Sometimes, businesses are just too transactional.
They sell their customer their product or service and move onto the next one, focusing solely on their bottom line. This mindset — one that puts the business in front of the customer — will cost the company in the long run.
Even worse, businesses might try to upsell the customers after the initial purchase without even asking the customer if their product or service was useful in the first place.
Customers aren't just looking for a product or service. They're looking for partners.
Businesses that focus on customer advocacy will be the ones that customers frequently recommend and return to for repeat purchases.
But what exactly is customer advocacy and how can you use it to your benefit? In this article, we'll review everything you need to know about implementing customer advocacy into all key aspects of your business.
Before we dive in, let's define customer advocacy to ensure we're on the same page.
What is Customer Advocacy?
Customer advocacy is the act of putting customer needs first and working to deliver solution-based assistance through your products and services.
Businesses that adopt a mindset of customer advocacy are constantly finding new ways to support their customers and ensure their needs are being met.
Customer advocacy is essential to improve your customers' satisfaction with your company.
You want to transform your customers into advocates through amazing products, top-tier customer support, and memorable experiences with your brand. Once you foster a community of passionate brand advocates, you can activate them to market for you.
Companies that elevate the experience for their customers and focus on delivering solutions for them can stand out from competitors.
There's a general distrust of companies that say they are truly working in their customers' best interests. Research shows that only 12% of customers think businesses that say they "put the customer first" actually do it.
This is an amazing opportunity for companies to improve their customer advocacy and leverage it as a core differentiator from their competitors.
By delivering solution-based products or services, you can turn your customers into advocates of your brand.
But how should your organization implement a customer advocacy philosophy? We'll show you.
The Customer Advocacy Framework
When it comes to customer advocacy, it's all or nothing. Everyone in the organization needs to buy-into this approach and be on board.
In order to infuse customer advocacy into all aspects of your business, you need to adopt a framework to bring it to life.
First consider what exactly your customer needs. The hierarchy of advocate needs outlines the depth of the various types of needs every customer will have:
But even with these insights, how can you ensure your team is adopting customer advocacy in order to deliver what your customers need?
Captivate Collective, a leading customer advocacy company, recommends focusing on four key areas to make customer advocacy an integral part of your business.
These core areas are:
In the exploration stage, you need to focus on developing a deep understanding of your customers. How can you truly deliver what they need if you don't learn about their challenges? Reach out to existing customers to collect data and analyze it.
Once you understand your customers, it's time to motivate your team into advocating for them. In this stage, you'd likely need to examine your team's relationships with customers and how you're providing support.
Next, it's time to activate. In this stage, you should implement customer-driven solutions and upgrade the overall customer experience. Positive experiences with your product and brand will be what your customers share.
Finally, you'll enter the iteration stage where you should assess what is working and make necessary changes. You might not get your customer advocacy approach immediately right, so take some time to make changes based on customer feedback.
With the framework in place, you can start to implement a customer advocacy program into your organization.
Customer Advocacy: 4 Strategies for Implementation
It's easy to think, "I want my company to act with a mindset focused on customer advocacy,"" but sometimes companies get stumped on where to go from there.
That's why we've assembled these four practical steps to adopt a more holistic approach to customer advocacy in the form of a customer advocacy program.
This program will focus on educating employees on how to best drive customer engagement to increase revenue for the business. It will emphasize transforming a loyal customer into a brand advocate.
By implementing these four strategies, you'll position your business as a partner for your customers, eventually transforming them into new advocates for your brand.
Customer Advocacy Strategy #1: Routinely Collect Feedback
You can't truly help your customers if you don't understand what issues they're facing.
Before you can advocate for your customer, you need to understand who they are. That's why the exploration stage is necessary.
Talk with your customers and understand their problems. This will help your team better meet the needs of your target audience.
In order to improve customer retention and promote brand advocacy, your customer success team needs to routinely talk with your customer base to build trust and understand their needs.
Feedback can be collected over the phone from a random subset of your customers or through a systematic online survey sent to all of your customers.
In these surveys, you can find out what your customers really want from your company.
Overall, B2B customers consider product quality, expertise, and responsiveness essential when working with a company.
