Customer service

Customer Lifecycle Management: Everything You Should Know for Customer Loyalty [2024]

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The fact is, companies who prioritise the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than those who don't.

But how do you create a customer experience that delights, turning more leads into loyal — and profitable — customers?

You’re going to need a solid customer lifecycle management (CLM) process and the tools to implement it.  

In this guide, we'll go over everything from what customer lifecycle management is, how it works, and all the best practices, so you can understand how to turn strangers into lasting customers on repeat.

>>Find out more about efficy’s solution<<
 

What is the customer lifecycle?

Customer lifecycle definition

The customer lifecycle is a framework that represents each stage a buyer will go through on their path to purchase and beyond — from initial awareness all the way to being a loyal customer.

 

This process is typically made up of five stages:

What is the customer lifecycle management?
  1. Awareness: Capture a potential customer’s attention>
  2. Acquisition: Get their contact information (you've got a lead!)
  3. Conversion: Convert them into a paying customer
  4. Retention: Keep them as a happy customer
  5. Loyalty: Turn them into an advocate who always chooses you over the competition

Keep in mind that the stages of the customer lifecycle will vary by company and won’t always look so black-and-white.

The idea is to help you understand a customer's progression with your business, so you can create delightful experiences at every touchpoint and streamline their road to loyalty.

What is customer lifecycle management?

Customer lifecycle management (CLM) consists of tracking, managing, and optimising each stage of the client lifecycle to create more loyal customers.

This involves creating metrics at each stage and monitoring them over time to gain insights into your performance and continually improve the customer experience.

Successful CLM has the power to help you stand out from the competition and build trust with buyers and customers, ultimately increasing your revenue in the long run.

Why is customer lifecycle management important for businesses?

Thanks to a study done by the Temkin Group, we know that loyal customers are five times more likely to repurchase from a business, seven times more likely to forgive a business that makes a mistake, and nearly nine times as likely to try their new product offering.

Customer loyalty is what separates a lasting, successful business from those who struggle to grow — and proactive customer lifecycle management is your key to getting there.  

How?  

CLM allows you to better understand your customers' wants and needs.  

By understanding the customer journey, you’ll have the insights you need to develop strategies that effectively engage customers at each stage of the lifecycle — leading to a better customer experience.

Let’s break down the notable ways a solid CLM strategy is a must for B2B businesses:

Reduce the cost of acquisition  

Customer lifecycle management is a key ingredient to lower your customer acquisition cost (CAC) by helping you identify which channels and strategies you’re using that work the best.  

With insights into each stage of your customer lifecycle, you can optimise your marketing efforts to minimise resource waste and maximise your ROI.

Let's say your business is spending a large amount of money on Google Ads to generate leads. But after analysing your data as part of your CLM process, you discover that a significant percentage of these leads are not actually converting into paying customers.  

So, instead of continuing to invest in Google Ads, you decide to shift your focus to another channel, such as social media or email marketing, which has a higher conversion rate for your target audience.  

This will help reduce your CAC by focusing your resources on channels that are most likely to result in new business.

As you’re locking in loyal customers, CLM can also help your business gain more high-quality leads for less with the help of their advocacy.

Consider this: 77% of customers will recommend a brand after having a positive customer experience (CX), and 92% of buyers trust good reviews from their friends and family over advertising.

Enhance the customer experience

With the CLM methodology, you'll stay in-the-know on the needs of each customer segment through data insights and can tailor how you communicate accordingly — always providing timely, relevant information and offers.  

If you take the steps to ensure your interactions are personalised, you’ll engage with your customers on a more meaningful level, thereby enhancing the customer experience.  

This will also help you differentiate yourself from competitors who throw out generic, one-size-fits-all messaging that doesn’t speak directly to the customer’s needs.

Prioritise your resource planning

CLM can help you understand where to prioritise your resources by identifying the most important and impactful initiatives for each stage of the customer journey.  

By focusing on the areas of the customer lifecycle that are most critical to business success and allocating your resources accordingly, you’ll be on track to maximise your return on investment and achieve your strategic goals.

Drive customer lifetime value  

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the lifeforce of a company’s growth. It’s a measure of the total value that a customer brings to a business over the course of their relationship — the more someone purchases from you, the more revenue your business brings in.

By using customer lifecycle management, you’ll understand how customers behave and what their needs and desires are at every stage, giving you the opportunity to guide the customer journey — instead of leaving it to chance.

It’s through this methodology that you can build trust and create delightful experiences for customers at every touchpoint, nurturing long term relationships and ultimately increasing their lifetime value.

