From small businesses to large enterprises, most companies today recognize the importance of customer relationship management (CRM). The core idea is that, while closing a one-off deal is okay, building a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with your customers is far better.

Rather than just trying to close the sale, building a relationship requires looking at the bigger picture, one that covers the entire customer lifecycle. This includes everything leading up to, during, and following the transaction. These relationships don’t happen by accident — rather, they are nurtured by the company, growing over time. That’s why customer lifecycle management (CLM) is so important.

This article will cover the most important aspects of customer lifecycle analysis, including:

  • What is customer lifecycle management?
  • Why is customer lifecycle management important?
  • The different customer lifecycle stages
  • How to manage the customer lifecycle

What is customer lifecycle management?

The customer lifecycle refers to the customer’s interactions with the company and how behavior changes over time. Customer lifecycle management is the structured tracking and optimization of those interactions.

Although closely related to the customer journey and sales funnel, which focus on the client and their needs at different stages of the process, the customer lifecycle instead uses the perspective of the company and the actions they take to meet those needs.

As customer lifecycle management covers the entirety of the customer’s interactions with a company, all customer-facing teams are involved — including sales, marketing, customer support, and customer success.

What is customer lifecycle marketing? Customers respond better to different messaging and content, depending on where they are in the lifecycle. Customer lifecycle marketing refers to the strategies that companies use — as part of their overall customer lifecycle management — to deliver the right message to move them onto the next stage in their journey.

Why is customer lifecycle management important?

Whatever kind of products or services you sell, your prospects will go through the different stages of the conversion funnel before they make a purchase. Each stage requires a different approach so, by looking at the customer lifecycle, you can effectively personalize your interactions and make them more relevant.

This approach also encourages a holistic approach to sales, taking into account how you engage with customers at all stages of the purchasing process — not just the sale. By using customer lifecycle analysis to identify the specific information they need at each stage, it’s straightforward to create genuinely useful content that leads to an improved customer experience.

Client lifecycle management also makes it easier to predict what a customer will do next, and gently help them to make the best decision. Rather than abandoning customers once they’ve made a purchase, you can maximize the value you offer with additional support, advice, and recommendations. In turn, customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and have an increased lifetime value.

By going beyond the buy and thinking in terms of complete client lifecycle management, rather than a single transaction or funnel, you can build two-way customer relationships that benefit both parties.

The different customer lifecycle stages

There are several different ways of breaking down the customer lifecycle. At SnapCall, we look at five different stages:

  • Acquisition
  • Development
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Loyalty
Customer Lifecycle Management
The five stages of customer lifecycle

Acquisition

This corresponds with the awareness stage in the customer journey. This is where marketing works to get the attention of their ideal customers and lay the foundation for a future relationship. This could be by creating helpful content that helps them tackle their most pressing challenges, display advertising that gets their attention, or outreach to companies that match your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Development

As that awareness grows, customers enter the interest stage of the funnel. In the customer lifecycle, companies need to develop that interest. Build on that initial attention and showcase how your business in particular can help them, perhaps using case studies, ebooks, and other more in-depth content.

Conversion

When a customer is ready to make a purchase, your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to make that decision and choose you over your competitors. From a marketing point of view, this could be through content that highlights particular features that set your product apart, using concrete data to convince them that your service is the right one for them. Onsite chat is also a powerful tool, such as using a click-to-call solution to talk with prospects and answer any final questions they may have instantly.

Retention

After the purchase has been made, how can you ensure that your new customer stays around? Generally, this is achieved by finding ways to add additional value to your service, usually through cross-selling related products or upgrading their existing service. Customer support also plays a key role, who can help them get the most out of their purchase and quickly resolve any issues that might come up.

Loyalty

This stage in the customer lifecycle is about transforming regular customers into loyal advocates for your brand. While some may think of loyalty and retention as the same thing, that’s not the case. Someone could be a repeat customer for years purely out of necessity, unaware of any other solutions. However, a loyal customer will stick with you by choice and gladly recommend you to anyone who’ll listen. This kind of loyalty can only come over time, when the customer sees that you have their best interests at heart and provide a superior customer experience.

How to manage the customer lifecycle

Simply understanding the different stages of the customer lifecycle shifts the traditional marketing perspective, helping you to adopt a long-term view of customer actions. However, what if you’re not seeing the results you’d like?

The first step is to identify which stage(s) need your attention. Where is there a drop-off in the corresponding stages of the conversion funnel? For example, maybe you’re seeing a lot of interest, but it’s not leading to conversions, or customers will buy once but are never seen again.

This will require you to choose and track the right customer service metrics and KPIs for each stage. For example:

  • Acquisition: Ad impressions, site visits, viewed content
  • Development: Downloaded ebooks, webinar views, demo signups
  • Conversion: Conversion rate, average purchase value
  • Retention: Number of cross-sells, number of upsells, customer lifetime value
  • Loyalty: Net promoter score (NPS), Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Once you’ve identified any weak points, ensure you’ve fully understood the customer lifecycle from both perspectives. What is the customer trying to achieve? How are you helping them meet their goals? Are you providing the right content for each stage?

Answering those questions and seeing how these metrics change over time will mean you’re able to manage every stage of the customer lifecycle.

Conclusion

Understanding the customer lifecycle enables you to tailor your marketing more effectively, so that you deliver the right message at the right time. By tracking and managing the key metrics relating to each stage of the customer lifecycle, you can move beyond one-off transactions to create loyal life-long evangelists for your brand.


Looking to improve the way you manage the customer lifecycle? SnapCall allows you to talk directly with your best customers, answering questions and offering support over voice/video calls and screen sharing. Book a demo and start your free 14-day trial today.