How To Get Started With Your Customer Advocacy Program

What drives customer advocacy? Mostly, it is the result of winning in several/all areas in the business cycle. Some key factors are mentioned below:

  1. Selling it right
  2. Amazing implementation
  3. Brilliant and easy onboarding process
  4. Awesome Support
  5. Proactive Customer Success
  6. Going the extra mile | feelgood factor
  7. Human voice - Listening and responding
  8. Giving the personal touch

These are just some of the areas in the customer lifecycle (or journey) that you can work to optimize to help create advocates.

But even though you have optimized your customer lifecycle and touchpoints to create the loyal customers, how do you help your customers speak up for you? Because maybe some of your best customers aren’t going to know the best, most effective way to help you. So you need to help them! Let’s discuss a few ways you can.

Case Studies

Reach out to your best customers and ask to interview them for a case study.

These come with ‘0’ external cost & are super helpful in lead generation. It enables your prospects/existing customers to realise the value of the product in the form of a detailed, picturesque story that can cover everything from your awesome integrations, to go-live, best support, leading to a fulfilling customer experience by focusing on the challenge & being solution centric.

The point here is not to sell the product or talk about it, it's about how other customers have used, liked & recommended the product. Plus it also certifies that the product solves a real business problem/use case!

It also compliments your branding since your clients logo comes on your website. It's a good way to show-off! If you have great brands on your website, talking about how wonderful their journey has been...nothing like it. (Its a social proof)

Case studies don't burn a hole in your pocket, & it takes on an average 10-25 working hours to put it out in various forms; it can be a pdf, blog post, a video or even an infographic.

Key Components/ Questions be to asked to frame an effective case study:

1. Ask about their previous tool experience & how/why did they choose your product over other offerings - This will highlight the difference between you & your competitors (highlighting the issues/challenges),making you emerge as a winner.

2. Cover implementation experience & features they like - This will be super helpful for other leads as they are the ones who will use it & go through it.

3. Talk about the improvements in their numbers or some metric that quantifies the positive change in the results. Data driven case studies are extremely popular as they add numbers to words making it more realistic & precise.

4. Celebrate their success & talk about the future. If they reveal that they are willing to expand continually or other departments/locations have appreciated the product, nothing like it.

5. Make sure the, imagery, page placement & tone is done right.

Online Reviews:

Remember in the beginning when we mentioned the online reviews? Yep, you know them, you’ve used them, and they can be a huge help in generating revenue. . The reviews can come from different industries or geographies , but more people liking or recommending a product shapes one’s buying decision. If you can make your presence felt on online review platforms, it seems you have made it.

Who Benefits?

1. Well clearly everyone. Agencies, online tools, apps, SaaS products or a new kid on the block, everyone gets the share of the pie.

2. B2B or B2C, even B2B2C, you name it - everyone can have a social presence with competing players.

Why is it so important?

1. You can now perform comparisons on Industry, Size, Vertical, Category on the fly with user curated data. In my opinion, its free consulting coming right from people who have paid for it & using it.

2. Great platform to outperform - whether its or competition or similar offerings, it is a very easy & reliable way for your product to stand out from the competition and also improving your social media footprint.

3. You get to know first hand insights on likes, dislikes, recommendations & benefits.

4. Instant & easy comparisons.

Customer References & Testimonials:

This is another major source for sales & marketing teams to generate new business & lead development for a SaaS company. It’s also free, in fact all it costs is brilliant support & customer experience.

In my limited experience of close to 5 years working in Customer Success, SaaS businesses have greatly benefited from references & testimonials. It really makes your use case strong & selling easy.

If prospects get to talk (phone/email) with the current paying customers (advocates), the conversion rate increases dramatically.

Also, if you can put relevant customer or influence quotes (company website, twitter, Linkedin) it's a win big. People, in general, like to follow influencers & go by their recommendations. If possible, make sure that we have the real name, photo & company mention so that it increases the authenticity & value of the quotes.

I would also recommend creating a customer reference library so that your sales/pre-sales/marketing team can directly use them. You can add columns to it:

  1. Geography
  2. Industry
  3. Employee Size
  4. Mrr/Arr

It's good to have a library of referenceable customers who are your go-to team when you are in need, which brings me to the next important piece, Customer Advisory Board (CAB).

Customer Advisory Board:

This is a part of customer advocacy that is most talked about these days. Now, here’s the thing, imagine having a group of trusted advisors/customers who are your go to team for:

  1. Beta trials
  2. Product roadmap consultation
  3. Recommendations Speakers at events
  4. Influencers

They are helping you grow in more ways than one, and they appreciate being in the loop (feeling special) when it comes to a product they are invested in.

It is important is to have a right mix of customers on your board. Not necessarily all happy customers will be willing to be a part of CAB or would contribute the way you want. Also, some of your most valuable feedback can come from your least satisfied customers. And by including them on your CAB will not only help you to understand their issues better, it will also (probably) help to strengthen the relationship.

Your CAB should be a good mix of:

  1. Moderate users
  2. Influencers
  3. New & Old customers
  4. Feature specific/Plan specific
  5. Low & High Mrr/Arr
  6. Customers with low usage / low NPS

he CAB can consist of 10-20 customers or even more depending on your business case & need. I would also recommend a personal touch to all CAB meetings/communications which can be organised every quarter or half-yearly.

What it means for growth in a subscription economy?

It means that customer advocacy is a new growth source for SaaS companies that cannot be ignored. Creating a strategy for it, or investing resources in a program to nurture your advocates early on could help you stand-out and win.

It is a small investment to make that could yield high revenue and growth. But what is required is a knowledge of the customer and a strong and/or trusting relationship- so take it seriously, and get your customer success team involved.

Customer Advocacy is what you make out of it. After all, it's your team, their efforts, it's your product, support & experience that drives it. If you do the basics right, CA will follow!

About the Author

Utkarsh has over 4 years of experience working as a Global CSM for startups like Unbxd & Uninstall.io and currently Freshworks. As a CSM, Utkarsh looks after the North American business. Utkarsh lives & breathes Customer Success, making customers successful and happy is his biggest kick.

freshdesk customer success manager guest blog image

Find him on LinkedIn & Twitter

More from Utkarsh:

“Human to Human”: A Customer Experience (CX) prerogative!

Customer Success - The 'Art' of Delight!

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