Turning Loyal Customers into Brand Advocates
21 Dec 2015
When devising their marketing strategies, businesses frequently tend to confuse terms satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, counting that these concepts are mutually interchangeable and simply sprout out of each other. That is a big mistake because, although it is true that satisfaction presents the natural foundation for loyalty, and loyalty, in advance, encourages advocacy, making these customer reactions sprout out of each other is anything but simple. At least in the latter case which is, without any doubt, the more important one. Take into consideration that, according to Nielsen, 92% of customers appreciate recommendations from friends and family over any other kind of marketing message and you will realize whythat is so. Let us see than what businesses should do to turn their loyal customers into loyal evangelists, which will vocalize the passion for their products and influence their peers.
Exceed Customers’ Expectations
Let us start with the basics. The loyal customer is the one who feels that you products or services are constantly matching its expectations. That customer eventually stops weighing the pros and cons, ignores the minor hiccups, and stops looking for alternative. The advocate, on the other hand, feels that your product is exceeding its expectations, so it is ready to willingly share its positive experience. Do not be satisfied with “good enough” and do your best to shake up your portfolio with some added value propositions every now and then to motivate your customers to recommend you.
Research the Market
Be sure about one thing, though – No matter how your product or service may be good, you will not turn every single customer into advocate. So, instead of trying to exceed everyone’s expectations (which is virtually impossible), do your best to find the right demographic, you will aggressively market your products to. Once they are hooked, play to their desires, and follow their expectations, and, surely enough, when you establish your core evangelist base, you will see others joining the group, too.
Establish Unhindered Two-Way Communication with Your Customers
All people like to be listened to, especially if they are facing some kind of problem. Your customers are no different. So, be ready to listen and face all critiques, no matter whether they are positive or negative. If anything you should appreciate the negative ones more, because they will provide you with necessary guidelines for improving your business. Not only that. Be sure to actively seek feedback through polls, and surveys, because if you do not knowwhat your customers desire, you will not be able to surpass their expectations.
Have a Rock-Solid Customer Service
Essentially, customer service plays the role of mediator between your business, your product, and your customers. It should also be mentioned that the process of creating a satisfied customer starts not with your product, but with your customer service instead. Why then, 39% of big businesses’ and 5.7% of small businesses’ customers find their customer service disappointing? The number of customers which find the various customer services adequate is even larger. Do not make such mistake – Turning customers into advocates requires far more than being “disappointing” and “adequate”.
Create an Interesting Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are probably as old as the business itself. Still, the fact that they were used countless times and, honestly, seem somewhat tiresome by now, does not change the fact that they can be very efficient if you give them a fresh and unique twist. Let us see how loyalty programs can be improved so they provide more satisfying results:
- Keep it simple. If your program is too complicated, your customers will not only have doubts whether or not they should recommend you to their peers, but they will even hesitate to participate themselves.
- Gamify the program. People are growing increasingly tired of making the same old repeated purchases in order to earn some tangible rewards. Offer them an opportunity to do something useful for the community, learn something, or just play instead, and you will sprout much more interest.
- Diversify the rewards. Speaking of tired – is there anything more unimpressive than being rewarded with the discount for the very same product you were already buying up until then? Stop exploiting this uninteresting formula and offer your customers something more exciting like gift card, access to some limited, and exclusive line-up of products, or even a job as a beta-tester instead. Possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Offer Your Customers Some Personalized Product or Service
Just think of the success Coca-Cola had with their personalized bottles and cans. The key of Coca-Cola’s success, however, was not the fact that they were willing to print their customers’ names on the bottles, but the fact that those names were the front and center of their campaign. If you want to do something similar, be sure to keep your customers in the focus, and reward them with something they will find fun and useful regardless of brand. If you just blatantly offer them some T-shirt dominated by your brand’s logo you will not turn them into advocates, but more into mobile billboards.
Surprise the Customers
Just like that. Rewarding your customers for their loyalty is one thing, but doing something nice for them just because they happen to be your customers is something entirely different, and arguably, even more effective. You will, of course, have to be very dedicated, because if you limit yourself to some small amount of people, the effects off your campaign will not be far-reaching enough, but once you bring joy into enough lives, you will notice very substantial feedback.
Start a Cold War
There is nothing bad in being adequately hostile towards your competition. Today’s movies, music, comic books, sports and other fandom are very dedicated, emotional, and ready to defend their opinion. If you look the example of smartphone industry, you will see that brand followers are hardly any different. There is nothing bad about that, though. On the contrary, you should encourage your customers to politely defend your products and services.
As we can see, turning your loyal customers into evangelists requires a lot of effort, creativity, and hard work. The reward is, however, more than satisfying, because no matter how good your marketing department may be, the army of dedicated advocates will always be better.