This weekend, I was sitting at my neighborhood coffee shop and realized I’ve been choosing them over the others in my area now for more than 20 years. You may know that San Francisco has quite a few options when it comes to getting good coffee. And for me, I have about four different places I can choose to go for my cup of Joe. However, I choose this one—not just because of their coffee is good, but also because of three keys things: they know me, I identify with their greater mission for global good and they’ve changed my behavior in how I consume coffee. And I recommend this shop every chance I get.

My little local coffee shop has brewed their brand of an advocate customer. With the shift in how we watch television—skipping through the commercials to get back to our favorite show—to how we have become desensitized to the ads that appear while we scroll through our social media feeds, brands and companies must rely more on these advocate customers to grow their businesses.

Fellow experts and colleagues in the customer experience field will agree with me that there is certainly a chasm between loyalty and advocacy. Getting your customers over that gap can fuel business growth, show the positive economics behind the importance of focusing on customer needs and emphasize the value of a good customer experience practice. It is going beyond the numbers in your CSAT, NPS, CES—or whatever customer satisfaction measure you use—to building continuous experiences that make your customers think of you first and give others their word-of-mouth endorsement of your company.

Recently, I had the opportunity at Genesys events to host several of our key customers in a panel discussion. Notably, Intuit and PayPal shared how their global focus on putting customer needs first has accelerated their growth. Here are three key actions these companies have incorporated to build advocate customers:

  1. Design a Process From the Outside In

It comes as no surprise that most companies have business processes that were built internally to serve internal efficiencies, or at least what we think of as efficient. But rarely does this serve our customers; most times, it works against them. Think about the headlines major airline carriers made earlier this year. Just because you think you’ve perfected something, does it mean it’s perfect for our customer?

It is critical that we focus how we refine and better our own processes with the customer point of view in mind. Denise Tabar, Customer Care Technology Leader at Intuit, described their Design for Delight (D4D) innovation process at our CX17 event this spring as a “way to go beyond customer expectations by gaining deep customer empathy as our inspiration for innovation. It is a system that we require all our employees to participate in so we can truly understand our customers, their situations, environments, lifestyles, attitudes, and emotions. By gaining a deeper understanding of our customers, it gives us that inspiration to innovate for them and come up with solutions to change their lives so profoundly that they can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing things. The D4D program has transformed the way we have created our offerings, services, processes and how we do business.”

  1. Emotionally Connect With Your Customers and Build Empathy

Emotions and empathy are more often thought of as being something soft in the corporate world. But it is crucial in building advocacy: Think of all the products and services we love—these brands and companies have mastered it. They really know their customer and what makes them tick. As Denise mentioned, empathy is critical for employees to know their customer and deliver the right kind of service.

These opportunities to connect with your customer should not be just a random exercise, but rather embedded as part of designing the experience. It is one thing to look at numbers and data to know your customers; it is another thing to understand what your customers’ life values are, what emotions trigger their connection with your brand and how to best design your services and products so that customers want to use them.

  1. Design Services That Create Habits and Mold Behaviors

In understanding your customer’s life as a whole picture, their behaviors and habits are critical for companies to build services and products that foster the type of behavior we would like to see. This is customer engagement.

You’ve seen companies throw themselves into social media when they saw the behavior of their consumer base spending hours on Facebook. Whether it is online banking or shopping, companies are shifting their focus to design services that engage their customer—as part of their behavior. Dar Andrews, Vice President of Service Delivery and Engineering at PayPal, describes the evolution of Venmo as “meeting our services with where our customers are. Venmo has become a social movement to where our millennial generation has shifted their behavior to not carry cash or credit cards when they go out to share a meal. And it’s a platform that has become an intimate social network among the lives of our users and their friends.”

How about you?

  • What is your strategy to go beyond loyalty and metrics to create an advocate customer base?
  • Are you open to reviewing your internal processes from your customers’ points of view
  • Are you making the effort to connect with your customers emotionally and determine what they value the most and what makes them tick?
  • Are you designing your services and products to create habits that keep your customers coming back beyond price?

Get some answer to these questions and connect your company to CX excellence. Take the CX Maturity challenge today!  

Musa Hanhan

Musa Hanhan

Musa is a driven experience designer and product strategist with a career spanning more than 20 years in the B2B technology industry. He has demonstrated leadership in the design and management of go-to market strategies of highly successful products. He...