In this article you will find:
Customer lifecycle definition
The customer lifecycle is a five-stage process that shows the overall history of customers’ awareness, purchases, and becoming loyal customers periods. In the other words, it describes all steps performed by customers and the touchpoint they have passed from reaching a brand to becoming current satisfied customers.
Customer lifecycle management is mostly based on customer lifecycle mapping - visualizing customers’ actions and stages of different periods of their relationship with the brand. This data is used to improve customer retention, and service and retain happy customers to achieve additional sales.
The customer lifecycle always has five stages, and they are named reach, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty. Thus, it is different from a customer journey map with three to six stages - following various points of view that have been stated in some studies. Some managers and CX researchers state that there is one extra stage after loyalty - customer evangelism or advocacy, which differs from loyalty because in this stage customers are not only loyal, but they start to recommend and advertise the company’s products and services to their acquaintances and friends, or relatives.
Is customer lifecycle different from customer journey?
The short answer would be yes. If in detail, then let’s take into consideration that customer lifecycle and customer journey are understood from two distinct perspectives. While customer lifecycle stages are explained from the business’s point of view, the customer journey uses the customer’s perspective. Additionally, the customer journey is more specific and covers only customer experiences, while the customer lifecycle map is general and covers customer status, not experience or interaction - it is also very similar to the sales funnel.
Therefore, you now know that those people who use these two definitions interchangeably are wrong.
Why should you manage customer lifecycle?
Well, the most obvious fact is that a customer lifecycle map allows you to see all aspects of the customer lifecycle and their interactions with the brand. Thus, you can improve customer service and customer satisfaction, ease customer interactions, build warmer and closer relationships, improve advertising, and finally, make more sales and get more revenues.
Consequently, customer lifecycle management has only one fundamental goal: to improve your business performance and help you achieve business goals. There is no other way to understand what’s inside customers’ heads than to create a customer life cycle map.
Stages of customer lifecycle map
As we have learned, there are five customer lifecycle stages, so let’s discover each.
This stage is the opening one, where people learn and discover your brand and its products. The main channels which can make people discover your brand are: searching on the web, social networks, and with other people who have recommended or advertised your business or product. Why should you track this stage? Firstly, it is the only way to understand which ad or platform is the most effective in engaging customers. Secondly, you can determine which advertising approach works best for you if you use several strategies.
Track these things:
- Advertising campaigns - see which creatives you bring the most traffic or engagement
- Social media posts - look for the most commented or shared posts
- Keywords - look for terms that lead the most visitors to your website
- Surveys - ask people where have they found information about you
This stage starts when the first impression has created enough interest for customers to take a closer look at your product. During this stage, they spend time on your website or social accounts to discover additional information about the product or service and compare them to competitors’ offerings. What should you do at this stage? First of all, you have to understand who are the nearest competitors - and what’s their pros and cons. Therefore, you have to optimize the content, such as product descriptions and media to make them look better than it is in competitors’ resources.
Where to focus on:
- Describe how your product can solve the main customer problem
- Focus on customer pain points
- Do more qualitative descriptions, both visually and focusing on SEO
- Make a comparison between you and your competitors
- Offer greeting discounts, promo codes, and so on
- Be more proactive in customer service at this stage - offer callbacks, live chat, etc.
- Make real reviews visible for visitors
The most pleasant and key stage is the purchase stage when the customer is convinced and purchases the product. In this way, you get your money, and the customer gets the product that has to cover his needs and eliminate problems. The ideal situation is when the customer thinks that he receives more than just a purchase - special service, status, etc. How to improve the conversion rate? There are massive tips for this purpose, but let’s check only related to the call center industry.
So, to increase the conversion rate you can:
- Offer personalized service on the purchasing stage - come with a call, email, or personal discount.
