Here’s a crazy concept for you – imagine your customers were actually your employees, and your employees were actually your clients. Sound bizarre? Bear with us, there’s method in the madness.
From a brand advocacy perspective, it actually pays to think this way; to consider customer advocates as individuals who are involved in brand communication and thus part of the organization, and employee advocates as people who deserve a certain level of service in the form of great content and user experience.
You mean I should start paying my customers?
Now obviously, when we talk about treating customers like employees we don’t mean giving them objectives, performance reviews or even remuneration. We mean giving them the responsibility to communicate on behalf of your brand and trusting them to speak out as if they were a part of the organization – because in many ways, they are.
Creating an advocate community that includes your most loyal customers is an incredibly effective way of humanizing your brand. But when you invite customers to a dedicated brand advocacy platform, encourage them to share company content and empower them to make their own contributions, you send the message that they are a part of your brand. So while ultimately they are advocates rather than employees, the point is that you should treat them with the same trust and respect you give your employees.
And pitching to my employees?
Again, we’re not advocating that you start pitching products to employees. Instead, we’re suggesting that you pay serious attention to the value you provide for them. If the content you publish on your employee advocacy platform doesn’t interest your employees; if they don’t see value in it, then there’s no way you’ll achieve long-lasting engagement.
An employee advocacy platform is a service you provide for your employees, and user experience on that platform is key. So don’t forget that in many respects, employees are the “customers” of that platform; the people who, if what they find there isn’t relevant, will leave. Just as any dissatisfied customer can walk away as a result of poor service.
Employees and customers are two very different groups of people. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t overlaps in terms of the relationship they have with your brand. This is particularly true in the case of brand advocacy; when you commit to providing value for your employees in the form of content, and welcome customer advocates into the ecosystem that is your organization.