I recently heard Dr. TR Rao of Market Probe speak at a Market Research Bulletin webinar. He posed an interesting question – Does customer advocacy exist in the B2B world? He believes that, yes, there is. However, what was also enlightening to me was the discussion of just how crucial it is in today’s business world.
Why is it important?
Customer Behavior has been greatly influenced by changing market forces, including:
- A decline in trust of large institutions.
- Social Networking – The ability to instantly tap into a large data stream and crowdsource advice from strangers is a really new thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it to us marketers.
- Ease of engaging with colleagues and peers – It is so much easier to maintain ties and engage with a much larger network of peers.
Here’s a recent example from my own life: I needed to buy a new printer.
Old School: I would have gone to the store and had an “expert” tell me what I needed. Maybe I would have snuck off and bought it elsewhere online. I’m not that old, old school, after all.
New School: I first polled friends on Facebook, asking if they had purchased a printer recently. After some suggestions came up, I took to Twitter for search on comments and then perused a few tech blogs looking for info on those models.
The results: I ended up buying a Brother printer – I thought they made sewing machines on Project Runway! Old School me would have never bought the printer that I did. Because I heard from true customer advocates of their product as well as some other vocal voices shunning me away from others, I ended up with the purchase that I did.
Customer Advocates, those at the highest level of loyalty, can help your business tremendously. Likewise, customers who are alienated – the lowest rung of the advocacy ladder can be extremely detrimental. It is equally important to listen out for and take care of both of these groups. From his study, Dr Rao found that 60-70% of his B2B group polled shared their experiences word of mouth.
What do you want that 60-70% of your own customers to say about your company and product?