Customer advocacy is one of those things that seems like it should be simple.
A customer has a problem and the problem is addressed by customer service, or later, a product manager (PM) or engineer.
Anyone who has had a hand in customer advocacy — or customer support — knows that things are almost never that simple.
Advocacy can get lost between tickets and tools and teams. And product managers are often in the trenches improving the product, which can have nothing to do with the customer problems at hand.
Customer advocacy can be downright difficult and frustrating. But there are ways to make it better.
Great customer advocacy starts with shared understanding
Making sure customers are heard through internal advocates starts with fostering a customer support culture where there’s shared understanding and respect across teams. When it comes to doing the customer’s voice justice — acknowledge their issue and fold it into the outstanding backlogs.
Shared understanding results in support professionals becoming better advocates for the customers they’re trying to help. The marriage between support and product managers — and to their counterpoints in engineering — makes customer advocacy possible.
Celebrating customer happiness and keeping positive customer stories visible is a good way to keep customer experience visible in any company. A great way to do this is to collaborate and connect with your team about customer success.
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Get (and stay) on your customer’s level
You can’t solve every customer problem, fix all the bugs, and customize the product to exact customer specifications.
When customers have bug problems that won’t be fixed or feature suggestions that may never be implemented, ghosting them by failing to address their issue — not replying — leaves your customer in the dark. When cases come along where the ideal solution isn’t feasible, it’s best to communicate plainly, even if it’s bad news.
While what you’re telling a customer may not be what they’d ideally like to hear, it should at least be straightforward . As a customer, getting an answer back receiving the request and that it is being worked on is far better than no response at all.
Sometimes simply being heard is what’s most important.
Transparent responses help maintain good standing with customers while tempering their sway on product development. As a customer, how would these responses make you feel?
“Thank you for your feedback, it makes us better at our job.”
“We’ve got your request, John, we’re on the case!”
“While we don’t know the timeframe just yet, rest assured we are working on it.”
Listening isn’t just reading complaints.
A key part of understanding how and when to advocate for customers is harvesting feedback for how they really feel — both the customers who reach out with problems and the ones who don’t.
You don’t want to be swayed by a vocally unhappy 5% of customers if 95% of your customers are in love with your product. But, you also don’t want to ignore negative comments if they’re a good indicator of overall customer happiness.
Being proactive is a great customer advocacy tactic.
Reach out to customers to ‘take their temperature’, so to speak. A default, low-touch solution can be as simple as asking how their experience is after they reach out to support. With each support ticket, send out a request about how their experience was.
Statistically, 5%-30% of customers actually take the time to reply —and if on the higher side demonstrates an impressive level of investment in the interaction. But with just a response, you don’t know much.
Watching Session Replays—as with a Digital Experience Intelligence solution such as FullStory—can also be a good way to understand whether it’s just a single user having an issue or a larger, multi-user problem.
For example, reviewing customer sessions can reveal a design issue that’s causing rage clicks — indicative of an issue that will affect many more users than those who take the time to contact support.
Customer advocacy is about finding a balance
Balancing a commitment to customers and customer advocacy can be difficult when you’re trying to build a product and run a company. It’s important for customer advocates to feel like they can represent your users well, but they also need to be judicious about what to bring forward and push.
By creating a culture where empathy for customers is embraced in a balanced way across your organization through customer advocacy can make for a level foundation upon which a great customer experience can be built.
It’s time for better user feedback.
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