Customer Lifecycle Management is turning business on it’s head, focusing on customer needs first, and delivering profits for the long term.

Bump into anyone from Flowlens, and it won’t be long before you hear the term ‘customer lifecycle management’, or CLM for short. But what is it?

Depending on your role in the business, there are a few ways to describe what Customer Lifecycle Management means. Firstly, CLM is a business philosophy, eradicating the ‘silo’ thinking that reduces customer satisfaction and hampers future profits.

With the customer at it’s heart, it’s a joined-up approach that builds long term value by ensuring that each part of your team understands their role in the customer journey. This not only means they’re focused on improving immediate customer satisfaction, but also how they capture information about future customer needs, and interact with other departments.

Secondly, it’s about competitive advantage, making your team so responsive and effective that the customer should never need an alternative. Your competitors can’t compete if your team is completely focused on meeting customer needs today, but also learning and communicating about future needs. By capturing data with each interaction, CLM enables the marketing and sales functions to build a stronger pipeline of recurring business.

Thirdly, customer lifecycle management is about simplification. Organisations now have so many overlapping systems and databases, that the customer experience is eroded by delays and inaccuracies. Customer lifecycle management seeks to centralise the customer data, and simplify the systems to the point that marketing, sales and operations are all contributing to a single, rich source of customer intelligence data, using software that is designed to deliver effective and profitable customer outcomes.

Finally, it’s about customer intelligence, analytics and decision making. CLM seeks to build a profile of customers that, in aggregate, can help you spot patterns, unmet needs, ineffective communications or processes, cost savings or R&D opportunities. It’s about real-time information at your finger-tips.

What it’s NOT.

CLM is not a spelling mistake. Commonly confused with ‘CRM’, you might think its just another system for managing customer interactions. In our view, ‘CRM’ systems have become part of the problem. They can be clunky, cluttered, and over-engineered, leading to poor adoption and poorer customer experience. CLM delivers a unified, tailored solution, delivered in collaboration with your team and your customers.

CLM is not just for the Marketing and Sales Teams. Across the business functions, and at all levels, Customer Lifecycle Management supports what the customer needs today, whilst capturing information about future needs. By supporting the workflow across the business, CLM removes obstacles, and creates rich information that can be interrogated in real time.

CLM is not ‘all or nothing’. Customer Lifecycle Management is about focusing on solving problems and improving the customer experience where it is needed most. It’s not a sticking plaster either, CLM should build trust and long term buy-in from all stakeholders, and this is best achieved by addressing immediate concerns, whereever they might fall in the lifecycle.

In summary, Customer Lifecycle Management has the potential to turn your business on it’s head, focusing on customer needs first, and delivering profits for the long term

The process for sourcing technology for your business is exactly the same as sourcing technology for your home and personal life and can be done in 3 steps.

Step 1 – What is your need?

Instead of worrying about ‘techie’ issues like which computer and software you need first think about what your business needs, and then prioritise. For example:

  • Do you need to monitor sales, stay on top of production, ensure high levels of customer satisfaction?
  • Do you need to understand costs and profitability?
  • Do you need to generate more sales leads?

Once you’ve defined your priorities, the next step doesn’t involve technology either.

Step 2 – What are you managing?

In this step you need to figure out the processes, people and information that you want to manage.

On a whiteboard, or with pen, paper and plenty of different coloured sticky notes, lay out the steps of the process. Jot down what information should be captured at each stage, and who is responsible.

Step 3 – What are your KPI’s?

Finally, in step 3 you need to highlight the key information that helps you make decisions.

For example, costs, margins, volumes, lead times etc. Remember, they are KEY performance indicators so keep it small.

Now that you have a picture of your business process, you are in command of the situation. You now have the power to examine alternatives, without fear of confusion.

Keep it simple

Your business operation might require simple paper forms, a spreadsheet, some basic software, or something more tailored.

In many cases it is highly recommended to implement a simple paper or spreadsheet system to test your process, and ensure you are capturing the correct information.

Whichever ‘technology’ you choose you are in control.

Has thinking about how to source technology for your business made you want to improve how you manage it? Read our articles below to get more tips and advice on how to improve your business.

Want to know how Flowlens can help you improve your business efficiency? Download our ebook on How to improve your processes and reduce waste.

Did you know that its 6-7 times more expensive to find new customers than sell to existing customers? How can you start to change your customer culture?

Encounter a business that doesn’t think ‘customer first’ and its usually a demoralising experience. Being told you can’t do something that seems simple, or ‘you can only get that over the phone’. These organisations have lost touch with their purpose, to deliver service and value, and to help their customers achieve their goals.

On the flipside, customer-centric organisations understand their customers’ goals, and structure themselves to ensure those goals are achieved. Their people have a ‘yes we can’ attitude towards problem solving, instead of looking for excuses or arcane rules to avoid helping out.

The Value of a Customer

Did you know that its 6-7 times more expensive* to find new customers than sell to existing customers? This presents a huge opportunity for upselling, cross-selling and generating referrals by encouraging stronger customer relationships. How can you start to change your customer service culture?

Listen to your Customers

Your customers are a rich source of information that can help you improve your products and/or service, yet how often do you ask for feedback or listen to comments in social channels? Gaining feedback could be as simple as inviting key clients for a coffee, but here are a few other ideas:

  • Make a list of your 10% most profitable customers, and ask them what you do well, and what you could improve upon?
  • Make a list of the 10% least profitable customers, and ask them why they don’t buy more from you, do they know about all your products and services
  • Examine customer support requests for patterns, and determine how quickly customers get a response
  • Create an online survey and circulate amongst customers
  • Ask for feedback on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Streamline Failing Processes

We often find that business processes that were once fit for purpose are no longer appropriate or effective. In conjunction with customer feedback, it can be easy to identify processes that cause frustration for customers, or even discourage them from buying more.

You don’t need to transform the entire business on day one, that’s unrealistic, but you can identify major problems and quick wins with some basic research:

  • Make a list of all the people, departments, processes that impact on the customer experience. Look for bottlenecks and information silos that can cause delays or confusion for the customer.
  • Cross-reference these with customer feedback and determine which processes are causing the most problems.
  • Show early intent by taking action to resolve the most frustrating problems. Ideally you will streamline the processes in order to profitably deliver what the customer wants.
  • Devise a roadmap for change based on your complete findings.

Help Customers to Help Themselves

Today, many customers don’t want to waste time waiting for information. Put them in control by offering online access to information and services about their relationship with your company. Whether its service or maintenance information, asset tracking, training content, analytics, or anything else you can automate and deliver electronically, you’ll save them time and money, and create goodwill.

Again, refer to customer feedback to understand what information is useful and important to them, and examine internal workloads to understand where repetitive, manual service requests can be automated.

Bonus tip, don’t be afraid to fire your customers.

Sometimes you can’t please all of the people all of the time. When reflecting on negative customer feedback, or unprofitable relationships, consider whether your company vision is still compatible.

The benefits of ‘firing’ customers include:

  • Releasing resource to deal with profitable customers
  • Removing the distraction of non-core or legacy services
  • Avoiding negative word of mouth
  • Creating a positive outcome by referring the customer to a provider who fits their needs

Our customer lifecyle management solution, Flowlens, can help you become more customer-centric, and align your team on that vision. To learn about how Flowlens can help your business become more customer-centric, please contact us, or call +44 2890 998597 to arrange a no-obligation consultation.