Customer advocacy is a type of customer support and service that takes a slightly different approach to the task of communicating with and helping customers to resolve questions or concerns that may arise from time to time. As the name implies, customer advocacy provides the framework for making or advocating the case of a customer within a specific situation, providing that customer with someone within the provider’s organization that is focused on the best interests of that customer. This particular approach can make a significant difference in how customers are approached as well as make an impact on how the business goes about designing and executing various marketing strategies.
At the heart of the process of customer advocacy is the need to think proactively in terms of what is best for that customer. This is somewhat different from most approaches to customer service, which tend to be reactive in nature. With more traditional customer support services, the idea is usually to respond to a need or concern when it is presented by that client. In contrast, customer advocacy seeks to anticipate the needs and concerns of customers before they arise, and respond to those issues before they ever have a chance to affect the customer.
In order to engage in true customer advocacy, it is necessary to make the interests of the business secondary to the interests of the customer. Questions regarding what a customer would think, do, or say in a given situation are considered top priorities when designing new products, determining which marketing techniques and strategies to utilize, and even in how to structure business models for the companies involved. The idea is that by placing the customer first, the potential to engage in loyalty marketing that helps to minimize the chances of a competitor being able to lure a valued customer away is kept to a minimum.
Customer advocacy may also take place when a customer is inconvenienced in some manner. For example, if a crucial order of goods or services is delivered late, this will often have an adverse effect on both the customer’s ability to do business and in turn the relationship between the vendor and the client. In order to help overcome this situation, a customer advocate would help decision makers understand the enormity of the inconvenience experienced by the customer and what that delay in shipment and delivery meant in terms of losses to the customer. This creates a situation in which actions can be chosen that help to minimize the inconvenience to the customer as much as possible, and in turn increase the potential of repairing the relationship and keeping that customer for a little while longer.