Customers are advocates for you when they positively promote your products and brand. Brand advocates, as they are often called, bring much value to your organization.
As you think through the many possible alternatives for engaging with both passive and active advocates, I encourage you to develop what some refer to as a brand advocate pyramid. Begin with four levels that represent degrees of brand advocacy: new customers, passive advocates, active advocates, and influencers. There are no hard and fast definitions for the categories, but noting a distinction and tailoring your activities for each will put you on a good path.
At the base level, there are the many new customers, some of whom are passive advocates; here, simple connections and recognition go a long way. At the top of the pyramid are those active advocates, much fewer in number, who are truly influencers. For them, a much more involved level of engagement makes sense, such as VIP or inner circle programs. (You might even consider hiring them. DirecTV found a lead engineer through the thoughtful blogs—both complimentary and critical—that he was posting.)
It’s inspiring and helpful to observe organizations that do a great job of engagement. One is LEGO. The mere mention of the company takes many of us back to childhood. Loyal customers save LEGO sets for their kids and grandkids. A big reason the brand remains viable and known across generations is because of how they engage. They have design contests, robotics challenges, and introduce new products around fun stories on social platforms (Facebook and others). They keep advocates engaged and ensure they are part of the company’s direction. In fact, input from customers is what drives the development of new kits. (For other examples of engagement, go to YouTube and search for GoPro, Glossier, Red Bull, or Patagonia. See how these organizations engage with customer communities, earning tens of millions of views.)
Your brand advocates trust you. They want that trust to continue. Keep your end of the bargain and you’ll be powerfully furthering customer experience.
Excerpt from Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results by Brad Cleveland.