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Guest Blog: Stuart Cross on the Key to Customer Advocacy

Posted by Bill Lee on January 23, 2012 at 01:25 PM

My colleague Stuart Cross, a highly respected management consultant from the UK, shares his thoughts on what robust customer advocacy requires of a company, from the perspective of the C-suite. For those who are running  advocacy or other customer programs, this will help you keep that perspective in mind.

Take it away Stuart, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

The Key To Customer Advocacy

….is to consistently deliver an experience that your customers can advocate!

This means that you need to have a clearly differentiated and distinctive proposition and customer experience. There are countless ways you can achieve this, but they fall into five broad types of customer leadership:

1. Product Leader. These companies want to have the latest and best products for their target customers. New product development is critical to their success, and customers are willing to pay more to get the high quality product, service or brand experience they’re after. Examples include Apple, Nike, and Ferrari.

2. Cost Leader. These companies offer amazing prices to their customers who, in turn, believe that the product quality is good enough given the amazingly low prices. Examples include Southwest Airlines and CostCo.

3. Convenience Leader. These companies offer a clear standard of performance and are highly dependable, highly convenient and hassle-free. Their strong operational focus and highly efficient systems often mean that they are also low cost organisations. Examples include McDonalds, Toyota, Dell and Amazon.

4. Service Leader. These organisations gain and keep their customers as a result of the expert advice and support they offer, both before and after purchase. Examples include Nordstroms, Singapore Airlines, Home Depot and Lexus.

5. Solutions Leader. These businesses tailor their offer to individual customers, creating bespoke and personalized solutions. Close and deep relationships with their customers are critical to these companies’ success. Examples include McKinsey and IBM.

Critically, you must choose what type of leader you wish to be. The world’s best businesses focus on just one of these leadership types, knowing that if they try to be all things to all people they will simply become lost in the crowd.

Your choice is dependent on three factors: (1) your target customer’s key needs and preferences; (2) your organization’s key assets and capabilities; and (3) the competitive opportunities in your market.

Are your customers advocates for your business, brand and customer experience? If they’re not, rather than immediately looking to improve your advocacy processes, I suggest that you first clarify your customer leadership strategy and assess your current level of distinctiveness.  

Stuart Cross is the president of Morgan Cross Consulting, where he helps clients including Avon Cosmetics, GlaxoSmithKline and Alliance Boots to dramatically accelerate growth. His new book, The CEO’s Strategy Handbook, is out now. You can find out more by visiting his website at <> ."

CEOs Strategy handbook - mini version


© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.

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