The Tool Shed Blog

What is Customer Advocacy? Proven Methods for Customer Loyalty

What do your customers say about you? Are they often criticizing your product or service? Or do they sing praises about your business far and wide, telling everyone they meet about your fantastic service?

You may even have some who silently but consistently support your business throughout the years. Whatever the case may be, you can be sure that your customers have an opinion about your business.

What Is Customer Advocacy?

Customer advocacy is the act of loyal customers actively promoting and supporting a brand or company. Simply put, a customer advocate is a walking, talking advertisement for a company's products or services. They're the kind of person who can't stop raving about how great a particular product is, and they're always quick to share their positive experiences with others.

Customer advocates embrace the power of word-of-mouth marketing, letting friends, family, and colleagues on and off the internet know how much they are pleased with your products or services.

Customer Advocacy In the Digital Age

In today's digital world, it's never been easier to share information and opinions with others. With the widespread availability of smartphones and other devices, most people have access to social media and other online platforms.

This means that businesses have the opportunity to get highlighted on social media, which can be a great way to gain exposure and attract new customers.

When a business is highlighted for something positive, a number of benefits can follow. For example, if a business is recognized for its charitable work, it can help to improve the company's reputation and make it more appealing to potential customers who are looking for socially responsible companies.

Similarly, if a business is highlighted for how well it treats its employees, it can help to improve morale and productivity among the staff.

It's no secret that social media has a reach that extends to almost every corner of the globe. While this can be a good thing for businesses, when customers post positive reviews online for all to see, it can also be a double-edged sword. When a customer leaves a negative review, the reach of that review can be even greater, leading to potentially damaging consequences for the business. This phenomenon, known as "cancel culture," occurs when the public collectively withdraws its support from a business, often leading to boycotts and decreased revenue.

This highlights the enormous power that customers hold in today's digital age. One bad review or negative experience can quickly snowball, leading to a cascade of negative reviews and a decline in business. On the other hand, happy customers can be a primary growth factor for a business, making customer satisfaction a top priority.

Let's take a look at the three customer categories:

The Critics

Critics come in many forms, from dissatisfied customers who have had a negative experience to those who are actively against your business for personal reasons. It's important to take all criticism seriously and address any issues promptly in order to avoid negative reviews and maintain a positive reputation.

One type of critic to be on the lookout for are marginal customers. These are customers who only occasionally patronize your business, and can often be identified by their ratio of adds-to-cart versus check-out. It's important to pay attention to these customers, as their feedback can provide valuable insight into areas for improvement.

By keeping an eye on customer behavior, such as abandoned carts or low return rates, you can identify potential issues and address them before they escalate.

The Buyers

Buyers are the backbone of any successful business. They are customers who have tried your product or service and are satisfied with it, making them likely to continue spending their money with you in the future. To nurture these relationships and turn more prospects into buyers, it's important to guide them through the buyer journey and provide excellent customer service. By doing so, you can increase the chances of them leaving positive reviews and recommending your business to others.

To get the most out of these customers, it's important to put a follow-up system in place to request their feedback and identify opportunities for improvement. This way, you can coach your buyers into becoming advocates for your business.

Let's say your business is a hair salon. If you have customers who consistently choose your salon for their haircuts, they have likely experimented with other salons and have found yours to be the best fit for their needs. These customers are likely to be long-term, valuable buyers for your business.

The Advocates

The advocates are also known as evangelists. These customers are so satisfied with your product or service that they go out of their way to promote it to others through word of mouth, social media, and other online channels. That’s why it's essential to have a customer advocacy program in place to encourage and reward these customers for their efforts.

One way to differentiate advocates from buyers is to think about their level of influence and social reach. Advocates are not just returning customers; they are individuals who have the power to attract new customers to your business through unsolicited marketing.

It's important to note that while rewarding and recognizing your advocates is recommended, it's generally not a good idea to pay them to endorse your business. Doing so can raise questions about the authenticity of their endorsement and may even damage your reputation.

Driving Sales Through Customer Advocacy

It's no secret that customer advocates are key to driving sales in any business. After all, who do you trust more: a sales representative from a company or a happy customer who's willing to put their name and reputation behind that business? The answer is clear: people are more likely to trust someone who's relatable and on their side.

That's where customer advocates come in. By connecting with potential clients on a personal level and sharing their positive experiences with your business, advocates can help convert sales and attract long-term customers. In other words, they give you a better chance at turning potential clients into paying customers.

But how exactly do customer advocates drive sales? Here are a few key ways:

  • They lend credibility to your business. When a happy customer is willing to endorse your company, it shows potential clients that you're trustworthy and worth doing business with.
  • They provide social proof. Seeing other people's positive experiences with your business can be a powerful motivator for potential clients who are on the fence about buying from you.
  • They help overcome objections. If a potential client has any doubts or concerns about your product or service, a customer advocate can address those objections and provide reassurance based on their own experience.

In short, customer advocates are an invaluable asset for any business. By leveraging their personal experiences and connections with potential clients, they can help drive sales and grow your customer base.

