What's better than happy customers? Happy customers who tell all their friends about your brand. If your end goal was customer satisfaction, take a step back and try to imagine the next level: activating those customers to spread the word about your products and services.
It's important to remember that most people will only go so far to promote your company, so you've got to make it easy for them to go that extra mile for you.
Here are six tips for turning happy customers into an army of brand advocates:
1. Turn receipts into customer feedback questionnaires.
Your in-store purchase receipts are a guaranteed point-of-contact with most satisfied customers. Think about it: they've liked your products enough to buy them. Businesses around the world are getting wise to the opportunity to ask for customer feedback by printing details of their online surveys at the bottom, along with information about prize-draw giveaways for entering. UK's upmarket supermarket Waitrose, chocolatier Hotel Chocolat, and kitchenware store, Lakeland all give you the opportunity to enter fantastic prize draws for submitting feedback.
But the experience can go further than this: Make the survey social with links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media sites so that customers can spread the word about entering your promotions.
2. Get geo-social with Foursquare.
Make it fun for your customers to share their shopping location with their friends by joining geo-social networks like Foursquare. Your customers are happy to be in your store, so give them the opportunity to check in and share their location with their networks. Starbucks has 1.5 million Likes on Foursquare, and check-ins can earn you badges and special promotions. The app is linked to other social networks, so when customers check in, it will show up to all their friends.
With over 30 million people using Foursquare, it's a great way of helping happy customers tell all their friends where they are. Not only that, using Foursquare helps facilitate togetherness and a sense of community by showing who else is around to enjoy a cup of coffee in the neighborhood, which is an underlying mission of the company.
Related: Want Loyal Customers? Do This.
3. Create a feedback cycle.
These days, online reviews are more powerful that advertising for persuading potential customers to purchase your products and services. In fact, according to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
If your end goal was selling your product to a customer, think about adding an extra step and contacting customers for reviews. Often when people are buying online, whether it is for physical goods, virtual goods, hotels or flights, they will provide their email address. An email list is a powerful marketing tool, so be sure to send a follow-up email asking for feedback and linking to sites like Amazon or Trip Advisor to make it easy for customers to post reviews. The simpler you can make this process, the more likely it is that customers will review your company online.
4. Go mobile with a socially-activated app.
Customers can be hugely creative with apps like Instagram, so why not encourage and reward their creativity? Clothing company Free People is leading the way when it comes to community-building. They encourage their fans to upload their Instagram photos of how they style their favorite Free People items, and upload it to the "Add a style pic" button against the item on their website. This gives customers a great idea of how the item looks in real life, as well as building a whole community around style and fashion, with "likes" shown as hearts. Fans can build and share their own collections with the community, thus becoming an organic marketing army for the business.
5. Automate the sharing process.
Has anyone not heard of Amazon? We know they are the global leader in e-commerce, but that doesn't stop them from socializing their online ordering process to let customers tell their networks about their purchases. They make it simple for customers to share their purchase information with their networks on Facebook and Twitter, or by email, effectively recommending it to their friends.
If Amazon isn't complacent about asking their customers to tell their friends about their shopping experience, can you afford to be?
6. Display your business's social properties with pride.
One of the best ways to ensure your current customers become a part of your communities and engage with you is to make it super easy for them to find your social properties online.
Remember, the more members you have in your current communities, the more chances you have to convert potential customers into real customers. To make that information readily available for them, feature the links to your Facebook page, Twitter handle, Pinterest page and other social communities on:
- In-store receipts
- Storefronts and walls inside your business location
- Menus and napkins
- Email communications
- Any marketing assets, such as images and videos
- Local advertising, such as local newspapers
Customer satisfaction should be the number one priority for your brand, so encourage feedback and be prepared to act on that feedback, whether it is positive or negative.
Empowering your customers with the ability to share their opinions on your brand requires a leap of faith. But if you trust in your brand, helping customers spread the word about your products can be the most powerful marketing tool you ever use.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Ekaterina Walter is a CMO of BRANDERATI, a digital media company and platform that specializes in advocate influencer marketing, based in New York. She is the author of Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013) and she blogs at EkaterinaWalter.com.