Making sure your customers are happy with your service and product can help lower churn rates as well as pave the way for upsell and cross-sell opportunities. If you’ve already invested in a marketing automation platform, planning for and automating engagement touches from your customer success, customer support, or account management teams can make a huge difference in the happiness of your customers—and on your bottom line.

Here are five steps to setting up an awesome customer lifecycle program using your existing marketing automation platform:

1. Develop a customer scoring model.
This quantifies how happy customers really are. (If you’ve already got a customer satisfaction indicator that you can tie to an individual customer such as Net Promoter Score, you can skip this step and just use that.) Use measurable dimensions you have access to, such as number of support cases open, usage against plan—whatever you think makes sense for your particular business. Next consider demographic information (size of company, current annual revenue, and so on) to determine if customers are a good fit for additional services or solutions. Now you’ve got essentially a behavior score (happiness) and a demographic score, just like you do when qualifying new leads.

This score results in three major buckets of customers:

  • Customers who are happy with your product and are potential targets for upsell/cross-sell efforts.
  • Customers who are happy with your product but probably won’t buy anything else.
  • Customers who are unhappy with your product.

 The goal is to move the unhappy customers into one of the other two buckets, keep the happy customers happy, and sell more to the happy customers who are able to buy more from you. Special bonus: This will also help you identify good candidates for customer reference programs.

2. Interview your customer support, customer success, and account team members.
They will know what your customers’ biggest pain points are. Is the implementation of your product more complex than customers expected? Do customers complain about not getting timely answers from the support team? Are customers worried that they aren’t using the product correctly? Choose three or four major concerns you want your engagement touches to address.

3. Plan—and keep it simple.
There are a lot of potential touches you could automate in the typical lifecycle of a customer, but stick to the model (move unhappy customers to the happy buckets, ensure happy customers stay in the happy buckets and know about your additional products and services) at least for version one. Draw out a timeline of touches from the close of the sale through to the renewal or upgrade release date. On one side of the timeline, put what the touch is. On the other side, put what the trigger for that touch is. For example, if you want to send a renewal email, the trigger is renewal date—X days. Or, if you want to send a “check-in” email from a customer success manager, the trigger might be when the customer happiness score dips below X.

4. Ensure you have access to the data you need to use triggers.
This is the trickiest part of the whole shebang. You need to know the same basic things to start targeting the right customers with the right message: How interested are they in your company and your product? Are they a good fit for additional products? You also need to know a bit more information: How happy are they with the product they already own? How long have they been a customer? How much do they use the product?

Some of this data will already be in your marketing automation and CRM platforms, but some may be in data silos that are not integrated with your marketing automation platform, like usage data from your product or contract date from your accounting system. If these systems are integrated with your CRM, then you’re probably in good shape to just create some custom fields in your marketing automation system. If these systems are not integrated, you may have to research using a customer success management system (CSM) like Gainsight, Totango, or Scout Analytics to create that bridge between usage and contract data and CRM and marketing automation systems.

5. Create emails in your marketing automation system and use triggers to deploy them.
Use content to directly address the pain points you’ve discovered. Do customers complain about implementation? Consider deploying a “fast track” implementation kit right after the sale. Do you see customers who implement your product and then never come back to it? Offer a call with a customer success or account manager so you can understand why the product no longer fits their needs. But also: Make sure you create a personal connection between your customers and their primary contact person so you keep customer happiness scores high. And remember to thank happy customers every once in a while! Create content that just helps them use your product better and has no upsell message, or mail a thank you note.

Creating a truly automated customer lifecycle engagement program takes a lot of time and money, but it will pay dividends in reduced churn rate and increased revenue. It also lessens the load on your customer-facing teams, freeing them up to engage more personally with customers.

Want to learn more about how to build and manage successful customer engagement programs? Download The Modern Guide to B2B Marketing, which includes our recommendations for how to create, manage, and measure every aspect of your customer engagement program.