The growth of a digital-based global economy continues to spur revolutionary changes across all industries. There’s increased competition in all sectors necessitating the creation of new marketing strategies. Emerging business models such as the subscription economy also give customers more choices. The subscription economy grew 350% over 8 years up to 2019 leading to more competition and availability of resources.

Amidst these changes, customer advocacy continues playing a crucial role in marketing. Customer advocacy is an effective strategy to grow your business in this highly competitive business environment.

Let’s learn more about leveraging customer advocacy to expand your business.

Why use a Customer Advocacy Program?

An increase in the number of customers with positive experiences creates an army of advocates excited about representing your brand. Most customers today trust friends and family recommendations more than indirect forms of advertising.

Customer advocacy focuses on converting your most passionate and loyal customers into brand advocates. These brand advocates in turn amplify the voice of your business at every opportunity. Advocacy in today’s business landscape takes different forms, such as verbal references about your brand, mention at events, social media posts, and blogging, among others. Through your advocacy campaign, your company gets crucial customer feedback for product development, whilst also improving customer retention.

Other advantages of customer advocacy include better conversion rates, building a brand community, more effective marketing, greater brand engagement, and cost-effective customer acquisition and enhanced brand value.

Best Strategy for Addressing Customer Problems

In addition to offering awesome customer service, here are some considerations when crafting a customer advocacy program:

  • Set clear and realistic goals/objectives and a structure (What do you wish to achieve and how?)
  • Start from the customer onboarding phase
  • Drive repeat purchases (return customers are most likely to become brand advocates)
  • Customize your program to suit individual advocates
  • Offer a customer loyalty program
  • Avoid enticing customers with monetary rewards, and work on long-term relationship building
  • Streamline your advocacy efforts
  • Choose a platform that suits your company’s objectives 
  • Run a beta test for your advocacy program 
  • Leverage advocates’ feedback regularly
  • Customize customer health score (CHS)
  • Involve your team and identify internal advocates to work on the program 
  • Identify the best tool/technique to track advocacy program ROI

The way you handle customer problems determines whether your customer advocacy efforts succeed or fail. A customer-first approach comes into play here. You should proactively address customer problems with an eventual goal to create brand advocates. 

To begin with, acknowledge the problem and own it. This first step has a huge impact on boosting the customer experience. Always retain your composure and stay calm even when faced with a torrent of complaints. Listen actively to get the facts right before you try a resolution.

Once you understand the problem, provide the most effective and timely solution, and follow up to verify that the problem is solved. It’s advisable to stay in touch with the customer after the resolution. All complaints should go to your system to help track trends.

Measuring Customer Happiness to Improve Their Experiences

When designing, planning, and implementing your customer advocacy campaign, customer happiness should be at the core of all your efforts. Customer happiness translates to customer satisfaction which in turn increases customer retention, in general.

Let data drive your advocacy efforts. Make sure you track and manage the following metrics, in order to deliver an exceptional customer experience. To get a holistic picture of customer happiness/heath, these KPIs should not be viewed in isolation.

  • Customer satisfaction score, or CSAT
  • In-app customer surveys
  • Customer Surveys via Email
  • Post-service customer surveys
  • Volunteered feedback
  • The Net Promoter Score: How likely is it for a customer to recommend your brand?
  • Customer Effort Score

Do You Need A Customer Success Manager For Customer Advocacy?

The best brands now recognize the need for providing exceptional customer service for business growth. There’s a shift towards using customer success managers (CSMs) to build relationships and help with customer advocacy.

A customer success manager plays a key role in ensuring customer happiness and satisfaction by increasing Lifetime Value (LTV) of the customers through up-sells and cross-sells. These professionals advocate for customers internally and help create brand/product champions.

Through regular interactions with clients, CSMs help retain, grow, and acquire new accounts. They also work in tandem with sales to help identify the ideal customer profile while providing valuable insights on product/feature adoption.

Final Thoughts

The role of a CSM keeps evolving, and CSM training is crucial, not only to drive retention but also to increase account expansion. Today, customers rely heavily on reviews and testimonials, and customer advocacy has the power to take your Customer Success program to a whole new level.

Shreesha Ramdas is SVP and GM at Medallia.  Previously, he was CEO and co-founder of Strikedeck. Prior to Strikedeck, Shreesha was GM of the Marketing Cloud at CallidusCloud, Co-founder at LeadFormix (acquired by CallidusCloud) and OuterJoin, and GM at Yodlee. Shreesha has led teams in sales and marketing at Catalytic Software, MW2 Consulting, and Tata and also advises startups on marketing and growth hacking.  Shreesha Ramdas

SVP & GM , Medallia