What Is a Customer Service Advocate and How to Become One?
What does it mean to be a customer advocate? We’re often told that excellent customer service starts with being willing to go the extra mile for your customers. Having their best interests in mind at all times is what being a customer advocate is all about. Here we take a look at what this means, and how you can help grow a culture of customer advocacy in your organization.
What is customer advocacy?
Brad Cleveland, a founding partner of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and author of the bestselling book Contact Center Management on Fast Forward, points out that definitions of customer advocacy generally fall into one of two categories.
There is the internal one that focuses on what an organization regards as best for their customers. There is also an external one in which the satisfied customer becomes the advocate for the business, promoting their brand, services, and products.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines customer advocacy as “a way of doing business which sees it as very important to keep customers happy by providing what they want and dealing with their problems, even if it is difficult or expensive to do so.”
Customer advocacy means that the business is focused on getting things right for their customer – even if it is not necessarily the best or most profitable outcome for the company.
Customer advocacy aims to create happy customers by consistently delivering the very best experience for them. The customer is the most central, important, and key element for a business.
What does it mean to be a customer advocate?
Customer advocacy is a form of customer service in which companies focus on what is best for the customer. Being a customer advocate means doing everything in your power, as a customer care professional, to promote the very best interests of the customer.
As a customer care professional, a huge part of your role is to help change your company’s culture into a customer-centric one that puts the customer first. Being a customer advocate means your focus will be on the customer’s needs. You will never be dishonest towards your customers in order to make money or exploit them for profit.
In today’s competitive world, excellent customer service is so fast becoming the norm, that less than that is simply no longer acceptable. Having an outstanding customer advocacy program can give a business that competitive edge that it needs against competitors.
What is your role as a committed customer advocate?
As a customer advocate, an important part of your role is ensuring that your customers have a positive experience in any interaction with the business or company you work for. Suppose you actively listen to the voice of your customers and get to know their needs. IN that case, you will be able to make valuable contributions towards formulating policies and procedures that guide the business.
Approach your customer advocate duties and responsibilities with the following points in mind:
As a customer advocate, you are the ambassador of the business you work for in every interaction you have with a customer. As such, you can influence the impression that customer forms of your services, which will help with your business growth.
Make sure that every interaction or transaction that you have with a customer is as positive and pleasant as you can make it. Likewise, approach every interaction that you have with a customer in a cheerful and positive frame of mind. Approach the customer with empathy, and let them know that you will do your best to see the issue or problem from their point of view.
Actively listen to the customer’s story. Sometimes a customer just needs to vent their frustrations in the knowledge that somebody will listen with a positive mindset and validate their feelings.
Ensure that you understand all the important points of the problem or issue to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. If you need to follow up on something, do so without fail – and always keep the customer informed as to what is happening.
Be meticulous in how you, in your capacity, provide support for customers, and how you administer customer requests or orders. Monitor customer inquiries, requests, complaints, and issues and raise them with management or your supervisor to make customer care and service even better.
How can the business you work for build a culture of customer advocacy?
First and foremost, listen to your customers. Actively listening to the issues, problems, concerns, and pain points of customers is the best way to:
(a) get to know your customers and their needs and expectations, and
(b) making sure that customers have a positive experience when they interact with the business.
Make sure you provide your customers with a memorable and personalized experience. Make your customers feel like valued VIPs, and they will reward you with loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Harness the immense power of social media to build meaningful relationships and connections with your customers. Actively look for and invite feedback from your customers – and then analyze and utilize that feedback to ensure your customers have exceptional interactions with your business. Use that feedback to develop touchpoints with your customers and get information about further business opportunities.
Always follow up with interesting promotions and surveys to keep your customers engaged and interested in ongoing interactions with the business.
Why is customer advocacy so important?
There are some very interesting stats that provide strong indications that excellent customer relationships, built by customer advocacy, are at the heart of the success of a business.
- Factory360, a multi-award-winning creative agency based in New York, reported that 57% of small businesses say that excellent relationships with customers are the most significant drivers of repeat business.
- Global management consulting firm McKinsey recently established word-of-mouth as a primary factor in 20% – 50% of all decisions to buy, and 50% – 80% of word-of-mouth was based on having personal experience of a service or product.
- Courtney Morrison of the employee advocacy platform EveryoneSocial recently pointed out that as many as 76% of people said they would be more inclined to trust content that had been shared by ordinary people like themselves advocating a product. If your customers are happy because you practice customer advocacy and give you good reviews, other potential customers will listen.
Being a customer advocate means…
- You put the customer first, last, and central in all business procedures, policies, and strategies.
- You do everything you can to promote this mindset in the business you work for.
- You get to know your customers by inviting regular feedback.
- You utilize that feedback to provide your customers with such a high level of customer service that they in turn will become advocates for your business!
CustomersFirst Academy offers comprehensive customer service training designed to help you grow your skills and advance your career.
To keep learning and developing your knowledge of customer service, we highly recommend the additional resources below:
7 Effective Strategies to Improve Medical Customer Service
Improve Group Communication Using Email
Business Strategy Guide to Customer Intimacy
How to Create Positive Customer Perception for Business Growth