In today's social landscape the internet is having a huge impact on the way we consume. We'll know what we are ordering at a restaurant days before we actually go. We are able to quickly compare the cost of items across many stores all over the world. If we need to find anything out, we pretty much can. As such, businesses need to cater for this and understand how it may affect their business.
What is customer advocacy?
Customer advocacy is essentially where a company focuses heavily on customer satisfaction to ensure that all their needs are not only met, but exceeded. This is done to not only keep customers coming back but to also create positive recommendations, reviews and overall advocacy. People are much more likely to listen to someone they know and trust, or even a group of people online, than a company’s advertising. That is why word of mouth marketing is highly effective in bringing in new people to your business. This naturally goes hand in hand with customer reviews, advocacy being the strategy and reviews being the end product.
Why customer reviews are so important.
When planning your travel or booking a restaurant, or anything really, how often have you paid attention to the rating given by Google, TripAdvisor or any other customer-based review site? Probably most times right? If two experiences where very similar in every aspect except their customer rating you’d pick the one with higher-rated reviews. More importantly to tours and attractions, where pre-booking is more common, is that a high rating will build trust between the customer and your business. This exemplifies exactly why these customer reviews are crucial to a tour or attractions’ ongoing success.
How to implement customer advocacy programs.
The first step of starting up a customer advocacy strategy or focus in your business is to look at exactly what your customers in the past have liked and what they have disliked. If you have online reviews already it is key to take note of them. If not, you can ask your customers throughout the tour how they feel about it, in a more casual way.
Once you get a deeper understanding of where your tour or attraction succeeds or fails it is crucial that you maximize the best parts and minimize the worst. It is also key that you keep up to date with customers as their tastes can change.
Once you have created a great tour or attraction and are aiming to maximize customer satisfaction then you must get the customers to leave reviews. It is all good and well to have heaps of satisfied customers who will likely return, however, if none of them leave reviews your potential as a business to draw in new customers is massively capped. Here are some ways to ensure that you get those much-needed reviews:
- Be easily found on all popular review sites
- Send follow-up emails to remind them
- Give them an incentive - coupons or discounts
- Make their opinion feel valued - make changes based on feedback
- Thank them - responding to any reviews, positive or negative, will let the customer know that they’ve been heard
Once you are receiving reviews it is important to actively listen to these and make any changes to issues that are brought up often. Not only will it ideally increase the overall customer experience, it will also mean that they will feel appreciated and improve the customer-business relationship.
Unfortunately, it is much harder to get an extremely positive review than it is to get an overwhelmingly negative one. And to compound this, the negative reviews are often the ones that people online will take note of. It doesn’t matter if there are 20 great ‘5-star’ reviews if there is just 1 negative one everyone will take note of it.
Your business may just be having a bad day, or there was a technical fault, which meant that the bad review wasn’t a fair reflection of the business. Whatever the reason, however, it is crucial that you respond to and resolve any poor reviews.
The end result of a customer advocacy strategy isn't just creating these reviews online or through social media. It is important to continue pushing individuals through the customer journey to interact and connect with your brand more often, ever-increasing their loyalty towards your business. A successful customer advocacy strategy will create these brand advocates, who act as a marketing beacon for your products and services and assist in spreading the word of your brand and business through their community.
As a result of this strategy, you’ll ideally develop and refine an awesome tour or attraction that succeeds in creating a great customer experience, and generates a wide range of reviews. Your tour will be able to develop a strong reputation and brand image off the back of these reviews and create a competitive edge over your customers.