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Having customer advocates is a great feeling. They like you. They really like you! But it can be hard to know just how to turn a loyal customer into a brand advocate. Luckily, we asked over 30 experts to give us their tips on doing just that.

What are your tips on transforming loyal customers into brand advocates?

The MarTechExec takeaway

What's the secret sauce to turning loyal customers into brand advocates? Well, there's a lot of different ways to get there. Experts seem to agree that focusing on the customers and giving them consistent and exceptional service are two of the biggest. But it takes a little bit of everything mentioned below to see the results you want.

Lana Moore, Founder MarTechExec

Lana K. Moore is one of the fastest trending top martech influencers in the industry. As a marketing technology executive for both Fortune 500 companies and startups, she is passionate about helping marketing technology professionals stay on top of their game. Lana is the executive editor of martechexec.com - a place to learn, share and discuss marketing technology topics and solutions.

The expert takeaways

  • Remember their individuality
  • The Consistency Theory
  • Feel the love. Use employees to draw in customers
  • Get the skinny from your current brand advocates
  • Make your world revolve around the customer
  • Go above and beyond

The experts

Remember their individuality

“Stop thinking of them as influencers you have to reward, and start looking for ways to improve each customer's individual experience with your brand. Your customer is an individual who has some reason to do business with you. Are there parts of the journey that are painful? Are there cumbersome steps in your purchasing process?

Fix those items with the help of your already-loyal customers. Ask for input along the way, invite them to be on a customer advisory board, or simply reach out and ask "what can we do better here?

If a customer feels connected to your brand on an individual level, then he or she is more likely to talk to others and truly advocate for your brand.”

Jeannie Walters, Founder of 360 Connext

Jeannie Walters is a TEDx speaker, and sought-after customer experience speaker, writer, trainer, podcaster and consultant. For 15+ years, she's helped companies improve customer experience with an outside-in approach. She is Founder and CEO of 360Connext, a global firm specializing in Customer Experience Investigation(TM).

“The development of authentic relationships with customers is absolutely critical for brands to get right. Customer expectations are changing rapidly, and everyone can interact with a business 24/7.

The result is now a world where the distinction between internal and external is no longer valid. People are looking for more alignment, more engagement, more connectivity, more honesty and more transparency.

This means that you, and everyone in your business, need to live your brand. You have to live the values and the mission, internally and externally, and then let the customer decide what your brand is about.

Only by being consistent, engaging, open, honest and coherent can you start to build a brand in the twenty-first century which inspires brand advocates.”

Simon Robinson, Co-Founder of Holonomics Education

Simon Robinson is the co-author of Customer Experiences with Soul: A New Era in Design and Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter. He is the co-founder of Holonomics Education and the editor of the blog www.transitionconsciousness.org.

"There are two things you must do to transform loyal customers into brand advocates. First, be good. How good? Just be a little better than average. Sounds easy, and in theory it is. Which leads us to the second thing...

Be better than average all the time. It's the ""all the time"" part that is difficult. A predictable and consistent experience key.

Do those two things and over time you create customer confidence. Customers can count on you. They know the experience is ALWAYS better than average. Employees are ALWAYS friendly, ALWAYS helpful and when there is a problem, customers know they can ALWAYS count on the people to take care of them.

The word ALWAYS followed by something positive is the result of an above-average consistent and predictable experience. As mentioned, that creates confidence, which brings the customers back, again and again. And, when they come back and get that same experience, they start to talk. That's what turns customers into advocates."

Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker and "New York" Times bestselling author of "The Amazement Revolution." He is the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations and helps his clients deliver AMAZING service to their customers and employees.

"Brands that represent purpose, consistency, professionalism, commitment, and integrity will have an advantage when trying to transform loyal customers into brand advocates.

Recognize that your brand is more than a company logo. It's a combination of a customer’s experiences with your business at every touchpoint. Each memory, thought, impression, website visit, story, sales letter, social media post, event, phone call, and transaction contribute to your company’s brand reputation.

When your business is consistently trustworthy, honest, transparent, open to improvement, ethical, respectful, and law-abiding, people will gravitate to it. Once customers know, like, and trust your company, you have a better chance of converting them into brand advocates."

Elaine Fogel, Author of Beyond Your Logo

Professional Speaker. Marketer. Brand & Customer Experience Evangelist. Author of Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success. You can see more of her work at www.elainefogel.net.

