Industry Insights

Six Ways to Create Internal Brand Advocates Who Drive Customer Success

By Kam Rawal / April 2, 2018

Internal Brand Advocates Blog

Traditional, consumer-oriented businesses do a good job of turning employees into brand advocates with free products, discounts, product previews, and more. When employees are brand advocates, their enthusiasm for products shines through in an authentic way when they interact with customers. They come across as knowledgeable and engaged because they use the products themselves, find new uses for the products, and generally can expand on various helpful or interesting features because they use them themselves.

Internal brand advocates can be an important driver of customer success with your product. But how can B2B software vendors and resellers achieve the same level of brand advocacy amongst employees, particularly customer support staff? They aren’t likely to use your company’s business software in their spare time or share information about interesting new features with their friends.

There are other ways, however, to create B2B internal brand advocates, ones that enable you to achieve similar levels of first-hand knowledge and excitement about your product. Here are six ideas on how to make that happen.

1. Create a Job Apprenticing / Shadowing Program

New employees (and even seasoned ones) can gain a greater perspective about how customers compare, select, and use your products if they spend time in other departments. Start with customer support to really understand the voice of the customer and the pain points that customers have. Time spent with engineering, operations, marketing, and sales can also bring new perspective. Consider implementing a program where new employees spend the first several weeks working in other departments. They not only learn more about your product, but also gain a deeper knowledge of the workings of the rest of the business.

Time spent with engineering, operations, marketing, and sales can bring new perspective.

2. Visit Customers

Arrange for customer support team members to spend time onsite with your customers to see first-hand how they are using your product. They’ll learn how the product is used day-to-day in your customers’ businesses and experience the value that businesses are getting from it. They can then take that information and apply it to interactions with customers who have similar challenges and situations.

3. Invite Customers Onsite

Another way to bring employees closer into contact with customers and how they actually use the product is to invite customers to your headquarters or office location. Invite them for lunch and a tour as well as a question-and-answer session with your customer support team. In exchange, you can offer them free training or early access to new products and features.

4. Hold a Monthly Brainstorming Session

Give your customer support team the opportunity to share their ideas and be heard. The brainstorming session can be about new ways to use an existing feature, new features that might be helpful, new product ideas, new service ideas, or anything that gets them thinking about the product in new ways. By involving everyone on the team, you help deepen everyone’s understanding of the product while giving them a platform for advocating for their ideas.

By involving everyone on the team, you help deepen everyone’s understanding.

5. Involve the Team in Customer Case Studies

Start by setting up a process for customer support team members to nominate customers they think would be good subjects for case studies. Then work with the marketing team (or whichever team handles case studies) to involve the nominating team member in the case study development process. Ways to do this include: having the team member reach out to the customer to request participation in a formal case study, asking the team member to participate in the customer interview (even asking some of the questions), and reviewing the case study draft before it’s published.

6. Offer Friends-and-Family Promotions

Depending on the type of product or service you offer, it may be compelling for certain employees, their friends, or family members who can use it in their own businesses. You can offer a standing discount or a promotion at a certain time of the year or the quarter. The idea is to get your employees to spread the word about your product and get brand awareness in the community.

The Bottom Line

When your employees are invested emotionally in your product and have a deep understanding of how it’s used and what makes it valuable to your customer base, they gain the expertise and credibility to help other customers be successful with your product. They advocate for both your product and your customers in meaningful ways that ultimately help reduce churn and drive revenue.

Kam Rawal is Head of Global Services at AppDirect.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Click here to read it.