BLOG. SMART PRACTICAL BUSINESS ADVICE

Customer Lifecycle Management — What Is It?

“Customer relationship management” and “customer lifecycle management” are two terms you’re bound to come across many times on this blog. These two terms can often be misunderstood as being one and the same. There’s one big difference between them, though: in the latter, time is an important factor.

Simply put, the customer lifecycle is a running record of important milestones in your relationship with your customers. By keeping track of the customer lifecycle, you can better align your processes according to customer experience. This can be done by keeping a close eye on customer behavior — purchase history, how much they buy, how often, how often they avail of post-sales services like support, and how long they’ve been patronizing your company.

The customer lifecycle can be broken down into five simple stages:

The Customer Lifecycle

Find the customer

This stage is where you use all the leads and other usable data in your CRM to find the greatest number of new customers as you can. Whether it’s through webforms, email and web marketing campaigns, ads, word-of-mouth — it all starts here.

Sell to the customer

Think of the first sale as the first date. You put your best foot forward so your customer gets a good first impression of your brand. You sell so you can deliver.

Deliver to the customer

OK, so your customer is sold on one of your items. Now you better make sure you deliver on all your earlier promises and sales pitches. This stage, along with the first, is possibly the most important stage as it can affect every interaction you have with your customer in the future.

Support the customer

Let’s say that the first sale went fine. With the “first date” over, you now turn your attention to future dates. At this stage, you focus on keeping your customers from leaving. You up-sell, cross-sell, and identify potential problem areas before they become too big to handle. You try to woo back any lapsed customers.

That can be a big factor financially, especially to small businesses and startups. Online marketing startup Flowtown crunched the numbers a couple of years ago and found that it costs six to seven times more to get a new customer compared to retaining existing ones. Others place the cost increase higher, at ten times or so.

Relatively smaller retention costs can lead to big gains, too. The Harvard Business Review notes Fred Reichheld’s view on retention in his book, The Loyalty Effect. In it, Reichheld estimates that a mere 5% improvement in retention rates could yield anywhere between a 25 to 100% increase in profit.  That’s a big gain any way you cut it.

Gain the customer’s loyalty

This is the ultimate end-goal but only in the sense that it’s the final stop before it all loops back to selling.

Reaching this point doesn’t mean you just grow complacent, either. Once you acquire customer loyalty, you have to ensure that it doesn’t waver. Aloyal customer base not only reduces churn, it can become a steady source of powerful brand advocates and word-of-mouth advertisers.

Now, because the customer lifecycle touches almost every part of your business, successful customer lifecycle management  requires absolute synergy between all of your company’s different departments. Everyone from marketing and sales to finance and support must be in sync, as a complete picture of the customer lifecycle can’t be seen if one part is missing.

See all

Featured Posts

In-App Timer, Inline Editing, and More Coming Soon to WORK[etc] Online CRM

A few months back we announced that we were working on a major overhaul of the core WORK[etc] web application and its back-end services. Since then, the work to date has largely been on the invisible back-end services. Activities such as redesigning the back-end database, refactoring code bases, and building widget libraries consume a lot […]

Three Gmail CRM Tools To Boost Productivity

Your Gmail inbox is flooded every day by an overwhelming deluge of information. The sheer volume is enough to make you dread checking your inbox in the mornings. Fortunately, there are a few apps and services that can help keep this email avalanche down to a manageable level. Here are the three Gmail productivity extensions […]

Sneak Peek 3: WORK[etc] iOS mobile CRM Version 3 in action

After months of work, Version 3 of the WORK[etc] iOS CRM app is getting closer and closer to the beta testing phase. Check out the video above to see it in action. In case you missed our earlier sneak peek post, here’s a quick rundown of what Version 3 brings to the table: Improved UI […]

Want To Be More Than A Startup? Then Hack Every Stage Of The Customer Lifecycle

Remember the last time you bought a lottery ticket? From the time it takes to accept the ticket to stashing it at the back of your wallet, you let yourself think, “What if?”. It’s a kind of chemical-free high, an instamatic golden sunset of warm gooey-ness filled with dreams of instant fame and fortune. This […]

How this company put an end to email ping-pong

Company English Garden Group is a design-led landscape company, with large outdoor show gardens and retail nursery, a landscape design office, and a construction department. Working as an integrated business, the teams deliver turn-key projects from inception to completion, including site supervision and consulting services in parallel. While the entire operation is represented to customers as […]

First look at Version 3 of WORK[etc]‘s Android app

A few weeks ago we unveiled the massive improvements we’re making in Version 3 of WORK[etc]’s mobile apps. That particular preview was geared more towards iOS users, though, so today we’re doing the same for Android users. All of the performance enhancements we’re building into the iOS app are also present in the Android version. […]