When you run a business, your eye is always on the end goal – the customer. The customer is someone who spells the culmination of all your efforts and the goals that you have set for yourself year after year when you embarked on your business journey. Therefore, it is important to also understand the customer lifecycle management or CLM process as well as the various stages involved. This is especially important considering the climate of heavy dynamism, change and competition that we are doing business in.
Before we actually move on to the five stages of the CLM process, we need to understand what customer lifecycle management is, and the importance of customer lifecycle management as well. This will help us implement customer lifecycle management in a far better manner. CLM or customer lifecycle management is the arrangement of all your activities aimed at gathering conversions so as to reach targets. This pertains to the marketing and sales pipeline that you have set for yourself within the metrics and the parameters of what we commonly know as a marketing strategy. It would be a good idea to first understand the following things about our business before we actually set this strategy and move on towards the customer lifecycle management or CLM process as such:
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- The Business model is what would actually highlight how you would implement customer lifecycle management. Are you a B2B or a B2C business? While B2B is business to business, and B2C is business to customer. This will decide what kind of a strategy and what kind of activities you will decide on, for the CLM process.
- Segmentation is the next big thing that you would have to take care of. Who are your customers and what would you say to them to resonate their problems and the solutions that they would be looking for? These are questions that you would need to ask before you implement customer lifecycle management and the CLM process as well.
- The kind of interactions that you would need to have for optimum engagement would be the next to consider. This would also decide what kind of integrations you would need, for example, CRM or custom relationship management software and marketing automation, among various other things as well. This will also help you design your CLM process to a great extent.
So, as you can see, the importance of customer lifecycle management is immense when it comes to charting your buyer’s journey so that he or she makes it through the sales pipeline that you set for your team to follow through. This journey begins at reach and ends at customer loyalty. On that note, let us understand the five stages of customer lifecycle management so that we can see how to implement the CLM process:
- Reach the customers: This is where lead generation happens in the most rudimentary manner. At this point in the CLM process, you would have to reach your ideal customer who is called a prospect at this stage. The reach phase of the CLM process is one that helps you identify who your ideal customer is and how you can turn that prospect into your ideal customer. Reach is also all about creating awareness about your brand and its offerings, all in the context of what problems the customer is facing vis a vis what solution your products or services can offer. Therefore, whether you are going in for social media posts, blog posts, influencer marketing posts or anything of the sort, careful articulation is key to highlight the importance of customer lifecycle management.
- Acquire your customer: This is the next milestone in the buying journey or in the journey of the customer lifecycle management. In this stage, you would have to know that you have now managed to harness the attention of your prospects and you are on your way towards turning that prospect into a loyal customer with meaningful engagement. In this context, you would have to design activities that would educate and advocate your brand and its ideals in equal measure even as you personally have interactions and reach the inboxes of your customers to be, in the best possible manner.
- Conversion of the customer: This is where the prospect formally turns into your customer. With this phase, you would be able to get a meaningful contribution to your revenue. This would also mean that you have reached an important milestone but not the end of the sales pipeline or the end of the CLM process, since there is a lot more to come. You should be able to anticipate the steps that would come after the actual conversion like installation, setup, servicing and support among various other things. This is one of the most important things to also remember in the activities that would revolve around interactions that you have with your customers at this stage in the CLM process.
- Retention: This is the next step that shows us how to retain our customers. So why do we ideally retain our customers? We make sure that we keep each conversion around for repeat orders, up sells and cross sells as well. The CLM process where will also show you the very importance of customer lifecycle management. The retention process is one that helps you actually chart out activities that will make the customer experience even better.
- Loyalty: One can say that this stage brings the CLM process full circle. When you implement customer lifecycle management, you would be able to understand that it all begins and ends with advocacy. The first stage was one where you advocate your offerings as a possible solution for the problems of your ideal customers, while the last stage is all about building loyalty by advocating a constant use of your products and its variations to fix those same problems time and time again. This is where you are able to design activities that will garner feedback and help people articulate their faith in your brand.