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
Data Silos are Restricting your Growth. Do Something About It!
You’ve got a killer product, surging demand, and a world class team, but can your customer data stick the pace? Or will it hamper growth, innovation and your competitive edge?
Smart businesses understand the value of gathering, processing and leveraging customer data. This data needs to be joined up, and available on a common platform, to become useful information for smart decision making and exemplary customer service.
This is called Customer Lifecycle Management. Uniting processes across the business, with timely, relevant information.
Silo Data, Silo Thinking
If your teams can’t easily share useful customer information, what does that say about their capacity to serve customers, or respond to changing demands?
These silos come about easily, as data management is hardly the top priority when stretched resources must cope with customer, production and service demands. Ad hoc methods, usually based in spreadsheets, suited the available time, resources and departmental needs, without considering about the bigger, long term picture.
Left unchecked, this scenario will become a drag on the organisation. People at all levels spend their time manually gathering and processing customer data, which is soon out of date, and they have to start over again next month! The opportunity costs are difficult to calculate, but the risks associated with poor ‘information efficiency’ are huge.
Your customer experience is another major casualty, with a lack of joined-up data revealing itself in inconsistent communications, delays in service and ultimately, lost business.
What to do about it?
Restructuring your business information systems might seem like you’re trying to redesign an aircraft whilst it’s in flight. Fear not. With the correct methodology, linked to your company objectives, it is practical to implement a managed transition to a joined-up, streamlined real-time customer lifecycle management system.
What are your business priorities?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, however by pinpointing the primary issues, or strategic drivers, you can quickly identify priorities. Often these will be in the areas of Sales, Production, or Customer After-Sales Support/Service, where crucial customer data is created and updated every day. Focusing on the core business priorities should bring fast and obvious improvements, but also help the team see their role in the bigger picture.
Is your whole team aligned around the customer lifecycle?
Often, company teams and departments use different terminology for the same thing, confusing for colleagues, and even worse for customers! Your company goals should drive all activities. Common terminology and data that aligns with these goals, instead of departmental silos, will enable people across the business to get ‘out of their box’, and understand the end-to-end nature of operations.
Simple Lifecycle Diagram
By first aligning the team under the goal of a shared business information resource, you will create the mandate for change. The benefits should also be clear. Better information will aid performance, it will help teams and individuals achieve their targets, it will help the company innovate faster, and most importantly, it will bring the customer closer.
Are your processes generating the right data?
With manual systems and spreadsheets, it’s tempting to add a few more fields to a form, or columns to a sheet, without considering the operational and management need for information. This incrementally increases the time people spend creating and maintaining data, instead of meeting their goals.
Instead, consider how the operations of the business will trigger information to be created and updated.
Does your sales team capture data that improves onboarding of new customers?
Does your Marketing department use sales pipeline data to refine lead generation techniques?
Do you customers have access to information and services without needing to call you?
Is everything you know about a customer available in one place?
Can you field service team gather information that could create new leads in the future?
Do you have real-time access to information from key business processes?
A Customer Lifecycle Management solution, such a Flowlens, supports your business and customer processes to achieve these outcomes. These outputs should become the natural, real-time, output that is the heartbeat of your organisation, without getting in peoples’ way. And, all this information is available to management in real-time.
The confidence that reliable, up-to-date information brings can not be underestimated. Decisions can be made, and opportunities seized.
Your customer data is now a valuable competitive resource, captured as your people, products and services help customers solve problems. This can drive insights into customer behaviours, product performance, partners, and much more that ensure you can keep building upon the value, and bring your customers closer.
Businesses that want to be successful, and get closer to their customers, with timely, accurate and relevant information, embrace the CLM process.
Smart businesses will go one step beyond, processing their customer data to make predictions based on customer data, helping to predict financial outcomes of behavioural changes, product launches, changes to pricing and marketing channels and many other factors.
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.
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: www.craftydevil.co.uk
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