You and I have something in common…
we’re both singing for our supper. And we’re not alone. Anyone who has clients is doing the same—that’s simple enough to understand. Our clients are paying for our mortgages and our child care and tuition, for our necessities and luxuries and everything else. In short, our existence is dependent on our clients.
Thus, the client experience we—and you—provide matters. A lot. It’s a major component of differentiation, usage, and advocacy (and, of course, those pesky bills I mentioned that continue to show up month after month).
Every industry has a different vocabulary to describe the proverbial care and feeding of those clients—a means of keeping them as satisfied as possible with what we have to offer. In SaaS, where I’ve spent a significant portion of my career, we refer to it as “the client lifecycle.”
It isn’t the sexiest concept (to people other than me, that is), but if you’ve got clients, it’s crucial to your success. That’s why I’ve come to Arcbound: to help build out a client experience that aligns with the monumental value of establishing and deploying effective personal brands.
We’re already deep in the weeds of developing the second generation of our client experience, one that lightens the load of this vital work for clients and our team and addresses the challenges we’ve encountered as we’ve worked to build this business. We’re focusing on every phase of the customer journey, from awareness through advocacy, to ensure the way we serve our clients produces great, consistent results for everyone. And because clients are important to all of us here, I hope what I’m about to share will provide value to you.
So, let’s get into the client lifecycle and how giving it the attention it deserves can transform your business for the better this year.
Whether or not you’ve heard the term “client lifecycle,” you understand the value of customer retention, growth, and lifetime value, and a defined client lifecycle tailored to your business adds predictability to all those measures.
When it’s rolled out across your organization, a clear and custom client lifecycle also drives home the fact that everyone in your operation—front and back of house and in between—is here to ensure clients receive the value that motivated them to purchase your product or service in the business. It’s easy to forget the reason our businesses exist in some roles, but no business succeeds for long if it’s inattentive to the customer needs.
And, of course, the client benefits from this work, since the objective is the proven quantity of the outcomes they’ve been sold delivered in an effective and repeatable manner.
Here are a few insights to help ensure your client lifecycle is optimized for your success:
Don’t consider; create. If you’re just considering your client lifecycle—the experiences a client has while in your care—you aren’t getting much impact from your efforts. Best case scenario: you’re reflecting on any defects in your process and potentially addressing them. Meanwhile, creating and MAINTAINING a client lifecycle that is highly specific for the client offering, client, and the client experience improves everything—client results, retention, loyalty, and advocacy. It adds predictability and reduces your team’s cognitive load. Wins all around.
Don’t overlook key players when you plan. All too often, some organizational divisions are left out of client lifecycle planning. Take operations and finance, for instance. The “touches” between these departments and clients are easy to overlook. But, in most companies, they have a significant impact on clients’ abilities to succeed. Operations often includes Human Resources, which is critical in selecting the people who service the customers. It’s also responsible for developing the tooling and infrastructure that allow team members to show up as their best and most productive selves, among many other things. Finance is, of course, responsible for receivables and pricing and the rigor associated with making sure all the trains are running on time, has an impact on the client experience—especially if the client encounters any issues with these vital processes. It’s a reality that even a perfect billing process probably doesn’t add any goodwill, but an imperfect one certainly takes it away!
Another critical part of the client lifecycle—and perhaps a more obvious one—is pre-sales. The way we speak to prospects informs their expectations when they do become clients, so marketing and sales are part of the overall lifecycle too. That means you must consider all these parties when you plan.
It’s all fair game. Client success is a comprehensive discipline, much like brand building. Just as a brand is embedded in everything that touches or concerns prospects and customers, client success is facilitated by all touches between an organization and that client. As is the case with a brand, success is “activated” by persistent, thoughtful, evolving value. The lifecycle is simply the plan for how customers are guided to success.
What does all that look like in action?
In one company, when I joined, customers were living all over the organization—almost everyone in the company was “holding a bag,” including our founders—and that was at $17M in ARR! The founders definitely had other jobs to do, and, with the utmost respect to their efforts, they did not have the same customer mindset or training (or interests) as a dyed-in-the-wool account team. Bringing process rigor to the way we managed the customers from one end of their life (the first intentional touch) through their renewal improved things almost immediately for the folks managing customers.
It also taught the non-accounts folks that servicing customers well depends on a lot of things going well beyond “relationship management” and encouraged them to let go of their customers, indirectly benefiting us all. It allowed the team to know and prepare for the way we approached 80 percent of situations, reducing their cognitive load quite significantly. And it gave clients incredibly consistent experiences, making it possible for us to transition team members in and out of their accounts without disruption.
In all cases, it imbued us with more power to understand patterns about where customers were and weren’t getting stuck, which allowed us to focus on the right things like “time to first value”—a universal factor—or, in a software company, why folks weren’t graduating from the adoption stage, which is most often a product problem.
At Arcbound, we need so much from our clients in terms of information gathering, collaboration, alignment, and review. The lifecycle planning we’re doing allows us to prepare so that we can lead in the way that will produce the best outcomes. And at the end of the day, it’s all about the outcomes. We want to see our clients succeed against their purchasing motivation, and the second generation of our lifecycle is all about making sure that happens across the portfolio.
We’re looking forward to introducing you to that next generation, and to doing all we can to help you serve your own stakeholders.
A huge thank you to Zvi Band for the great introductions over the years and for his support as we continue to build and grow Arcbound!
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