Drive customer lifetime value

Understanding the 5 stages of the customer lifecycle

Understanding your performance at each stage of the client lifecycle is fundamental to creating a consistently positive customer experience.

Let's go over each of stages one by one:

Understanding the 5 stages of the customer lifecycle management

Awareness

First impressions matter; the first stage of the customer lifecycle is where a potential customer becomes aware of your brand, product, or service.  

This stage is essential to get right because it’s the foundation for the rest of the customer journey — it sets the stage for your relationship with a potential customer.  

You can leverage inbound and outbound marketing methods to make your target customers aware of your business. Your goal here is to intrigue them to dive further into your content and solutions.

Tip

Make sure to accurately target your messages to your ideal customers. Take the time to research who they are, what channels they hang out in, and what problems they’re facing, so you can maximise your impact by providing value to the right people — and become their go-to.

This is also the golden moment to analyse in-depth what your competitors are doing: who they’re talking to, what channels they're active on, and what types of content and topics they’re putting out.

 

Strategies

  • Develop a strong presence across your digital channels
  • Use content marketing to provide value and engage potential customers through blogs, social media posts, and videos
  • Attend industry conferences and events to network with potential customers and build brand awareness
  • Use targeted advertising on LinkedIn or other B2B platforms to reach your ideal customer demographic

Metrics to measure your success

  • Website traffic: the number of visitors to your website
  • Social media engagement: the number of likes, comments, shares, and followers on your social media profiles
  • Impressions: the number of times your brand is seen by potential customers on social media, search engines, or other platforms
  • Referral sources: the number of visitors to your website or social media profiles coming from external sources such as search engines, directories, or other websites

Acquisition  

Once someone starts exploring your offering further or gives you their contact information, they’ve entered the acquisition stage. At this stage, your prospect will begin to evaluate if your company’s solutions are right for them.

Your next step is to start a conversation and build trust; find out their needs and address any potential concerns or objections. Your goal is to show them that your solution is the answer.  

Tip

To be successful at the acquisition stage, make sure your site visitors have access to all the information they need to make a purchasing decision (e.g., pricing information; a way to contact sales).

It’s a good idea to analyse your customer touchpoints for this stage to ensure you have clear, compelling content that builds trust, showcases your solution’s value, answers any questions or concerns, and nudges the prospect toward conversion.

As you go, learn the ins and outs of capturing, qualifying, and nurturing your leads like a pro with our free lead management playbook, so you can streamline more deals.

 


Strategies

  • Offer lead magnets such as white papers, guides, or webinars in exchange for contact information and the opportunity to follow up with potential customers
  • Create targeted email nurturing campaigns
  • Offer personalised demos or consultations to demonstrate the value of your product or service
  • Leverage retargeting ads to stay top of mind for conversion

Metrics to measure your success

  • Form conversion rate: the percentage of website visitors who become leads by filling out a form or signing up for a trial or demo
  • Cost per lead: the cost of acquiring each new lead through advertising or other marketing efforts
  • Quality of leads: the number of leads that match your ideal customer profile or are likely to convert into paying customers

Conversion

After building enough trust, the conversion stage is where a prospect converts into a paying customer. This stage involves guiding them through the sales process and providing a frictionless experience that meets their expectations.

Once the purchase has been made, your communication shouldn’t stop here. Now, your focus should adjust to continually nurturing your relationship and building the foundation for retention and loyalty.

Tip

In this stage, it’s essential that you make your entire purchasing process as seamless and simple as possible; focus on creating the perfect buying experience.

To make this happen, ensure that your site is optimised for conversion (reduce clicks needed to get to conversion; remove any bugs) and provide clear support options during and after the purchasing decision to cover all of your customer’s needs as they evolve.

 

Strategies

  • Create detailed, value-focused product or service information  
  • Ensure your sales team has full customer context to close the deal, up-sell, and cross sell
  • Offer a clear and concise sales proposal that aligns with your marketing messaging
  • Provide proactive and personalised support

Metrics to measure your success

  • Sales revenue: total income generated from selling products or services
  • Close rate: the percentage of leads that become paying customers
  • Average deal size: the average value of each new customer or contract
  • Customer acquisition cost: the total cost of acquiring a new customer, including sales and marketing expenses
  • Time to close: the length of time it takes for a lead to become a paying customer

Retention

The fourth stage of the customer lifecycle is retention. This is when a customer continues to use your product or service or makes repeat purchases.

Retention is critical because it opens the door for ongoing customer interactions and generates long-term revenue for your business.

Tip

In this stage, you’ll want to offer excellent customer service, loyalty and referral programs, and be sure to keep the personalised engagement going.

It’s important to weigh in on how your customers are doing; do they like their new product? Are there resources available to help them with your product?

