When you want to create brand advocates, it starts simply with providing positive customer experiences worth talking about. But what needs to happen along with that? The actual customer service and support you provide is one small aspect of growing your customer advocate base and building a customer retention strategy.
Here are 4 ways to build relationships, foster trust, and create brand advocates out of your current customers.
Casually follow up
Even if you didn’t just sell someone something or render a service to them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up. You don’t only want to be in touch with someone when you want them to spend money or immediately after they spent money.
Show that you’re thinking of people at other times. This may require taking notes and leaving yourself reminders about good times to follow up.
Consider this very basic example: If someone just purchased an item, asking them the very next day if they’re satisfied with their purchase likely isn’t helpful. There’s a good chance they haven’t even been able to use what they bought! Following up a couple weeks later ensures you receive more useful feedback and helps show that you actually care about someone’s experience.
As appropriate, follow up with people to talk about their problems and achievements. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to ask people about their personal lives. (Though you certainly can if you’ve built that sort of relationship with customers or clients.)
If you work in a B2B space and you know a client had an excellent quarter or hit a certain milestone, send a text to congratulate them! Or if you know a client is going through a rough time, follow up to figure out if your business has certain resources or connections you could use to help them. Either way you show that your business is invested in the success of others.
Follow-up takes practice, especially the relationship-building kind. The key to this sort of follow-up? Actually caring. You create the best brand advocates when you and others at your company actually care.
Ask customers specifically what you can do for them
Sometimes we need a little priming to sufficiently answer a question. Think about how many times has a friend told you, “Let me know if I can help you!”
Let’s think about a few of the most common scenarios that play out after this question:
- You never ask them for help because you don’t want to bother them.
- You never ask them for help not because you don’t want it but because you can’t really think of anything you might need from them.
- You have something you need help with but don’t think they can actually help with it.
- You ask them to help with a specific task. (This somehow seems to happen least often.)
I’d guess that option 2 happens most often. People don’t like being put on the spot (even if they do have something they need help with). In the moment they don’t have a good answer, so they just move on with their lives. This happens plenty with business too.
You’ll offer better customer service if you give examples of specific things you might be able to help with. Plant a seed of curiosity in the minds of your customers. Think of it almost like a nice version of “Inception.”
Ask about product types or services they’d like to see you add. Find out if they want reminders or check-ins at a certain point. Ask specific questions that may prompt them to ask you something in return. Then deliver on whatever it is they ask you about.
This sort of prompting will help them know you want to do everything you can for them. People will then hopefully start coming to you totally unprompted with their own ideas, suggestions, and questions.
Request feedback regularly and graciously
We love reviews and what they represent for businesses. You want reviews because they help your business. People want your business to have reviews so that they know whether to trust your business. It’s in your best interest to get reviews and it’s in a consumer’s best interest for you to get reviews.
Requesting feedback and reviews obviously helps your business reputation, but it also helps you improve your service. Improved service helps customers have a better experience. And so the cycle continues.
But don’t request reviews and then never follow up. Thank people when they leave a review or otherwise offer feedback. Genuinely engage with reviews when they are left publicly – especially the negative ones – and continue a conversation as necessary if feedback is given privately.
Interacting with customers who leave reviews and provide feedback shows that you value what they have to say. What’s even more impactful is making changes to your business based on customer feedback and reviews. I think we all know how satisfying it feels to know we were listened to. So use everyone’s experiences to improve your products and/or services. That gives people even more reason to continue being a customer or client.
Simply show gratitude
Your business may already include some sort of customer or client loyalty program. If so, that’s great! Though keep in mind that such a program is not really enough to turn people into brand advocates. Combine the program with other methods of showing gratitude to really make a difference.
First, a quick text to just say thanks can mean a lot. Obviously you need to personalize that text to reflect what you’re saying thanks for or it loses its value. This small gesture simply tells someone, “Hey, you matter to us and we’re thinking about you.”
Second, create customer appreciation promotions that people actually want to participate in. All of us have probably seen a “sale” that isn’t really a sale at all. It becomes especially annoying when the business tries to treat it like the best offer since sliced bread. Obviously be realistic about what you can offer your customers, but if you’re going to give, say, a certain percentage off, make it worth it!
Or every now and then simply surprise them with something nice for no reason at all. Maybe this is a free service or a free gift. (Gift baskets anyone?)
Third, thank people who attend your events and thank sponsors of your events. When you shout out sponsors in texts to large groups of people, they gain further brand exposure and a bump to their reputation. The sponsor will then be more likely to work with you again and other people may want to work with them as well.
Showing real gratitude will always reflect positively on your business and customers will see your priorities and hopefully reward you for it.
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