Customer advocacy means putting clients first and adjusting your product or services according to their needs and desires. A study conducted by the Wharton School of Business shows that 83% of satisfied customers would be willing to refer products or services they appreciated.
If you want to improve customer advocacy and turn every business relationship into a long-lasting one, we will guide you through the necessary steps.
What is customer advocacy?
Customer advocacy represents a company’s constant effort to find, implement the best solutions for their customers’ needs, and support them throughout their journey.
The customer advocacy concept is focused on meeting client expectations and anticipating new ones. This way, you’ll be able to create custom-made solutions for their problems and deliver a complete customer experience that is going to differentiate your company from the competition.
Customers don’t just go for features or prices when they choose a product. They want the full package: excellent customer care, occasional discounts, tailor-made offers, and seamless communication. Customer advocacy covers all that, plus more.
Why does customer advocacy matter?
Customer advocacy fuels company growth. Staying focused on how you can improve your customers’ experiences with your brand has the following benefits:
- Helps build loyalty;
- Increases customer acquisition via referrals;
- Significantly increases retention.
Here is how your company can increase customer advocacy with the resources you already have at your disposal:
Tips to increase customer advocacy
Your company’s efforts to optimize the client journey will never stop. Here are a few ways to increase customer advocacy, plus examples from companies that are already doing these things very well.
1. Create personalized experiences
Personalization starts with subject lines and ends… well, never. Marketing is no longer about emphasizing product qualities and leaving out possible downsides. It’s about creating and telling the story your clients want to hear.
This includes every type of client communication: welcoming messages, loyalty discount campaigns, drip emails, tutorials, any type of content you can customize according to the user’s profile.
How do you get an accurate profile of your typical customer? You map a buyer persona, which is a detailed description of your target audience. After you’ve completed this process through extensive research, the next step is targeting your “ideal customers” with customized campaigns on more personal notes.
Grammarly offers a great personalization model. The company sends weekly emails that are directly linked to the user’s writing style and performance. The reports include frequent errors, the latest milestones the user has reached, and possible weak spots to improve upon.
How do I connect with my clients on a more personal level?
You trace a map of their customer journey and ask yourself questions like:
- “Who is my ideal customer?”
- “What was their specific need at the time they first came in contact with my product?”
- “Have they engaged with my brand previously?
- “What feedback can they offer?”
Knowing their needs at a specific point in time will let you predict what they want in the future. TextMagic carefully considered every piece of client feedback and gradually introduced product features clients requested. In time, this led to the development of our new product, Touchpoint , which offers businesses a complete customer engagement platform, making it easier for you to listen and communicate with your customers.
2. Repurpose key information
Turn every reference you get from your clients into something meaningful.
- Multiple answers that you collect from a poll or survey can end up as a blog post or a side-to-side comparison with your competition, pointing out your company’s competitive edge.
- Tweak client interviews and develop them into content that is easy to absorb; for example: a Q&A section.
Get any type of information related to your product. It doesn’t matter what format it comes in.
One-on-one client conversations are also useful because they offer more insights on very specific needs that you might not be aware of. Give clients a chance to tell you how they feel about your business and they will feel more valued. Plus, chances are that at least a few other customers will relate to the challenges that they are facing, making it easier for them to relate to your brand.
Now that we covered the theoretical part, let’s look at a great customer advocacy example that illustrates how appreciation can become your company’s best business card:
Okta turned an annual event into a celebration of its customers. Their marketing team encouraged their audience to mention they were attending their event on social media. They didn’t stop there: before the main event, they held a special lunch and offered personalized takeaways to engage their loyal clients.
A nice gesture now and then can leave a lasting impression. In their case, we’re talking about 1.1 million social impressions generated by their clients and a 34% increase in engagement rates.
3. Focus on social media listening
Social listening is a very simple process that involves monitoring all social media channels to find discussions about your brand, what users think of it, what they’d like changed, etc.
It’s not just about your products or brand in particular; useful insights include discussions about your competition and, more broadly, the industry. You are looking for recurring consumer trends or buying behaviors, as well as what triggers them.
Social listening is powerful, effective, and costs practically nothing. You can use it to both identify your company’s strong suits and weak spots. It answers questions like:
- Which business communication channels are ineffective?
- Is my product price fair for the current market?
- How do my customers rate customer service interactions?
Every question you answer will significantly improve customer experience and increase the chances of turning a regular customer into lifetime advocates. Social media advocacy is all about collecting feedback from every channel you can think of and engaging potential clients in a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
4. Improve your product with relevant client feedback
Customer feedback is not always extremely actionable. Some customers offer very generic opinions or deviate into other topics when asked about a certain brand. The key to collecting relevant feedback is asking the right questions.
Be as specific as possible. Ask for timeframes, location, context. A question like “How do you feel about our product?” won’t do. Instead, focus on specifics:
- “What features did you enjoy most when using our product, and why?”
- “When did you first use our product? Has it made a difference in your current lifestyle? If so, how?”
You can steer clients in the right direction whenever you feel like their answers are too generic, but don’t make them feel like their answers weren’t enough to begin with. Encourage them to share more of their experience using positive phrasing: “This sounds really interesting. Would you like to tell us more about how this product made an impact?”
Asking for specific details will result in more detailed answers, plus it tells the customer that their opinion matters—a prize in its own right.
The NPS (Net Promoter Score) calculator is a great tool any company can use to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction. We constantly send out NPS surveys to TextMagic clients and use their feedback to improve our product. It is a simple and effective way to collect relevant information that makes clients heard and valued for their input.
5. Make customer service a priority
Like it or not, customer service matters in your customer’s journey. It is also your most valuable source of information for improving your product.
Clients turn to customer service to signal product malfunction, complaints, requests, which they can use to improve significantly both your product and the way you communicate with your clients.
How do you take customer service from mediocre to top-rated? Here are a few pointers on how to improve communication across all channels:
- Involve team members
- Prioritize complaints
- Keep customer service proactive
Your team is your company’s most important and untapped resource. They can offer insight into valuable information from different departments: Finance, Quality, Procurement etc. Bringing the team together to improve customer service will not only achieve that; it will help reduce potential internal conflicts and help them work as a unit, rather than on individual fronts.
As strange as it may seem, complaints are where product development starts. Note when they happen, be alert to recurring patterns, observe how they’re being registered and whether they relate to the product or to your company’s customer communication methods.
Many companies use a reactive approach when handling customer complaints. Instead of simply reacting to their problems, which often have negative connotations, try active listening combined with problem-solving.
Customers often feel more satisfied when they feel someone is working on a solution instead of just handing them a spur-of-the-moment solution, which the customer may see as a temporary fix for a problem that is only going to get worse.
Customer advocacy is your company’s best shot at securing long-lasting business relationships with their best brand ambassadors. It is a long-term investment in your own business and a gift that keeps on giving, provided you never lose sight of what your customers want.