Meta Description: Competitive business environment asks for customer advocacy to build a loyal customer base and increase revenue. Here's everything to know about customer advocacy.
Remember that shop you went to where the employees made you feel so pleased that you wanted to shop again? You get this feeling because the employees put your interest first, gave you honest suggestions, and tried to find the best product in your price range.
That's it, that's customer advocacy. The company changed you, a regular customer, into a super-fan who will talk good of the brand wherever the opportunity arises.
Positive experiences make customers interact with the brand more frequently, build customer loyalty, and create brand advocates. This post will discuss customer advocacy strategy and its importance in the foundation of a successful business endeavor.
What is Customer Advocacy?
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Customer advocacy is a form of customer service that revolves around customers' interests rather than the company. This customer-centric approach demands the brand to put customer interest before personal profit. This change in approach to business is supported by customer-centered service and marketing strategy.
Customer advocacy means a continuous focus on customer needs so the business will never aim to make a quick buck over customer dissatisfaction. This approach instills a sense of importance in the customers and likeness towards the brand.
What is the purpose of customer advocacy? It gives a business several loyal supporters who will spend the most money, bring in new customers, and advocate your business in their gatherings.
What is Meant by Customer Delight?
You should not only aim for customer satisfaction but also customer delight - the cherry on top.
Customer satisfaction measures the extent to which a customer's expectations are met, and customer delight is the highest point of customer satisfaction. Brands achieve this by exceeding the customers' current expectations, leading to an emotional connection with the business.
For example, when a restaurant chain opens an outlet in a distant town on customer request, the customers will feel heard and have an emotional reaction to the opening. This will lead to word of mouth, directly affecting the sales and profit of the branch.
The branch will gain loyal customers who will spend more money and cause little to no hassle compared to new buyers. They will also have good things to say about the place they frequently purchase from, which means a free advertisement for the company.
The consumers automatically trust recommendations made by their family members and friends and are likely to try out the new place. Loyal consumers also tend to spend more on the brands they trust, and the link will keep growing.
Importance of Customer Advocacy
In today's business world, word spreads like wildfire. Your customers leave reviews, suggestions, and ratings that can impact your company's growth and reputation. When the customers promote and advocate for your service and products, it is called brand advocacy.
Customer advocates with the highest level of loyalty can greatly benefit your business. Advocates are not only frequent buyers but also the living force of your business.
Research shows that 92% of global consumers trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. An average 12% increase in advocacy can lead to 2X growth in the company's revenue.
The opposite is also true. The customers who are left forsaken or those who have had a bad experience will damage your company's reputation. Sadly, most brands have no clue who their brand advocates are and simply don't care about positive advocacy.
You can direct these consumers towards your hand simply by listening and looking out for your customers and potential consumers.
Customer Advocacy Strategies
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Let us dig deeper into this customer-centric culture to understand what customer advocacy is and how to put the strategy in place.
As mentioned above, customer advocacy includes looking at every touchpoint - from when your customer walks into after-sales support. As a business, you have to use these insights to achieve higher goals and strengthen your network.
Let's be honest. Every brand wants to be known for prioritizing customer experience over personal profits. By getting direct feedback, brands can integrate customer feedback into their business strategy, leading to better relationships with consumers and a good reputation.
Here are five ways to introduce and increase customer advocacy.
1. Build a Strong Relationship
Businesses need a solid and loyal customer base to stay afloat. So how to change a customer into an advocate for your brand? The answer is simple: Make them fall in love with the brand.
It is only by developing an authentic relationship with customers that you can understand their perspectives and provide them with a consistent experience.
Start by remembering the names of your loyal customers, working up your way to more personal details, such as any particular dates, personal preferences, and challenges they may be facing.
Once you are aware of the nature of your customers, you can quickly provide quality products and good customer service to them. This approach might be hard at first, but it is more rewarding than you think.
2. Equip Your Employees
You have to train your employees to prioritize customer interest over brand interest. Naturally, well-equipped employees will perform better and give your customers the attention they require in time.
You may assign a few employees to manage a help desk to keep track of customer transactions and personal details, such as phone numbers for follow-ups. A help desk can help them control situations and fix issues faster without causing a hassle.
Another way to train your staff is by offering frequent training sessions and rewards to keep them motivated. The business should also provide opportunities for upwards mobility so the employees stay motivated.
3. One Customer a Day
Focus on one loyal customer a day and show them you care by sending them a gift or a simple thank you note. A few kind words can earn you a loyal customer who will attract many others without further effort.
