Aren’t those places the best where we are welcomed by employees who we know love to help us?
When you have a great feeling inside you resulting from your last experience in a store where you had the satisfaction of being taken care of, you are more eager to go to that store, aren’t you?
We even go to some stores just for those employees sometimes.
It is because we know that they look out for our interests. They are like a close friend who gives us tips about buying the best and most affordable things.
Well, if you were looking for a definition of customer advocacy this was simply it!
Before I begin explaining what customer advocacy is and how it works, I would like to give you a secret:
Customer advocacy and brand advocacy are not the same thing!
What is Customer Advocacy
There are a lot of articles on the internet that are contributing to this misconception and they simply mistake the two with each other. Now let me begin with distinguishing these two from each other. If I am to give a simple customer advocacy definition:
Customer advocacy or client advocacy is a customer service provided by an employee of a company to help increase customer experience.
Brand advocacy, on the other hand, is customers promoting and advocating for your service or your product that they love and trust.
Now that I have distinguished these two concepts from each other, I will go on and dive deeper into what is customer advocacy and how you can turn your customers into brand advocates as a result of a good customer advocacy program.
Customer advocacy is the building block of a customer-centric company. It is an approach to understand and come up with the needs, expectations, and complaints of the customers. Through its customer advocacy programs, companies are better able to increase customer experience, and in return, turn those satisfied customers into brand advocates.
To put it differently,
A customer advocate, as the name suggests, is the advocate of customers. They are not customers! They look for the interests of customers.
Here is a must-have list for a customer advocate:
Without empathy, you would not be able to understand the reasons behind your customers’ needs and therefore not be able to solve their problems effectively.
- Human touch
Companies often leave their customers without human touch and this directly breaks the bond between customers and companies. In an age in which customers are left in the hands of automated calls, your company can distinguish itself with its human touch.
You can still have automated calls but you shouldn’t make it hard for your customers to talk to a real person from your company.
- Honesty and sincerity
Telling the truth about your products and services is often looked down upon. The reason behind this is that companies are so much focused on their short-term profits. However, in the long run, the customers, who trust and believe in you, will not only repeat buy but also turn into brand advocates that will expand your reach.
- Responding to feedback (the negative ones as well)
It is always harder to change the negative opinions of an existing customer rather than trying to build positive opinions in new customers’ minds. This should not hold you back from facing the harsh negative feedback.
- Strong communication skills
Strong communication skills are not only necessary for being able to communicate with customers but also with the people in the company. A good customer advocate should be able to convey the needs and expectations of customers to the company in a clear and convincing way.
What is the role of a Customer Advocate?
There are some fundamental roles of a customer advocate, I can list them as follows:
1- Customer Service
First and foremost, the main role of a customer advocate is to get feedback from customers and compensate for their problems. Customers should know that the customer advocate has got their back in case of a problem that they face.
They should be a bridge between the customer and the company. If a product or service requires development, customer advocates should address the need in a detailed and clear way so that the developers could give customers what they exactly need.
2- Offering different options to customers
Customer advocates should be open to customers and tell them the pros and cons of a product or service. They should also offer different options to their customers. Don’t forget it is the customer advocate’s job to look out for a customer’s interests. Customer advocates should not just try to give customers the impression that they care about them but they should do it for real.
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”Walt Disney
3- Optimizing pricing for customers
Keep in mind that it is not the customer advocate’s role to look out for the profit of their company. If a customer advocate focuses on selling the most profitable product or service, they will lose customers for the long term. A good customer advocate should always try to help customers get what they want at the most affordable price.
4- Helping customers out with their onboarding processes
A good onboarding experience is often disregarded. Unless you walk users through the onboarding process, they will not be able to see the value of your product or service. A successful onboarding process leads to better adoption of your products and services. Once your users walk through the process with your users, there will be a trust and love bond built between you and your customers.
Here is a good customer advocacy example:
A lovely three-year-old customer, Lily Robinson, reaches out to Sainsbury’s to ask for a nice request. Obviously, Lily loves the “tiger bread” but she believes that it actually looks like a “giraffe bread”.
Here is a picture of the bread:
Well, it seems like Lily is right about what she suggests.
Guess what Sainsbury’s do?
Yes, you are right! They rename their product and change it to “giraffe bread”.
Why should Customer Advocacy Matter?
It should matter because it is the ultimate way of creating brand advocates for your company. Brand advocates will be your loyal customers who will promote your products and services to other people, in other words, through word of mouth, they will play the key role in customer referrals. They will be the trusted source for those who don’t know about your products and services.
Let’s elaborate on what brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing are.
Don’t you just love something so much that you want everybody around you to know about that?
Don’t you just hate something so bad that you want everybody around you to know about that too?
And there you go, this is what brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing are all about.
It’s human psychology 101. Humans want to share their sentiments. Especially, when they feel that they’ve made the right decision about something that benefits them and makes them happy; or equally when they feel that they’ve made the wrong decision that makes them unhappy.
Word of mouth is not only a touchpoint for those who don’t know about your product but it is also the strongest touchpoint to change those negative sentiments about your product.
Research by McKinsey suggests that behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions word of mouth stands as the primary factor.
As I tried to emphasize throughout the whole article, customer advocacy is looking out for the interest of customers. It is about building trust.
In this regard, another research by Salesforce puts forward that 95% of customers say that it is their trust for a company that leads them to be loyal to a brand.
“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” –Dr. Chip Bell
Distinguishing customer advocacy from brand advocacy, I wanted to put emphasis on having a customer advocacy program through which your customer advocate builds a special bond with your customers, which in return makes your customers your brand advocates.
In the age of the internet, when you successfully lead this process, your brand advocates will help increase your reach through word of mouth, which is the ultimate way of gaining the trust and appreciation of your existing and potential customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a customer advocacy manager?
A customer advocacy manager is a bridge between his/her company and customers. They help solve the problems that customers face and help their company respond to the needs of their customers.
How can a company turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate?
By showing those customers that they care about them and they will do their best to solve that issue that makes them unhappy. In other words, by providing them the best customer experience that they can.
How can you utilize brand advocates?
Brand advocates are the best source for customer referrals. They are the living proof that you are providing a good product or service. What you need to do is basically encourage them by giving rewards to those who reference your company.