How much value do you provide to your customers? Are customers just the source of earning for your business? On a daily basis customer service departments interact with many people. These people have either faced a poor experience with your brand or they need some kind of support to make their lifecycle worthwhile.
Customer Lifecycle depicts the progression of steps involved in customers buying journey from the beginning of the consideration process till maintaining loyalty to a product or service. Managing customer lifecycle is very important for businesses to stay ahead of the competition. With the advancement in technology and customers becoming digital savvy, it is the brands who should fear the defection of customers to competition.
The traditional approach of customer service is being replaced by more meaningful targeted brand experience. Organizations are anticipating their customers’ needs in order to make a more personalized impact. Successful brands have identified and addressed issues in customer’s lifecycle. They have filled in the gaps by measuring and trending satisfaction with the service level.
Various experts in their research work have discussed the importance of steps involved in the customer lifecycle, but understanding how every step adds value to the customer's decision making process is the most important part.
Let’s discuss the steps involved in the customer lifecycle to have a better understanding towards engaging prospective customers:
Discovery: This is the step where brands make contact with the customers. At the beginning of the buying journey, customers begin with some kind of information research on the discovery of their needs. Customers use different channels like social media, email, website visits to collect details on the product or service of their interest. This is the time when brands have the opportunity to study the needs of the customers. Understanding the discovery process goes beyond the measures of conversion as it provides the brand with the opportunity to earn lifetime advocates. Analyzing “how many come from different digital channels?” is not sufficient. Instead asking “who comes from different digital channels and why?” can be a better way forward. Metrics at this stage helps you in analyzing the best strategy organizations can make for having a better outreach to the prospective customers.
Persuasion: At this stage, customers are aware about the features and variants of products to purchase within different brands. Different options are evaluated by the customer either on the online websites or in the physical retail store. Different offers, discounts, and features persuade the buyers to make a purchase. It becomes the duty of the organizations to provide seamless experience at this stage which will thereafter lead to sales. So, how can the organizations capture customer’s frame of mind in order to attract them towards making a purchase? To start with, organizations have to be sure about the intent of the customers i.e. whether they are willing to buy online or through the traditional practices involving store vendors. Adding to this, customers today are pretty smart as most of their evaluation and interest identification has already happened without any influence of vendors due to huge information available on the internet. This creates a dismay among the organizations as they are not able to pursue customers from the very beginning. To cope up with this, organizations should ensure that they map the previous buying experience of the customer as well as identify buying patterns of segmented customers. Segmentation will help organizations in creating buyer personas which will ultimately help in predicting the next best step towards luring the prospective customers to buy.
Purchase: When the customers are done with the evaluation of different options available, they end up making a purchase. At this stage the customer is convinced about the option available. The Purchase pattern of prospective customers provides brands with useful data that help them in determining the customers need along with the information on competitive threats. Also, the purchase experience is the most critical step, thus it becomes important for organizations to capture this moment and try to delight their customer with some extraordinary follow ups and feedback calls.
Experience: Satisfaction level of a user from the product is determined by the ability of a brand to provide great user experience. The millennials expect quick response to their issues or queries and with the availability of options in bundles, they have the power to switch to another viable option. Self-service and live assistance capabilities of a brand are the need of hour so as to serve the customers with ease. With the help of customer engagement technology, organizations have the power of turning distress to opportunity. The customer service departments have understood the importance of creating extraordinary user experience and have set the milestones for achieving their goals.
Bonding: This stage directly tests the power of customer retention that your organization restores with the customers. A truly delighted customer tops the wagon of customer-organization engagement. But the question here is, how and when can the organization be sure about the customer being happily bonded with them? How long does it take for a customer to start acting as a brand advocate which is the next level of customer loyalty? Organizations should understand that creating bond is not a one day job as it takes many experiences and positive service feedbacks for customers to feel delighted with the organization. A failure does not mean the end of bonding but the quick resolution of the customer complaint after the failure will result in a high customer satisfaction score. To drive the bonding process, organizations need to be proactive as well as customer-centric in order to empathize with customer situation and get them out of any sort of apprehensions. Always remember that your most satisfied customer will be responsible for your maximum revenue generation. Thus, you need to set right rules in place to create happy bonds with the customer.
Advocacy: In the bonding stage we mentioned about customer loyalty, but is your customer loyalty only restricted to repeat purchases or has it gone to the next level i.e. brand advocates? So, if the answer is only repeat purchases then you need to go back to all your lifecycle stages and question your customers about what can be done in order to get hold of their advocacy. Customers become advocates when they have superlative experience in all of their lifecycle stages. As discussed in the points above, anything can get mistimed with so many stages involved in the lifecycle. But the moment of truth is the proactive damage control that the customer service team can establish and also help the customers in quick resolutions. Coming back to the advocacy, organizations now understand the importance of word of social in addition to word of mouth. Organizations should look to provide true Omni channel Customer experience to their customers that can restore customer queries well in time and help in creating those everlasting relationships fostering to advocacy.