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Converting potential and existing customers into loyal customers is one thing. Converting loyal customers into brand advocates is another.
Organizations that achieve both are poised to become more successful. According to research firm Nielsen, 77 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service when it comes with an endorsement from a peer via word of mouth.
So, to put it simply: more brand advocates = increased sales and revenue.
5 Ways to Convert Customers Into Brand Advocates
Provide first-class customer service
As Accenture puts it: service is the new sales.
- In 2014, 64 percent of consumers switched at least one provider due to poor service. The estimated value of this “switching economy”? $6.2 trillion.
- 82 percent of switchers would have stayed with their original provider if the company had taken steps to address their service dissatisfaction.
First-class service is what will make customers fall in love with your brand to the point of advocacy. On the other end of the tunnel, toxic service interactions and frustrating experiences will disenchant your customers — and even prompt them to tell others not to engage with your brand.
- Following a bad experience with a company, 77 percent of customers will tell others.
Shorten waiting times. Train service reps to deliver on claims and promises. Implement strategies to reduce churn. Tackle negative reviews and feedback. By taking steps to transform your organizational culture into a service-oriented one, you can develop the ability to turn your customers into brand advocates who will stay with — and spread the good word about — your brand.
Facilitate emotional connections
Organizations that know how to tug at the heartstrings of their best customers can more effectively inspire customer loyalty and advocacy.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean creating emotional ads or sharing tearjerker updates on social media. Facilitating emotional connections means responding to the immediate needs of customers in ways that are unique and memorable. This could be as simple as:
- Writing thank you notes to customers who gave great reviews and positive feedback.
- Recognizing the birthdays and anniversaries of regulars or members of your loyalty program.
- Giving your happy customers a special shout-out on social media.
— Regus USA (@RegusUSA) January 28, 2016
Figure out where your customers stand
If your organization is looking to convert loyal customers into brand advocates, you first have to know who among your customers are, in fact, loyal — versus which ones aren’t.
Know where they stand. That way, you can engage with the right customers while isolating those that require follow-up due to their concerns with the customer experience.
One widely used management tool for companies looking to gauge customer loyalty is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Using NPS in a survey means asking the question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this business?”
Your NPS survey results will enable your organization to categorize respondents into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will help fuel your growth by buying and referring other customers to your business. These are your best brand advocate candidates.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers, but their lack of enthusiasm may render them vulnerable to offerings from your competition.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are dissatisfied, unhappy customers who may impede your growth and spread negative word of mouth.
If you currently don’t have a way of figuring out where your customers stand, we highly recommend incorporating the NPS methodology into your organization’s customer retention strategy.
Make your brand share-friendly
Brand advocacy drives word-of-mouth recommendations. It therefore makes sense for your brand to be present, visible, and engaged in places where advocates are likely to make and pass on these recommendations: social media, online review sites, online forums and communities, and similar public feedback channels.
A strong, share-friendly brand presence aids your advocates, so make sure you plant your flags across all digital properties, and not just your website.
You can also take it up a notch by creating campaigns that “activate” your brand advocates and give them something to talk about. These can be in the form of special promos and discounts, a review generation program, a customer feedback survey, an interactive social media campaign, etc.
The key is to empower the voice of the customer and get your promoters and advocates talking about your brand to their friends, family, and peers.
Shape your brand around your the voice of the customer
Customers do not become advocates of brands that do not know how to listen.
Sure, it’s important that your organization has the ability to communicate the right message at the right time, but even more crucial is your ability to listen to the voice of the customer and make decisions based on their expectations and wants and needs.
So listen up. Collect and analyze customer feedback. Pay attention to what’s being said about your brand on social media. Track and read your online reviews. Invest in improvements that foster better customer experiences. Use text analytics to understand — in seconds and at scale — what customers mean whenever they share their thoughts in their own words.
The voice of the customer is one of the greatest sources of learning for your organization. By shaping your brand around it, you can more effectively build a community of brand advocates and make a positive impact on your bottom line.