- Follow-up customers who haven’t paid for a purchase, but left it in their basket
- Provide social proofs
- Provide more customer care through personalized communication
- Offer tracking or communication on several digital platforms
- Say “thank you” for the purchase, but do it non-trivial
This stage is starting when the customer has already purchased the product and your interactions with him are mostly about service, onboarding, and follow-ups. Your main goal is to do everything to make buyers stay with your business and be satisfied with the product and following service. The key objective is to make these customers come again with an extra purchase.
Retention is built only through the call center, and this stage is the most vital for your customer service team to understand. To say the truth, almost 70% of customers would leave your brand if they get poor customer service. Thus, the better your customer service is, the higher your customer retention rate would be.
How to build customer retention:
- Help people with the onboarding process, and not only via providing them with a FAQ
- Be omnichannel
- Be accessible 24/7
- Be fast in resolving customer issues
- Put yourself in their shoes
The next stage after retention, sometimes divided into two stages, is customer loyalty, sometimes called customer advocacy or evangelism. This stage of the customer life cycle is almost similar to retention - customer keeps making purchases and stays in touch with the brand, but the main fact is that they start to advertise and recommend a brand to their acquaintances. Thus, the power of word starts working and as some people are more likely to trust their friends or relatives, you can get additional purchases without investing a cent.
How to build loyalty:
- Offer personal loyalty programs
- Offer rewards for acquiring new customers
- Provide regular customer surveys and implement their expectations
- Create VIP status for most engaged customers
- Be proactive: congratulate customers, send them seasoned discounts or rewards
How can the contact center help in building customer lifecycle retention?
The contact center starts to work at the conversion stage, as people almost always come with a call for additional information about the product or service. Even though product descriptions, blogs, and knowledge bases can cover all aspects of product pricing, features, advantages, and disadvantages, market positioning, problem-solving, and so on, live communication is vital for the success of convincing customers.
But the stage where the contact center shines is the fourth stage - customer retention. This stage is all about customer service, and all channels where it is provided are covered by the multichannel or omnichannel contact center.
Let’s not repeat the same statement about the importance of agent training or reducing response times - it is better to find out how each key communication channel of your contact center can boost customer satisfaction, improve overall customer experience, and build customer lifecycle retention and loyalty.
So, here we go.
Calls as the main customer service channel
Even though we can determine calls as something that isn’t as high-tech as chatbots or live web chats, they’re still the main contact channel for most people all over the world - no matter their age or social status. Yes, there is a trend that younger audiences prefer social media or web chats, but there are still numerous people who seek live conversations - due to their emotionality and closer linkage between agent and customer.
Anyhow, calls are as powerful in customer service as they have always been. There are some reasons for this stable position of phone communication. Firstly, it is the fastest communication channel, if not to say that it is immediate. Secondly, it is more personalized than anything else. Finally, a call is a live conversation, so it offers unbelievable flexibility, and during email communication or chat agent and the customer can face trouble understanding each other, during a call it is easier to get all additional information and details to solve the problem. Call routing is also faster than sharing email requests between numerous specialists.
By the way, it is not enough to just go, set up a small call center, and get inbound calls processed. As in any other project, there are much more pitfalls than it seems to be.
Thus, you need some tips on how to provide customer service via phone calls in the right way to achieve customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.
- Help agents gain vital soft skills, such as active listening and adaptability
- Implement intelligent routing features like ACD
- Provide call queue management
- Focus on achieving at least 80% of the First Call Resolution rate
- Use call monitoring options to control agents
- Use wise workforce management strategies to deal with high call volumes
Another key communication channel that is loved and preferred by many customers is email. This digital channel is ideal for non-emergency requests and is considered a more formal and business-oriented contact line than any other. Email is also a channel where you send your special offers, updates, discounts, greetings, and perform other communication with a customer that is not related to an exact support request or purchase. Nonetheless, some formal documentation that has to be signed to complete a purchase is also sent via email.
