There is a difference between customer service and customer advocacy - the former maintains business, while the latter transforms consumers into walking, talking billboards for a company, helping it grow and surpass expectations.
There is a difference between customer service and customer advocacy – the former maintains business, while the latter transforms consumers into walking, talking billboards for a company, helping it grow and surpass expectations. However, this doesn't happen spontaneously. It requires a committed service management staff, which can be developed through employee reward programs.
What is a consumer advocate?
Customer satisfaction should be the baseline goal for businesses, according to CIO magazine. Enterprises should aim higher, though, to create customer advocates, who are not merely pleased with the products or services they receive but are also ready to contact everyone they know to describe their experience.
"Advocacy is that step beyond satisfaction," Janine Modaro, director of integrated service management for Telstra, told attendees at the itSMF LEADit conference. "If I'm an advocate, I'm actually going to go out and tell someone about the great service experience that I had. I'm going to recommend services to my friends, my family [and] my social networks."
Once firms begin to create customer advocates, they then face the challenge of continuing to live up to these service expectations – both in face-to-face interactions and over the phone in call centers.
Support service expectations with employee incentives
Modaro adapted Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" to outline what's expected of customer service professionals to maintain advocacy, the news source explained. These needs include reliability, responsiveness, relevance, visibility and innovation, all of which are fundamental to reassuring consumers that their problems, questions and comments have not been lost among the countless other individuals who firms hear from on a daily basis.
This is easy enough said, but the enactment of such a policy can be difficult, which is why Modaro suggested firms implement employee reward and incentive programs to keep workers focused on a common goal.
When individuals achieve a certain level of customer satisfaction, they receive an in-house reward. Modaro recounted how this approach worked when she was general manager at Australia's Commonwealth Bank.
"Their business goal was to become number one in customer satisfaction," Modaro explained, according to CIO. "There were incentives for all the teams and all the service provider groups in that ecosystems to help them achieve that goal."
When crafting a system to promote customer advocacy, companies should tailor their policies finely to ensure workers understand that the reward is not for generating revenue but instead crafting a certain experience.