Customer Advocacy: Are Satisfied Customers Good Enough
By Barbara Pfeiffer, The Partner Marketing Group
Is a satisfied customer good enough or do you need customer advocacy? When you look up the definition of “satisfied” in the dictionaries and you’ll find something along the lines of “to fulfill desires, expectations, needs, or demands.” So that must mean a satisfied customer is a good thing, right? Well, yes. IF your goal is to meet expectations. Should that be your goal though? Or should you be aiming higher?
While a satisfied customer is certainly better than an unsatisfied one, it’s a low bar to aim for. That is why we will show you how to turn a satisfied customer into a customer advocate!
Customer Advocacy: Transform Satisfied Customers into Loyal Customers
Let’s look at it from the customer’s perspective. Say your customer (John) is at Microsoft Envision and he meets Mary – a customer with challenges similar to what he’s facing. Mary goes out of her way to tell John how much their partner goes above and beyond to meet their needs, and how they always exceed their expectations by beating deadlines and delivering great solutions to their problems. How would your company stand up in John’s mind? When it’s time to renew his contract or start a new project, would he still work with you or would he consider looking at this “superstar” partner that Mary is talking about?
A satisfied customer is good, but they have no real reason not to look at other partners – particularly those that are talked about so highly.
With that in mind, maybe it’s time to raise the bar? Instead of satisfied, how about building loyal customers? A customer that makes you their partner of record and always comes back to you. To have that kind of allegiance, you’ll need to do more than meeting expectations—you’ll need to exceed them. Is it worth it? If you consider the fact that the cost of obtaining a new customer is significantly higher than retaining an existing one, the answer is YES! Beyond that, a solid list of long-term customers is the best marketing you can get.
The Ultimate Goal: Turn Loyal Customers into Advocates
Back to Mary. Not only is Mary satisfied and loyal, she’s also a powerful advocate for your company. She’s the person you go to when you need a reference and she’s also voluntarily telling her colleagues about how great you are.
Building advocates like Mary takes time. It starts with exceeding their expectations, but it’s more than that. To turn satisfied customers into loyal customers and loyal customers into advocates you need a plan that will:
- Nurture your advocates. You must continually give your advocates something of value so you stay top of mind. This doesn’t mean giving gifts. Instead, nurture them with educational materials and tools to help them do their job better. Keep them ahead of the game with trends and news directly affecting their business.
- Ask for their support. While “raving fans” like Mary are ideal, not all advocates will be so proactive. You’ll need to plan out how they can best advocate based on their comfort level and then ask them to do so. This can be as simple as asking for recommendations on LinkedIn and Microsoft Pinpoint, or more involved requests like speaking on a webinar or being interviewed for a customer case study.
- Acknowledge and thank them. It goes without saying that you need to let your advocates know how much you appreciate their continued support. This needs to go beyond an email though. It should be personal and in line with their effort. You’ll need a plan and process for this as well to make sure all of your advocates are personally acknowledged.
Advocates are the most powerful marketing asset an organization can have. To learn more about building powerful advocates and how to utilize them for maximum effect in your marketing, visit our Marketing Resources page to download our eBook, “Beyond the Referral: The Growing Role of Customer Advocates in Technology Marketing.”
The Partner Marketing Group excels at helping software and technology publishers, resellers and ISVs transform customers into long-term brand advocates. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you strategize an effective program to reap the long-term rewards of customer advocacy.