“Loyalty is a great sign that a customer believes and trusts in your product or service. It does not however, always translate directly into a customer becoming an advocate for your company. To transform a loyal customer into an advocate for your company, there must be more relationship building, and not just excellent customer service or experience. The experience for a loyal customer should be personalized in order to make that customer feel they are apart of something worth advocating, and not just a loyal paying customer.”

Chad Armel, Customer Service Veteran and Author

As a 15 year customer service veteran, Chad Armel has built a unique set of skills that have helped build a track record of customer success and customer satisfaction. From hospitality to the medical field, Chad has successfully dealt with customer related issues ranging from hotel guests to executives at some of the countries most prestigious hospitals.

Get the skinny from your current brand advocates

“Talk to a few of them to find out what they value most about what you do for them now.

  • Ask if they might be willing to share their story with others.
  • Set up an ambassador corps (you can change the name, of course) of your best customers.
  • Capture and share their stories for them and with them through social media and among their own networks.
  • Check in with them regularly.
  • Repeat the process with 'new' loyal customers.
  • Never exceed 10% of your customer base.”

Mike Wittenstein, Founder of StoryMiners.com

Mike is a certified customer experience professional (CCXP), speaker (CSP), and consultant (CMC). He was IBM Global Services' eVisionary and an early practitioner of customer experience design. He started StoryMiners.com in 2002 and has helped over 700 clients save or earn over $1.6 billion dollars. Mike speaks, designs, coaches, facilitates and coaches. He's based in Atlanta.

"1. Ask For a testimonial from Happy Customers

It's pretty straight forward but start by simply asking happy customers to refer you.

2. Contact unhappy customers for service recovery

Seems odd but it's easier to turn engaged but unhappy customers in brand advocates than middle of the road ""satisfied"" customers. Service recovery of unhappy customers turns them into brand advocates with a great story to tell their friends: ""You can't believe what company X did when I provided negative feedback.""

3. Enable Happy Customer referrals

Ensure you make it safe to refer you. This lowers their fear of referring you by reassuring them that their friend will get a great experience and they will not be embarrassed. For instance you can try something like this: “We really appreciate your recent customer feedback. In it you indicated you were a strong supporter of our company. Thank you. If you do recommend us to a friend or colleague please have them use this special priority code. This will ensure that they get the very best service when they contact us"

Adam Ramshaw, Net Promoter Score and Customer Feedback Consultant

Adam Ramshaw has been helping companies to improve their Net Promoter® and Customer Feedback systems for more than 15 years. He is on a mission to stamp out ineffective processes and bad surveys.

“Provide easy ways for customers to share their affinity for your brand via your website and social media channels.”

Teresa Allen, Customer Service Consultant

Teresa Allen, customer service speaker & customer service trainer, is owner of Common Sense Solutions, a national customer service training and consulting firm focused on bringing common sense customer service and customer experience solutions to business. Teresa is currently ranked #1 on GlobalGurus.org list of the world's top customer service experts.

“Make it easy for them to share their experiences. Provide social media buttons on your product pages. Encourage them to let friends know about their positive experiences.

Reward existing customers by providing a discount or loyalty points for referring new clients.

Mike Aoki, Founder of Reflective Keynotes Inc.

Mike Aoki is a popular conference speaker and seminar leader. His company, Reflective Keynotes Inc., focuses on helping contact centers improve their sales, customer service and management skills. Mike has also been chosen by ICMI as one of the "Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter" for the past three years.

“There are many tactics that can be leveraged. From digital programs to offline strategies, having your loyal customers become brand advocates is vitally important to the success of a company.

However, what I've noticed is that companies need to get better at doing the simple thing; asking for advocacy on a consistent basis.”

Michel Falcon, Entrepreneur

Michel Falcon is an entrepreneur and keynote speaker. He uses customer experience and employee engagement to build businesses. Advised and spoken to executives from a myriad of brands like, McDonald’s, BlueCross BlueShield, Electronic Arts, Verizon Wireless, Vega, Lexus, Estee Lauder, GoldCorp, HSBC, Unilever, Domino's, Tangerine Bank, Dunkin' Brands, Volkswagen, Toyota, Kroger, Dannone and many others.

"Give your loyal customers a ""social incentive"" to show, share, praise and promote their use of your products and services.

