Business owners and customer managers need to be in-tune with customer relationships to properly manage them. It is one of the most important elements to a successful business. But managing those customer relationships is not always easy. Not only do business owners need to make the sale or secure the client, they also need to be intrinsically involved in the entire customer cycle.
“This is where lifetime value comes in. Not only does a customer’s lifetime value let you know that they’ve converted, but it can also help you calculate a long-term return on investment,” Samuel Thimothy explained in a Forbes article. “LTV goes beyond just one campaign so you can assess how your marketing is doing at gaining and retaining long-term buyers.”
Challenges aside, if business owners do their job correctly, they can foster a meaningful long-term customer relationship. They are able to get 100 percent customer loyalty from customers they manage well, which is critical to a business’ long-term growth. Here is a deeper look at the customer cycle, what it is exactly, and the different stages, from how long it takes users to convert to organic advocacy for businesses.
What Is A Customer Cycle Exactly?
The customer cycle is comprised of the stages or steps a customer takes throughout their relationship with a business. This ranges from before the conversion stage to the much later stages of retention and brand advocates. Many businesses make the mistake of putting all their efforts into netting customers. This makes sense since it can take up to 10 touchpoints to convert, depending on the industry.
However, it is vital to look far past the conversion stage in order to build and nurture strong customer relationships. This is the true customer cycle, from the very beginning to the end. A customer cycle can be broken into six defined stages.
Marketing is where the customer cycle begins. And when done right, it is where the customer cycle takes off like a rocketship. To make the most out of the marketing stage, businesses need quality marketing material and online visibility where their target audience hangs out online. This is also known as the awareness stage, because it is when a consumer first becomes aware of a business, its products, and/or services.
Once a consumer becomes aware, they will normally begin to qualify a business based on reviews, ratings, online blogs, influencer recommendations, social media, business rating sites, and much more. Business owners that prioritize their online reputation will be able to leverage the visibility they’ve gained from the marketing stage.
Acquisition occurs after all the social media outreach, email remarketing, blog campaign, etc. have finally paid off. Once a business passes the consumer’s evaluation stage, a customer is finally ready to commit to a purchase. Unfortunately, when business owners don’t look beyond acquisition, they lose out on the nurturing stage where seeds are planted for long-term relationships.
After the first sale is made, it’s not time to let off the customer cycle gas. Chances are, this new customer likes a business’ products and/or services and would likely come back to purchase more – or recommend the business to others. This is why keeping in touch is so important.
Marketers can send emails on new products that they may like based on previous shopping history and thank them with coupon offers and special deals. They can also ask those customers about their experience, letting them be part of making the business better. By making them feel valued, they can continue on to the retention stage.
There is a lot of noise out there, and keeping customer retention intact can be difficult. With competitors around every corner, retention should be a primary focus. But the good news is that when business owners and marketers nurture the customer relationship and provide customers with value, retention is a whole lot easier.
Stellar customer service also plays a major role in customer retention. For example, companies can build Help Desks, customer service bots, and communicate via social media to make customer service easier than ever. They might even build a company intranet to support customer-facing employees in better ways-such as improving service delivery, providing better knowledge to team members, and connecting staff.
6. Brand Advocacy
Last but not least in the customer cycle is brand advocacy. This is when customers become a brand’s best sales reps. Think of it like free influencer marketing. If a customer loves a business, products, and/or services, they will tell everyone. This is the last stage in the customer cycle, but by far the most important to achieve. Nothing quite compares to word of mouth recommendations.
Wrapping Up . . .
The real customer cycle is not about simply marketing and acquisition. It goes way beyond those stages, however important they are. The above is a quick guide businesses can use to ensure companies ensure they are taking their customers from consumer to advocate in the best way possible.