Reevoo, the customer ratings and reviews firm, held an expert panel to discuss the advocacy economy. Here are four key insights from that talk.
The mantra “we make it, you take it” has long gone. Brand power is no longer delivered from the advertising agencies of New York’s Madison Avenue or London’s Soho Square. Power has shifted in the marketplace from seller to buyer.
Beholden no more to advertising agencies for guidance we now confer with each other. We compare notes. We share experiences. Today we are the connected consumer; never again the target audience. We’re connected to each other via Facebook and Twitter, via LinkedIn, WhatsApp and through review sites.
In today’s mobile-first era, we, the super-powered consumer, research anything and everything from our smartphone.
We have access to reliable information about available choices. We have a capacity to interact with other customers. We are in charge. And, we want information in real time.
The way we interact with your brand at every touchpoint impacts the value you will bring to your business over time - from buying and using your products and services, to then becoming vocal advocates.
So while it’s promising to see brands taking advantage of the open advocacy of today, there is always more that can be done to connect with us customers at every point of our journey. Those brands that do not innovate and change their business models to embrace this new era of customer communication risk damaging relationships with those that matter most: their customers.
Brands need to engage with their customers throughout the entire lifecycle in order to convert the connected consumer into loyal customers. From providing us with relevant pre-purchase information at the right moment, to then collecting their content and data post-purchase.
4 key insights: the Advocacy economy
Reevoo, the customer ratings and reviews firm last week hosted a panel discussion with big brands and industry specialists to explore the evolving advocacy economy.
Here are four reminders and key takeaways about what it really means to be customer centric and to build the voice of the customer into all areas of your business. These insights come from the panel below both during the discussion and in follow-up conversations.
The advocate panel:
#1 Customer obsessed
Key insight: Brands need to become customer obsessed argued Michael Sherwood.
Why it's important: Customer obsession needs to form part of your business model, your core values, your organisational culture and operating strategy.
You can’t do customer obsession. Rather you have to be customer obsessed. It is a 'value'; an 'ethic'; you have to decide you are customer obsessed. But importantly it’s other people - your customers - who can affirm this moniker.
Merely satisfying us the customer has become table stakes for any company. If a brand doesn’t engage with us on our terms as connected consumers we’ll find another brand who will.
#2 Buyer journey is not linear
Key insight: Buyer journeys are non linear. Evan Kypreos explained that buyer journeys are a looping mess; fragmented.
Why it's important: Mobile has become the go-to channel in all moments of truth.
Google calls these mobile-first behaviours “micro-moments.” At these points in time, we the customer turn to our smartphones for information, bypassing traditional marketing touchpoints.
In these micro-moments, we are the most open to influence and engagement, too. Google found that 90% of mobile-first consumers are brand agnostic in a micro-moment and that 73% will make a decision about a brand based on which is the most useful or helpful in each instance.
Communicators have long used the concept of the sales funnel as a model to better understand the decision-making process. The funnel is often accompanied with the age-worn AIDA, and the more detailed AIUAPR model of decision making.
Traditionally we have looked at selling, buying and lead nurturing as a gradual process through this funnel and customer life cycle model.
Today’s path to purchase is more complex than these models allow. People come and go. They enter and leave the funnel or whatever other model you use at any time.
What does this mean for business today? Customer service is now a perpetual engagement machine. Customer controlled erratic ‘journeys’ need to be met on the customers’ terms. Our Nirvana: a frictionless customer delight.
A study by Luth Research tracked the car-buying journey of a 32-year-old mother of two. The research reported in a GlobalWebIndex article revealed her research included over 900 digital interactions across manufacturer websites, dealer websites, review websites, Google, and YouTube.
This shows just how much the buying process has splintered, and why it’s so essential for today’s brands to have ready access to granular insight.
#3 Turn detractors into advocates
Key insight: Michael Sherwood talked about Atom bank’s success in turning people impacted by negative experiences with the brand into future advocates by including their experiences and insight into the bank’s customer panel.
Why it's important: This turnaround in sentiment is known as the recovery paradox - an event where dissatisfied consumers are so impressed by the way a brand recovers from a mishap they experience that they become more loyal and satisfied than they were originally.
The recovery paradox is an outcome of being customer obsessed - placing the consumer at the heart of everything the brand does. And, if nurtured appropriately, can pay dividends to your brand. “Fixing a perceived misstep actually has its upside, where making no missteps does not.” remarked Peter Aceto whilst CEO of Tangerine Bank.
KFC realised the recovery paradox earlier this year when the fried-chicken fast-food-chain ran out of … chicken. They could have played the blame game. Instead they humanised the brand and became more memorable for their successful crisis management handling than the crisis itself.
KFC apologised quickly and without caveats. They acknowledged that a chicken restaurant without any chicken is “not ideal”. In doing so they demonstrated that they were taking the situation seriously. Whilst their tone of voice was human.
They humanised the situation further by borrowing the creative direction from the French Connection and running a series of advertisements with the letters KFC altered to FKD. KFC thereby made its apology funny, memorable and irreverent.
The apology was sincere. There was no “sorry but ... our new logistics firm let us down”, or “sorry but there was a pile up on the M6”. They just said sorry then focused on getting back to ‘business as usual’.
Here’s is the full copy for the KFC crisis management apology advertisement:
“A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who travelled out of their way to find we were closed. And endless thanks to our KFC team members and our franchise partners for working tirelessly to improve the situation. It's been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us.”
Words taken from KFC crisis management advertisement
Fans of KFC praised the witty and upfront approach, which lightened the mood.
#4 Include advocates as part of new product development
Key insight: Michael Sherwood explained that Atom bank uses Reevoo’s platform and feedback capabilities to ask specific questions about the experiences they provide, that in turn, generates insight that ensures the things that matter to customers are fully understood and baked into their products.
Why it's important: I’ve written before about how forward-searching brands bake the customer voice into all aspects of their new product development process by listening to and harnessing the power of influencers and advocates.
The insight gathered by Atom is then used to inform its business about what it needs to do to make the things that matter most to customers even better.
Beko, the white goods manufacturer, also builds advocates into the new product development process. It utilises Reevoo to listen to customers and to understand what they want from their products.
Boots, the UK high street pharmacy chain, has integrated advocates into every step of the development process for its first own-brand skincare range in over 20 years.
The community of advocates and influencers worked on the brand name, the packaging as well as on the product scents and the textures.
Benefits of advocates in product development
Benefits of welcoming advocates into the new product development process:
Nurturing a core of sustained advocacy between users and the brand.
Having a ready-made fan base to promote the product as soon as it’s launched.
Increased likelihood of high, positive engagement rates. We know that people take the recommendations of friends and family before those of ‘experts’ or the brand itself.
Evolution of the advocacy economy
Authority rather than popularity is a key to cutting through the fog of fake news and hyperbolic brand messages. “In a world where facts are under siege, credentialed sources are proving more important than ever,” Stephen Kehoe, Global chair, Reputation at Edelman said at the time of this year's Edelman Trust Barometer launch.
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO [word emphasis my own].
The advocacy economy is now. Realtime expectations from consumers will only enhance the power of the advocate through honest, verified UGC.