So if you want to boost your sales and build a loyal customer base, it's time to start leveraging the power of customer advocates.

Is Word-Of-Mouth Still Relevant in 2023?

Yes, word-of-mouth marketing remains an incredibly powerful tool for businesses. Despite the rise of social media and other forms of marketing, people still trust the opinions and recommendations of their friends and family above all else. In fact, according to JitBit News, word-of-mouth is responsible for driving 90% of sales for most businesses.

One of the key reasons that word of mouth is so effective is that it provides a personalized recommendation. When someone recommends a brand or product to us based on their own experience, it's much more likely to convert to a sale than a generic advertisement. This is especially true when the recommendation comes from someone we know and trust, such as a family member or friend.

Unfortunately, many businesses still don't fully utilize the power of word-of-mouth. They may not even know who their customer advocates are, let alone how to harness their influence to reach more people in their target market. This is a missed opportunity, as customer advocacy can be a gold mine for businesses looking to grow and expand.

If you want to take advantage of the power of word of mouth, start by identifying your customer advocates. These are the people who are already spreading the word about your business and can help you reach more people in your target market. Once you know who they are, you can work on building relationships with them and finding ways to tap into their influence.

How to Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors

Create a customer advocacy plan to facilitate advocate-type behavior in your customers. To get you started, here are three ways you can encourage customer advocacy and help your business grow:

1. Customer Reviews

What does a prospect see when they visit your website or social media page? They should see all your great reviews and your 5-star rating. By showcasing the voices of your customers, you can build trust and credibility with potential customers who are considering doing business with you.

So, make it easy for customers to leave reviews about your business. This can be as simple as sending them an email after their purchase with a link to your review page. By making it easy for your customers to leave a review, you can quickly build up a collection of honest and transparent feedback from previous customers.

Keep the conversation going. Don't just ask for a review and then forget about your customers. Stay engaged with them and continue to provide value and support. This will help to build long-term relationships and foster a sense of community among your customers.

2. Create An Online Community

As a business owner, one of the most valuable things you can do for your customers is to provide them with opportunities for collaboration and networking. By hosting web conferences or events, you can give your clients the chance to engage with each other and share their experiences. This not only helps to foster a sense of community among your customers, but it also provides valuable insights that can help improve your business.

Encourage your customers to engage with each other by interacting with your own social media or blog posts. When you post something, encourage your customers to leave comments and share their thoughts. You'll be surprised by the wealth of valuable information you can find in the comment section, where customers often share their rawest thoughts and experiences with your service. By responding to comments and participating in the conversation, you can help fuel the discussion and gain valuable insights into your customer's needs and preferences.

You can also build a community by creating a forum on your website or hosting an event to discuss their experiences with others.

You'll have to dig a bit, but you will find valuable and relevant data to improve your business and your overall customer experience.

3. Accountability Matters

Of course, not all customers will be satisfied with your products or services, no matter how hard you try. When this happens, it's important to respond quickly and to do your best to resolve the issue as soon as possible. This means that you should be prepared to offer refunds, exchanges, or other forms of compensation to ensure that your customers are satisfied.When things go wrong, don't be afraid to accept the blame. When you take responsibility and can admit you're wrong, customers tend to be able to forgive and forget.

The key is to be quick with your response and resolution. In some cases, you may even want to go above and beyond to make up for any inconvenience that your customers have experienced. For example, you could offer a small gift or a discount on their next purchase to show that you value their business and that you're willing to make things right. Think of it as an investment towards your customer advocacy efforts.This can help to prevent customers from leaving and can even lead to positive feedback.

Overall, the key to dealing with customer issues is to be approachable and to be willing to take responsibility for any mistakes that you may have made. By doing this, you can prevent small issues from escalating and can even turn unhappy customers into loyal ones.

Why Customer Experience Is Important To Customer Advocacy

Honestly, it's impossible to talk about customer advocacy without mentioning customer experience. Positive customer experiences are driven by "WOW" moments and delightful experiences during the buyer and customer journey. These "WOW" moments are the catalyst for customer advocacy. As we mentioned above, if a good customer experience is shared, the business benefits.

In today's competitive marketplace, customer experience is more important than ever. Consumers have a wide range of choices when it comes to products and services, and they are not afraid to switch to another brand if they are not satisfied with their current one.

Overall, a good customer experience strategy can help a business to retain its existing customers and attract new ones.

Developing a good customer experience strategy has several benefits, including:

  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Repeat business
  • Increased positive word-of-mouth and referral business
  • Improved reputation

Conclusion

Now you know the value of customer advocacy and ways to encourage it, the next step is to develop a customer advocacy strategy that will turn your loyal customer into brand advocates.

Ready to turn your customers into advocates for your business with an effective customer advocacy approach? At gardenpatch, we have a dedicated team of experts ready to help you leverage this resource for your success.

If you need help developing a customer advocacy strategy, don't miss out on the opportunity to drive your business to success. Your customers will thank you for it. Contact us today!


 

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