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The Advocacy Channel Ep. 14: True Customer Loyalty and How to Build it with your Customers

Home » Blog » The Advocacy Channel Ep. 14: True Customer Loyalty and How to Build it with your Customers

With an increasing number of businesses offering services purely online, trying to make genuine connections with customers is only getting harder. How do you build loyalty when you’ve never even met your customers?

To help us fill in the gap of human connection for internet businesses, we’re excited to welcome Matt Barnett to Episode 14 of The Advocacy Channel. Matt is the CEO of Bonjoro, a platform that lets you send personalized videos at the perfect time to convert more leads, onboard customers, and build customer love and loyalty.

Drawing on Matt’s experience helping companies develop customer loyalty with human connection, Matt and Will discuss what true customer loyalty is, and how to score your advocates at each lifecycle stage. Plus, Matt shares an exercise you can do today to start improving your customer experience.

Grab your coffee, get comfortable, and take out your notebook as there are plenty of golden nuggets from Matt that you’ll want to jot down!

Check out the full episode below, or keep reading for our favorite pieces of advice from the episode.

Prefer to listen on the go? The Advocacy Channel is available anywhere you listen to podcasts.

What does true customer loyalty look like?

(Listen from 7:20)

Similar to how many of us think about customer loyalty, Matt defines it as “the intention for the customer to stay with your brand for a long period of time.”

This relationship starts from the first interaction (ie. they come to your website or shop) and lasts until the final interaction you have with them, which hopefully should be many years into the future.

What we might not consider in addition to this are ways in which loyal customers help you grow. Matt shares two flywheels he likes to reference when thinking about customer loyalty:

  1. Creating more loyal customers
    The benefit of this is simply that customer lifetime value increases: Those who stay with you longer will spend more as time goes on.
  2. Leveraging loyal customers as a growth channel
    While many businesses stop at just creating loyal customers, it shouldn’t be overlooked that these customers make up a valuable growth channel. If you have strong advocates, they will tell other people about you, refer business, do case studies, help you build a better product by giving feedback and testing, and assist other customers in your communities.

You need to be intentional to get to the second flywheel. Creating loyalty is an entire journey and not just specific elements like rewards and discounts; it also involves leveraging those loyal customers to drive more growth.

What can you do to develop customers from passive to advocates and superfans?

(Listen from 14:20)

Earlier in the episode (10:45), Matt describes five different buckets of customer types from least to most loyal: Passive, active, engaged, advocates, and superfans. A passive customer is someone who simply purchases your product with no plans to engage with your brand, and a superfan is someone who will go out of their way to try and bring you new business, with the rest of your customers falling between those two extremes on the loyalty spectrum.

How do you best move customers along this trajectory? Matt shares that it’s all about understanding, improving, and humanizing your customer journey.

Matt recommends this exercise:

Sit down with your team and a piece of paper to map out the customer journey from a communications point of view. How do you take someone from being a lead to a paying customer, to potentially an advocacy and active referrer? What targets do you want them to hit?

Map the touchpoints you already have with a customer and when they happen such as seeing a social post, coming to the website, getting a popup message to sign up, getting a product tour, receiving emails, getting asked to do a demo, having a sales call, becoming a customer, etc. Really try and get out every last little event, milestone, and touchpoint.

Quick tips:

  • You may wish to create different journeys for different buyer personas if your target segments have fairly distinct needs and problems.
  • You might need to involve your sales team, marketing team, and product team because they could be doing things that you don’t even know about.

Once you have your journey mapped out, look at whether you are satisfying customer needs at these points and if you are injecting humanity into that journey, or whether it’s all automated. Completely automated funnels mean you are missing out on opportunities to build loyalty.

As Matt puts it, “Every single business should have a bit of humanity in it.” (18:48)

The goal is to look at where you have too much automation and too little personalization and find your balance. Matt shares that at some point in the journey, somebody turning up and saying “thanks” is incredibly powerful, and this should be included. It can be done through video or another medium.

Next, identify any big gaps in the journey. For example, if you don’t talk to customers between three months and one year of their journey, that’s a challenge and a chance for them to become disengaged. Once someone is gone, you might never hear from them again.

If you want a better chance at turning first-time customers into long-time advocates, finding your balance and improving the quality of your touchpoints will be your biggest advantage.

“Every single business should have a bit of humanity in it.”

How do you score your advocates and understand when they’ve become more engaged?

(Listen from 26:40)

How do you keep track of when customers move through the different loyalty stages? How do you identify when a passive customer has become an active customer and so on? Matt mentions a scoring method that they use at Bonjoro to help keep track of customer loyalty stages.

First of all, you need something that can retain scores, something that many CRMs will have. For anyone familiar with lead scoring in sales, this is the same concept.

To figure out how you can start scoring your customers, Matt recommends trying to identify a few different things that tell you about the engagement and advocacy of the customer that can lead to a certain score.

He describes how at Bonjoro, the second a customer has a conversation with them, their score goes up. How engaged they are during said conversation can also act as a multiplier on their score. The more often a customer engages with them can also increase their score and indicate advocate behavior. Data points and events like the length of the customer relationship, cancellations, upgrades, sales calls, demos, and revenue, can all be things that help you score customers.

For anyone looking to implement a similar model in their organization, Matt recommends not worrying too much about automation to start. Focus on trying to work out what signifies someone going from passive to active and so on with regard to your product. Maybe it’s that they log in every day, or they purchase more than once, etc. Social engagement can signal an engaged customer while something like referrals, case studies, or reviews can signify an advocate.

“Build the score, decide what you want to have in it, then see if you can measure it. If you can’t measure it, use proxies. There might be some manual input in the beginning.” (31:13)

“If you do good by your customers, and treat them how you would like to be treated, things will work out for you."

How do you take an active (instead of passive) approach to building customer loyalty?

(Listen from 42:30)

We asked Matt if there is anything we should know to be able to effectively apply the ideas discussed throughout the episode. Matt brings up the importance of differentiating passive vs active approaches to building loyalty and engagement.

Airlines and big supermarket chains are those who tend to have passive loyalty programs - people opt-in to save money and usually complete sign-up on their own. The brand doesn’t need to intervene much at all.

But if you’re a smaller company, most people have never heard of you. You need to be more active to generate engagement and interest in your loyalty programs. “When you’re a small company, every customer counts. You can’t afford to be passive until you’re massive.” (43:31)

In practice, this looks like actively stepping in to ask for things like referrals, help with product research, reviews, etc. You’ll notice your traffic from referrals will start to go up when you put in this kind of effort.

At the end of the day, customers just wanted to be treated like people, and Matt send us off with a great reminder:

“If you do good by your customers, and treat them how you would like to be treated, things will work out for you.” (44:50)

Listen to the full episode for even more expert advice on leveling up your customer advocacy initiatives. Special thanks to Matt for being on the show!

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn: 

Got questions or feedback about the podcast? Send us an email!

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