Customer Advocacy - Why and How it's so IMPORTANT (Part I)
Welcome, Wisdom Seeker!
I've touched on Customer Advocacy in the past, so i felt it was time to have a deeper dive. Given that this is a big topic and there's only so much reading a person can take in one go (ZzzzZzz), I'm splitting this into 4 parts. My aim is to make this bite-size and easy to digest - I've even created four brand new case study examples to back all of this up.
Before We Begin, A Little 'Customer Advocacy" Housekeeping:
1) It’s not just a buzz-word thrown around the meeting table by marketing people.
2) Very few companies and even people for that matter understand what it means or how to implement a strategy that will support it.
3) Maybe the most important, so it’s getting capitalized: IT IS NOT JUST COMPANIES WHO SHOULD LEARN ABOUT CUSTOMER ADVOCACY, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT CUSTOMERS UNDERSTAND WHAT IT ENTAILS TOO.
4) Start-Up’s within the tech umbrella especially (and that means everything from food delivery apps to monthly supplies of razors) can benefit SUBSTANTIALLY from Customer Advocacy to help early growth and create a steady increase of customers.
5) You don’t need to be doing EVERYTHING listed here. Honestly, it depends on your business strategy, but don’t assume that I’m saying "STOP EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING AND IMPLEMENT THIS RIGHT NOW!!111", it’s really not like that. These are just tips and pointers to set you in the right direction.
So with that out the way let’s get down to business - check out this little diagram I put together just for YOU. Part 1 is going to cover how you can “Focus on Customer Success”, one of the 4 key pillars to influencing Customer Advocacy!
PART 1: Focus on Customer Success
With Case Examples from EAT24
Step 1 to attracting Customer Advocates is to ensure the customer feels success based on their relationship with the company. When I talk about the customer 'feeling success', I mean two distinctive scenarios. The first is where the customer feels they have directly contributed to the future success of the company based on their actions. The second is where the customer feels they them-self have become successful based on their actions with the company. Finally, it is important to note (see model), that 'success' of either type cannot be felt by the customer unless the company gives them both the freedom of choice in terms of their actions and the ability to have direct involvement with the company on a personal level.
So there you have the simple overview of 'Customer Success', now I'm going to talk about three distinctive components of this strategy alongside case study examples.
#1 - Two-Way Communication
You should allow your customers to be able to easily contact you and should return their queries in a personal (non-generic) way. Customers should freely and easily be able to give you feedback on your company without being made to feel weird about it. Imagine you are in a bar chatting with this individual on a face-to-face level, that is EXACTLY what you need to envisage here. Images, Memes, Jokes, Puns, PERSONABILITY.
Example: Take a look at the way EAT24 interacts with its customers on Twitter. The company not only responds to the customers praise, but gives them a little something back in return. This person then feels gratification because 1) they have been acknowledged, which other people will see, and 2) have been given a gift (i.e. success through both recognition and success through a tangible form).
#2 - Your Customers Represent Your Company
Allowing your customers to act and speak on behalf of the company is another imperative aspect of this process. Where customers have good knowledge and want to get involved with increasing their own success, they should be named “customer consultants” or “trusted advisors” of the company. These people would actively contribute through ‘top lists’ or ‘personal experiences’ that the company would then share. In some cases this isn’t appropriate (given the business offering), so it could be just as simple as ensuring the customers voice gets out there! Allow your customers to take part, allow them to spread the word and in return it will make them FEEL GOOD so they will keep doing it.
Example: Have a search for #EAT24 or @EAT24 and you’ll notice the sheer amount of praise the company gets on a daily basis from customers just speaking their mind. The company makes a point to both favorite and re-tweet the vast majority of these. It is through this gesture of making sure the customer KNOWS their voice is heard, they feel they are contributing to the future success of the company.
#3 - Being A Customer Service Champion
Resolving problems fully and in their entirety while providing EXPERT levels of individual support/guidance are also key components. If there’s a technical issue or a complaint, rectify it ASAP or at the VERY LEAST keep in contact periodically with that customer until the issue is solved. Make them feel acknowledged and loved. If you want to do a little more delving on this point, I posted an article not too long ago about the three BIGGEST MISTAKES a company can make when it comes to customer complaints.
Example: In this case, look at how EAT24 rectifies an issue, which technically isn’t even their fault. A little while ago the company released a LIMITED NUMBER of $6 coupon codes, it was down to a first come first serve basis. This chap unfortunately missed out, yet EAT24 still looked after him, not only that but they give him a personal connection to a manager so he felt even more respected and valued. His response says it all.
Another Example: can be seen here whereby a customer sent in a complaint/feedback about the technical hiccups of the app. Not only does the company rectify the issue as quickly as it can, but they name drop the individual in the update to make sure (if he reads it) he knows he contributed to the direct success and future improvement of the company.
So in sum - what I'm putting across here is that in order for Customer Advocacy to take place, you need to, through whatever means, make your customer feel successful based on their interactions with the company. Make it PERSONAL. How you do that is up to you based on your product, service or offering. But in a nut-shell, component one of the model is now complete. Congratulations!
Next week I'll continue this series by moving on to how you can Build a Marketing Context/Community effectively. To be notified when PART II is released, please click here.
P.S. If you are looking to top up your knowledge on Customer Advocacy, here are eight books that I have read and would personally 'advocate' for :)