Winning is just the beginning: how to create lasting client relations
Andrius Guzaitis, Business Development Manager at Bluelark
In sales we are biased towards celebrating new client victories.
Yet every business book states that it is up to thirty times more costly to sell to a new customer versus a current one. And we still devote most effort to hunting for new clients rather than fostering long lasting customer relations.
Maybe there’s more pride in new client wins? And the champagne tastes better when celebrating a new sale? A successful churn prevention campaign rarely mandates an office party.
Why is winning just the beginning?
Today’s businesses are built on long lasting customer relations. Most successful companies adapt to serve the changing needs of their customers, ensure excellent customer service and maximize long term customer value.
Just take a look at telecommunication, insurance or financial service providers with hundreds of thousands of clients in their CRM. For them a new client subscription is just the beginning of the customer’s journey.
It does not come as a surprise that in addition to the core services these companies provide, they have adapted to become customer relationship managers. In addition to banking, internet service or insurance products, the vast number of CRM entries provide these businesses with an opportunity to offer other value-added-services. Such ongoing relations can last multiple decades.
What is client lifecycle management?
A client lifecycle concept defines long-term business and customer relations. It is split into five stages of customer engagement and provides metrics to measure performance efficiency.
- Reach and acquisition. This is the presale step in the customer journey where a customer discovers and learns about company services. On one hand, it concerns new client acquisition advertising campaigns. On the other, behind every advertising banner lies a conversion focused content: an informative landing page, plan comparison tool, expert articles and other content items. They serve as long-term tools to gain inbound website traffic. Their content is no less important than the marketing message in the said ad banner. By utilizing digital analysis tools, companies can efficiently measure what content items convert the user to the point of contact, and what content items result in visitor bounce.
- Conversion. This step is the beginning of customer commercial relations: be it a phone call, a sales rep at a physical store, an email message, or a shopping cart at an ecommerce store. Customer experience here is of utmost importance – a well informed helpful sales rep, intuitive self-service user interface, a one-click checkout process. Reach, acquisition and retention steps are relevant for both, new and current (recurring purchases) clients.
- Retention. At this step we truly begin the lifecycle management. The largest responsibility at this stage lies with customer service. Even the best companies face product recalls or service disruptions. It is important to handle customer expectations. A service disruption is just one problem. Yet even more disruptive is the inability to get a service rep to answer the call or offer no consolation after answering it. 12 positive customer experiences are needed to compensate for one bad experience. In other words, there is no better way to ruin a long lasting client relation than poor customer service.
- Loyalty. All brands strive for loyalty. It builds the foundation for recurring purchases and makes the client more resilient to competitor offering. And a loyalty programme is not a silver bullet, it is just a part of the equation. Customer loyalty is born from an aggregate of customer experiences, it is more than a few percent discount with a loyalty card. Loyalty originates from understanding of brand values, efficient customer service, a functional self-service platform or even a well designed showroom. Only the most customer-centric brands truly reach the loyalty stage of customer lifecycle management.
How to manage the full customer lifecycle?
Customer lifecycle management is impossible without a CRM. The advent of CRM platforms empowered companies foster long lasting client relations.
Salesforce will transform your customer relations from an anonymous database, allowing you to see individual people, their behavior, commercial patterns and interaction history.
Even at the reach and acquisition step Salesforce will help to build attractive content pages, augment them with contact forms, and automatically assign new prospects to your sales team.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud will improve the performance of your marketing team. It serves as a one-stop-shop gateway to measure marketing channel efficiency, helps to create customer journey maps and send out personalized email proposals with a dedicated Pardot tool.
Why is this important? By utilizing Salesforce for customer outreach, your sales reps will be able to monitor the first steps of the customer journey. For example, during a sales call the sales manager will be able to see what website pages the customer visited, what material he has already read and respond to particular information needs.
Salesforce Service Cloud transforms customer service into a competitive business advantage. Your employees will have the full benefits of omnichannel customer support. They will be able to receive and respond to service requests via a single platform, no matter how the customer outreach was made. Be it Facebook, WhatsApp or an email message – from a service rep perspective everything is handled via a one-stop-shop approach.
Salesforce will also enable you to quickly launch self-service platforms. Absolute majority of customers would rather solve their problems via self-service rather than dial a company service rep. Salesforce platform also allows to create knowledge banks or customer interaction/self-support communities. These tools can significantly reduce call volume for your call center and evenly distribute service requests via multiple channels.
Last but not least, Salesforce provides a dedicated tool to create and manage loyalty programmes. Building upon your current CRM, the platform will help to assign discounts, loyalty points, coupons and other marketing incentives. By integrating it with Marketing Cloud, you will be able to send out personalized emails or target customers via personalized campaigns.
All these tools help even the largest companies to communicate with a customer in a single voice and serve as the foundation for long lasting commercial relations.