Building Champions: The Power of Customer Advocacy Leadership

June 5, 2024

You have built a community. You are building the foundation at which strong relationships will sit, and you are beginning to uncover your vocal champions.

First thing to remember is that customers pay for the products and services they use, and the truth is they do not owe companies anything beyond that. This is where a customer advocacy leader comes in! They can be brought into the fold to add additional value and create a special kind of relationship with customers. This turns into a two-way street, where both parties benefit, you just need to get your gatekeeper recipe right!

Are you wondering what I mean by “gatekeeper”? That is someone strong enough to make sure they are making the right ask at the right time to the right person. They are also empathetic enough to really get to know and understand your customer’s comfort zone and respect it, as the priority!

Now there are some pros and cons to consider for your advocacy leader:

  • Pros…
    • They will gain the respect of your customers.
    • They will gain the respect of the account teams and customer success managers aligned with the customers they are the gatekeeper for.
    • They will foster a well-maintained program. They can use this to your advantage to grow your program internally.
    • They will have proud moments when you help raise the voice of your customers in a way they know benefits them.
  • Cons…
    • They will need to learn to say “No”.
    • They will need to learn how to pitch compromises effectively to internal stakeholders.
    • They will likely ruffle some feathers by standing up for customers.
    • They cannot lead with the people-pleasing side of themselves to internal stakeholders (and even customers are times).

The next step is how best to manage all the moving pieces, and I will dive a little into three areas I find most critical!

  • Customers…
    • Ask the right questions that will allow you to best match them for acts of advocacy.
    • Ask questions to identify just how they would like to be your advocate. Remember there is no wrong answer here, and this feedback truly needs to be respected.
    • You can never know too much about them. Business and personal wise…you never know when either will be a benefit.
  • Data…
    • Store the data in a way that it can be sliced and diced in a very timely manner.
    • Work with internal stakeholders to see what types of information you should gather to build out meaningful profiles.
    • Don’t ask questions just to ask questions. Your customers’ time is valuable!
  • The asks
    • Be proactive.
    • Be prescriptive.
    • Be personal.
    • Be respectful.
    • Be thankful.

The above is often the portion of your role where you can truly show your champions that you are their internal advocate. Customers pay for a product or service, and as stated above they do not owe you anything more than that. However, when they turn into your vocal champion that is a gift, and one that should not be taken for granted. Making sure you have someone in this role who will take the time to understand how they want to advocate for you, and respect the boundaries is a very powerful piece.

Now I will leave you with this final thought. I have always thought of my communities as wishing wells. We put time and effort into keeping it safe, clean and free of toxins. However, the second we let our guard down and allow people to dip into it without validating and asking the questions needed, we risk it becoming tainted, and worst case non-usable.

Remember that amazing customer experiences help create advocates, and advocates create sales and marketing magic!

Building champions: The power of customer advocacy leadership

This is a guest blog by Jennifer Susinski, member of the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

The Advocacy Mavens Coalition is an association of open for contracting customer-led professionals, each with extensive industry experience. We’re experts in building advocacy and community programs, designing experiences, running advisory boards, creating content, managing and migrating platforms, and more.

Our members are experienced advocacy marketing strategists, community and customer success managers, educators, designers, video producers, analysts, and technical consultants. Whatever your program goals, this coalition has you covered!

Want to hear more about our services? Drop us a note!