You already know that the customer experience is an integral part of any brand strategy.
After all, what your clients are saying about you in the marketplace based on their individual experience can make or break your business.
But building your reputation as a trusted organization takes time.
How can you speed up the process and improve your position in the marketplace? By having a customer-centric strategy, of course.
When your entire team works to put the wants, needs, and desires of your ideal customer first, you create customer advocates.
And customer advocates will do almost anything to tell their friends, family members, and complete strangers how awesome your brand is.
In this guide, we’ll cover what this type of focus entails and why it is so important to have. Plus, we’ll go over a few steps on how to make it happen.
Let’s get started.
What is Customer Advocacy?
Customer advocacy is when your buyers and clients have such a high level of loyalty for your brand that they work independently to spread the word about how much they love you.
Some people refer to this as word-of-mouth advertising, but we like to think it goes a little bit farther than that.
Your customer advocates are your biggest cheerleaders. They’re ready and willing to tell anyone with ears how much they adore your brand and the wonderful things you do.
These are the ambassadors that would do anything to see your brand thrive and take personal pride in your success.
Think of it as a whole group of people, cheering your company on as you grow.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? Who wouldn’t love that?
The truth is that it can be both a great thing and a difficult one — at the same time.
Finding these fanatics isn’t always easy, which means it is up to you to create a stellar experience that naturally breeds such a high level of customer satisfaction.
And living up to high standards can be tough for companies to consistently do, time and again.
That’s where having a customer-centric strategy that focuses on the needs of your target market and the value you can bring to them is so important.
What Role Can Customer Advocacy Play in Your Business?
Customer advocacy plays a huge role in your business, which is an important fact to remember throughout all marketing strategies you implement.
The benefits of customer advocacy are quite immense.
They span everything from an increase in sales to an overall better level of trust with your target market.
A few of the most important to consider include:
- Overall increase in loyalty towards your brand versus that of competitors.
- Rise in revenue from new initial and repeat buyers.
- Improvement in costs and time spent.
- Increased customer lifetime value based on overall loyalty.
- Lower cost to attain new and excited customers.
All of these things sound really great, right?
The good news is that they are easily attainable when you understand the true power of having a customer advocacy plan.
Keeping Your Team Focused on the Prize
It’s one thing to have a strong level of customer advocacy as an organization, but that’s not all you have to focus on.
Your team plays an integral role in ensuring your idea for a high level of customer satisfaction trickles down to the actual clients.
After all, your staff members and employees are the face of your business.
If a customer has a sour interaction with one person, it can ruin their entire impression of who you are as a company — which goes against everything you’re trying to achieve in terms of customer advocacy.
Instead, ensure you are creating a culture of taking care of the customer by having regular training sessions and policies that promote the overall culture and organizational environment you’re trying to achieve.
Who Are Brand Advocates?
If customer advocacy is the primary focus, then brand advocates are the people you are trying to leave a favorable impression on.
But they aren’t always just paying customers. They can be leads who haven’t yet taken the jump into making a purchase.
They’re people in the media who work to promote your business in a favorable light when you’ve done something exceptional.
They’re vendors and other organizations that provide referrals to their customers, knowing they can trust your business will take care of the client.
And brand advocates are also anyone who sees your company in a favorable light and acts to draw more attention to what you’re doing right.
It probably goes without saying, but the more brand advocates your company has, the better message you’re able to communicate.
Plus, a favorable reputation is good for any company, as it shows you have integrity and a high focus on helping people over making more money — aka the people over profit mentality.
How to Cultivate Passionate Brand Advocates
Of course, there are many ways to cultivate passionate brand advocates.
When your company has a high focus on the customer experience, and each member of the organization strives to provide superior service, the process happens naturally.
However, there are extra steps you can take to ensure it happens more frequently.
And this largely depends on the type of brand advocate, their needs, and how they interact with your organization.
Keeping current customers happy is almost a no-brainer for any B2B or B2C organization.
After all, you want them to return in the future, right?
Delighting your clients and providing a high level of customer advocacy really comes down to two things:
- Offering a lot of value.
- And meeting their needs appropriately.
