What does that mean, consumer advocacy / activism?

Do you advocate on behalf of all customers... or just your clients?

Do you advocate on behalf of all customers... or just your clients?

It’s too bad that, prior to the advent of the Web — and, in particular, social media and elevating the customer voice — the only organizations that advocated on behalf of the customer were non-profit consumer advocacy groups. Because they weren’t bringing in any revenue, those groups weren’t really been able to finance marketing initiatives and other tactics to get the word out about defending customer rights and freedoms.

So, until the Web rolled around, no one really understood just how much power the customer ought to have. Even customers didn’t seem sure if they should question things or just accept the status quo.

But, now, if the consumer wants to find out information about his/her rights, about a product s/he is researching or, as it may be, about a real estate agent to whom a friend has referred him/her, they just do this:

  • Visit Google (or Yahoo or MSN)
  • Type in a keyword phrase that describes what they’re looking for, like “customer reviews Edmonton real estate agents”
  • Get results! (Can you guess who’s at the top of that organic results list?)

Ta da! The consumer gets what s/he’s been looking for. Pretty sweet. Goooooo customers!

So, what is customer advocacy?
Chris Lawer, an expert on customer advocacy, defines it like this:

[Customer advocacy is] an advanced form of customer-orientation that responds to the new drivers of empowered customer choice, involvement and knowledge. Customer advocacy aims to build deeper customer relationships by earning new levels of trust and commitment and by developing mutual dialogue and partnership with customers. Put simply, customer advocacy is doing what is best for the customer, even if that entails recommending a competitor’s product (see paper by Urban in Winter 2004 MIT Sloan Management Review for more on this). The hope is that this will earn greater levels of loyalty and spread positive word-of-mouth.

And, yes, businesses —- real estate agents included —- it works for you. Read a few of the ways Lawer suggests you can use the power of your customer’s voices to build trust in your business and transparently represent your business to the whole world:

Find all the info on Chris’s blog: http://chrislawer.blogs.com/chris_lawer/2005/02/developments_in.html

Are you ready to be a customer advocate?
It starts with accepting your role as a customer above all. We’re all customers. Even the billionaires are, when they’re out for dinner, just customers.

For a better consumer world for you and everyone you know, advocating on behalf of the customer is the only way to go. Which side do you want to be on? Now, which side do you think you’ll be on in two years’ time, when customers simply demand what they’re entitled to: free, newsworthy information to help them make better decisions when acquiring a product or hiring a service.



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