Your business is alive and kicking.
And just like how your business has a life cycle, so do your customers. They are continuously interacting with the goods and services that you offer. This phenomenon is often referred to as the customer lifecycle.
To put it into quick perspective, there are different ways to get a potential customer to consider your offering and then ensure that they’ll come back for more all the time.
And why is this important?
Well this is the exact strategy that giants like Amazon and Alibaba use to maximize their profit per user.
Want to know the secret art? Read on.
First, let's take a look at the different phases a customer goes through.
The Stages of The Customer Life Cycle
Life is synonymous with business; both have different stages.
Namely, this process is broken into these main steps: your reach, acquisition, development and nurturing, retaining them, and then turning them into advocates.
It isn't just about making them come back for more. For you to understand the technique, you need to look at these in context.
- Reach – this refers to how you can get your offerings in front of your customer. Think advertising, promotion, and outreach.
- Acquisition – getting them to pay for your good or service.
- Development and nurturing – maintaining a healthy relationship with them. If you already got them to buy once, you can always get them to do it again- month after month or year after year.
- Retention – keeping your customers close, very close.
- Advocacy – provide so much value that they’ll spread the word about you.
These steps are important in developing a good customer relationship management strategy along with the customer lifecycle.
Increasing Customer Life Cycle Value
Now that we have it all hammered down, let’s take a look at how we can increase the customer lifecycle and turn clients into clientele.
The most important part of increasing the customer lifecycle value is the relationship that you have with your customer after the sale. For most entrepreneurs, this is probably going to be the best part.
And it gets better:
Getting this part right will result in more business for your enterprise. Take a step back and think about this for a while:
What’s better- a single sale over one period or repeat sales from a customer?
In theory, repeat sales cost less money to procure and open the doors to even more opportunities in the future. (I'll discuss this later)
An Impeccable After Sales Experience
Ever loved an almost perfect service only for your feelings towards it to change after speaking to annoying tech support reps who only care about logging in their hours?
We've all been there.
You may have the perfect product and service, but if your after sales experience sucks, they’re not going to come back for more.
Make sure that you have proper procedures in place to handle the after sales aspect of the actual sale. This includes having a good team that can handle any concerns, having a proper feedback system, and following up.
Don't just follow up if they have a complaint. If they do have a complaint, you should get very personal with them in your connection. Check out Pizza Hut's example: an apology letter sent to this woman.
You might be thinking of follow up as a way to generate sales off the bat, but trust me, customers usually know when you’re attempting an upsell almost immediately after the sale.
Instead of offering them an add-on, ask them how they feel about a product and how you can help them with your offering. Every interaction with them has to show that you care about them more than your profits.
Believe me, it’s not that hard to implement, and certainly begs the question – ‘How to do it?'
Well, here are some very useful ways.
Offer More Than What They’ve Asked For
Did you know that it takes more than five times the resources to land a new sale than retain a new one? So if you’re already spending money then you should offer more!
I'm not talking about giving away your stock, but rather about adding value to what they’re purchasing.
An extended warranty, semi-preferential treatment, special packaging, special rates, free shipping, no delivery charges- are all examples of value additions that you can offer almost for free. As long as it’s making them feel special, they’ll want to get more of that feeling from you.
They’ll associate that particular feeling with your products allowing you to develop your brand even more.
Check out this Redditor who talks about how Dell values warranties on their products.
After talking to their customer they decided to actually send a real person over and didn't charge the customer a single penny!
Bond With Your Customers
yet another way you can positively increase the customer lifecycle value is to bond with your customer. Create meaningful interactions if you can, and purposefully create real avenues for conversation.
- Social media is a good tool. Use it.
Don't you just love this? Red Bull, one of the biggest beverage companies in the world with a roster of famous people that we love, freely interacts with their customers. Social media can easily bridge the divide if customers perceive you to be too corporate.
- Provide feedback on your end with regard to how others use the offerings that they have purchased.
Check out how Grammarly's emails aren't annoying and make for a very casual read. In fact, you feel great about using their services and they can even encourage you to write some more! (Whilst indirectly telling you they're helping you!)
They create this collaborative feeling between you and their company.
- Send emails to them on special days with special offers.
- Reach out to them and ask them how they are.
However, don't be annoying.
Understand Your Customer
Customers’ needs are very dynamic, and you also have to be as dynamic with your offerings.
This goes beyond the usual surveys or customer feedback that we’re all used to. Study their purchasing behavior and see how you can improve your products to match demand. Find out what makes them tick and adapt to that, it will all be worth it in the long run.
Check out what Starbucks used to do.
Although they have now moved this to their main Twitter page, it still serves as a good example of a company reaching out to their customers and asking them to get involved!
Tools to Help You Nurture Lifecycle
If you own a company then you should pay attention to your customer relationship management.
There are probably a hundred different CRM softwares for you out there and you shouldn't have any problems picking one out of the pack.
Pick one that allows you to funnel your customers in their different stages of the lifecycle.
However, realize one thing, most CRM software solutions are concentrated on sealing the deal. Look for one that helps you keep a connection going with your customer even after the initial sale.
That's what's going to nurture the relationship, not the sale itself.
Getting Them to Stay Loyal
The customer life cycle is just like any relationship that you’ll have with a person. It’s important to note that loyalty plays an important role in getting them to stay with you.
But it’s not your customers that need to be loyal to your brand or offering. You have to make sure that you’re loyal to them as well.
Here’s the deal:
I don’t want you to sound like your spouse, but loyalty is a two-way stream. As I've discussed earlier, you need to nurture the business relationship that you have with your customer.
Build an advocacy with your customers. Trust me, you'll reap the benefits soon enough.
Customers will start talking about you and that's when you realize that you've done a great job.
For instance, look at this random Buffer user. Check out the personalized reply from Buffer after the customer advocated their product.
By the way, if you're having a social management debacle with regard to nurturing the customer lifecycle, you can use their service. You see the effect? Even we like them for some reason!
They nail it perfectly. They offered a great service that made users advocate for them, they tend to be personal with their users, and that establishes a connection, and they can be sure that this user will keep coming back.
This is the bottom line:
If you take care of them, they'll take care of you, because they're human too.
Hopefully, this article has provided enough insight to help you develop and nurture the most important values of your customer lifecycle.
At the end, all you got to do is care about them as if they were family.
Feature image by Csaba