4. Deliver the Best Products
Today's customers are well-aware and sharp. They know the market, and they are naturally skeptical. Therefore, customers know when a brand is delivering quality products and when it is prioritizing profits over quality.
The strategy is simple here. Customers need peace of mind, and you give it to them by delivering consistent quality. When you provide a positive experience every time, the buyers develop trust in your brand and recommend it to their loved ones.
If the brand can create a meaningful value that aligns with the values of the customers, the regular customers change into advocates.
5. Share Customer Successes
Here's the truth: we all want to feel important and valued by others. So when a brand makes its customers feel important and seen, they are automatically driven towards it.
For example, did a customer just make a big purchase from you? Feature them on your social media. Did someone post a 5-star review on a product? Show their review to your audience and thank them for it.
These little recognitions will go a long way and work in your favor in the long term.
How to Create True Customer Advocates
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Here are eight ways to create authentic customer advocates.
1. Share Your Customer's Values
Your business needs to have values and a purpose unique to the brand -one which is also shared by your customer base. People want to be associated with brands that aim to make a difference in this world. Hence, your marketing should highlight these brand attributes that set your business apart from its competitors.
When your brand is guided by positive values and a meaningful purpose, your customers will feel much more connected with the brand. Their genuine relationship will lead to an authentic experience that they will share in their social circles.
2. Level Up Your Customer Service
When potential customers visit your store physically or online, they need to feel welcomed and valued. They expect quick assistance to decide whether they can fully trust the brand and rely on the services.
How can you provide 24/7 customer service? Introduce live messaging software with agents to guide the customer on time. You can also set up friendly bots to handle buyers with frequently asked questions.
If you are a small business, setting up bots can reduce customer service costs and allow you to serve your customers without delay and give instant answers.
3. Create a Customer Rewards Program
Loyalty is the key to any relationship, whether with your house pet, your friend, or a paying customer. In order to build customer loyalty towards your business, you can introduce a Customer Rewards Program.
It can be a referral program that involves giving gift cards, credits, and material gifts to customers for sending referrals your way. You may also reward various other customer actions and provide multiple chances for people to enroll.
You can give the program an attractive name so the consumers can identify the main product and the purpose of the program. Furthermore, you have to make the customers feel valued so that they don't hesitate to be a part of your business strategy.
4. Delight Your Customers
Customer delight means going above and beyond customer expectations to surprise your customers and give them the experience to remember. You can achieve this "wow" factor by fulfilling your promises and offering things like gifts, discount vouchers, and promotions to build an emotional relationship with each loyal customer.
The goal is to leave the customers satisfied with your products and services that they willingly recommend your brand to friends and family. When you go out of your way to make your customers feel that they can trust your services, they will be delighted.
By developing customer delight, your customers will develop a sense of goodwill and loyalty towards your brand, which will benefit sales and reputation in the long term.
5. Remember Special Occasions
By remembering special dates and occasions that your customers hold close to their hearts, you can become a part of their life. For example, you can offer discounts to registered customers when they make their first purchase or send them a personalized note or email on their birthday.
You can also wish them on festivals to make your relationship a little extra special with them. This will lead to loyal fans who will advocate for your brand.
6. Respond to Feedback
It is not enough to ask for feedback - you need to act on it. By responding to customer feedback, you convey that their opinion matters to you. When your customers feel heard and valued, they will automatically become advocates.
7. Accept Criticism
When you receive constructive criticism from customers, be calm and listen to what they have to say. When you accept criticism, it lessens any feelings of anger in your customers and makes them feel heard.
As the saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." This might be true in the case of criticism. If you are willing to take productive criticism, you can make a few changes and let people know what you have done based on their input.
However, you don't have to implement all the suggestions or give explanations every time. Instead, you can simply respond with a positive attitude to show that you are open to feedback and want to improve your customers' experiences.
8. Share Your Successes
It is not enough to perform well for a year and be happy in secret. You should share your successes with everyone who played their part, including your customers. If someone reputable has said something good about your business, share it with your customers.
Perhaps your business hit a milestone, a customer made a big purchase, or an employee got awarded for his performance. Share these and other successes on your social media channels to show your gratitude.
When publishers view your brand, they will know that you are known among the masses, and they need to keep an eye out for any big news.
Customer advocacy is the missing puzzle piece that completes a successful business. It links business success with the customers' interest, which leads to a loyal customer base.
It is essential to train your staff and get them on board with the customer advocacy program to instill the customer-centric culture in your business. Your priority should be your customers, and success will follow.
Cover Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash