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Employee advocacy for customer experience

Using Employee Advocacy to Support CX Efforts

Employees, Like Customers, Can Spread Good Word-of-Mouth, but Firms Should Create Guidelines

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Customer advocates are extremely useful for recommending and actively promoting a brand, its products, and even the experiences they have interacting with a company. If a company makes a concerted effort to treat customers properly, many customers will not only continue to do business with them, but also will share their positive experiences with others through online reviews, social media sites, or even old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

But organizations also have another tool to help advocate for their products, services, and experiences:  their own employees. Assuming that an organization is treating their employees well, employees have a vested interested in serving as brand ambassadors. After all, happier customers usually equate to more sales, repeat customers, and more revenue.

Higher revenue helps ensure that employees have a job they can continue to work, and some employers have instituted profit sharing, bonuses, or other additional compensation that is usually only offered if a company is growing or expanding their revenue.

But the other benefit to using employees to advocate on behalf of their company is that it demonstrates to customers that the company policies and values are supported by its workers, adding validity and humanity to what could be seen as simply corporate boilerplate with little relevance to the customer or their needs. For example, a company that promises simple product returns could have an employee shoot and share a quick video of the process (blurring any customer appearances in the video or gaining their written consent).

Specific benefits of using employee advocacy include:

Increased messaging reach:  When employees use social media to share company activities, promotions, or other actions, it broadens the message reach beyond those that follow the company’s official page or website, and allows the message to reach each individual employee’s network, leveraging the power of viral reach.

For example, if a company with 200 employees simply pushed out messages on its own Facebook page, which may have 5,000 followers, that message would initially only reach 5,000 people. However, if the company had even half (100) of their employees push out their message to their own networks, that would increase the reach to more than 33,800 people, assuming an average of 338 Facebook friends per employee, minus any duplicate friends.And this does not even account for the additional sharing of content within each employee’s network of friends.

Promote shared values: Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a major issue for both companies and the customers that purchase from them. By having employees share stories of how a company not only promotes these values, but puts them into action within its hiring, employee relations, and customer marketing and engagement activities, can both amplify these efforts and lend a significant amount of weight and validity.

Help attract talent: Employee advocacy can also extend to the sharing of original content that illustrates aspects of the company’s culture or workflow. These can be blogs, pictures, or video of employees collaborating, or perhaps a more in-depth interviews with employees discussing why they like their jobs.   

While there are a variety of types of content that can be shared, there are a few best practices to which all employees should adhere.

  • Only share engaging content, or customers will simply tune out or ignore it.
  • Make employee advocacy simple and worthwhile for employees, including showing them the direct benefits to them as employees, as well as to the company.
  • Develop and make sure employees adhere to a social media content policy, which spells out the type of content employees should share, topics to avoid (e.g., politics, religion, etc.), answers they can provide to common questions (FAQ), and strategies for engaging or interacting with customers that respond to a social media post.
  • Ensure employees are trained in the use of brand style guideline, which covers how to use company logo, unique terms or spelling your company uses, which hashtags to include, and proper sourcing/rights clearances for any images or video that are shared.

Employee advocacy programs can be part of a larger marketing initiative, and should be formally managed via a platform, so that both the results (marketing and sales activity) and the employee experience of advocating on behalf of the company can be properly monitored and analyzed.

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