For example, ""Post a Review and We'll Promote You"" (then promote their review on your social channels). Or ""Share a Photo of You with Your Products"" (then promote their photos using your social channels)."

Ron Kaufman, Author of Uplifting Service

Ron Kaufman is the world's leading educator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. Ron is author of the New York Times best-selling "Uplifting Service" and the Chairman of the global consulting and training company, UP! Your Service. Visit www.UpYourService.com

“Our research shows that creating brand advocates requires focusing on the three customer experience pillars: Product, Future and Employees.</p?

First, you need to make a solid product and make it easy to do business with you to attract new customers.

Second, you need to know where you are headed with respect to your product/service road map and communicate that path effectively to your customers to improve your upselling and cross-selling capabilities.

Finally, you need to hire the right people and give them the resources they need to deliver exceptional service to decrease customer churn.””

Bob Hayes, President of Business Over Broadway

Researcher and writer, B.O.B. holds a PhD in industrial-organizational psychology. Bob's interest lies at the intersection of data science, customer experience and analytics. He likes to solve problems, primarily business problems, through the application of the scientific method.

"First things first, invest in Customer Success Management. You're only worthy of advocates if you're doing what it takes to make your customers successful using your solution.

Then, just go ahead and ask them. A lot of companies simply don’t ask, but it’s part of the relationship building process to exchange with your customers on these things. First, is your customer interested in being an advocate? If so, what are they willing to do? Advocacy ranges from writing a review to speaking at events, not all of your customers are comfortable going to the same length for you, but there’s no better way to find out than asking.

Once your customer has agreed to become a brand advocate, make sure the process is made as simple as possible. This includes sending them guidelines or templates and assisting them throughout the process.

Finally, reward your customers for going out of their ways to help you out. On top of sending them swag, be sure to ask them what they need from you. Offering a discount or additional training and features are meaningful tokens of your appreciation. Asking them what they need also implies that you're not taking them - and their current success - for granted, and helps you build the relationship further."

Paul Philp, Founder and CEO of Amity

Paul Philp is a leading innovator in SaaS and Customer Success. As Founder and CEO of Amity, Paul has spoken with Customer Success professionals from over 1,000 SaaS providers. Paul has a lifelong passion for helping business put customers first.

Make your world revolve around the customer

“Customers need to know that you have their best interests at heart. As business owners/managers, many times we get too bogged-down on the day to day machinations of business.

We focus more on payroll than the proper staffing needed to service our customers. We focus more on lowering product costs than raising the value we offer to our customers.

We focus more on increasing total customer acquisition numbers versus the actual experience each will receive. This is a mindset of "company first" versus "customer first". That's not the best way to build, grow and transform loyal customers into brand advocates.”

Steve DiGioia, Customer Service Trainer

A hospitality veteran, customer service trainer, coach, author, speaker and known as the "go-to guy", Steve DiGioia helps companies find ways to be successful and provide the anticipatory service their customers desire. Steve shares his expertise on his blog with his unique take on customer service, management & leadership.

"So how do we transform loyal customers to brand advocates? I would suggest that there are four steps required to allow brand advocates to blossom;

1. Be available in any channel your customers wish to employ for interactions. Frictionless service requires low effort, we need to make it easy and convenient to interact with us. You can’t advocate for anyone if you don’t experience their service.

2. Provide superior service through all interaction channels, regardless of the channel or the reason for the interaction you must exceed the customers’ expectations at each and every turn. Customers’ may want different things, with different degrees of complexity and require us to provide differing levels of support. At the end of the day, they want us to help them overcome whatever challenge or issue they are experiencing with our products or services. We must be exceptional and take ownership to get their issue resolved to the best of our ability.

3. Be transparent with your customers. Customers don’t expect us to be perfect. Customer do expect us to be open, honest and transparent in our interactions. If we need more time to get the answer, tell them, if we need to escalate, let them know why, and how long it is expected to take to get them the information or answer they are seeking. If we are transparent, our customer can see the efforts we are investing on their behalf and will be appreciative of our efforts

4. Always be Listening. Customers will tell you what they are seeking and how to satisfy them, if we let them. Customer are also a great source of ideas and suggestions that can make our service, products and organizations better. We need to be open to hear and attuned to these suggestions, that can make us better."

