Use milestones for strategic customer management
Just like deals progress through different stages over the course of the deal cycle, your customers will move through different phases in their customer life cycle. Milestones allow your team to better manage and collaborate on strategic efforts and dates. In addition, Milestones can be used to keep track of important operational dates, such as renewal dates, quarterly business reviews, or project deadlines.
You can create a milestone from the Milestone section of the Company’s customer profile by clicking its corresponding “+” button. See the Resources section below for more details on adding milestones.
Defining your customer milestones
Milestones are a flexible tool that can be used by multiple teams to organize the post-sales customer relationship in a strategic approach. A few example scenarios are described below:
Simple project management coordination
Milestones can help organize the agreed-upon delivery schedule if you have an implementation team responsible for delivering services purchased in the sales process. Each Milestone should correspond to a significant deadline date under which there may be multiple subtasks or events. For example, an Account Implementation Team is responsible for a 3-phase project implementation process: initial product delivery, product setup and installation, and personnel training. Three separate milestones would be created for this simple process, each with a specified due date.
- Milestone 1: “Product Onsite Delivery” Due: September 1
- Milestone 2: “Product Onsite Setup and Installation” Due: October 1
- Milestone 3: “Personnel Training”, Due: October 15
Under each milestone, you may have several tasks and events that need to be achieved. For Milestone 1, “Product Onsite Delivery”, there may need to be a request submitted to the delivery team and a delivery date scheduled, for example. Such tasks can be associated with the appropriate milestone.
Customer life cycle phases
In many industries, it is helpful to be aware of the phase of the customer lifecycle a particular customer is in. Milestones can be a great tool to assist you in this case.
As a simple example, a customer life cycle may be broken up into 4 phases: introduction (first 30 days), adoption (30 to 90 days), retention (90-360 days), and renewal (each subsequent anniversary date). Milestones can be used to help communicate and segment your customers so that account management or marketing teams can tailor efforts to the appropriate audiences. In this example, the milestones for a new customer acquired on August 20, 2017, could look like this:
- Milestone 1: “Introduction Phase”, Due: September 20, 2017
- Milestone 2: “Adoption Phase”, Due: November 20, 2017
- Milestone 3: “Retention Phase”, Due: August 20, 2018
- Milestone 4: “Renewal Phase”, Due: Each subsequent anniversary date
Renewal or contract expiration dates
Milestones can also be useful if you want to keep a group of specific users informed about contract renewal or expiration dates. If your business has a retainer in place that expires on January 31, 2018, you can set a milestone with that as the due date. In addition to adding users as collaborators (more on this below), you can also specify when a reminder should be sent out to that group, for example, 2 months before the retainer expiration. In this case, your account management team can reach out early and begin working on renewing the agreement. If you’d like to pin the date to the company details section of the customer profile page, you have that option as well from the milestone modal.
Identifying milestone collaborators
Your business may have specific people responsible for a specific function under a milestone that would otherwise not have access to the customer record. Or, you may have key stakeholders in your Pipeline account who simply need to be kept updated regularly on the status of a customer milestone. Using the milestone collaborators functionality, you can extend visibility for these users and keep them notified about progress related to each milestone.
For example, if you have a delivery team, you could include them as collaborating users for a “Delivery” milestone and allow them visibility into the customer record that they would otherwise be restricted from seeing. They will now be able to add tasks underneath this milestone, communicate when the milestone has been completed, or notify other users if there are any blockers to the completion of the objective.