At Hyve we are passionate about brand advocacy, so much so that we’ve conducted some research with Warwick Business School to understand what organisations need to do in order to create an environment where brand advocates can be created.
The research was conducted by interviewing consumers and executives, and uncovered 8 things that brands need to do well in order for customers to feel engaged enough to want to advocate.
1) Create an effortless experience
However a consumer interacts with your brand, one thing is certain, they want it to be easy. They want to be able to order the product with no barriers, they want it delivered with no hiccups and they want to use it without friction. Creating an effortless experience has become the ultimate aim for brands who are investing heavily in streamlining their processes across the customer journey. Get this right and your customers will be more inclined to become your ambassadors.
2) Ensure your brand is customer orientated
It’s not enough anymore for brands to say they’re customer-focused or that they are customer-centric without demonstrating this fact. Brands must go a step further and orientate their entire operations around the needs of their customers. They must deliver on their marketing promise, act on consumer feedback and when appropriate, exceed expectations to delight customers. Having the approach will make your customers more likely to advocate and spread positive word of mouth.
3) Understand what motivates your customers to become brand advocates
Do you know what motivates your customers? In general, customers want to help collaborate with brands but customers are very rarely given this opportunity. This intrinsic motivator is a key driver of brand advocacy and furthermore customers also value being given the opportunity to help other customers. However, it’s not just intrinsic motivators which get customers to become collaborators - extrinsic motivators like special offers, access to exclusive content and the chance to experience new products before anyone else are all motivators for brand advocacy.
4) Discover your customers’ personalities
Fact: Not all customers will become advocates. You can create the perfect environment for a customer to become an advocate (they love you, are aligned to your values and are highly engaged) but if their personality doesn’t align they will never have the desire to do so. The most important trait to look for is altruism (concern for the happiness of other human beings). Although not essential, this trait goes along way to making a customer want to advocate. Another thing to look out for is their use on social media - find a very active and happy customer and they could be an ideal candidate for your advocacy programme.
5) Make your customers feel special
Along the customer journey there will be certain moments where you can make a customer feel extra special; it could be a birthday surprise, a free and unexpected gift with an order, or a special offer on the anniversary of their first purchase. Whatever the moment, these instances build affinity towards your brand and increase the chances of a customer’s willingness to help you achieve more. Furthermore, when they do help you it is vital that you take your time to thank them and acknowledge their contribution, as that will ensure they keep helping.
6) Foster a relationship with your customers
The term ‘Customer Relationship Management’ has been around for a long, long time, in fact most organisations have a CRM system to manage this. But how many of us can say we have a real relationship with our customers? The fact of the matter is, very few of us do. The best way to create this relationship is through your frontline employees, these essential people can foster a relationship by building genuine rapport with customers; they take the time to know them, understand their likes/dislikes and ensure they get what they really want. It’s the same relationship we used to have with our bank manager, our postman and our corner shop owner and it’s where we need to get to in order to create advocates.
7) Understand the level of relationship you have with your customers
Great, so you know have a relationship with your customers. However, like all good relationships you need to develop them into something that is deep and meaningful. This takes time, so you must continue acting in a trustworthy and authentic way, constantly giving customers what they want and taking your time to understand their needs and desires. By doing so, this will build an emotional bond, one that’s hard to break and extremely valuable. It also will also make them more willing to advocate without anticipating any reward in return.
8) Align your values to those of your customers
It’s almost impossible to walk into an organisation and not see their values on their walls, on posters or in their collateral. Most of us take lots of time building brand values to ensure all employees are aligned and act in the right way. Values are extremely important and demonstrate to customers we are more than just corporate machines. The problem is do customers care? The answer is no, if the values don’t align to theirs. So what can you do? It’s simple, ask customers and get them to co-create your values with you. This approach gets customers to buy-in to your culture and makes them feel valued as a result. Furthermore, the alignment of values makes customers more likely to perform voluntary acts of advocacy.
Note: Even if your values are aligned you must demonstrate these values in everything you do. For instance, it’s not good enough anymore to say you’re environmentally responsible if you can’t back it up. Customers are becoming more and more sceptical of brand’s claims and are constantly looking for proof.
Together, these 8 drivers are what you need to focus on in order to create brand advocates.
At Hyve we can help you quickly understand where you currently are and help you get to where you need to be in order to create a brand advocacy programme that can help you increase revenue and enhance reputation.