Customer Advocacy: what it is, how it’s measured, and why it’s essential for a brand’s success
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If your goal is to strengthen the bond of trust with your customers and grow your business by expanding your customer base, then one of the first aspects you need to start working on is Customer Advocacy. Here’s how you can develop it within your company.
Purchasing processes increasingly place customers and their needs at the center. Hence, Customer Advocacy is more than a simple tool: it’s a mindset. When strategically adopted and integrated, it guarantees the company important achievements from different points of view. Customer Advocacy directly affects many factors such as economic and operative features or the image and reputation of the brand. Developing this approach can provide numerous benefits.
Let’s zoom in on the meaning of Customer Advocacy, its advantages, and the way to integrate and measure this approach within your company.
What’s customer advocacy?
Customer Advocacy is a specific business approach aimed at the best for customers, which builds their trust to the point of generating positive word of mouth. This, in turn, helps bring in new customers.
Organizations that adopt a Customer Advocacy vision apply it in every aspect of their business, from the smallest customer interaction to the most strategic decisions.
Customer Advocacy vs. Customer Experience and Voice of the Customer: What’s the Difference?
Don’t confuse Customer Advocacy with the Customer Experience or the Voice of the Customer. The first one defines the overall customer experience with a company through its services, products, and policies. The second one indicates the information related to the customers’ experiences and needs that may come directly from them.
These three concepts are distinct. However, a business approach based on Customer Advocacy directly affects both the Customer Experience and the Voice of the Customer.
Why Customer Advocacy Matters: 3 Strategic Benefits for Your Brand
Three fundamental factors can lead an organization to consider Customer Advocacy as a backbone for its strategy:
1 – It improves the ability to attract new customers. Customer expectations are evolving much faster than in the past. Under the best circumstances, a company’s services and products can create a positive gap between customer needs and the company’s offering. In this very favorable circumstance, a brand can leverage Customer Advocacy to implement solutions and innovations that feed the positive gap as well as an attractive resonance toward new and potential customers.
2 – It provides all company departments (marketing, product design, customer service, etc.) with a useful overall view. Also, it contributes an active mental approach to highlighting and satisfying the needs of customers as guiding objectives.
3 – It supports the company’s resource management and navigation in meeting customer expectations.
Therefore, Customer Advocacy helps the organization individuate the best action, time, and resource management.
Corporate development of Customer Advocacy
The level of integration between the individual departments tells how developed Customer Advocacy is within an organization:
- a first level of Customer Advocacy occurs when the Customer Advocates are individual employees. In fact, in this case, the approach is limited to customer support for those who request information to solve urgent needs.
- the second level of development is reached when a Customer Advocacy Team is established. This, in addition to solving customer needs, is in charge of collecting information for identifying and prioritizing customer needs. This activity aims at showing the company how to improve its services and products.
- the third level follows the creation of a specific in-house team in charge of coordinating and applying the Customer Advocacy across the entire company.
- the fourth and top level is reached when all the strategies of the organization enforce the principles of Customer Advocacy and every employee carries out advocacy activities for the customers.
Knowing your customers: the heart of Customer Advocacy
Knowledge of the customer undoubtedly stands out among the cornerstones of Customer Advocacy. Understanding customers’ needs, expectations, and experiences is in fact key to best apply the principles of this approach.
A company can count on many sources to obtain this information. These include product reviews on different marketplaces such as Amazon, Google, Trustpilot, and Tripadvisor; social media, and the company’s customer service.
Notwithstanding, companies often fail in taking advantage of this important volume of information. For this reason, and in order to make the most of it, an organization must first identify the sources of such varied information, and then determine the ones worthy of consideration.
To do so, let’s take five fundamental steps:
- identify all available sources of information about our customers
- select the right ones to collect feedback
- collect and catalog feedback according to well-defined, easy-to-share, and clear patterns
- equip the organization with technological data analysis tools
- define roles and responsibilities.
Measuring customer loyalty with the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
The Net Promoter Score created by Fred Reichheld is among the tools for measuring the degree of customer loyalty.
The Net Promoter Score is configured as a quantitative survey methodology that helps organizations measure the degree of satisfaction of their customers through a simple question: “How likely would you recommend us to someone else?”
The ranking is expressed on a scale of 0 to 10 and, based on the score, can obtain three specific categories that make up the degree of loyalty to the brand:
- Promoter (9 and 10)
- Passive (7 and 8)
- Detractor (0 to 6)
In their book “The Ultimate Question 2.0”, Reichheld and Rob Markey declare that companies with a higher NPS in their target market will grow more than double the reference average. This demonstrates that Customer Advocacy is also key for the economic return.
The Brand Advocates, i.e., Customer Advocacy at its finest
The Net Promoter Score also distinguishes potential Brand Advocates among customers who expressed a 9 or a 10. Indeed, the Brand Advocates are customers with such a satisfactory company experience that they share information on products or services they’ve used or are using, spontaneously and without any compensation or incentive.
Each Brand Advocate decisively influences the purchase intentions of other customers. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising 2015, the most credible advertising comes directly from the people we know and trust, and 83% of customers rely on the recommendations of friends and acquaintances to make a decision about a purchase.
The study also reveals that the “persons of trust” aren’t limited to our inner circle: two thirds of people (approx. 66%) declare to trust and consider online consumer reviews.
In short, customers often decide to buy a specific product following the recommendations of friends, acquaintances, and even reviews on the web. Of course, the same holds true in the opposite case: in the event of a negative experience, the product will be discouraged through word of mouth.
6 tips to preserve the loyalty of your Brand Advocates
Based on these premises, it’s easy to understand the relevance of finding Brand Advocates and, more importantly, enhancing their contribution. Companies with active promoters must think of a recognition plan for these figures. As shown in the diagram below, they have specific expectations toward the brand.
Brand Advocates believe in our company. Therefore, we must keep and enhance their trust for as long as possible through a series of best practices:
- Mutual respect The Advocate Brand is convinced that the product or service is excellent and expects any inefficiencies or malfunctions to be promptly addressed and resolved. Without this reciprocity, there’s a high risk of losing their trust.
- Appreciation Expressing appreciation and gratitude to the Brand Advocate is another key aspect. Even a small gesture can show him our consideration and bolsters his belief in the products or services of the brand.
- Accessibility Giving customers the opportunity to contact us in the simplest way possible and demonstrating user-friendliness is vital. Promoters like to stay in touch with the brand. So an easy, direct, and immediate connection is key. Consider, for example, social media networks or other contact channels and places.
- Active listening Advocates expect companies to listen to and implement their advice. Hence, it’s very important to ask your customers about their needs, desires, and feedback after a shopping experience.
- Recognition Acknowledging your supporters for their important contribution in achieving the company’s goals is another key factor in making them feel important and increasing their loyalty.
- Presence Participating in discussions and being present is the best way to show your Advocates support and gratitude. Liking or sharing one of their posts are small gestures that can really make a difference.
Customer Advocacy is one of the pillars of a brand’s success. It fully impacts every key element of a company’s growth and performance: the Customer Experience, the return on investment, the productivity, the corporate working methods, etc. In brief, give room and the necessary resources to this key approach and start to develop and assess it. This will put your objectives in reach.