In our previous blog post, we discussed how establishing a set of shared values with your customers and potential customers can win over many who are jaded to and reluctant to accept other forms of branding and marketing. Shared values can be communicated to your customers and potential customers in more ways than just via marketing and branding, especially digital branding and content marketing. In fact, one of the simplest yet groundbreaking ways you can demonstrate your shared values is by shifting your focus away from customer service to customer advocacy, especially over email, social media and any other digital platform you use to address customer comments, concerns and complaints.

Shift Your Focus From Being Reactive To Proactive

Begin by thinking about how many of your customer service interactions are conducted. If you are like many small businesses, your customer service interactions are reactive: a customer reaches out to you with a comment, concern or complaint, and you assume the role of “The Voice” – the voice of your company, the voice of authority and, you may believe, the voice of reason. In short, the entire exchange is usually reactive, and while you may be as friendly and respectful as possible while responding to the customer and defending or justifying a decision or action that you believe is perfectly reasonable and justifiable, an invisible wall is erected between you and your customer, like a layer of glass that separates a ticket attendant from a prospective passenger at a train or bus station.

Reach Out To Your Customers

A new, proactive approach to customer service, and eventually becoming an advocate for your customers, begins with an outreach to existing customers. If you utilize social media, this involves seeking out mentions of your brand or business among public postings to popular social media networks. If you discover that a social media user has a concern or complaint, reach out to them as quickly as possible, starting the dialogue on a proactive note. Before you reach out, your customer may believe that they, through a careless error or omission, share no values with your company. By ignoring these mentions and hoping that the concern or complaint is lost in the “noise” of social media, or waiting until the customer directly reaches out to you and then taking a reactive stance to the problem, you are inadvertently confirming the customer’s belief.

Remember, Your Online Postings Become Permanent

The ease of posting to online platforms such as social media and the seemingly transitory nature of social media feeds often result in an illusion that are online postings aren’t permanent. However, nothing could be farther from the truth – once your blog or public social media feed is indexed by search engines such as Google, your postings become a permanent part of the Internet, and are available to anyone with access to a search engine. This means that any time your brand or company is mentioned on social media, it has the potential to become a permanent part of your Internet record. When you and your company become advocates for your customers, you’re not just addressing existing client concerns and complaints on social media, you’re also taking control of your own narrative and creating an ongoing record of the values you share with your target market!

The Other Type Of Customer Advocate

The phrase “customer advocate” actually has a double meaning – it can signify a business owner or customer service representative that advocates for customers, but it can also inversely mean a customer that voluntarily advocates for a brand or business. When you become an advocate for your customers and establish your shared values, your customers may become advocates for you! The greatest thing about developing advocates for your brand and business among your customers is the influence they have over friends, family and other followers on social media networks, providing a free and incredibly effective marketing channel for your business.