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

Businesses that innovate survive. Technology enables efficient processes and provides what every CEO craves – a single, reliable version of the truth.

The world is changing and our customer’s demands and needs are changing too. Sustainability is now a core value that has taken hold in sectors across the economy.

Traditional ways of working do not support these changes and, as with all change, it is companies who stay ahead of curve that will prosper.

Accessing reliable information and having one version of the truth is critical to understand and manage the demands on your business.

Customers and competitors demand more

Impatient customers, eager for a personalised service, won’t wait around whilst your team figures out which spreadsheet their information is saved in.

They won’t wait around while you get your sales system to talk to your production system. And they won’t wait around while you dig out the folder that holds their spare parts list.

But customers will stick around for quality. They will stick around if they get a prompt service and if they’re kept informed and educated.

And they’ll stick around if they don’t have to think about the minutiae, because you’ve got it covered.

Meanwhile competition is fierce. They’re making better products, that last for longer and give more value. Planned obsolescence is now prolonged resilience. Customers demand it.

It feels like somebody out there is ready to eat your lunch, if you give them the chance. One little chink of light, and they’re in.

How fit is your company for 2015? As the New Year approaches now is a good time to look at your vision, strategy and team operations to see what you might improve.

5 questions to help you shape your vision

A few moment of honest reflection on these questions can help you understand where your business is, and where it could be.

  1. Who are you, where are you going, why do you exist?
  2. What does utopia look like for your business?
  3. What do your customers want? How are their needs changing?
  4. How should you design your business to serve these needs?
  5. How far can you go?

Deciding on where you’re going is a simple enough idea, and its something your team can develop together, and then get behind.

Can your team deliver your strategy?

Strategy comes from vision. What skills do you need to achieve this vision? Which do you lack? Different people will own parts of your strategy. An honest review of the abilities and gaps in your team will reveal a primary objective.

Get the right skills on board to achieve the vision. Train up, or recruit in. Mentorship, Non-executive directors, there are various ways to develop. But focus on the key skills you need now to get your strategy started.

How does your team operate?

A team focused on a common goal, needs a common language. Here are some essential facts everyone in your company should know:

  1. What your business is, how you make money, what your biggest costs are
  2. What you sell
  3. Who your customers are segments, roles, functions.

Share this language across the business.

In addition, consider the following questions about how you operate:

  1. How do you actually do things?
  2. Where are the problems?
  3. What frustrates customers?
  4. What slows the business down?
  5. Where do you waste time and resources?
  6. How do you measure performance?

Has thinking about your business made you want to improve how you manage it? Read our articles below to see how you can apply your new insights in 2015.

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

Welcome to Flowlens.

As the new kids on the block we could be considered a start-up, but in actual fact we’re not.

We like to think we’ve taken the best bits about starting a new company – the enthusiasm, the best possible team, the opportunities, the shiny new business cards – and avoided the common mistakes – the uncertainties, the ego battles and the struggle to find customers.

After eight years of running web development company Crafty Devil, the founders took the decision to re-focus and re-brand as Flowlens. Read more about that here:

Where Crafty Devil could be considered the awkward spotty teenager hanging around at the back of the room, Flowlens is the self-assured young adult striding forward with confidence.

We’ve learned what we’re good at and we know how we can add value to our clients’ businesses. We’re not afraid to be different because we know our results speak for themselves.

At our relaunch event earlier this week we were thrilled that so many of our current and previous clients came along to support us. We also had Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment who was impressed with our transformation and commented:

“companies like Flowlens are an integral part of the East Belfast community and provide employment in their local area, which is good news for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole”

We’re excited about this new phase in our company story, and hope you join us as we help shape the future of business technology