Followers of this blog know that I spend a lot of time thinking, researching, and writing about customer advocacy (and customer centric approaches in general) and communities. Your customers and prospects want to talk to each other–often without you filtering or controlling the conversation. But it is your responsibility, actually your opportunity, to help make that happen. Tech providers that try to control the conversation or don’t take steps to help it occur are missing the boat.
Gartner recently conducted a survey of enterprise buyers (a survey that I’ve mentioned in other posts and research) that bears this out. For Gartner clients, I’ve recently published a new report, with Mike Maziarka, that explores this in detail: “Tech Go-to-Market: Use Community Programs to Encourage and Expand Customer Advocacy” (subscription required). The bottom line is simple. Customers who engage in community, user group, or advocacy programs feel that their providers value them more because of those programs. To the tune of 91% of the respondents who participate in these programs. 91%.
Furthermore, if they participate in multiple programs–they feel it even stronger. 96% of the respondents who participate in multiple programs have that value association v. 88% who participate in one program. This is above and beyond the core reasons for these programs: deferring service requests and building knowledge (for communities and user groups) or supporting marketing and sales efforts (for advocacy programs).
While customers clearly value these programs, providers need to make more progress in execution. In a companion survey, we learned that 22% of the providers surveyed had none of these programs. And over 50% of those that do, only have 1 program.
Now is the time to commit to expanded customer programs for 2017. Don’t have a community? Take steps to get one started. Still managing references the old way (with spreadsheets and phone calls). Invest in customer advocacy.
Offer your customers and prospects more ways to engage with each other. You’ll gain a load of benefits—and increased brand trust and loyalty as a result.
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