Be a customer advocate

T.R. Rao

President and CEO

Market Probe

2655 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa

Consumers and businesses that make purchases from other businesses have so many choices, especially during the holidays. T.R. Rao, president and chief executive officer of Wauwatosa-based Market Probe, a leader in global marketing research, identifies the bottom-line advantages for businesses that make customer advocacy an enterprise-wide goal.

“With Black Friday upon us, retailers are counting on strong holiday sales to make 2010 successful. However, savvy retailers will keep in mind that more than price is driving today’s consumers. The retailers enjoying the strongest sales this year will be those who are benefiting from a strong word-of-mouth – positive communication from their current customers to friends, family and peers. This is customer advocacy. Advocacy is more than just satisfying customers.

“Customer advocates are fiercely loyal to the companies they patronize, and Market Probe’s research studies have proven that advocates are three to five times more likely to buy than others. They spend as much as possible at their favorite retailers. And, they communicate to their friends and family face-to-face and by phone, e-mail and social media about their relationship with the company.

“Because of this, your company’s employees need to go above and beyond to ensure that every customer contact they make is favorable. Positive word-of-mouth will occur when your business exceeds expectations, offers great selections, easy-to-shop displays and an outstanding customer experiences.

“Of course, there are two sides to advocacy. Long checkout lines, rude sales clerks and messy, half-empty shelves can create the wrong kind of buzz, the kind that can kill sales. At this critical time of year, you cannot afford to have customers advocate that their friends shop somewhere else!

“There are definite monetary advantages for those businesses that make creating advocates a company-wide initiative. The ultimate goal of every business should be to make each customer an active advocate. Now, the question is, how will you be winning over your customers this holiday season?”

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