Additionally, email is one of the main channels to increase customer lifetime value via using cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. No one limits you from sending new offerings via email and this way is the most acceptable for customers, as it isn’t annoying or aggressive as some outbound call campaigns.
Are there some working ways to improve customer service provided via email? Yes, there are some.
- Always follow up after customer interactions, at least to discover whether the customers are satisfied and whether their problems are resolved
- Send “thank you” messages
- Use email to send personalized offerings, such as discounted ones or bonuses(free shipping, pay for two - get three, and so on)
- Send greetings - collect data about such dates, as anniversaries or birthdays and send greetings or gifts
- Let people unsubscribe from your email campaign
- Send automated responses with an expected time of your answer to the request
- Send reminders about shipping, payments, etc.
Web chat/live chat
Live chat is the most preferred and adored support channel for people between the ages of 18 and 49, as the study says. Actually, live chat isn’t as useful for common customer support issues as it is for getting answers and details before the purchase. It works in this way because of the live chat’s positioning - it is available to use on every(or almost every) page of the website and is mostly used if potential customers don’t get something about the product, purchasing procedure, policy, or something else. Thus, its main goal is to answer all customer’s questions and become a final instrument for convincing a person to make the conversion. For the SaaS lifecycle conversion stage, or for insurance or banking industries, where the product is either expensive or requires access to personal data, live chat is the channel where people get answers to their vital inquiries.
How to improve live chat performance?
- Use smart routing by language or request purpose
- Be omnichannel and offer an immediate switch to call for some cases
- Don’t be annoying - if customers want to close the live chat window, let them do it in a single click
- Use agent names when the chat starts
- Set special setting for chat - for instance, if the customer is staying for too long on one page, chat can open with a support proposal
- Set chat navigation where customers can choose the suitable purpose of request
Favorite communication channel for the youngest audience, especially if we talk about Instagram. Instead of other communication channels, social networks work differently - they’re not only a tool to chat in, they offer customers an opportunity to talk with each other, evaluate your business, and engage with your content in both negative and positive ways. Thus, proper work with the social media community is absolutely essential and a specific field where you need to focus on. Let’s be honest, if someone gets mad in a live chat, no one would see this - but when it happens in Facebook comments, it will be seen by all your subscribers, and it bears both advantages and disadvantages.
Nonetheless, if we talk about social networks as a support channel when there are two main ways how customers can try to get you - via messages and comments. The first way guarantees that the request wouldn’t be public, but the second one makes everyone see many vital aspects of your support: speed of answer, its content, and ways of resolution.
So, what can you do to improve customer service on social networks?
- Increase average response time
- Take part in discussions
- Always answer each comment
- Encourage customers to leave their reviews
- Work with customers to make them show your product in their social accounts
- Process every negative comment as fast as possible
As you can see, customer lifecycle, no matter is it a marketing life cycle or call center life cycle, or any other kind of it, is an important business tool to understand the customer behavior and preferences of your customers, as well as opportunities to boost sales and conversion rates.
Customer lifecycle management is a vital part of business management, and first of all, you have to understand that customer lifecycle is distinct from customer journey or customer lifetime value.
Call center lifecycle is a part of lifecycle management that is related to customer interactions with the customer service or sales team. Thus, the call center as a unit can improve customer lifecycle retention and other aspects of customer service.
Contact center has to be omnichannel to improve customer lifecycle retention and customer lifetime value, and follow some tips and rules to improve customer service that has a direct influence on customer lifecycle retention, as the entire retention stage depends on call center performance.
Anyhow, to set up an omnichannel contact center and provide excellent customer service you have to purchase an all-in-one cloud-based call center solution, that would cover all communication channels to help you build warm customer relationships, integrate data from the customer base through CRM(Customer Relationship Management system), boost customer engagement, and help to provide an exceptional customer experience.
We have such a solution for you, that gathers all the best features of excellent call center software - from call monitoring and reporting features to intelligent routing and outbound dialers.