Recent studies have found that 74 per cent of Australians see customer experience as one of the most important factors in their purchasing decisions. With consumers able to share good or bad transactional experiences further than ever, organisations should look to create the kind of customer experience that satisfies the customer and turns them into a brand advocate. Doing so will require organisations to deliver highly personalised experiences that exceed customers’ expectations.
In the cluttered consumer marketplace, a strong brand reputation can be the difference between new leads and lost sales. While businesses can move the needle by selling their vision directly to the public, it’s the support of customers-turned-advocates that make all the difference in attracting and retaining valuable new customers.
The difference between a customer and an advocate is significant. Customers are transactional, simply purchasing a business’s products and services. Even deeply engaged customers can only affect their own purchasing behaviour. Meanwhile, advocates act as multipliers. They communicate their brand preference to their immediate and extended circle, encouraging others to purchase from the companies they prefer. Brand advocates are not easy to create because they demand an impactful, authentic experience every time they interact with the organisation. This can be difficult to achieve; however, the rewards can be enormous.
To create authentic customer relationships, businesses must deliver a quality service that excites the consumer and builds a strong bond. There are three key ways to nurture this relationship from a business perspective:
- Investing in partnerships
A businesses is only as strong as its partnerships. Successful partnerships require equity and balance, and an opportunity to both give and take. If a relationship between businesses and their vendors becomes unbalanced, the customer experience can be affected. This can result in mediocre customer experiences that do not inspire customers to become advocates.
- Deliver on promises
Recent studies have shown that 97 per cent of employees agree that integrity is in business important. However, more than half of those employees believe their organisational integrity has either stayed the same or worsened over the last 18 months. (2) Businesses should look to establish credibility by being accountable and delivering on promises with customers on time, and in full.
- Anticipate needs and provide extra value to go above and beyond
Great business leaders should not only have their customers’ current needs in mind; they should be able to anticipate future needs and desires as the relationship continues to flourish. This is known as hyperpersonalisation, and only comes through consistent relationship development based on a clear understanding of the customer’s past behaviour, purchase drivers, current environment, and potential for growth. As a customer transitions from consumer to advocate, businesses have the opportunity to understand their long-term goals and requirements, creating a relationship as a trusted advisor when it comes to their decision-making.
While it is no easy feat, turning existing customers into the business’s biggest advocates will boost the business’s reputation and build a stronger relationship with its customers. By providing existing customers with consistent value and credibility, and surpassing expectations, businesses can create a strong foundation for sustainable, ethical growth.