You know that awkward moment when you reach out to shake someone’s hand, and for whatever reason, they don’t extend theirs in return? It’s something you think about long after the moment, and the next time you come into contact with that person, you hesitate before offering your hand again. When brands and organizations don’t acknowledge the actions or the kind words of their advocates, they’re setting themselves up for the same, and potentially costly, scenario.
Unsolicited thanks, praise and support from customers is a coveted form of promotion that money just can’t buy. Yet many brands aren’t listening for it, and worse yet, aren’t responding to it. Take this example of a friend’s Facebook post:
“Just spent a half hour typing out a really nice email to the Valvoline website praising the excellent service I received last week. This is the email I received in return … ‘Thank you for contacting Valvoline Customer Care. We have received your contact request from our website. However, it appears the comments from the website did not come through properly. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. At your convenience, please respond back with how we may assist you.’”
Underneath this, my friend wrote: “Ummm…. no. I had a window of ‘niceness’ and now it’s closed. I’m out!”
Underneath that, other friends began chiming in with their disappointing experiences about the company. So, what started out as an incredibly positive act of brand advocacy turned into a missed opportunity for the brand, and even worse, a negative online review.
The Power of Brand Advocates
These 2012 stats from Empathica show the effect brand advocates can have on other customers:
- brand advocates can drive 33% more sales
- brand advocates drive 18% more traffic than regular customers
- 61% of people consider buying the product or service recommended by a brand advocate
- 38% of consumers have followed through (at least once) with a friend’s brand recommendation via social media.
A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way
So what can brands do to get more positive support from brand advocates? The short answer is just say thanks. Most brand advocates don’t offer support or praise because they’re looking for an incentive. They do so because they truly appreciate a brand or organizations’ offerings or they simply want to recognize and share a great customer experience.
To retain these customers and to keep their loyalty, brands should follow the tried and true parental advice that when someone gives you a compliment, you should always say thank you. Responding to a negative customer experience brings the customer satisfaction. Responding to a positive customer experience with the brand’s acknowledgement and gratitude brings delight through recognition.
An example: Victoria’s Secret does a fantastic job responding to customer complaints on their brand’s Facebook page, but under customer posts such as “One of my favorite stores. / Great sales! / It’s cool that you can “like” things on fb, but I LOVE Victoria’s Secret! / You have great customer service! Thank you for all of your help,” there’s no reply at all. Will these same brand advocates continue to post gushing compliments when the brand doesn’t acknowledge them? They very well may, but it’s far more likely if the brand says thanks.
Make sure your customers aren’t telling you thanks for nothing. Listen, acknowledge and extend your brand gratitude in return.
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