Colin Taylor, Call Center Consultant

Recognized as a leading contact/call center pioneer and expert, Colin has received 30+ Awards for excellence in Contact Center Management. Colin has been acknowledged as a leader and influencer on the topics or call/contact centers, customer service and customer experience.

“Increase the emotional connection between you and the customer. They need to feel it before saying it.

Aim for being beyond ordinary. We only remember the exceptions

Ask colleagues what would make them talk up the place they work in. What matters in that to customers?

Ask customer who they advocate and why. What do you discover when you profile your own brand against them?”

Martin Hill-Wilson, Founder at Brainfood Consulting

Customer Engagement & Beyond Silos Strategist - Author, Keynote Speaker - Tweets #intelligentassistance #custserv #cx Delivers A Pretty Mean Masterclass! Current topics include empowered service cultures, omni-channel design, automation and self service, proactive service models, mobile and social customer service. All targeted at delivering disruptive service innovation.

“It all comes down to how you make your guests feel. They may remember your product. They could remember your service. But they will absolutely remember how they felt when they visited your business.

When you make emotional connections with your customers you'll find that they are more likely not just to return, but to advocate for you with the wider world. These connections aren't easy - in fact they require work and commitment.

You have to put your Guests at the center of your world and treat them as cherished friends. You have to anticipate their needs and really try to make your business a place they see as stress free, consistent, and reliable.

When you start thinking of things from the guest point of view and fiercely protect their experience, you'll find that your customers evolve from loyalty to advocacy, and then to true ambassadors. They will move from being a repeat visitor to actively campaigning for your business.”

Tony Johnson, Director of Customer Service at Blizzard Entertainment

Leading Customer Experience Professional | Coffee Lover | Author | Spirited Culinarian | @ballstate Alum | @StarWars Fan | #CX | #Leadership. Tony Johnson wants you to deliver the BEST POSSIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE. A unique blend of best practices, common sense strategies, and real life examples, his book will help you lead and inspire your team.

"Analysis shows that merely satisfying customers doesn’t generate loyalty. Instead, loyalty is generated by avoiding dissatisfaction – i.e., by removing every stitch of friction from the customer experience, often by using technology.

Only after you’ve removed all the friction are you likely to begin accumulating loyal, repeat customers. But turning those customers into genuine advocates will require making connections with them based on empathy, trust, and humanity.

STEP ONE: Empathy. Feel the customer’s pain, and act in the customer’s interest. Treat the customer the way you’d like to be treated if you were the customer. This is how you’d treat a friend, and what you want is for your customers to feel they’re helping their friends by recommending you.

STEP TWO: Trust. Show customers that your intentions are good. Tell them if they’re about to incur a late fee. Let them know if they’re paying a higher price than required, or buying more than they need, or forgetting to use a credit that’s already available to them.

Trust is critical, and I’d even consider recommending a competitor’s product, when appropriate, because nothing will do more to prove that you can be trusted always to act in the customer’s interest.

STEP THREE: Finally, be human. Show your vulnerability, and apologize for mistakes. Look for opportunities for face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions, to improve the likelihood of creating an emotional attachment.

And be sure to care for your frontline employees enough to make sure they aren’t distracted by their own problems."

Don Peppers, Co-Founder of Pepper & Rogers Group

Don Peppers is a recognized leading authority on customer-focused business strategies for over 25 years. An acclaimed author and a founding partner, with Martha Rogers, of Peppers & Rogers Group, Peppers delivers workshops, keynote presentations and thought leadership consulting through his company, CX Speakers.

"Give your loyal customers a ""social incentive"" to show, share, praise and promote their use of your products and services.

For example, ""Post a Review and We'll Promote You"" (then promote their review on your social channels). Or ""Share a Photo of You with Your Products"" (then promote their photos using your social channels)."

Dan Gingiss, Author of Winning at Social Customer Care

Dan is the author of the new book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, available on Amazon. Find him on Twitter at @dgingiss.

“For a customer to be loyal to your company, let’s assume your company is already doing one or more of the following:

  • Offering a consistent experience across every customer interaction channel.
  • Offering a frictionless experience that requires minimal customer effort.
  • Anticipating customer needs & problems and proactively delivering to & solving them.
  • Continually striving to get better.

If you’re not doing all four, try doing whatever it is that you’re not already doing.

If you’re already doing all four, you’re in very rare air. Where you go from there to turn loyal customers into brand advocates is to take a step that is talked about a lot but very few companies have been able to successfully pull off: surprise and delight.

