How Do You Get Your Customers to Advocate for You?

How Do You Get Your Customers to Advocate for You?

Companies that inspire customers to be advocates on their behalf -- meaning that they're open and willing to talk favorably about a company, informally and formally -- enjoy free marketing their competitors don’t. According to a new report from IDC research, only 10 percent of B2B companies in the study had customer advocacy programs in 2016. In a report, the customer experience consultant Walker predicted that personalization and customer service will be stronger competitive differentiators than price by 2020, In that context, companies need to prioritize the customer experience or risk losing business to their more consumer-centric competitors. Bain & Co. research indicated that companies with better customer experiences experience revenue growth up to 8 percent higher than the market average. Eventually, these advocates create up to 14 times more value than detractors do. Brands that harness the voices of customers to drive marketing messaging are better equipped to gain prospects’ trust and engage them in sales conversations. So, get specific about how a product or service impacts your customers’ lives: How much time do they save each day? By citing sources and demonstrating specific results that arise from a client’s engagement with your company, you can translate real value into quantifiable terms that are easily understood and foster conversion. If employees consistently deliver on that promise -- as employees at Zappos do -- the advocate effect becomes quite powerful. Its employees are groomed from day one on that pillar of the company because when customers have positive stories to tell about your frontline employees, other potential customers are more apt to further explore what makes your company different.

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How Do You Get Your Customers to Advocate for You?

Companies that inspire customers to be advocates on their behalf — meaning that they’re open and willing to talk favorably about a company, informally and formally — enjoy free marketing their competitors don’t. And marketers are starting to catch on to this.

According to a new report from IDC research, only 10 percent of B2B companies in the study had customer advocacy programs in 2016. By 2017, that number had increased to 67 percent. These results shouldn’t surprise anyone. In an era of unprecedented transparency and access to information, customers are better informed than ever. However, while they’re often willing to advocate for their favorite brands, they may still need a little push to get started.

Take Trader Joe’s advocacy strategy as an example: Its employees all receive rigorous frontline training and enough autonomy to deliver the positive customer experience the company’s intimate, semi-exotic stores promise. Other companies, such as nonprofit-space software supplier Blackbaud, use one-on-one customer meetings to shorten sales cycles and close more deals, creating a process that’s more efficient and effective — one that doesn’t go unnoticed.

In a report, the customer experience consultant Walker predicted that personalization and customer service will be stronger competitive differentiators than price by 2020, In that context, companies need to prioritize the customer experience or risk losing business to their more consumer-centric competitors.

The evolution of advocacy

The long-standing belief has been that unhappy customers talk about their experiences more than happy customers. However, that might be changing.

Bain & Co. research indicated that companies with better customer experiences experience revenue growth up to 8 percent higher than the market average. The research attributed this effect to the lifetime value of happy customers. Whereas unhappy customers might tell several people about their negative experience one time, happy customers continue to purchase over longer periods, making recommendations all the while. Eventually, these advocates create up to 14 times more value than detractors do.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, 62 percent of buyers trust their peers, 52 percent trust regular employees and almost no one trusts CEOs. Prospective customers want to hear the experiences of real people. Brands that harness the voices of customers to drive marketing messaging are better equipped to gain prospects’ trust and engage them in sales conversations.

Thanks to unlimited information access, buyers know their options have expanded and how much those options cost. To sift through the muck, then, they make decisions based not only on price,…

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