Written by: Jim Bergeson, Vice President, Customer Engagement Group
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Customer advocacy is the premier indicator of true customer loyalty.
What your best customers say about you and what information they share with others is extremely valuable. So, what can you do to encourage and facilitate greater customer advocacy about your brand, products or services?
Here are five ideas to recognize and reward your brand advocates.
They should be your best customers. Those customers who regularly purchase and use your products. Those who share their personal information with you and respond to requests you might be making of them. Customers who you’ve seen sharing and creating content about you and your products with others. And those customers who might be referring others to your brand, products and services. This audience segment is special and should be cultivated and nurtured as a real asset to your business.
Make your communications with them personal. Tell them you appreciate them for what they have done or are doing and show them your relationship with them extends beyond transactions. Share with them you know they have done more than other customers on your behalf and you sincerely want them to know that it means a great deal to you and your business.
Tell them how their opinion really matters to you and that you are eager to engage in some sincere feedback. Ask them about your product, customer service, what they value from you and how you can improve on what you’re doing or providing to them. One way to make them feel special in this regard is to offer them a direct connection to someone in your company to take their feedback. And if they do connect with you, be responsive, listen and assure them they’ve been heard. Another idea might be to do an annual or quarterly survey with this audience segment to let them continue to share and offer insights into what they feel is important to them or where you might be missing the mark. Always follow up their feedback with a communication that says thank you and that you sincerely appreciate their input.
Think about what else you can provide these valuable customer advocates, who can be great brand ambassadors. Look for ways to make them feel special. Give them something that can be a conversation starter with others--an example might be branded merchandise, like logo-branded apparel. Share other information about your company or products that will make them feel more like “someone on the inside.” Alert them first before a new product or service is about to be announced to the general public. Send them information or communications materials they can use to share with others or on social media. Get them a sample of a product or service you are developing to get their input or feedback. Lastly, keep up a regular cadence of communications with them that is meaningful and shows how much you value them for their continued loyalty.
Advocacy is a key indicator of a truly loyal customer. Their advocacy on your behalf is a valuable, ongoing asset to your business. It can mean real, additional future revenue—not just from what they buy but from those other potential customers they might bring into the fold for you. Don’t let that effort and support go unrecognized or unrewarded. Your customer advocates should be regularly rewarded to show them how valuable they are to you and that you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. If you have a loyalty program, you could create a special tier of those customers that might earn extra points. For certain behaviors or important milestone in their customer lifecycle you could “surprise and delight” them with a special gift, a reward commensurate with what they’ve done for you and might be doing for you in the future. Rewarding your advocates with something tangible is a definitive example of your appreciation and thanks for being loyal to you and your brand, products or services. A reward and recognition strategy for your customers can pay real dividends, especially to those in your advocacy segment. This reinforces you know, value and appreciate them.