Flickr Credit: Chrissy White
Are your customers satisfied, do they even care if your brand existed any more? With the infinite variety of goods and services, it is becoming harder to retain new and existing customers. One method of retention is through customer advocacy.
Harvard Business Review recently stated that customer advocacy strongly differs from satisfaction, or even loyalty. Advocacy can help a business to connect with its audience and build a relationship on trust. In turn, it can provide long term competitive advantage. So, how do you recognise your brand advocates? I find the term advocate rather boring. Therefore, I’m going to refer to advocates as super fans. Because, that is really what they are.
It is fairly straightforward to recognise your brand super fans, they are the ones that:
Support the brand. Super fans will stand by the brand even in times of difficulty, they aren’t afraid to react to criticism or correct factually incorrect statements about the brand, and will purchase brand products as gifts for friends and family.
Actively promotes the brand. Super fans share their experiences via various social media, openly praise company employees both internally and externally, and provide unsolicited feedback on service and quality. In some cases, they consider themselves “brand protectors.”
Are emotionally attached to the brand. They have a sense of ownership in the brand. They will forgive shortcomings (such as price) when buying products, and treat the brand as part of their inner circle.
But how does one go about turning customers into super fans? Harvard’s article recognises the following points:
- Silence detractors. Develop an environment where customers will not want to talk badly about a brand.
- Build a solid and positive customer experience. Create consistent, coordinated interactions across channels to meet customer needs. Develop efficient internal processes, integrate data, and empower employees so customers are satisfied every time they interact with you. Satisfaction and loyalty are critical to the success of a business.
- Offer extraordinary experiences. Go that extra mile when customers least expect it, and in return you will receive their long-term business. For example, just as Zappos does.
The process of creating brand super fans depends on the level of customer engagement that already exists. For customers who are already engaged, you need to create emotional connections between them and your brand.
At AVG, we take our brand super fans very seriously. On our Facebook page, we actively recognise and reward those community members which are the most supportive of us. We actively encourage, our fans to upload videos and photos involving AVG (as a brand) and we also share product experiences with the rest of the community. Some of our Super Fans will even record product testimonials for us.
To conclude, 21st century firms are the ones that actively embrace their community and work with their super fans to genuinely build the brand, build trust, the customer base, and the balance sheet. Those who chose not to, risk extinction in our increasingly social world. Food for thought.