The six stages of the customer lifecycle are:
They represent the journey a customer takes to move from first learning about a brand to being the one telling others about it.
Stage 1: Awareness
The first of the customer lifecycle stages is where your relationship with a customer begins. when they first become aware of the existence of your brand, product, or service. But in most cases, your work will have started long before this, because while consumers see an average of 362 marketing messages each day, they only notice 86 of them. And the old marketing rule of thumb is that a consumer has to see your message seven times before they’re even aware of it!
Today, though, consumers are just as likely to first hear about your brand via a word-of-mouth recommendation from friends, family members, or social media influencers.
Stage 2: Engagement (Optional)
Customers making a more significant purchase—say, buying a new car or planning a theme park vacation—will often take this optional step of engaging with a brand. Once they’re aware of you, they’ll start seeking out your marketing content by following you on social media, signing up for your emails, etc.
In addition, they’ll start paying attention to what others are saying about you and how you respond to service requests and complaints. Brands that publicly engage and provide customer service through social media have an advantage at this stage.
Stage 3: Evaluation
Every customer goes through some version of this stage, whether it’s months of research and comparison or just a quick “gut check” before making a decision. One of the most effective ways to stand out from your competitors at this point is by offering robust digital self-service. Just like customers seeking support, consumers who are evaluating products or services start by trying to find the answers themselves.
It’s also important to give your agents and store associates access to the same knowledge base that backs your self-service. Over 90% of consumers expect to receive consistent information over multiple channels; giving conflicting answers could easily take you out of the running.
Stage 4: Purchase
Stage 4 is crunch time in the customer lifecycle, when consumers make their final decision. Providing the help that your potential customers need is critical at this point: 83% of consumers require some degree of support while making an online purchase, and 53% will abandon that purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
In addition to self-service, live chat could make the difference between making or losing the sale. Over 40% of consumers say that having questions answered by a live person during an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. Consider using intelligent escalation to proactively offer chat assistance to customers who seem to need a final push to move from considering your product to actually purchasing it.
Stage 5: Product and support experience
Attracting a new customer is six to seven times more expensive than keeping an existing one. With that calculation in mind, it’s easy to understand why some say that the customer lifecycle doesn’t truly begin until Stage 5.
Now is when consumers start to form their lasting opinion about your products and your brand. On top of the obvious—delivering a quality product—you can ensure success at this stage by providing exceptional service and support. Every interaction is an opportunity to prove that you’re interested in building a relationship with your customers, not just making a sale. In fact, 76% of consumers view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them, and 97% say it’s an important factor in deciding which brands to choose or remain loyal to.
Stage 6: Bonding and advocacy
This final stage is when you cement your relationship. You should be continuing to provide quality service and support, nurturing a connection with proactive engagement, and taking every opportunity to create an emotional bond.
If you do those things well, you’ll see your customers jumping back into the lifecycle by buying again, buying more, and—best of all—encouraging others to join them.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on astutesolutions.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.