Let’s accept this: For a business, nothing can be better than referral leads from existing customers.
Do you want your existing customers to send more referral leads? Building customer advocates can help.
Customer advocacy is a specialized form of customer service in which companies strive to provide a superior customer service experience and focus on what is deemed to be best for their customers.
Customer advocacy can not only bring more leads but can also help you deal with criticism efficiently and improve your customer retention.
In this post, I will tell you 6 ways to convert your customers into advocates that send more referral leads.
But before that, here are some stats that indicate the importance of customer advocacy.
Why Customer Advocacy Is So Important?
- Customers acquired through referrals have a 37% high retention rate. (Deloitte)
- 92% of consumers trust friends’/family’s recommendations when shopping. (Fomo)
- Referred customers generate 2 times the sales of advertising. (Forbes)
- Referred customers have an 18% lower churn rate than customers acquired by other means. (Social Media Today)
- 81% of consumers are more likely to continue business with brands that offer loyalty programs. (Bond)
With these stats, you might be able to get a sense of how important customer advocacy can be. So let’s look at six strategies to turn your customers into advocates.
1. Use Surveys To Identify Potential Advocates
Surveying customers is a great way to know what they think about your business, product, or services and how much they like you?
A survey can also help you identify potential customer advocates. To find out if a customer is a potential advocate and would like to recommend your brand, ask this question in your survey:
Q – How likely would you recommend [your brand] to your friends or colleagues?
- I would go out of my way to recommend [your brand]
- I would recommend [your brand]
- I wouldn’t recommend [your brand]
If a customer goes out of their way to recommend your brand, then you can assume that they love your product or service, and can be a potential customer advocate that can bring referral leads to your business.
Conduct surveys or ask consumers to give feedback at every touchpoint as much as possible to know their perception of your brand, and convert loyal customers into advocates.
2. Build Trust And Strengthen Customer Relationships
Trust is the foundation of every business relationship. To convert your customers into advocates, you need to build trust and stronger business relationships.
Why? Because by recommending you, your advocate would also be putting their own reputation on the line. So, anyone who might be even remotely interested in advocating your brand would need to trust you 100%.
And, if they do recommend you and you fail to deliver the product or service to a referred customer, the reputation of your customer advocate will also be damaged along with your reputation.
This means that if you want people to advocate your brand, trust absolutely has to be a business strategy. And to build trust – be honest and transparent, show your customers that you value their business. This can help you strengthen the business relationship between you and your potential customer advocate, and ultimately, lead to more referrals.
3. Find Referral Opportunities In Every Customer Communication
Every customer communication or interaction is an opportunity to impress them and turn them into customer advocates.
For example, suppose you provided an excellent service to your client or customer and they are really happy with it, it’s an opportunity to ask them – “would you like to recommend some other customers that would like our services?”
And given that they are happy and satisfied with your product or service, they are most likely to reply with a ‘yes’ and might genuinely go out of their way to refer to your product or service.
So, try to identify the scenarios when your customer is happy and satisfied with your product or service, and try to convert them into customer advocates of your business.
For a lot of B2C companies, this might mean offering the best (and the quickest!) customer service you possibly can. If you are an e-commerce company, you won’t be able to convert a lot of your customer service communication into customer advocacy opportunities, if your customers have to wait 5 days to get a response from you. Quicker customer service and customer-friendly support policies (hassle-free returns/exchanges, for example), lead to better Net Promoter Scores (NPS), which means more customer advocates. Now, if you’re receiving 100s of emails every day and simply cannot respond to each one quickly, you need to hire a great customer service team.
And, if you’re unable to hire on your own, you can always delegate support to another company for a few hundred dollars.
Providing amazing customer communication as a strategy will work way better than randomly pitching to your customers and asking them to refer their friends to your business.
4. Offer Incentives And Recognition (No Cash)
Referral programs have been popular for a long time. A standard referral program works like this:
- Your customer advocates refer other customers to buy from you.
- Referred customers make a successful purchase.
- You give money-based incentives (commissions, cash, or offers) to the advocates who send the referral.
But a major drawback of this monetary model is that sometimes your customers or potential advocates might not be interested in the cash incentive.
In such a case, you should try offering them non-monetary incentives or recognition. For example, you can produce exclusive products or services for them which are specially designed or produced for your customer advocates.
You can also give them recognition, for example, announcing them as ‘Super Fans’ or ‘Pro Customers’ can make them feel satisfied or special.
In simple words, you can do anything to make your customer advocates feel satisfied or special. It can help you retain your best customers that send significant referral leads to your business and can also encourage other customers to become customer advocates of your business.
5. Connect With Consumers On Social Media
Consumers want brands to connect with them on social media. As per Sprout Social, 91% of people believe in the power of social media to connect people and 78% of consumers want brands to interact with them on social platforms.
Connecting with consumers on social media can not only help in building strong relationships but can also breed customer loyalty. Over 57% of consumers are likely to spend more if they feel connected with brands, and 76% of consumers will buy from them over a competitor.
So it can be vital for a brand to connect with consumers on social media to influence customer loyalty which is the foundation of customer advocacy.
Not only loyalty, but social media can also increase word-of-mouth activity, likeliness to recommend, and customer satisfaction.
6. Social Media For Customer Service
Social media is way broader than we think, the time is long gone when it was mainly used for marketing and engagement purposes. Now, consumers also expect live human assistance from companies to address their issues and complaints on social platforms. When Helplama surveyed consumers of different age groups throughout the US, they found that 7 out of 10 consumers expect the brands to read their complaints on Twitter, and a large majority – 82% of consumers love or like hearing from the company they complained about.
After getting a response from the brand, consumers not only feel satisfied but are also 44% more likely to share their experience (online and offline) and are 30% more likely to recommend the business.
Therefore, providing customer service and addressing issues on social media can be a key strategy to build customer advocates that bring more referral leads.
Referral leads convert way better than leads generated through any other online or offline marketing tool or strategy. Customer advocates act as pillars of the organization that gives strength to the business to compete and grow in the long run.
In the current scenario, every brand out there knows the importance of customer advocates. From running campaigns to building online communities, brands are leaving no stone unturned to build customer advocates.
This makes it crucial for a business to provide a superior customer service experience to its customers and do everything possible to build and retain customer advocates.