When people ask me what customer advocacy is, I tell them it’s customer service with a capital C. In my world, customer advocacy is a customer-centric approach through the whole customer journey – from marketing to sales to customer service. It should be sewn into the fabric of any customer-facing, B2B business.
A successful customer advocacy strategy reflects in every individual customer’s experience with a company. In turn, positive customer experience results in better customer retention and increased word-of-mouth referrals. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Our mantra at NetHunt is that there’s no point in gaining a customer if we can’t retain them. I’m proud to say that we work hard to deliver an all-but-flawless customer experience. We can see the results of our hard work in our high NPS score and super G2 rating.
After such a challenging year, we all, both customers and businesses, deserve to smile more.
So you could say I’m a customer-advocacy advocate. I’m writing this piece today because I want to share four aspects of our thriving customer advocacy strategy. Our beautiful community needs to share successes after such a challenging year and offer some positivity.
1. Align your teams
When I talk about sewing advocacy into the fabric of a business, I’m not just talking to those in customer-facing roles. Customer advocacy is a company-wide operation. It involves every team from developers and marketing, to sales and support. ‘Customer-first’ should translate to each step of the customer pipeline and should be at front and centre of every employee’s motivation.
Developers need to hear and understand the feedback that the support team receives. Marketers should be speaking to devs about features that your targeted audience requests and needs placing under a spotlight. The sales team relies on the marketing team to pick up prospects and leads. Interdepartmental alignment is never not a good thing, and having all your teams singing off the same sheet just make sense.
I understand that it sounds almost impossible to have all those cogs spinning in sync… but it’s not. These days, teams can easily align through technology.
How do we do it?
Communication is obviously essential. We run group chats, dedicated to different topics, for our teams. For example, the Support team share a ‘#product-bugs’ chat with the devs, whereby they can report back any user-found bugs and get them fixed instantly.
Data centralisation is vital for sending the right message. Having a full communication history on hand when speaking with a client is priceless for sales and support teams. It prevents any repeated or contradicting messages being sent.
2. Implement a Customer Success model
I suppose we could say that it’s ordinary for a business to employ a customer support team. The problem is that ordinary just doesn’t cut it anymore. A Customer Success department is the modern alternative. A customer success manager doesn’t merely find a one-time answer to a one-time problem like a support manager would; they make sure there is no problem in the first place.
Customer success managers are the embodiment of customer advocacy; a customer’s voice within a business. It’s called customer success because it is built upon a foundation of educating your customers about a product to get the most out of it, hopefully leading to success. That means learning their industry, their pain points, their business workflows along with current tech stack, and telling them exactly where the product fits.
How do we do it?
Customer Success even starts before your first interaction with a customer. It requires research into the industry they are in and the products they provide, an understanding of the problems that your product can help solve, and some digging into the kinds of tools they already have in their stack. This all leads to a meaningful first conversation.
Afterwards, Customer Success remains constant. It requires (not too) regular assessment calls to develop an always-open conversation about functionality needs. Then, the Success team gets back to the development team with what’s really needed. The product grows with our customers, and we retain way more customers than we did pre-Customer Success.
3. Provide a multi-channel experience
There was a time when all B2B interactions were either done over the telephone or in big fancy boardrooms. Luckily, things have changed. These days there are a bunch of different channels through which your customers can choose to reach out to you on. Email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, website chats… the list goes on and on. Your job is to provide the same experience across each one.
Different buyers have different preferences and many choices. To implement a multi-channel experience is to set up a range of different channels to serve buyers how and where they want to be served. Then, it implies a uniform experience across each channel; a consistent customer experience. You need to be able to seamlessly switch between channels without losing any information.
How do we do it?
It’s a bit like spinning five plates on sticks simultaneously; it’s doable but difficult. But once again, our saving grace is technology. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) shows its awesome versatility when it comes to multi-channel experiences.
Integrations with platforms like Facebook Messenger and Intercom mean all our incoming customer messages are visualised in the same CRM dashboard, within the same client profiles. It’s a huge time-saver too because we don’t have to go tab-fishing to find relevant data.
4. Offer something as a two-way transaction
Up until this point, business has been about margins. Stuff like ‘we can’t buy any more pencils; we need to fire an intern to make up the loss’. Thankfully, things have changed somewhat, and customer-centricity is at odds with margin-centricity. These days, we can take more of an ‘I scratch your back if you scratch mine’ approach.
A reward can be anything. It can be a free consultation session or an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali. It can be a month of free product usage, or it could simply be some kind of ‘thank you’. Choose one that fits within your business means, and roll it out as a thank you for sticking with us after what has been a pretty terrible year. People, no matter who they are, love free and useful stuff.
How do we do it?
Our library of freemium content is enormous and growing. We specialise in CRM, email marketing, and Google productivity. We have a bunch of eBooks, webinars, and guides that are valuable to our audience. Freemium content is a great thing to offer customers and develop loyalty, educating customers and complementing our customer success approach.
As we step out of the shadow of 2021, I urge my peers to remember why we got into the business of business.
We did it to share something with the World; with our customers. They’re always changing so we need to change parallel to them. I believe a modern approach of putting our customer’s success first, aligning our teams for a seamless experience, and sharing the love is what this planet needs right now.
I hope you’ll join me.