How to Convert Your Customers into Advocates

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Picture the following…

You own a neighborhood body shop. A customer comes in for a visit, distraught over the quote one of your competitors just gave him for a repair.

You tell him that you can do the job for less, and you do. He loves the results. He’s so grateful that he wants to tell everyone in the world to visit Jack’s Repair Shack for all of their auto maintenance needs.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully turned a customer into an advocate; someone who will not only patronize your business, but convince others to do the same. Not because you’re paying him, but because he feels the need to repay you.

Harnessing the energy of happy customers can give your business a huge competitive advantage. But before your advocates can post reviews online, you need to convert them into advocates in the first place. Here are some tips to generate their support.

A Personal Greeting: It sounds so trivial, but addressing your customers by name can have a profound impact. Hearing our names makes us feel wanted, respected and appreciated all at once. It also creates trust. Why? Because psychologically, a person who cares enough about us to remember our name is not going to screw us over.

Create Loyalty: In the eyes of younger generations, loyalty is a two-way street. Consumers want credit for consistently eating at your sandwich shop versus the sandwich shop across the street. According to one study, 69% of consumers say loyalty programs influence their shopping decisions. If your business offers a kickass loyalty program, it will keep your customers coming back and give them another reason to refer your business.

Request Feedback: Not to be confused with requesting reviews, requesting feedback is a great way to garner insights into your business, and to show customers that you care. Incentivizing feedback by offering a reward (i.e. a discount) in exchange for a review, no strings attached, will demonstrate an even greater measure of pride you’re taking in your customers’ satisfaction.

Referral Program: Your advocates may feel indebted to you, but make no mistake: they still want, if not flat-out expect, to be rewarded for bringing you business. Offering a referral program is a great way to do this. If your customer is wavering about whether to refer you, the draw of an incentive will surely push him over the edge. Referrals are an extremely cost-effective way to acquire new customers, so don’t hesitate to make your reward generous.

By Alex Altman

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