Mapping out the customer journey isn’t just for small start-ups or unicorn companies. It can be tempting to write off this extra step if your company is part of a larger, more mature marketplace as the customer experience is likely well documented and established. But while it may take on a different look than customer lifecycles at different size companies, it’s still vitally important to map out the customer experience and plan for various stages.
For large enterprise or companies with a global reach, understanding the customer experience can take on a new life of its own—one that hinges fully on visible data and metrics across the entire customer journey.
What Is Customer Lifecycle Management?
Customer Lifecycle Management (sometimes referred to as “CLM”) is the process of mapping out the entire customer journey and then associating specific lifecycle stages to individual metrics. Customer success leaders can then measure and track these metrics against larger company benchmarks to build a better picture of overall customer satisfaction and health.
For companies of all sizes, Customer Lifecycle Management is a way to ensure nothing slips through the cracks when it comes to managing and serving customers. Mapping out the customer journey ensures that all individuals and departments are on the same page when it comes to customer needs, customer handoffs and internal knowledge transfers, and most importantly, results.
The Customer Lifecycle Begins The Moment a Sales Is Closed
The customer lifecycle the moment that experience your brand. For this blog, we’re going to focus on the customer journey that begins the moment a sale is closed. As soon as an account transfers from ‘prospect’ to ‘customer’, the lifecycle begins and the customer success team is responsible for providing an exceptional experience. For larger companies or organizations in more mature markets or even global markets, customer lifecycle mapping can be a key differentiator from competitors in a crowded industry.
Global organizations especially must pay attention to the Customer Journey Map and Customer Lifecycle Management. Traditions and processes are often different between different countries or regional areas, and these exercises can often fix or control issues before they become a problem. It also gives Customer Success Managers (CSMs) time to develop new standard operating procedures (SOPs) or workflows and then actually run them by other existing customers or internal employees for feedback and final sign off.
Why Is It Important?
At organizations within more established audiences, it’s important to thoroughly understand how the customer experience delivery is stacking up against the competition. While newer industries can afford to test out different strategies and pick and choose which areas of the customer experience to focus on (and we hope it’s all of them!), organizations in mature markets are forced to adhere to certain type of standards.
Mature marketplaces also mean a wider variety of options for consumers. This means that if an organization loses a customer due to lack of experience or satisfaction, there are plenty of other options the customer can latch on to. Customer success teams must be 100% attentive and diligent when it comes to understanding and tracking customer lifecycle metrics and checkpoints, as they can often be signs of impending churn.
For many organizations, mapping out customer lifecycles and tracking these stages against industry-wide benchmarks is a great way to determine the health of customer accounts and where relationships stand. It can also be an excellent way to understand where an organization falls in relationship to other similar companies, and how customers rate a brand against competition.
How To Get Started With Customer Lifecycle Management
Organizations can get started with Customer Lifecycle Management by first creating a Customer Journey Map. Building the Customer Journey Map is the first step towards ensuring all internal employees, departments, and even executives are on the same page when it comes to customer interactions and engagements. Customer Journey Maps are extremely helpful when talking to customers at kick-off meetings or initial planning sessions where many customers want to know how a new vendor relationship will pan out.
Customer success teams can leverage past data, metrics, and industry benchmarks to create the ideal Customer Lifecycle Management program. After drawing up a comprehensive Customer Journey Map, Customer success leaders can then associate each checkpoint or lifecycle moment to a specific metric or data point. These metrics are then tracked and measured to determine how well a customer success team is doing when it comes to meeting critical goals or KPIs.
This mapping process is especially important for companies in older, more established marketplaces because it can help decision makers wade through the industry ‘noise’ to identify clear, tangible metrics that actually measure important factors of a customer relationship. Every company is different, which is why the same metrics may not apply across an entire industry. Each organization must look at crucial, defining metrics to know exactly what to map out, track, and measure.
Eliminating Manual Processes and Procedures Is Key
For larger companies or those in more mature marketplaces, creating a seamless customer experience relies heavily on eliminating manual processes and procedures. Developing an innovative, customer-centric lifecycle map and then bridging the gap to actual execution (where Customer Lifecycle Management comes into play), CSMs can rise to the top of even the most crowded marketplace.
Beyond standing out from the competition, Customer Lifecycle Management builds the groundwork for optimizing internal processes and procedures. By streamlining interdepartmental handoffs and tracking critical metrics such as Employee Time Spent or overall results, Customer Lifecycle Management opens up a whole new world for customer success professionals. Team members can now spend more 1:1 time with critical accounts and less time worry about turnkey processes and arrangements.
How Is Your Organization Handling Customer Lifecycle Management?
For more information on best practices of great customer success leaders, check out these ClientSuccess resources:
5 Steps to Establish a Successful Knowledge Transfer Between Sales and Customer Success
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong customer success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.