Some might say, "I want it all!" Others may have a very clear idea of which category would be most advantageous. To confirm my thinking, I did some research before exclaiming what I thought would be the "best category" to make up my customer list.
There are literally thousands of articles and hundreds of studies on the subject. You could spend a long time going through Google results on this topic, which is what I did. Here are the highlights (consolidated) from my research.
First, let's address the difference between Customer Satisfaction, Customer Loyalty and Customer Advocacy ...
- A Satisfied Customer means you are meeting, and hopefully exceeding customer expectations with the products / services, experience and personal attention you are delivering. This is a requirement to do business - to "be in the game." Unfortunately, satisfaction doesn't correlate to long-term relationships, loyalty or "share of spend."
- A Loyal Customer, in addition to being a satisfied customer (usually - however some loyal customers actually are not always "satisfied"), loyal customers buy more for longer periods of time - which helps you achieve profitable growth. Loyal customers are even likely to tell more people about you.
- A Customer Advocate is the holy grail of customers! These are the customers who are loyal AND who will "go to bat" for you. They support and recommend your products, services, solutions by sharing their story with others like them. They also won't hesitate to tell you if something is wrong - which is OK, because they have confidence in you and know you will do everything you can to "fix it." They love you! They will actively and positively talk about the relationship you've forged, citing how great you are to work with, and how you've helped solve their problems. And of course, you love them too! You've spent time getting to know their business, their challenges and their aspirations. You are proactive in helping solve their problems and are always one step ahead of them. You've developed a strong emotional relationship, and lucky for you, those relationships bring you sustainable, predictable, profitable growth! This is a core philosophy featured in Sean Geehan's upcoming book, The B2B Executive Playbook.
Now that we understand the different categories of customers, in my next blog I'll cover how you can move satisfied and/or loyal customers to be customer advocates.