By Karl Kangur
Generating new customers is an expensive business and it is far more cost efficient to retain your existing customers who are already loyal to your brand. So, how about taking it to the next step and turning those customers into advocates?
Marketer Sujan Patel points out “Whatever you do – and no matter how hard you try – you won’t be able to turn every single customer into an advocate.” The first step is to find the potential advocates. Patel suggest a simple way of finding those potentials by carrying out a survey which asks; ‘On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our brand to your family, friends or colleagues?’
This is a killer question because straightaway you will be able to work out that those who said 9 or 10 are potential advocates.
We hear the word innovative every day, simply because businesses have to be to get ahead of the competition but what does innovative mean? When it comes to customer service, it is about understanding that no one likes speaking to service centers on the phone and most businesses now use social media.
Nextiva is a great example of a brand taking customer service to the next level by publishing short, 15 second videos to say thank you to customers – which the customer then shares on their social media, immediately becoming an advocate for the brand.
Feedback – and acting on it
This is an area where many businesses talk the good game but struggle in practice. Encouraging feedback from customers and letting it influence management decision making is a surefire way of showing customers the company cares about what they think.
Polaris Industries, a maker of riding machines such as snowmobiles took this a step further, by actively looking for feedback on social media. Using social listening tools, they were able to work out there was an interest in pink snowmobile designs, driven by pink ribbons used to raise breast cancer awareness. So, they decided to allow customers to select the colour pink for their custom snowmobile designs – which resulted in strong sales.
A great customer journey
Customers expect a smooth and pleasant journey with your brand, with clear and coherent communication – whether it be in a physical or ecommerce store. They want to deal with non-aggressive sales people who know what they are talking about or see all the information they need online. Too many brands do not pay attention to the detail on every step of the journey from the beginning to delivery of the product, so customers will be more likely to share the positive experience with their family, friends or colleagues.
Personalize the journey too, by remembering the name of the customer whether it is over the phone, in person or by email. Don’t overdo this though, keep it natural, just like how you would talk to a friend.
Exciting referral schemes
Get the customer to bring more customers to your brand. People trust their friends and family far more than brands, with a survey suggesting 92% of respondents trust referrals from someone they knew. Once the customer has gotten to know your product and brand, why not offer them a reward for referring their social circle to your business.
Greats, a Brooklyn based sneaker brand, adopt one of the more effective referral tactics by offering $10 each to the advocate and the new customer who signs up. This is a great way to foster good feeling about the brand.
Loyalty schemes have long since moved on from grocery stores and coffee shops. They can be a powerful tool to encourage a loyal customer base by rewarding them to come back to the same brand However, they do come with pitfalls and though studies have indicated that American households have on average 29 loyalty cards, they use just 12 of them.
Expedia.com are one of the ecommerce companies embracing the rewards program model by offering upto 2 points for every dollar spent through the site. Depending on the number of points the customer gets, they can qualify for free flights, hotels and entire holidays. If a free holiday doesn’t turn a customer into an advocate, then what can?
The bottom line is to treat your customers with respect and reward them for their loyalty. Identify the potential advocates first and then work on a strategy to realise the potential. Essentially, look after your customer and the advocates will come.
Karl Kangur is the founder and CEO of MRR Media, offering growth solutions for SaaS businesses. Aside from his main business, he has sold many other of his own ventures as well as advising successful companies around the world.