This can be done in a number of ways, but the easiest is to embrace an organizational philosophy that the needs of the customer always come first.
Likewise, you’ll need to have systems in place that make communication simple and allow issues to be handled quickly and completely.
Finally, try to always anticipate their needs.
By having a strong sense of who your ideal customer is and what they’re looking to achieve, you can usually meet them ahead of any concerns they might have.
Potential Leads and New Customers
In addition to the customers you already have, it is important to also leave a favorable impression on potential leads and new customers.
These are the individuals who are still deciding whether they want to purchase products or schedule services with you. This is why going above and beyond to delight them is still incredibly important.
The best part about having a customer advocacy focus is that it actually makes conversions easier along the way.
If a consumer knows they can trust your business, they’re less hesitant to make a decision about a purchase.
Moreover, potential customers might not be in the marketplace for what you offer at the moment but could know someone who is.
When your company offers superior customer experiences for everyone, this could earn you that coveted word-of-mouth endorsement before the lead has even made their first purchase.
External Vendors and Other Businesses
Finally, you have to remember that external vendors and other businesses are also part of your customer advocacy strategy.
When the organizations you work with are happy to provide testimonials about the ease of communication in dealing with your company or how well their encounters have been, the people that they work with are more likely to choose you when necessary.
Think employees at other firms who tell friends and family members about what a great company you are.
They might even become customers themselves, depending on your niche and what you’re offering.
Developing a mindset that “everyone your company comes into contact with is a potential customer advocate” is a surefire way to increase your reputation and improve results.
How to Build a Customer Advocacy Program
Now that you know the importance of having a strong customer advocacy focus, it is important to create a program that fosters this mindset.
Learning how to do this doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be tough if your company is established and has a set way of handling customer service.
Plus, your existing reputation can be tricky to overcome if it has been negative in the past.
Here are a few tips to get you on the right path:
1. Start from the Ground Up
Before you can truly implement a good customer advocacy program, you need to first start from the ground up and think about every interaction a potential lead has with your organization.
- Do you make it easy to learn about your company and products from the first time they see you?
- What’s the user experience process like on your website?
- Is it simple to get in touch with customer service if they have questions?
You’ll also want to think about aspects like the ease of ordering, speed of shipping, and even what a package looks like when it arrives on your customer’s doorstep.
If you own a service-based business, discuss the professionalism of what your employees wear and how they present themselves when interacting with customers.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression!
2. Build Your Internal Culture to Focus on the Customer’s Needs
Next, you’ll want to build or rework your internal organizational culture to put a high emphasis on fulfilling customer needs.
Set goals and give team members examples of how they should handle specific situations.
For instance, explain what a proper time frame is to respond to support tickets or the proper way to answer the phone in a friendly manner.
This is an area where proper training and onboarding can make a huge difference in how successful you are in getting your employees to adopt this new focus for your business.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your employees happy, too.
Create a work culture and benefits that make it exciting to come to work each day.
Not only will this translate to each person’s interaction with customers, but it makes them all brand advocates, too.
3. Make It Easy for Excited Customers to Share Their Thoughts
In addition, you need to make it easy for excited customers to share their thoughts about how much they love your company.
Offer incentives for leaving reviews on your website, Google, Facebook, Yelp, or other popular platforms.
Send out email surveys to find out where there might be areas your company is lacking or what you are doing right.
Provide rewards for sharing testimonials on social media or with friends.
There are tons of ways you can integrate customer satisfaction into your overall digital marketing strategy, which is why it is important to think of the two concepts as linked.
And, the easier you make it for your loyalists to share their experience with others, the more customers you’ll gain.
Wrap Up: Building a Strategy That Focuses on Your Customers
Your customers are more than just someone else who places an order with your company.
They are unique individuals who can work as true advocates for your brand well into the future.
By having a strong customer-centered focus in everything you do, you can improve your reputation and experience growth.
While we’re talking about it, one of the easiest ways to accomplish better results is through improved customer education.
Content creation makes this simple, but you have to have the right strategies.
That’s why we created a free assessment that can help you launch a successful content marketing strategy!