Getting happy customers to leave feedback can sometimes feel only slightly less painful than a root canal. And yet it’s a powerful marketing strategy that should not be put off. Much digital ink has already been spilled exploring the myriad reasons why; but the how still continues to elude many talented and capable marketers. That’s a shame, because the answer is as simple as a single word: ask.
Of course, many businesses are already doing this. But like nearly all things it’s not the idea but the execution that counts. And here’s a quick spoiler alert: a single email or popup requesting feedback does not turn your advocacy efforts into a marketing strategy. So what does? Read on.
Don’t Forget to Ask the Angry Customers
You read that right. But wait, isn’t advocate marketing supposed to be about getting positive feedback for your business? Of course. And don’t angry customers leave negative feedback? Well, actually, not necessarily. Whether they do or do not depends on the effectiveness of your customer service in changing them into happy customers. It’s increasingly clear that angry customers who have their problems solved through a positive support experience can actually become the happiest customers - and turn into the biggest advocates with a huge impact on sales.
Despite this, companies looking to see more ROI out of their advocacy efforts are often given the advice of only asking their most longstanding, loyal customers to be more vocal. Of course, this isn’t wrong, and customers who have been happy for a long time should absolutely be a part of an advocacy strategy. However, pursuing this strategy in isolation misses the opportunity to ask customers who have experienced a company’s willingness to go above and beyond to solve customer problems to share their stories.
In short, when longstanding loyal customers talk about how long they have loved a product, the message is on the company. In contrast, recent customers who started angry but were won over and made happy by an exceptional support experience places the message on the customer. It’s important to ask both types, in order to incorporate both of their narratives into your advocate marketing.
Have Your Support Team Ask
Of course, a company not only needs to commit to asking angry-turned-satisfied customers to share - it actually needs to facilitate their doing so. And although the importance of providing excellent experiences to customers who contact support is well known, too few companies understand that its role extends to advocacy marketing.
A lot of the “best practices” circulating around the internet suggest various ways of devolving the task of asking happy customers to leave positive feedback to automated software. While things such as surveys and follow up emails certainly have their place, they are not a panacea. No matter how new, flashy, and feature-laden these technologies are, they still remain a fundamentally hands off and impersonal method to ask for feedback - the exact opposite of what advocate marketing is all about.
Bottom line, they are no substitute for good old-fashioned one-on-one communications. Did your support team turn an angry customer into a satisfied one? Great! There’s nothing wrong with sending a follow up email asking for them to share their story, but that shouldn’t be the end of it. Now, the odds are that means there is now a warm relationship, so use it. Follow that email up a few days later with a phone call from the customer service representative they spoke with to make sure everything is still going well. In the course of the conversation, have the representative make a personal request for positive public feedback.
Let Personal Relationships Be the North Star
It’s not easy to get happy customers talking. However, it’s a mistake to believe this is because they don’t want to talk. People value the positive experiences they have with companies, and are willing to share them. If they don’t, it’s usually simply a matter of being too busy or forgetting.
Companies that provide a customer experience capable of turning even the most disgruntled customer into a happy one just need to ask. But more than asking, they need to remain true to the values that allowed them to change that customer’s mind in the first place. Be genuine, show they care, and most importantly - add a human touch in a world of increasing automation.