Check in with them, keep the conversation going with empathy and support, and make sure they have all the resources needed to achieve success with you.

 

Strategies

  • Provide ongoing education and training to help customers maximise the value of your product or service
  • Offer exceptional customer service and support, including quick response times and issue resolution
  • Create a knowledge base and other resources that proactively answer common questions customers may face
  • Use customer feedback to continuously improve the product or service offering
  • Build long-term relationships through personalised communication and engagement, including targeted email campaigns and phone or in-person meetings

Metrics to measure your success

  • Churn rate: the percentage of customers who stop using your product or service
  • Net promoter score: a metric that measures customer satisfaction and loyalty by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others
  • Customer satisfaction: surveys or feedback mechanisms that measure how satisfied customers are with your product or service
  • Customer retention rate: the percentage of customers who continue to use your product or service over time

Loyalty

The final stage of the customer lifecycle is where a customer becomes a loyal advocate for your business and makes repeat purchases over a long period of time. This stage represents culmination of your success from all the previous stages; it can’t be attained if the other stages don’t work well.

Loyal customers are those who have a strong relationship with you and share how much they love your product or service with their friends. Managing this stage involves providing ongoing value, support, and exceptional experiences.  

Tip

Your priority in the loyalty stage should be on fostering your relationship and making your customers feel valued. Is it easy for them to chat with you? Are you staying on top of their evolving needs?

Find opportunities to engage with them and reward their loyalty, and you’ll have customers for life who sustain the ongoing growth of your business.  

 

Strategies

  • Offer personalised rewards or incentives to loyal customers, such as discounts or exclusive access to new products or services
  • Utilise account management strategies to maintain a strong relationship with existing customers and identify opportunities for additional business
  • Build a customer community or forum to encourage engagement and promote advocacy
  • Regularly seek feedback and input from customers to ensure their needs and concerns are being addressed
  • Provide ongoing education and training to help customers maximise the value of your product or service and build loyalty

Metrics

  • Referral rate: the percentage of customers who refer new business to your company
  • Advocacy: the level of support and positive sentiment customers have towards your brand, as measured through surveys, social media monitoring, or other methods
  • Customer engagement: the frequency and depth of interaction between customers and your brand, as measured through website visits, social media activity, or other methods
  • Customer lifetime value: the total revenue or profit that a customer is expected to generate over the course of their relationship with your business.

At each step of the customer lifecycle, efficy’s CRM has you covered — helping you create more awareness to lasting customers, on repeat. Have a chat with our experts about your needs today to see what efficy can do for you.  

How to manage the customer lifecycle

Managing the client lifecycle involves a few key steps that businesses can take to optimise each stage of the customer journey and drive long-term growth.  

Let’s walk through them together:

Identify your target audience

Before you can effectively manage the customer lifecycle, you need to know who your ideal customer is. By identifying your target audience, you can tailor your marketing messages and customer experiences to their unique needs and preferences.  

This profile includes demographic information such as age, gender, and location, as well as psychographic information, such as values and interests.

For example, a B2B software company might identify small and medium-sized businesses as their target audience and focus their marketing efforts on reaching decision-makers within those organisations.

Map the customer journey

Map the customer journey

Download my free Customer Journey Map template here

 

Once you've identified your target audience, you need to understand the journey that they take from initial awareness to post-purchase loyalty.  

It’s important to map out the customer journey to visualise the roadmap a consumer will take with your business.  

By mapping the customer journey, you can identify key touchpoints and customer behaviour at each step, gaining insights into their pain points and needs and uncovering decision-making factors.  

Through this, you can develop strategies to improve each stage and create more predictable success.  

Set clear goals at each stage

To successfully manage the customer lifecycle, you need to have clear goals for each stage of the journey.  

Setting goals at each stage of the customer lifecycle in client lifecycle management is necessary to ensure a focused and strategic approach to customer engagement. It provides you with a clear direction and benchmarks for measuring success.  

By defining goals, your business can align its efforts, optimise resource allocation, and track their success to continually improve the customer experience, ultimately driving greater customer satisfaction.

Collect customer data  

Collect and organise customer data to get insights and segment customers based on their behavior, preferences, and characteristics.

By collecting customer data, you can gain insights into what motivates your customers and how you can better serve them.  

When it comes to gathering data, using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is your best bet; it will automatically collect and organise your customer data, offering insights for each stage of the customer journey so you can better manage your relationships  

With customer data at your side and accessible to everyone who needs it, you’ll create a streamlined customer lifecycle that dazzles at every touchpoint.

Create touchpoints across your channels  

In order to engage and wow your customers, you’re going to need touchpoints across all of your channels, from your website to blog to social media interactions.  