This means creating a powerful emotional connection with a customer by doing something that makes them feel special and/or important. A side benefit is that with the reach of social networks these days, whatever you do could have exponential benefits if that customer posts about it.

What you do will need to be consistent with your brand and usually requires a good understanding of customer motivations, preferences and expectations. You only need to do it once but it’s not easy and it’s usually expensive.”

Ben Motteram, Principal at CXpert

Ben Motteram is an unabashed believer that Customer Experience is the last true differentiator. With over 20 years of experience in customer acquisition, customer retention and customer service, Ben has been recognised many times for the thought leadership articles that are regularly published on his blog. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome insights on everything to do with customer experience, customer service, and employee engagement.

"Here are some important principles for turning loyal customers into brand advocates:

Don’t forget the real reason you have loyal customers in the first place: solve problems for them and serve them well through great products and customer-focused service.

Be engaged. A colleague recently purchased a blender, and said the choices were at first overwhelming. The thing that swayed her is that one manufacturer had responded to every low or mediocre rating with an offer to help. Many of those same customers later posted very positive updates. She went with the brand that was engaged.

Ask customers to write reviews. I bought a new pair of sports headphones recently, and received an email from the company founder checking in to make sure everything was going well. “We’re passionate about providing great products and service” he said. “Oh, and if you like your new sports headphones, would you be willing to provide a testimonial?” It was effective.

For your most active advocates, a much involved level of engagement makes sense, such as VIP or inner circle programs. Recognize them, engage with them, and make them a part of your eyes and ears. The enthusiastic promotion of your brand is an exciting endorsement that builds momentum for continued growth."

Brad Cleveland, Brad Cleveland Co LLC.

Brad was one of the founding partners in and former CEO of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), where he now serves as an advisor. Today he is a busy consultant, writer and speaker. His clients have included many service leaders – American Express, Apple, USAA, Google and others.

“The way you turn a loyal customer into a brand advocate is simple - you get their skin in the game! When you engage a customer to actually participate in the creation and communication of your brand, they will take personal ownership.

Sony PlayStation, Harley Davidson, and Oracle are excellent examples. These organizations have real users supporting each other, submitting innovative ideas, and advocating for the brand on a daily basis. It may be difficult at first to tear down the curtain, but once you've experienced the power of having an army of customer advocates, there's no turning back!

You can begin to create your user community by designing a simple online channel for customer communication, hosting a user conference in which customers share and establish relationships with each other, collaborating on new content such as case studies, and offering various incentives to your most active members. The result will be an incredibly cost-effective extension of your marketing and support teams!”

Nate Brown, Founder of CustomerCentricSupport.com

Nate is a relationship builder with a flair for execution. He is known for bringing a unique energy to the table that engages employees and takes teams to the next level. While Customer Service is his primary passion, he is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect dots across an organization and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a client success program, to journey mapping, to gamification, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is the guy to do it right and produce results.

“Advocacy comes from the delivery of exceptional customer experiences. While there are many principles behind great customer experiences, some are particularly important to loyal customers.

One thing that loyal customers appreciate, even expect, is that a company recognizes their loyalty. Here are a few principles related to recognition that will help create delightful experiences loyal customers will talk about.

Personalization: Show customers that you recognize them. Personalize interactions by remembering who they are, what they bought, what they did and what they said. Use that knowledge to provide relevant information at the right time.

Empathy: Bring the personalization to a deeper level. Show customers you understand and care about their feelings. Show genuine concern for the difficulties a service breakpoint created. Follow up on a support interaction to verify if the problem was solved, if the customer understands and if there are any other questions."

David Jacques, Chief Customer Officer of Customer Input

A senior executive and pioneer in the field of customer experience management, with over 20 years of international experience in experience research, strategy and design. Creator of the first comprehensive customer experience management framework which include everything from journey mapping and closed loop customer feedback to employee engagement and cultural transformation.

"If you want advocates, you need to give them something to advocate about. Too many companies make life harder on the customer and easier on their own brand. That said, ensure sure your customer experience makes life easier and better for your customers.

Would you want to buy from your own company? If the answer is no, then you've got a problem. You have to simply be the best if you want repeat customers that tell their friends, family and total strangers to choose your brand."

