Measuring Customer Advocacy

“Advocacy can proper a brand unlike any other paid or unpaid media because it unlocks the networking power of one-to-one relationships with a key of trust.” – Rick Wion

We know that customer advocacy is one of the differentiators, accelerators, and top reasons for the success of a company. It is about customer enthusiasm and willingness to support a company, products, and its brands irrespective of several other players in the market. It is not to be confused and used interchangeably with customer referrals / recommendations, which essentially are actions because of willing advocacy. To know whether such a program is working for your company, measuring customer advocacy becomes imperative – just as any other initiative in the company.

We know that when customers a deeply connected and involved with a company, advocacy comes naturally. Customer advocates become a company’s vocal, energized, and voluntary sales force, spreading good experiences with others, thereby attracting others to become ‘partners’ with the company too. Measuring customer advocacy is about gauging the monetary effects on the company of such voluntary customer behaviour, and how best to ensure that the relationship with customers remains strong and valuable. The fact is that a business becomes profitable through repeat customers, and those that not only boast about a company and its products, but bring others to do business with the company as well. Prospect that become customers through advocacy from current customers, are expected to be 10 times more profitable than those who engage in business by responding to persuasive tactics by a company.

Despite the amount to be gained from customer advocacy, companies continue to offer spot delightful experiences to their customers, which do not hold in the long term. These experiences tend to fade away soon, with customers never talking about them with others. This failure to create customer advocacy behaviour is what causes companies to struggle in the face of competition. Without measuring customer advocacy, a company would not realize the benefits of such a program / strategy, and would consistently remain in the cycle of gaining new customers to replace lost ones. When a company meticulously measures the effects of its customer advocacy efforts, it would be able to see not just the benefits, but also become more aware of what more it should do to convert every customer to a brand advocate based on customer preferences. The more such customer advocates in a company, the greater its chances at gaining more customers, success, and sustained profitability.

While loyalty and advocacy are used interchangeably, there are some differences. A loyal customer would be with a company for a long time, have regular purchases, but may not necessarily flaunt their relationship with the company, or the great things about a company through formal and informal voluntary communication. Customer advocates on the other hand, would display strong emotional connection with a company not just by regular purchasing, but also through consistent and active positive word of mouth and recommendations for the company. Measuring customer advocacy is important because it would tell a company as to how many customers actually ‘double up’ as ambassadors, and would be more likely to gain more business for the company. Measuring customer advocacy is about measuring revenue, profitability, and several other beneficial aspects for a company.

Another reason why measuring customer advocacy is critical is for a company to understand which customers may be spreading ill-will and negativity about the company. These customers are advocates too, but in the negative sense – they spread every unsatisfactory experience and speak poorly about everything about the company. These poor advocates would probably be undoing some of the good work of the company as also the positive brand advocates, and it would be necessary for the company to manage such customers and their negativity before they undo every effort the company may have made.

Measuring customer advocacy is about understanding its benefits from the perspective of the company’s marketing efforts. Given that the balance of power and control has shifted to customers, future customers would most certainly base their buying decisions increasingly on existing customer recommendations and advocacy. This obviously has its advantages – research shows that customer advocacy can be instrumental in helping a company grow at an average rate of two and half times of their competition. However, the downside is that a few disgruntled and irate customers could spread negativity online about the company – these negative comments (like the positive ones) remain forever, undoing a large part of the company’s efforts. Therefore, measuring customer advocacy becomes even more critical – a company should not only leverage on the good comments, but also use the negative ones to understand the psyche of the customers, and make improvements in the way that customers would want. By making swift and relevant changes, a company would have a better chance at bringing these ‘wayward customers back to the fold’ and soon convert them to strong and positive advocates for the company.

Measuring customer advocacy allows a company to be certain that they are delivering both on the logical and emotional aspects for customers, and doing so consistently. The better understanding companies gain of why customers behave in a certain manner, the easier it would be for the company to put in place methods, strategies, content, and relevant products to suit the needs of their customers. The aim of companies should be create holistic and consistent value for their customers, such that they become the top and most enthusiastic advocates of the company both short and long-term.

When a company makes measuring customer advocacy a habit, it would be better equipped to understand why, how much, and for how long customers would use the company’s products and services. It would make sense to monitor the usage and frequency by the customer, of the company’s products and services. The more a customer may be using a company’s products, the greater the chance for the company to turn the usage to engagement, and finally active and enthusiastic advocacy. Research shows that by measuring customer advocacy, a company would know which customers would be more likely to forgive lapses, and remain with the company in times of difficulty / duress. In addition, customer advocates are more likely to pay a premium for the company / brands they support and feel strongly connected with and would be happy to flaunt their purchases with others. They would be more than happy to let others know of their purchases on social media, which in turn becomes a prestige and feel good factor. Humans by nature want to possess ‘that something special’ that another person has, which in turn means that readers would buy the products and brands from the particular company.

Customer advocates would serve the purpose of marketing and sales for a company, if only a company knows how to listen to them, engage with them, and use their insights to gain benefits and mileage for its products and brand. Measuring customer advocacy is essential and core to customer service and management. When a company creates active and enthusiastic advocates, it means that it has been able to capture the attention, mind, heart, and ‘pockets’ of a group of customer. Measuring how much and how often they ‘beat the drum’ for a company’s offerings, enables a company to get even better. The ultimate goal of every company should be to make every customer a raving and active advocate, who in turn would be able to reduce or even eliminate the negativity of frustrated or irate customers. Is your company actively working towards this and effectively measuring customer advocacy?

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