Customer Success

A Guide To Understanding Customer Lifecycle And Its Stages

May 31, 2022
9 min read

Your customers are bombarded with messages and marketing content every day. Customer acquisition may appear more difficult than ever. How can you differentiate yourselves from your competitors? 

Customer retention is equally tricky nowadays. As such the way you treat your customers makes all the difference - as they will value the service rather than the marketing collateral. 

From sign-up to conversion, adoption and retention… Managing the customer lifecycle in a thorough and insightful manner is paramount. 

Here are the basic elements you need to have in mind to start leveraging your own customer lifecycle. 

What is the customer lifecycle?

The customer lifecycle refers to the process by which your prospects get to know your product, purchase it, use it, and become long-time customers. 

It gives you a map that outlines all the customers steps as they go through the sales and customer success funnel.

SaaS teams, sales and customer success managers, can take advantage of the customer lifecycle to create bespoke funnels and strategies to deliver the best user-centric experiences that add true value to your customers.

Let us take you through each stage.

The 6 Stages Of the Customer Lifecycle

  1. Reach

This phase is basically coined as awareness. It is where everything begins officially. It's challenging to know the exact point when a customer initially contacts your brand. The secret lies in the way you track the reach.

Even though it's not easy to track the exact touchpoints, it is crucial to track such metrics as precisely as possible. 

That way, you can understand which marketing strategies are useful and give you the most bang for your buck— and are worthy of your further investment. Here are some of the tips you can follow to track the customer reach data:

  • How are your current visitors landing on your website? Recognize the most frequent search terms that people search for and bring them to your website. This way, you can maximize your content production in that domain to ensure maximum visitors.
  • Keep a tab on the rate of your social media followers, online reviews. It helps you improve anything that needs more work and helps you know— why any person is interested in your product and what makes them sign up for your freemium?
  • How many visitors are you getting on your website? Check up on your new visitors and returning visitors. Map down their common characteristics and how did they land here. Is there anything common between them? It can be their search query or the job role.

  1. Acquisition

As soon as you're in the prospect's reach, it's time to initiate the conversation. Your goal is to convert your marketing contacts into leads. Leads are people who have the potential to become your sales contacts, and they are interested in your goods and services.

It's tricky to turn someone who is just aware of your brand or product into a possible customer. In the simplest sense, it's about engagement and interaction. It can be either a newsletter, ad copy, blog post, or video.

However, the point to focus on is that making a mere contact won't move things for you. To convert them into buyers, you need to combine various factors such as personalization, timing, and purpose.

Gone are the days when it was possible to convert people via a salesy cold email or a cold call. The reason is you are not the only brand that is sending them emails or creating other marketing collaterals. Your customers have to fight their way out of the constant shower of marketing communication.

If your approach is too salesy and aggressive, you will end-up overwhelming the audience, and you might accidentally push them farther than they are right now.

In this noise of regular ads, newsletters, and content, you have to find a way to stand out from the usual messaging. The ideal solution is to tailor your messaging according to the buyer personas.

Ask these questions to yourself and try to know your customers better:

  • What are their goals?
  • What makes them happy?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • What motivates them?
  • Which is the most used social media platform?
  • What is their personality?
  • How do they consume content? (from blogs, videos, books, etc.)

You can use the answers to these questions as the basis of further interaction. If you can provide them value even before they purchase from you—then they are more likely to consider your solution rather than anyone else's.

Finally, if you are a product-led company offering a free product or a trial, pay a close look to the product usage of your users and leverage these insights in your conversion strategies.

To surface your product qualified leads (PQLs) and increase their product adoption use Successeve Convert, a product entirely dedicated to this purpose. 

  1. Retention

You have acquired a customer, which is excellent, but you haven't won the game yet. The customer still has the power to leave you. In the modern marketplace, it is easier for the customer to walk out of the door and never return. As mentioned in the second stage, you need to form a strong bond with the customer through your valuable messages and content.

Once you gain a customer, you need to ensure that person doesn't leave you. In this retention phase, there are tiny links that lead you to this purpose.

Onboarding

The onboarding process is the next essential step after purchase. You want your customers to adopt your product as soon as possible. 

But if you expect them to figure out the entire thing on their own and turn your back, then probably you are creating a blunder. There will be a tiny fraction of customers that would have understood the ins and outs of your product.

If they try to use the product without your guidance and end-up unsuccessful, it will lead to frustration, which could be a reason for them to churn.

To avoid such circumstances, you must create a list of all the checkpoints, or milestones, that the customer must go through while using your product for the first time.

Automate this process seamlessly with Successeve. With Successeve Retain & Expand, you can create a workflow that automatically sends trigger messages when the user clicks on any checkpoint.

And it’s sooo easy to do so! At a glance:

Customer Success

When a user has finished the onboarding process and is all set to use the product, it is crucial that you keep the communications open. 

The initial 90 days are the most vital, and you want to ensure that there is no friction at all. You have two choices: either you engage them here, or they churn, and you lose them forever.

The most popular reason customers churn is that companies start focusing on acquiring new customers and forget about the existing ones. You need to come up with a dynamic approach for customer success. 

But even if you predict some issues and challenges, you cannot foresee everything. So you must provide your customers with on-time attention, so you can solve their issues quickly.

Successeve Retain & Expand will help you score the health of your customers, and trigger actions based on their behavior to maximize the efforts of the customer success manager and team.

  1. Expansion

As we have seen, for most SaaS businesses it is a common practice to leverage cross-selling and upselling opportunities to create more revenue. This strategy does sound enticing but is often badly-handled, and generic. The exact opposite of what your customers want. 

Because if you cross-sell and upsell without any solid plan and context, you can fall into the trap of illusion that you are providing value, but the feelings might not be mutual for customers. So if it's not, it won't take much time for customers to abandon your product and churn.

You should try the strategy of expanding to help your customers get as much value out of the product. 

Detect and act on customer expansion opportunities with Successeve Retain & Expand.

  1. Referral

When a customer reaches this stage, it doesn't only mean that they are satisfied with your product, but also they would become the unofficial ambassador of the product. 

That customer would mention you on social media, refer the product to colleagues and friends, and provide you with a great testimonial. 

The power of social proof is impeccable, and when your prospects see a level of security and validation, it convinces them to try your product.

Use the customer lifecycle to grow your business.

Every customer or would-be customer will go through these six stages of the customer lifecycle. You need to connect the dots effectively to create a positive user experience. 

The more you focus on creating a holistic experience rather than just sales, and basic account management, the more likely they'll be to move onto the next stage and grow your business.

Successeve is a Customer Lifecycle Management software that offers a series of products dedicated to the most important stages of your customer journey. Start free now

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