A strong customer relationship can last for years. How do you begin to manage all the potential outcomes, needs, and variables that determine the path ahead?

Break it down into small steps.

The customer lifecycle management process segments the customer journey into stages, including onboarding, adoption, escalation, and renewal. This modular approach lets you focus on goals-based, results-driven KPIs that guide the customer and help them reap benefits from the use of your product. Defining your customer journey also gives you a clear set of milestones and goals to benchmark customer progress.

How to Manage the Customer Lifecycle

The customer journey stages reflect how a customer grows with your product and your brand. They define a clear way to track the customer experience, measure it against proven metrics, increase value, and reduce churn. 

Each stage of the customer journey can be broken down into a series of practical goals and KPIs. The onboarding phase, for example, is about educating the customer and helping them incorporate the product into their daily workflow. You focus on speeding up time to value, maximizing license utilization, and demonstrating the value of key product features. The onboarding stage then logically flows to adoption, where the customer uses this newly acquired product knowledge to garner maximum business value. 

It is important to note, however, that the customer journey is not linear. Customers can experience escalation while they’re in the midst of renewal, or some circle back to onboarding due to an upsell. 

Optimizing the Customer Lifecycle Management Process

To increase your chances of building a mutually rewarding partnership, you have to pursue clear goals every step of the way. These goals evolve with the needs of each customer, but there are best practices that you can employ to make the most of the customer lifecycle management process: 

    • Use Data to Drive Timely and Relevant Engagements. Customers have different needs at each stage of the journey. To best serve them and to anticipate future needs, focus on information that is relevant to their current circumstances. Metrics such as product access, usage time, and feature usage can guide engagement efforts. 
      • Example: The first days and weeks after a customer has completed onboarding are critical, and may require a different approach than a customer who has been live for quite some time. Setting up a unique health profile for these “young” customers and employing a higher-touch engagement strategy will help ensure early adoption.
    • Measure and Track Progress Against KPIs and Goals: One of the first steps in the customer lifecycle management process is identifying your goals and tracking the KPIs necessary to measure progress. It helps to use a modular approach, breaking the customer journey down into stages and using unique goals depending on the particular phase a customer is in. By tracking progress, you should be able to identify what is working and what could use more finessing. 
      • Example: In the adoption phase, the customer success team is working to ensure customers are effectively using the product. They’ll do this in a variety of ways, which can include hosted training sessions, regular check-ins, and adoption-focused drip campaigns. The effectiveness of these efforts can be measured by identifying specific actions and activities the customer should be doing within the product. For example, if a training and drip campaign sequence is focused on a new reporting module in the software, some critical KPIs are how often the customer accesses the reporting module and how many reports they create.
    • Scale Customer Success: Customers expect the same level of personal attention throughout their journey, but it is difficult to maintain high-touch engagements across a growing portfolio. Grouping customers with similar characteristics and product histories can help you stay aware of their evolving needs and identify behavior patterns.
      • Example: As you approach renewal, you can tailor your messaging to specific customer segments based on your understanding of what these businesses value, how their peers have responded to previous campaigns, and what they will need for future growth.
    • Share Customer Data Across the Enterprise: Every customer interaction generates information. By sharing this data across the enterprise without password barriers and siloed databases, you inform the next customer engagement and can anticipate customer needs. 
      • Example: During escalation, knowledge of the customer history allows the customer success team to better understand the problem.
    • Prepare Campaigns for Each Stage of the Customer Journey: The customer lifecycle management process lets you create product engagement campaigns that address each phase of the customer journey. This modular approach is helpful for making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
      • Example: During onboarding, create messaging that strongly links the product and its features to customer business goals. During adoption, prioritize the experience of new value by encouraging the adoption of advanced product features or expanded product usage. Escalation brings a need for rapid and personalized customer response, while renewal should focus on future growth and acknowledging past achievements.
    • Identify Advocates: Use Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to identify which customers are at-risk (detractors) and which are highly satisfied (advocates). Once you know who your advocates are, you can include them in a case study or ask them to provide references. 
      • Example: You are notified that a certain customer has a high NPS of 10. This customer is clearly happy with your brand and product and you want to be sure you know why. You reach out asking for a reference and feedback on what they love about working with your enterprise.

Implementing these best practices will help you deliver value at every phase of the customer journey. To really optimize your processes, though, you also need to use the right technology. 

Customer Lifecycle Management Solution 

To connect all the dots and operationalize, you need a customer success platform that can turn customer information into clear, goal-based actions that can be shared and understood across teams. This way, the entire enterprise is aware of the customer’s evolving needs. Collecting raw data isn’t enough. You must be able to analyze this information to create a scalable, at-a-glance understanding of customer health across segments and establish an early warning system that assigns the task to the appropriate people and provides guidance on next steps. 

Customer lifecycle management defines the customer journey with step-by-step goals and milestones. It lets you anticipate your customers’ needs as they progress from basic product understanding to successfully achieving their business goals. By gathering the right data and taking action accordingly, you can lead your customers to mutually beneficial growth.

Totango helps you optimize every step of the customer journey. If you explore Spark, you’ll find a platform you can use to guide interactions with your customers. Request a demo and start your customers for success.

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