Blake Morgan, Author of More is More

Blake Morgan is a Customer Experience Futurist. Her first book is “More is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder And Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences.” Blake is adjunct faculty at the Rutgers executive education MBA program. Blake contributes to Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and the American Marketing Association. She is the host of The Modern Customer Podcast and a weekly customer experience video series on YouTube. She has worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, and many more.

“Six things that make a company a brand customers cannot live without:

We all have a company or two that we can’t fathom life without.  What are the few companies that you would be extremely upset if I told you, “You can no longer do business with them, ever again”?  When I ask my audiences this question, the same brands always get mentioned: Apple, Starbucks, Nordstrom, & Amazon besides local mom and pop shop s.  Now the important part is, think about what they have done and what they consistently do to make you so loyal, to make you feel that you cannot live without them.  That is power.  That is brand loyalty. The more people you can make feel like they cannot live without your brand, the closer you are to making price irrelevant. The key deciding factors to being a business people cannot live without are:

  • Great service/products
  • Consistency
  • Ease of doing business
  • Employee Evangelists
  • Educate versus Sell
  • Personalized Experience

  1. Great service/product

This is a given. It is the price of admission that your product or service better be damn good. However, this is typically not even listed in the top three reasons why people love a brand.

A company is in trouble if they are relying on their product or service to differentiate them in their market. Today every product or service is eventually commoditized.

  1. Consistency

This is huge and cannot be over emphasized. More than anything else, customers want brands to be brilliant at the basics. Forget the bells and whistles; just be consistent, reliable, accurate, and friendly in every interaction. Don’t make it dependent on which location or which employee your customer deals with.

  1. Ease of doing business

See Amazon. See Zappos. See Nordstrom. See Uber. Amazon is the easiest and most convenient company for purchasing, from one-click, to returns, to their customer support. Companies like Zappos and Nordstrom do not have return policies.

Bring it back in a year; you don’t need your receipt. Does your company have policies and rules to make your life more convenient? How easy is it to speak to a human being? How easy is it to find a phone number on your website? Is the buying experience for your customers convenient for you or your company?

  1. Employee Evangelist

Great brands have employee evangelists of two things, 1) what they do and 2) the brand they do it for. Shop at Teavanna Tea (owned by Starbucks).  Their employees love the product, love helping and discussing the benefits of different types of tea, and they love working for Teavanna.

  1. Educate versus Sell

The best brands teach their employees to educate customers versus sell to them. I love technology and the moment something new is released I have to have it (worst thing a consumer can do). One time, when Apple released a new Ipad, I ran into the Apple store to upgrade. When the Apple employee asked me what I wanted, I said, “I currently have the Ipad but I want the Ipad 2.”  He could not of had an easier sale. However, he asked me what I used my Ipad for. I said, “For email, surfing the internet, social media, and I read articles and books on it.” He said, “Do you play games or watch movies?” I replied, “No, never.”  He said, “Don’t get it.  It won’t be worth it.  The big difference between the Ipad and Ipad 2 is the resolution that you would only appreciate if you played games or watched movies.” I couldn’t believe he talked me out of spending $500. I was actually bummed!  I said, “Well maybe I will start playing games.” No seriously, I would of bought anything in the store from this employee after that. He wasn’t about selling me, he was about educating me and making sure I spent my money wisely.

  1. Personalized Experiences

Every regular Customer at Starbucks has “their order.” It is unique from anyone else. It usually is something long and complicated like a ‘grande single shot 4 pumps sugar free peppermint nonfat extra hot no foam light whip stirred white mocha.’ Did you know there are over 80,000 ways you can order your Starbucks drink? What is easier than that?

How can we be the company our customers cannot live without?

Review the list of six things that make a company a brand customers cannot live without. Do an audit of how your company fares in each of the six categories and see where you can improve so you can become the brand your customers can’t live without.”

John R. DiJulius III, Author of Customer Service Revolution

The Authority on World-Class Customer Service. John DiJulius is a keynote speaker, international customer experience consultant and bestselling author of three books, most recently The Customer Service Revolution. John is president of The DiJulius Group who works with world class companies like the The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestle, Marriott Hotel, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Cheesecake Factory, Bausch & Lomb, Progressive Insurance, Harley Davidson, State Farm, Chick-fil-A, and many more.

  • "Create value for your customers.
  • Show that you care and try to exceed customer expectations.
  • Arm CSRs to address the emotional side of customer interactions.
  • Encourage customer feedback and learn from it.
  • Work on building deeper relationships.
  • Be transparent and trustworthy.
  • Reward loyal customers."

