Obviously, customers are the bedrock of your business. Without them, there would be no business; you would simply run an unavailing exercise in production and distribution, rather than a commercial enterprise.
Your relationship to those customers can take several forms. Your customer strategy might consist of little more than a gesture toward service and support. Or it might be a sophisticated, robust strategy of empowerment and advocacy.
As this article argues, it’s always better to pursue the latter. Customer advocacy is a winning strategy that can make your business more attractive, accessible, trustworthy and – yes – more profitable. Here’s your guide to customer advocacy and why it’s so important.
What is Customer Advocacy?
It is a version of customer service that foregrounds your customers’ needs and best interests. Break it down word-by-word, and you get a clear sense of its definition: it involves your business advocating for your customers. In a model, a business shifts its concerns away from its bottom line and toward the consumer’s needs, going above and beyond to ensure access, transparency, convenience and consumer education.
Businesses typically measure their customer advocacy efforts using traditional KPIs like customer satisfaction and retention. They might also measure advocacy using an NPS (Net Promoter Score), which tracks how likely a customer is to recommend your service or product.
People often conflate customer advocacy and brand advocacy, the latter being a form of marketing that utilizes customers to advocate for a business (rather than the other way around).
Examples of Customer Advocacy
It can take several forms. If your sales reps recommend a product to a customer that costs less but is more relevant to that particular consumer – that’s customer advocacy. If a travel agent offers a prospective client the resources they need to weigh several options, instead of promoting a strategic deal or high-cost vacation, that’s it.
Or take Nobul, the real estate digital marketplace that’s quite literally built around customer advocacy. Nobul connects real estate buyers and sellers with agents according to the consumer’s criteria; they offer several resources to help real estate consumers make the best choice; and they impel agents to compete for consumers’ business through lower commission rates.
“What we do is advocate for the consumer while bringing more transparency to transactions,” says CEO Regan McGee. And the company has skyrocketed in popularity as a result.
Why It is Important
It is vital on several levels: as a marketing strategy, as a business model, and, importantly, as an encapsulation of business ethics. Here are a few reasons why customer advocacy should be an essential tenet in your organization:
- A Humanistic Form of Business: Advocating for customers preserves consumer dignity, ensures adequate customer support and promotes a culture of organizational transparency and accountability.
- Higher CLVs: It builds trust, which in turn builds loyalty. Research shows that loyal customers have a higher customer lifetime value (CLV), which can help your business grow.
- Brand Ambassadorship and Word-of-Mouth Marketing: As mentioned above, brand ambassadorship is a separate concept. However, it can overlap with consumer advocacy. Often, when customers feel heard and supported, they progress to become recommenders and public supporters.
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur who wants to make a positive difference while ensuring higher profits, look toward customer advocacy as a model.