What is customer advocacy? What role does it play? Learn a concrete definition, the difference between internal and external aspects of customer advocacy, and how they are interrelated. Learn how customer advocacy differs from and is complementary to voice of the customer and customer experience.
- What is customer advocacy and what role does it play? Let's explore answers to those questions here. Now if you a search for customer advocacy, you'll find many different definitions. But they all tend to fall into one of two general categories. One is an internal perspective focusing the organization on what's best for customers. Creating great customer experiences. Advocating for them. Helping them resolve problems. This is the prevailing view in customer service and operation circles.
The other is an external perspective. Defining customer advocacy in terms of customers who advocate for us. Spreading the word about our products, services, and brand. This perspective is common among those in marketing and sales. So which of the two is correct? Well, both. Both are essential and closely related. They're two sides of the same coin. You won' have customers who promote your products and brand without identifying and meeting their needs. Helping them solve problems and focusing on what's best for them.
So we can define customer advocacy this way. Customer advocacy consists of the actions we take to focus the organization on doing what's best for customers. Which in turn rewards us with loyal customers who advocate for our products and brand. Customer advocacy can play out in small and big ways. It can help guide individual interactions. The reservation agent mentions to the customer that if they prefer, the earlier flight would save 200 dollars.
They can be the catalyst to more involved decisions such as keeping the customer service department open on weekends to match customer preferences. And it can be the driver of dramatic change. When the late Steve Jobs returned to Apple and turned the company around, he eliminated some products the company invested heavily in and focused on others that were better aligned with customer needs. He said," You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology not the other way around." That's customer advocacy at work.
I sometimes get the question, "How do customer experience, voice of the customer, and customer advocacy differ from each other?". "Don't they really kind of mean the same thing?" The answer is no but they do work together. Customer experience refers to all of the experience customers have with your organization including products, services, processes, policies, the expectations you set and other factors. It's the big picture. It's often called the end to end customer journey.
Voice of the customer is the process of capturing input on what they experience. And seeking to understand their needs, wants, and perceptions. It provides vital information you need to understand customers. Customer advocacy is about taking action. It's informed by voice of the customer and refers to the tangible actions you take to solve problems for customers and improve their experiences. Ideally customer advocacy extends across the entire customer journey. From the first touch point and setting expectations to problem solving after the sale.
My encouragement is to not view customer advocacy as a project of it's own. But instead see how it can become an inherent and essential part of product development, marketing, customer service, and other activities you already have in motion. Customer advocacy is the ingredient recipe that enables you to focus on what's best for customers and earn their loyalty. Then do enjoy the benefits of them advocating for your brand.
- Benefits of customer advocacy
- Taking action to learn about your customers
- Evaluating results
- Turning customers into brand advocates
- Keeping momentum
- Developing a culture of customer advocacy