Maria Lebed, Social Media Coordinator at Provide Support

Maria is a Customer Service Advocate and Social Media Coordinator at Provide Support, LLC. She is a writer and blogger on customer experience, customer service innovation and live chat support service.

"To move to the next level, a company must take the relationship from transactional and qualitative to personal.

A customer can be loyal for multiple reasons (superior product, great service, consistency, convenience, better than average customer service, etc.) but to move beyond that threshold, there has to be a personal, human connection.

Tip 1 - Specificity: Ensure correspondence is about your customer, their values and interests. Use a CRM to know who they are, your shared history, their preferences and more to show you're interested in them as people, rather than as a dollar sign.

Tip 2 - Familiarity: Be conversational and friendly when engaging them, as if they are a long time friend. That includes using their name, showing empathy/compassion/interest, asking sincere questions. You're building a relationship, not a contact list.

Tip 3 - Exclusivity: provide access to service/products that regular customers don't, to make them feel special and closer to your brand. Provide incentives and discounts for their loyalty. ""Best friends"" get perks that acquaintances don't.

Tip 4 - Creativity: ensure that your efforts actually look like you're putting effort into them. A video. An audio message. A handwritten note. Don't rely on traditional methods when some platforms like video and audio can bring tone, personality and warmth.

Your customers are showing their loyalty to you, to inspire them brand advocacy you have to show how you're loyal to them."

Russel Lolacher, Host of The Upsell blog

Speaker, consultant and advocate of better communication to help organizations, big and small, better connect with their customers and employees. Host of The Upsell blog, Russel speaks on modern customer service, social media, branding, leadership and relationship building. Named a top customer service thought leader by Microsoft, Huffington Post and CustomerGauge.

“Loyalty and advocacy are not necessarily one and the same thing. It is very common for consumers and businesses alike to continually use the services of particular companies, without actually being advocates or ‘fans’ of those companies.

For example, many consumers become loyal customers of supermarkets, not necessarily out of choice, but out of convenience, due to location. If a Tesco or Wal-Mart is on your doorstep, not many will venture further afield to find an alternative they prefer. Are these regular, repeat customers loyal? The company they are interacting with may assume they are. But are these customers advocates? Now that is a completely different question.

Regular, repeat customers must never be confused with advocates or fans. An advocate does not just interact with you often, they enjoy doing so – they look forward to doing so. Advocates tell others about you – they encourage their friends and family to become advocates as well. They become your most powerful and effective marketing partner.

Here are my top 5 tips to turn loyal customers into advocates:

  • Do not take loyal customers for granted! Thank them as often as you can for their custom
  • Show your loyal customers you care about them. Let them know you recognise them; remember key facts about them (their favourite drink or cake for example)
  • Reward your loyal customers. Make sure you do so, not to keep them hostage, but to genuinely enable them to feel even better about their interaction with you
  • Speak to your loyal customers as often as possible. As advocates of your brand, ask them for their views and opinions as to how you can get even better
  • Be authentic – always. Things will go wrong – even for the most customer centric of brands. When they do, make sure you are not tempted to be defensive. Be open and honest with your customers and allow them to believe the actions you will put in place to prevent a recurrence of the issue.”

Ian Golding, Customer Experience Trainer

Global Customer Experience Specialist and Certified Customer Experience Professional. Authorised Resource and Training Provider for CCXP Accreditation. Customer Experience Consultancy Ltd.

Go above and beyond

“Customer loyalty is gained by meeting expectations. To win brand advocates, meet expectations but then deliver something unexpected, valuable, and memorable.”

Andrew McFarland, VP Customer Care of Packet Design.

Accomplished management executive offering expansive, cross-functional qualifications in general management and technological leadership and possessing an innate ability to motivate and empower multi-disciplinary groups to achieve objectives and solve complex problems.

“While it is fundamental, the most important aspect of transforming loyal customers into brand advocates is to provide customer experiences that are worthy of advocacy.

Organizations should first focus on the foundation upon which the advocacy must be built — an emotionally resonant and positively memorable customer experience.

Only then will techniques to facilitate advocacy — such as referral programs and community management — be successful."

Adam Toporek, Author of Be Your Customer's Hero

Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and frontline trainer. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero, as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.