Although these are three elements that customers are broadly seeking in B2B companies, you might find that your customers are looking for something different after reviewing the feedback. Once you've collected the data, you need to organize it to extract actionable insights.
Organizations need to unify all their sources of customer data to ensure each department is working with customer advocacy in mind.
Simply collecting the data and not leveraging it is wasteful. Customers agree with this philosophy, too. In fact, they want you to do something with the suggestions they give.
52% of customers believe companies should take action using the data and feedback they provide.
Companies can start by building a community blueprint.
Customer Advocacy Strategy #2: Build a Community Blueprint
Don't leave anyone on your team behind — especially when it comes to adopting your new customer advocacy framework.
In order to truly become an organization that infuses customer advocacy into everything you do, everyone needs to buy into the vision.
To ensure your entire team is on the same page, map out your customer advocacy vision in the form of a community blueprint.
This is a tangible exercise that shows how customer advocacy can touch every aspect of the organization and needs to be adopted by all.
It forces senior leadership to map out the company's vision and how the team is expected to execute it. This step is essential.
Companies need to take time to consider how their vision aligns with their goal to enhance their customer advocacy.
Approximately 63% of B2B businesses have a primary goal of building loyalty with existing customers. They can outline the actionable steps they need to take to accomplish this with a community blueprint.
In the blueprint, the company's vision, strategy and strategic advocacy priorities are highlighted.
Then, use the blueprint to outline the steps you need to take to execute those strategic advocacy priorities and the metrics you will use to measure them.
With the plan in place, your team can measure their success as new initiatives are introduced.
Customer Advocacy Strategy #3: Elevate Your Customer Service
Businesses need to provide customers with solutions in the form of their products and services.
However, the ones that set themselves apart team up with their customers as partners and motivate them to achieve more.
Set your customer service agents up for success and ask them to go above and beyond to ensure they are aligned with the customer in seeking the same outcome. This will help your business stand out.
Customers that have an amazing experience with your product, service and team will likely be transformed into advocates.
They will recommend your products to their friends and serve as an additional marketing channel for you.
In fact, customers tell an average of 15 of their friends about poor customer service experiences, compared to the 11 that they tell about positive experiences.
And if your service is speedy? That's a marketing accelerant.
Research shows that the recommendation rate of a company increased overall by 3% after customer feedback was used to increase the speed at which service was provided.
According to McKinsey, "By understanding how operational factors such as speed and first-call resolution translate into customer satisfaction, contact centers can ensure they focus their energy and resources on areas that have the greatest impact on the customer experience. When these efforts are aligned with the organization's overall goals, this enhanced experience contributes to a higher recommendation rate—a core metric for the company.""
With superior customer service, customers will transform into advocates for the company.
Customer Advocacy Strategy #4: Give Your Customers a Platform
Now that your customers are advocating on your behalf, you need to give them a platform.
This can be in the form of a video testimonial, featuring them in a webinar or providing encouragement to share their experiences on their own personal social channels.
If your customers are ready to vouch for you, why not amplify it? Their friends and colleagues will see their endorsement and will likely want to learn more about your offering.
This is essential, since 73% of consumers read an average of six reviews prior to buying from a company.
Let's take video testimonials as an example. Video testimonials are effective in showcasing your customers as advocates for your brand. More than 72% of consumers say positive testimonials impact how they view a business.
Take a look at Tremont 647's successful video testimonial for Swipely. The company found so much value in the product that they wanted to share their success with the world.
Customers are seeking partners, and businesses need to start thinking they are one.
By focusing on delivering solutions for your customer, you will transform customers into advocates for your brand.
In order to promote customer advocacy in all parts of your business, you need to strategically implement it in a variety of ways.
Gather customer feedback to truly understand their problems and how you can help.
Build a community blueprint to ensure you are adopting the values of customer advocacy in all parts of your organization.
Elevate your customer service offering to ensure you are delivering quality experiences.
Give your customers a platform and let them share their positive experiences with the world.
By focusing on customer advocacy, you will activate a powerful form of referral marketing through your dedicated customers.
Let your customers’ market your brand for you in a powerful video testimonial. Get in touch today to start bringing your next most valuable marketing asset to life.