The Feature Our Happiest Customers Love Most
By Gemma JoyceFeb 28
Published July 21st 2016
In an age where consumers are more informed than ever, employing a customer advocate can make sure a brand is focused on delivering the best for the customer.
The digital age has brought with it a new type of consumer that has higher expectations.
In response, brands should be prioritizing the customer experience by bringing consumer needs to the very fore of company operations. Making every employee a customer advocate can transform the focus of a business to delight the customer at every touchpoint.
A customer advocate is an individual who champions the needs of the customer within the business. They are the focal point for learning about and improving the customer experience.
A customer advocacy program should learn from every point of customer contact, and impact those contacts for the better.
In addition to any changes made as a result, the simple act of being seen to listen to the customer adds to the positive impression.
The aim with customer advocacy is for companies to gain empathy and insight so they can develop strategies that improve their relevance to the consumer.
It is important to note: a customer advocate is not the same as a brand advocate, although the two terms seem to be used interchangeably by some. While a customer advocate champions the customer within the brand, a brand advocate champions the brand to other consumers.
There may be one person or department who leads customer advocacy by distributing customer insights throughout the company.
A truly customer focused organization needs to uncover customer insights from all possible touchpoints and ensure these insights are used. The mindset of the entire company needs to change so the customer comes first for everyone in the organization.
The narrative of what constitutes great customer experience should be understood and implemented throughout the organization.
Each employee needs to focus on tailoring their output on benefitting the customer. For this to happen, multiple conversations must happen across all departments and levels.
While customer service is an obvious place to start, relevant insights can inform marketing, product development, PR teams, social teams, and HR teams.
To understand your customers in more detail you will need to segment them. There are various ways you can segment an audience.
Segmenting by customer lifetime value means you can focus on the needs and expectations of your highest value customers. This will help reduce churn of the most valuable customer segment and win more business of this type.
It may be possible to focus on more than one group without creating conflicting messages. This is possible if different platforms are focused on one particular group.
In our recent Toshiba interview, Sarah Dickinson revealed this approach. Content published on Linkedin is aimed at the business market, with thought leadership and trends for IT departments to watch.
The Facebook page is much more consumer market focused, consisting of lighter content aimed at the consumer market.
If all employees are customer advocates, you can unearth insights from several departments. Staff who have regular, direct contact with your customers will have stories from the frontline that can feedback into improving customer experience.
Salespeople, customer service representatives, social teams and account managers will all have regular conversations with prospects and clients, so will have a good idea of the frustrations of customers, why you are losing business to competitors and why people churn.
Surveys and focus groups are an important addition to the mix, allowing your customers to tell you in their own words what is important to them, and digging into key issues a few times a year.
A Customer Advisory Board (or Customer Advisory Council) is a particularly useful subset of this type of research. The CAB can either be representative of your entire customer base or populated by your most valued customers.
The CAB can be a very valuable resource and a real opportunity to understand your customers in their own voice. You can gain advice on improving existing products, validating new ideas, and get them to provide constructive feedback.
Social data is a quicker way to gain an ongoing picture of the changing landscape. We have heard that sometimes the problem can be the scale of the data: with so much available how do you find the stuff that matters?
First, social intelligence can give you a quantitative overview of your customers. This allows for a quick temperature check that would be difficult otherwise.
For deeper, qualitative insights, a social intelligence platform will allow for segmentation to account for the scale of information.
Brandwatch has multiple ways to slice the data, with Rules, Tags and Categories.
Microsoft analyst Ben Donkor recommends writing a master search that will capture every mention of your brand and all products. You can then use segmentation to slice that data multiple ways, making big data manageable and insightful.
Data should lead to insights, but insights mean nothing if they don’t lead to action.
Brands need to take this knowledge and make changes that focus on the customer experience. We have spoken to a number of brands that have embraced this customer-centric approach. From changing the product roadmap to focus on the desires of the customer, to adapting content to appeal to their core audience, or bringing in social customer service to allow the customer to contact the brand on a channel of their choosing, right down to smaller details such as changing annoying hold music in a call center.
Focusing all areas toward the customer and pooling your knowledge means you can become more than the sum of your parts.
From the social data side, it’s about democratizing access rather than having a siloed analytics team that descends to dole out insights. Collaboration involves conversations and working together.
One of the simplest ways of making this happen is with data visualization software. Having screens display live social mentions and other customer data sources means that the voice of the customer becomes visible throughout the company.
The photo below shows Vizia on display at Kohler, a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath furniture.
Kohler uses Vizia to understand the audience’s reaction to their content, and what the audience talks about on a broader level. They have also had great success monitoring their event marketing, interacting and engaging with consumers in real-time.
It gives us the perfect insight into consumer preferences and sentiment around the things that we’re creating and what’s happening in the larger digital landscape as a whole. And it allows us to make really interesting, actionable plans that we can implement in real-time.
Brands need to make every touch point add to a positive customer experience. If you can delight them at every stage, the informed, connected customers of today could well become brand advocates to help you win the customers of tomorrow.