Creating customer advocates is a measure of customer success by some.

Not enough though, in my view. I have a view because I’ve helped create a fair share of advocates. Just recently three of my customers got up on stage and spoke at a large event to other customers and prospects.

I’ve also had the CEO of the largest bank in Africa come and speak at an event I created for other customers and prospects in the financial services industry. He went on to expand his business with my then employer to the tune of a $30 million, multi year deal (TCV).

If ever there was a worthy proxy for customer success this would be it. Apart from renewal or expansion I’m not sure there can be a better indicator of customer success. And as you saw in my example above, the one often leads to the other.

How you qualify an advocate

Okay there are some prerequisites to how you qualify an advocate.

They should ideally be the person or persons that are responsible for paying for the technology.

Ideally they should be highly influential in the organisation.

Failing either of the above, vast numbers of advocates would make up for this.

What else about advocates tells you they are one?

They are willing to speak for you in public about their use of the platform.

They have great stories of that use that they can regale other customers or prospective customers with.

They are happy to write reviews or case studies and jump on calls with other customers or prospective customers.

Last but not least, they should be credible. Either as speakers or writers or they have good standing in the community or industry.

Why advocates qualify as a measure of success

Well in the first instance you’d think they were supremely satisfied or why would they be an advocate otherwise? And customer satisfaction is a measure of customer success so this would be one way of indicating it.

They are also very tangible. You can count how many times a customer speaks for you, jumps on a reference call, helps author a case study. Tracking these success events allows you to track customer success performance very easily.

How to create advocates

  1. Make them successful, thats the first step. Meaning how they achieve outcomes with your technology but also in how they are perceived in the organisation. Making them look good in the eyes of their peers is a surefire method.
  2. Nurture the relationship and make advocacy a clear expectation upfront before you put the effort in. Let them know that given everything goes well, you’d like them to be an advocate for you.
  3. Make others in your organisation responsible for building them, especially executives. Lavish relevant attention on them. Through product teams and executives to make sure their voice is being heard in new feature development is one good example.
  4. Elevate their advocacy and profile and enhance their credibility by putting them on stage, help them co-author credible content or case studies that can be widely shared or get them in front of peers, e.g. meetups.
  5. Arm them with the success stories and product knowledge they need to be effective advocates. Its no use if they are willing but not able to be effective advocates.

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