The Role of Channel Management in Customer Lifecycles

The Role of Channel Management in Customer Lifecycles

Image Credit: PixaBay

We often talk about smooth, frictionless buyer’s journeys that provide exceptional customer experience and virtually put the entire customer lifecycle on auto-pilot. Every brand wants to achieve this level of optimization. For this, you need carefully chosen channels and impeccable service.

In other words, you need channel management.

Here’s why you need to manage your customer touchpoints at every step.

What is the customer lifecycle?

Like a buyer’s journey, a customer lifecycle is a stage-by-stage framework that helps navigate prospects in your direction, help them convert, and keep them returning. We deliberately say “help” because that’s what successful brands aim to do – assist and delight both pre- and post-purchase.

A typical customer lifecycle has five stages and looks like this:

1.     Awareness stage

The awareness stage is when a prospect becomes aware of their problem and starts looking for available solutions. They are researching their options and comparing brands, including yours.

2.     Acquisition stage

The first time a prospect gets in touch with your brand is during the acquisition stage. This can be a live chat message, a phone call, or a website visit. Now, this is your moment to shine. The acquisition stage should convince a prospect that becoming your customer will solve all their problems.

3.     Conversion stage

The conversion stage is the pinnacle of the buyer’s journey, but it’s not where the customer lifecycle ends. You want to retain your customers, so you must add value and show that you care.

4.     Retention stage

Similar to lead nurturing, the retention stage is where you pamper your newly acquired customer. Perks like free shipping, personal recommendations, and 24/7 support are all great ways to say “thank you for choosing us.” They should feel appreciated and welcome enough to return for more.

5.     Loyalty stage

At the loyalty stage, your customers are already long-time buyers who don’t mind sharing their positive experiences with your brand on social media and recommending you to other people.

A customer lifecycle includes not only the strategies brands use to improve customer journeys across different lifecycle stages and the onboarding process but also the measurement of how well these strategies are performing. For each stage, you need to set metrics and track progress.

What is channel management?

In a nutshell, channel management allows you to manage the multiple touchpoints through which you market and sell your products. Your website is a channel that must be managed, and so are your social media pages. Your brick-and-mortar shop? Also a key channel.

Channel management can be more or less complex, depending on a number of factors.

First and foremost, the channels you use can be direct or indirect:

  • Direct channels: When you’re marketing and selling your products and services yourself, that’s a direct channel. This is your classic offline or online store.
  • Indirect channels: If you’re partnering with an intermediary, you’re using an indirect marketing and sales channel. For example, a retailer’s online shop.
  • Hybrid channels: Hybrid channels are a combination of the main two types of sales and marketing channels, which typically involves distributors.

Complex or not, the purpose of channel management is to help you make the best of the channels you use. It’s important to underline that each channel plays its own role in convincing prospects to convert and come back. Each in its own way, every channel should add to the experience.

What is the role of channel management in the customer lifecycle?

The end goal of channel management is to facilitate the customer lifecycle.

So, let’s assume all your channels are direct.

For a typical online-based brand, the primary channels are the website and social media. But let’s not forget about all the other touchpoints that initiate or propel the customer lifecycle at different stages. Like email, for example. Customer service is another huge channel with immense impact.

What is the role of channel management in the customer lifecycle?

Image Credit: GetApp

So, rather than just one, channel management plays a plethora of roles:

●       Marketing your products and services

Since channel management envelops both marketing and sales, there’s plenty of work for channel managers at the awareness stage of the customer lifecycle. Every marketing strategy, from SEO to social media, opens up new channels that must push prospects over the edge of conversion.

●       Engaging leads with informative content

At the acquisition stage, content and customer service play deciding roles.

During this time, a prospect is still considering various brands and options. Your brand has entered its narrow selection, so they are browsing your website or calling your customer service to find out more about what you offer. Here, you must respond to all their questions and concerns.

This calls for super-helpful and optimized website content, which includes great photos and descriptions, as well as quick FAQs and educational blog posts on how they can ease their troubles using your products and services. If you’re selling directly from social media, provide as much info as possible.

●       Providing multi-channel customer service

A robust customer service software that supports integrations with multiple channels is another key roleplayer at the acquisition stage. When a prospect contacts your customer service pre-purchase, the clock starts ticking. You need to reassure them that they are making the right decision.

That means that you need to eliminate wait times and stay available 24/7.

Of course, responsive customer service is of vital importance during the conversion stage, too, as well as post-purchase. Sometimes, customers are ready to buy but don’t know how to place an order. To avoid losing potential buyers, streamline the ordering process and improve efficiency through order management systems. You can also use these tools to monitor and analyze sales data, so you can learn what products sell better than others. And after they convert into paying customers, high-quality service is crucial for making them stay.

●       Tracking customer success and retention

Different brands use different strategies at the retention stage, but most opt for nurturing tactics that show appreciation while collecting valuable data about the customer and the experience they’ve had. Email – with newsletters and surveys – is the most beneficial channel for retention.

●       Nurturing loyalty in returning customers

The loyalty stage is very fluid. As such, it relies on various practices and channels. Modern-day customers often stay in touch with their favorite brands on social media. Email newsletters are valuable for building loyalty as well, but this is mostly content marketing’s and social media’s responsibility.

Customer service must stay on their A-game throughout all this. 

How can channel management help you grow your business?

How can channel management help you grow your business?

Channel management seems complicated. Do you really need to bother?

If you want to keep competing, yes.

You can rest assured that your competitors are not wasting their time. Their goal is to get to your customers first, so they will use any means necessary. By that, we mean all the channels that they have at their disposal. The greater the number of channels, the better the chances of reaching the right audience.

A few of the largest benefits of channel management are:

Increased ROI

Good channel management helps customers glide from one stage to another, ensuring loyalty.

Let’s also emphasize this. Channel management is not only about handling and improving existing channels but also about opening new marketing and sales opportunities. It includes an element of research and analysis that leads to diversification and expansion of your current offer.

Cost efficiency

Considering the current state of your industry and the competition you face, is it more expensive to sell your products and services directly or to use an intermediary? If bigger brands keep overshadowing you, your profits might actually get bigger if you start using an indirect sales channel.

Channel management will help you determine what’s more profitable at the moment.

Customer retention

Most importantly, channel management will boost your retention rate.

It does that by making your customer lifecycle bulletproof. Effective management practices help you identify the best channels for each stage. This is of key importance, as it allows you to provide the highest quality of service every step of the way toward the retention stage.

Key takeaways

Channel management is a holistic practice that improves your area of visibility. It allows you to identify, with better insight, which of the existing channels are underperforming and which ones should be prioritized in order to keep providing exceptional service until your customers decide to stay. It also allows you to multitask, automate, and save valuable time.  If you need a system to solidify your marketing and sales, it’s channel management.

Author’s bio:

Oliver Stasinszky is an outreach team lead at LiveAgent, with an e-commerce and customer service background. He is passionate about writing, reading, and learning how to play any musical instrument, he comes across.

Get Your Free Systemization Checklist

Systemize Checklist
5 Essential Steps To Getting a Task Out of Your Head and Into a System So You Can Scale and Grow Your Business!
Stop being the bottleneck in your company

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *