If your company is like most, the answer to whether it should be hands-on or hands-off with customer lifecycle management is: much more hands-on than it is now.
No, your customers aren’t toddlers in constant danger of tripping adorably over their own feet. But your prospects do need some personalized hand-holding through the funnel if you ever expect them to buy from you. Only 30% of B2B marketers report that their companies do content marketing effectively, and the blame falls largely on the lack of two things: personal involvement with qualified leads, and smooth transitions between content.
Customer lifecycle management (CLM) that increases conversions and builds loyalty doesn’t have to be impossible. In fact, if you create a series of smooth, personalized content experiences for the buyer journey, while getting as “hands-on” as needed in the process, it’ll be a snap.
Striking the Right Balance: Why It Matters
Of course, there’s an ideal balance between hands-on and hands-off CLM.
Your customers need to know that you’re with them, and that your product is the right solution, right now. Sometimes that means walking side-by-side with prospects. For example, your target customers’ buying decisions might involve many stakeholders and moving parts. Personal touchpoints can help clarify questions and smooth over doubts.
Hands-on engagements also matter in the case of complex products. A guided journey can help customers achieve maximum results, leading to maximum satisfaction and brand loyalty.
But customers don’t need constant guidance. Some touchpoints are self-guided, such as receiving a whitepaper download and taking the time to read and absorb the main ideas, using an intuitive, informative mobile app, or responding to a question posed in an email outreach from sales.
The key is organizing content into sensible, engaging experiences that optimally combine self-guided moments with personal outreaches. While some approach customer lifecycle management as an endless series of measurements—whether it’s Average Time on Website in the “Awareness” stage, or Customer Lifetime Value, informed by repeat purchases in the “Loyalty” stage—the right mix of hand-holding and customer independence will optimize crucial KPIs, moving you right into the Effective Marketers’ Camp.
How to strike the balance? There are a few things you can do.
Identify Points of Vulnerability in Customer Relationships
It’s a simple equation: your qualified leads plus your customers equal your most valuable assets. You can lose them at any moment, so be sure to handle them with care.
There’s always a non-zero customer attrition rate in big business. Bringing that number as close to zero as possible means taking stock of key buyer persona characteristics, such as:
- How many stakeholders are involved in a buying decision (telling you how many people need to be pleased),
- How the buyer is optimally nurtured in each stage (giving you content ideas), and
- What sentiments towards your brand and products—and those of close competitors—already exist in your market (telling you how much thought leadership and “trustworthiness” groundwork needs to be laid).
Answer those, and you’ll know the points at which a customer can easily say “No thanks!” and walk away. And, surprise: those are exactly the points that are well-served through more hands-on engagement, be it in the form of a phone call, email, or a more targeted, interactive content experience.
Identify Customer Yearnings for Knowledge
Customers want to know things, and they want real answers. Are you giving them those answers?
If not, start now. For example, a whitepaper or e-book might identify a burning industry problem, and introduce a smart solution—your solution, at the end. Or, you might have produced a report showing why your product smashes the competition, but your prospect might still need specifics and some reassurance. Perhaps it’s time to invite them to a personalized “webinar.”
The fact is, personal touchpoints should happen over all stages of the buyer journey—and it simply makes sense for them to happen when your leads have explicit questions.
Think through what your customers need at every point—whether it’s hand-holding or independent content consumption—and build personalized journeys around those needs.
That’s how you win sales, make a difference, and move on from “parenting” leads into building mutually-satisfying customer relationships.