in the process can supplement the other and encourage customer loyalty in the long run.
6. Identify Loyal Customers and Churners
To find out what is working and what needs improvement or to be scraped in your organization identifying loyal customers and churners, which can be done by qualitative tracking (email blasts, phone calls, surveys, etc.) which are the more subtle ways to find out whether your customers are loyal or not.
Now, this again boils down to KPIs, whereby the most important metric to track for an e-Commerce brand might be looking at the repeat purchases of each customer. Therefore as an online brand if you find more customers are churning after just doing one or two transactions, reconsider your current business strategies on customer retention and focus on redefying your customer lifecycle marketing strategies with a new goal.
7. Reevaluate The Stages
Finally, as even the stages that we discussed before of customer lifecycle are not set in stone, hence if you are a startup as your company scales upward you can offer more complex solutions, target a different market, or even implement new marketing processes since as your business evolves so must your customer lifecycle management too- since it is all about creating a journey that makes the most sense for your business and at the same time delights the customers.