As a CSM or customer success team manager, you’ve probably heard the term ‘customer advocacy’ tossed around a time or two. There’s no denying that this customer engagement trend is here to stay. Although they are true champions of your brand and your product, advocates are definitely shaking things up in the CSM world.
Advocates are extremely well-versed in the products and solutions they use because they are working in them day in and day out. Because they spend so much time in the product, advocates often start to dictate the strategy of the product lifecycle.
At its core, customer advocacy is when customer service teams work with customers to determine what is best for the customer and their long-term goals instead of making strategic decisions from an upsell or corporate growth standpoint. It marks a turning point in SaaS strategy from doing whatever it takes to grow a business to ensuring customer-focused decisions throughout the entire vendor/consumer relationship.
The growth of customer advocacy has been a boon for customer success teams for a few reasons. First, it has ushered in a new era of incredible, customer-focused experiences. SaaS consumers now expect – or rather, demand – amazing, hands-on service at every angle, which in turn has introduced customer success as one of the most critical departments in any organization. CSMs are now responsible for much more than just answering questions. They’re responsible for quite literally supporting an entire business.
Additionally, customer advocates are also ready and willing to share their experiences with others like never before. With the growth of social media, customer testimonials, and online review websites, customers can become evangelists with the click of a button.
And finally, advocates are instrumental in creating new advocates. Consumer advocates are not shy in the slightest about loving the brands they work with. They’re ready and willing to talk with others about being an advocate, which can turn other consumers on to the cause as well.
Introducing Customer Advocacy in Your Customer Success Strategy
While brand advocacy certainly isn’t new and definitely isn’t going anywhere, it isn’t always an easy thing to make room for in your customer success strategy. After all, customer-focused teams have been so focused for so long on growing accounts however they can that making decisions based on customer value might not come easy.
Here are a few best practices and ideas to take into account when introducing advocacy in your customer success strategy:
- Give your customers a place to talk with each other. Consumer advocacy is all about sharing information and talking about the product in a safe, productive space. Providing your customers with a place to talk with one another either in person, on the phone, online, or digitally will help facilitate these conversations and give advocates the channels to connect with each other.
- Don’t skimp on account planning. One of the best ways to ensure you’re setting customers on the path to success while helping them meet their goals is to create a strategic plan early on in the relationship. Work with your customers to determine how their strategic goals and your business goals can work in tandem.
- Start building advocates from day one. A customer success team should start working to build advocates right out of the gate. CSMs can join in on sales meetings to get a sense of what customers are looking for in their new solution. Then, once these prospects transition to customers, don’t be shy to be upfront about asking them to be a reference for others.
- Have a recommendation program in place for reviews or testimonials. Most SaaS product recommendations come via word-of-mouth or in-person, but a strategic recommendation program can change this process for the better. Interview your advocates on camera for video testimonials or send out links to surveys or recommendation sites for advocates to leave reviews to be proactive about sourcing and recording your advocates.