Have you heard of the term “customer lifecycle”? There are a couple different definitions that you may find bouncing around. In short, the term refers to the different stages your customers go through, from when they first hear about your business all the way to when they become a recurring buyer. Of course, we’d all love our customers to quickly and permanently become loyal – but this is much easier said than done. Do you know the different stages your customers go through, and how long they stay in each stage? More importantly, do you know the reasons why each customer behaves the way they do in each stage, and are you doing anything about it?
Firstly, let’s look at the different stages that customers go through during their life cycles.
When customers first discover your brand, they enter the awareness stage. During the awareness stage, you’ll want to start attracting the customer’s attention. Here, it’s essential that you have some sort of way to capture their details so that you can contact them in the future. The most common way (and potentially the most effective, depending on your business model) is to get their email address. That way you can consistently contact them with offers and products which they can look at on their own time.
Then, they’ll begin to learn a bit more about your brand, either through research, word-of-mouth, or your communications to them, and enter the knowledge stage. This is a pretty key stage, because as we all know, first impressions count! A customer who has a neutral or negative first impression is significantly less likely to progress past this stage, and therefore unlikely to buy anything from you in the foreseeable future. You need to make sure that what they’re seeing is positive, informative, and engaging.
Hopefully, your brand’s messages will prove more appealing than the rest and they will enter the purchase stage – by actually buying something from you! It’s your job as a brand to make sure that your customer is satisfied with this experience, and that they walk away with a positive impression of the brand. After all, it’s a lot easier to keep an existing customer than it is to attract brand new ones!
When a customer receives your product or service, they enter the fulfillment stage. This is, of course, the most important part in their minds – in fact, it’s probably the only point they really care about! You need to make sure that every single customer feels catered to at this point especially, probably more so than at any other point.
Customers will need a real reason to buy from you again, so you should aim to absolutely blow them away to push them into the loyalty stage. This is the stage that absolutely every business on Earth should be aiming for! If you’re not consistently converting leads into loyal customers, you need to have a good look at your customer journey and find out where they’re dropping off. You need to be communicating with them at this point – what did we do right? What did we do wrong? Would you be likely to buy from us again? That way you can be continually be improving, not to mention that your customer will feel listened to.
Once you get a hang of it and start attracting the right kind of customers, you should be able to start seeing customers move into the advocacy stage, where they will start recommending your brand to others.
Of course, no two brands offer the exact same product or service offering, so these exact stages aren’t the same for everyone. For some brands, it takes a long time to move from start to finish, whereas for others it takes just days. It’s common to not know the exact process your brand’s particular set of customers go through, but lack of awareness can easily cost your business potential sales. You need to know exactly what you’re doing to cater to customers at every single stage in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.
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