By creating relevant, consistent messaging and high-value content targeted to people at each stage of the customer lifecycle, you can effectively begin to build trust and loyalty.

Personalise the experience

Personalisation is a must for customer loyalty. Today, 71% of consumers expect personalisation, and 78% are more likely to repurchase from and recommend brands that offer a personalised customer experience.

By using customer data and insights, you can tailor your marketing messages and customer experiences to each individual customer, making them feel valued and appreciated.  

Personalise interactions, offers, and messages according to customer data, purchasing behavior, and client lifecycle stage. You can tailor email communication, product recommendations, targeted advertising, and more to delight customers and grow your relationships.

Customer lifecycle management best practices

Effective CLM requires being strategic to engage customers at every stage of the journey. Now that we’ve covered how to manage the customer lifecycle, let's dive into some best practices to keep in mind:

Customer lifecycle management best practices

Automate the customer journey

Automation can play a vital role in customer lifecycle management; automation has the power to streamline your processes and improve efficiency across the customer journey.

Marketing automation will help you engage customers every step of the way by delivering personalised content and offers based on their behaviour and interests — with it, businesses can ensure they’re always reaching the right person, with the right message, at the right time.

And to top it off, automation tools free up time from routine tasks so businesses can focus on more strategic activities.

Give a seamless brand experience

When customers interact with a brand, they expect the same messaging, tone, and overall experience, regardless of the channel they’re using.

Creating a seamless brand experience across every channel is important for the customer experience in order to establish a strong brand identity that builds trust.

Continuously fine-tune the customer lifecycle management process

Continuously review and adjust your CLM process to eliminate any unnecessary steps that interfere with the customer's journey.

Measuring key performance indicators such as customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, and customer retention, and beyond rate will be crucial to helping you finetune the success of your CLM strategy.  

Leverage a CRM to facilitate your efforts

From understanding which leads to focus on to having the tools you need to lock in more customers and build trust each step of the way, there’s no solution quite like a CRM to set your customer lifecycle management efforts up for success.

But first, let’s clear up what a CRM is and how it’s different from CLM.  

What is the difference between CLM and CRM?

The CLM methodology overlaps with customer relationships management (CRM).  

While CLM focuses solely on optimising the stages of the customer lifecycle, the term CRM covers a broader scope and more specifically refers to the software businesses use to capture and manage customer data, so they can build better customer relationships and grow their revenue.

What is the difference between CLM and CRM?

A robust CRM software (like efficy’s!) gives you the full suite of tools to replace the stack of apps and spreadsheets a business needs to track, manage, and optimise every customer interaction — from lead management to sales, marketing, customer support, and beyond.  

Customer relationships management is the gold standard of software to gain the intelligence you need to facilitate your CLM, helping you win more customers, reduce churn, and streamline your processes throughout with automation and intelligence.  

Here’s how a CRM powers up your customer lifecycle management:

Organise and unify customer data to create personalised experiences:  

With customer data as a single source of truth in your CRM, you can easily anticipate all your customers’ needs, behaviours, preferences, purchase history, and beyond.

With this information, you can hand-curate your interactions to deliver targeted messaging and provide customised solutions, fostering deeper connections and enhancing customer satisfaction at each stage — from targeting the right leads to keeping customers on board long after purchase.

Use marketing automation to engage customers:  

Marketing automation in a CRM enables businesses to better engage customers at each stage of the customer lifecycle by automating personalised communication, nurturing leads, and delivering more impactful content.

It streamlines processes, ensures timely interactions, and helps businesses build stronger relationships.

Provide exceptional customer support:

Thanks to customer insights in available in a CRM, you can always stay informed with key context to provide exceptional customer support.  

CRM software's make your customer service efforts more efficient by giving you the tools you need to track customer interactions, resolve issues efficiently, and provide personalised support, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Measure your KPIs:  

With real-time visibility into all your analytics, CRM users can monitor their KPIs with ease.  

These insights allow businesses to better analyse their performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to drive success.  

Ready to unlock customer loyalty?

Successful management of the customer lifecycle is your answer to building long-term relationships with customers.

Customers like knowing that you’re committed to them, and great customer lifecycle management assures your customers that you intend to be by their side for the long run.

With efficy’s CRM as your trusted sidekick, you’ll have all the tools you need to create better customer experiences and form smarter strategies for every stage — driving the success of your customer lifecycle management.

Want to engage in better customer relationships and boost loyalty? Unlock your free demo of efficy today!  

 

Keep reading:

The 6 Stages of the SaaS Customer Lifecycle Explained: Don’t Miss These Key Touchpoints