Software companies once approached customer goodwill with a lot of hope. The mantra was, “build it, and they will come.” The idea being, if a business focused on delivering an excellent product and stellar support, then after some time, hopefully, the customer would tell others all about it. Today, hope is unproductive and unnecessary. Instead, savvy businesses plan for customer advocacy. They enable customer success teams to influence customers through careful strategizing and ensuring that they build advocates from the beginning.
Customer advocacy enhances the lifetime value of existing customers. It is not an entirely new concept, but it has exploded in popularity and effectiveness. SaaS hinges on building long-lasting relationships. Today, customers are the loudest, most trusted voice in the marketplace. This is the case in both B2C and B2B sales and marketing. We often hear a lot about customer experience and the importance of focusing on products and services on the customer journey. While keeping customers happy is key to retention, it fuels one of the best sources of marketing and lead generation: customer referrals. Here’s how to best plan for greater customer advocacy and turn excellent customer experience into a steady stream of business.
Ensure high adoption rates
If your customers are not using your products and services to their greatest extent, they are likely not optimally benefitting. You’ve invested time and resources into developing the best SaaS solution. Getting customers to use all of its features translates to a larger impact on their organization. This impact then reverberates. Customers recognize the connection between your solution and their success.
How can you increase adoption rates? Start from the top down in your customer’s organization and get executive buy-in for the solution. Clearly communicate the benefits of the application, basing this communication on a deployment and customer follow-up plan. Promote features through communication. Market to your existing customers with regularity. Then, back all of your communication up with training. Invest the time to show users how easy your solution will make their work. (If it doesn’t, then go back to the drawing board and make sure your solution delivers benefits that can be easily realized.)
Know your customers
When it comes to the many ways customers can help drive sales and retention for your organization, it is vital to understand that not all advocates are the same. Customer advocates can be divided into a few groups, including educators, validators, status seekers, and collaborators. It’s essential to know the differences, as each has a particular mindset that can help move your brand forward. Customer advocacy is often encouraged with rewards, but there is more to success than monetary incentives. Customer advocates tend to respond to personalization and seek the ability to play a role in educating others.
Know your NPS, and take steps to maximize it
But, before we can get into how to leverage customer advocacy, we need to know how many advocates you have. This is best measured through Net Promoter Score or NPS. NPS is a measurement of a customer’s likelihood of referring your company to others. Companies determine NPS through surveys that ask the question, “would you refer others to X company?” Answers are grouped into promoters (those who respond with a nine or 10) passives (who respond with a seven or eight) and detractors (those who respond with a zero through six). Your NPS is the difference between the promoters and detractors.
The score helps drive customer advocacy because it identifies advocates and those who are not fans. But just knowing the score isn’t all that helpful. Businesses should identify why there are detractors, and find out what it will take to move them to the other end of the spectrum.
Put customer advocacy to work
Once you’ve maximized user adoption, identified advocates, and improved NPS, you can trigger customer advocacy with a referral program. The program should be based on your knowledge of your customers, and their advocacy type, and should be tracked to determine effectiveness. The best referral programs do more than simply give something back to the customer. They should also spur word-of-mouth marketing. SmartKarrot’s SmartReferral is a quick and easy marketing referral marketing platform that helps businesses move forward and leverage customer goodwill.
SmartReferral features built-in incentivization, which is instant, so customers are more likely to use it. It also allows for gamification, adding engagement to the customer advocacy process. It’s easy, scalable, sets up in just a few minutes, and can connect to your mobile applications.
Ready to put customer advocacy on your side? Learn more about your customer’s success and optimize their experience with SmartKarrot. Contact us to speak to one of our experts and start on the path to customer referrals.