Turning Your Customers Into Advocates

Customer service has always been important, but now with so much competition, great customer service is essential.  It’s increasingly important to treat your customers not just well but to personalize their experience and treat each one as if they were your only customer.  When your customers have an excellent experience with your company and they feel heard and seen by your company, they can become an advocate for your company.

“Advocacy happens when a customer or employees talk favorably about a brand or defend it without being asked to do so.  They love the brand, what it stands for, and how it makes them feel.”  -Michael Brito, American businessman, and social media strategist.  Having a customer be your company’s advocate is an incredibly effective kind of marketing.  Word-of-mouth marketing is known to be one of the most effective ways to get new customers.  You want your customers to have such an incredible experience that they tell their family, friends, and social media followers all about your company.

Word of mouth

88% of people have the highest level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommends it.  This instant trust is only achieved through word of mouth.  When a trusted friend or family member tells others about their experience, those people then believe in your company and how your company can be the solution to their pain points. Customer advocacy  boosts brand awareness in a way a marketing team can’t.  Those that hear about your company from a trusted friend or family member are very likely to remember your company and keep it top of mind.  76% of Gen-Xers and Millenials report trusting user-generated content more than branded content.  This means if they see someone they follow on Instagram recommending a brand, product, or service, they trust it more than they would if were an advertisement from the company.

Customer advocacy can offer insights into what the customer experience is actually like.  You get a first-hand account of which parts of your customer’s journey are streamlined, and which might need a little tweaking.  Use this information to assist other customers in their journey.  Take the parts of the customer’s journey that your customers especially liked, or even just certain aspects of that part, and apply it across the entire journey.  This gives you an excellent opportunity to truly provide all that you can for your customers.  Use what works, and what doesn’t to innovate and pivot where needed to best serve your customers.  When you remain committed to best serving your customers, they will take notice.  They will see how your company listens to their feedback and is really trying to do its best for their customers.  They will feel compelled to spread the word about what a great company your is and how they put the customer first.

How to gain advocates

Your business can reap incredible benefits from having customers as advocates.  But how do you create this kind of advocacy?  How do you turn your customers into your company’s advocates?  There are a few different ways that can help your company to do this.  Each method to accomplish the goal of customers as advocates requires a bit of give and take.  Your customers expect something extra from you, as a business, if they are going to go an extra mile for your company.  The benefits from each of these strategies far outweighs the costs to your business.

You need to first have a great product or service and provide excellent customer service.  This is much easier said than done, as everyone who is a business owner knows.  Your product needs to be a solution for your customer’s problem, challenge, or pain point.  You need to be there for your customers, answering any questions they may have.  If there is a problem within any part of the sales funnel, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Any problem that arises is an opportunity to connect with your customer and make it right.  This goes such a long way in turning your customers into advocates.  If you right a wrong, you are the hero in your customer’s eyes.  Anytime your customer has to turn to a form of customer support look at it as an opportunity, not only for that customer but as something you may need to potentially change or fix within your sales funnel.

One way to connect with your customers and potentially turn them into advocates is by personalizing their experience.  When your customers feel like their experience has been tailored just to them, they feel unique and special.  Offering different packages, or allowing customers to customize their experience makes them feel special.  This is becoming more and more important and the more personal it is, the more your customer will talk about it and recommend it.  More than just your product or service, your customer is first going to remember how their experience with your company makes them feel.  When they feel valued, they will return and become loyal customers.

You want to nurture these relationships with your customers.  If they felt valued the first time dealing with your company, make sure that happens again and again.  One way to nurture these relationships is to engage with them on social channels.  Utilize social media to talk to your customers, and see what they are saying about your company.  Ask for feedback and use what your customers say.  When they see changes made that reflect what they told you, they feel seen and their opinion respected, and they will continue to buy from you.  Even if they have had a challenge in the past with your company, if they see changes made based on their feedback, they won’t be reluctant to purchase from you because you righted any wrongs.  Listening to what your customers have to say goes a long way in fostering a relationship with them.

Loyalty & referral programs

A way to keep customers coming back time after time is to offer a loyalty program. Loyalty programs are worth the incentives you give your loyal customers.  Your customers feel special and exclusive when they are part of a loyalty program that gives something of value back to them.  It can cost up to five times more to get a new customer, as opposed to keeping an existing one.  Make your existing customers feel special and they will let people know about it.

A referral program is an excellent way to incentivize your existing customers to tell their family and friends about your business.  You offer your happy, satisfied customers a gift, in the form of a discount, or something else of value.  Referral programs benefit your business two-fold.  First- you get the new customer from word-of-mouth marketing from your existing customer.   Next, you are ensuring the customer that made the referral comes back to use the discount, or incentive you gave them.  These benefits outweigh the cost of the discount, so they’re a perfect way to get your customers to advocate for you.  The word-of-mouth marketing you get from your referral program will continue to generate business for you, again and again

With word-of-mouth marketing fueling between 20% and 50% of all purchasing decisions, you can’t afford not to make your customers your advocates.  Customer advocacy is going to be increasingly important for companies, as it’s great for brand awareness, acquiring new customers, and creating and retaining customers loyal to your brand.  Geoffery Moore, consultant, and author has said of recent marketing trends “The power has shifted to the customer, and it’s not coming back.”

It all comes down to the customer experience.  Keep trying to constantly improve that and give your customers exactly what they want, and you will be successful.  Your company will organically grow and flourish because you are putting your best assets, your customers at the forefront of your company.  When your customer feels seen and heard by your brand, they feel important and special.  This feeling is what makes them come back more than just what your product or service does for them.

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