We get it. There are a lot of things to balance when it comes to managing your customer advocacy program—or, programs (we see you, portfolio managers). But without this one critical piece of the puzzle, your efforts will only take you so far: alignment.
To quote Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” (And I’d argue he knew a bit about alignment.)
Now we’re not talking about the wheels on your car, obviously, but the idea is similar. Simply put, alignment is all about getting people on the same page and working together towards shared goals. Specifically, your colleagues in other parts of the organization: Marketing, Customer Success, and Sales, to name a few. Building relationships and establishing trust with these teams is foundational for advocacy program owners—not only will it amplify your impact but it will create a ripple effect well beyond the walls of your organization.
Why it’s essential for advocacy leaders
When it comes to advocacy, practitioners need to be focused on their customers—that’s a given. But just as important, if not more so as you’re growing your program, is the ability to cultivate strong relationships with your colleagues. It’s the first step from reactive, siloed program management to proactive, integrated engagement across teams. Look out, you’re about to become really popular! And that’s good news for your customers, too.
How to start building trust and alignment
Depending on where you’re starting from, getting that alignment across the business can feel like herding sheep. Shifting priorities, siloed customer data, and goals created in a vacuum are not only difficult to navigate internally but create (at best) a disjointed experience for customers. At worst, it causes frustration and ultimately churn. If your goal is to build an integrated advocacy program that follows the customer lifecycle journey, alignment is the foundation needed to get there. Start by building awareness about the impact of customer advocacy and its potential and you’ll be on your way to unlocking the transformative power of alignment.
Here are some ways you can start building awareness with your colleagues and, ultimately, forge a path toward alignment:
1. Be visible!
Awareness: The more people you meet within your organization, the more people you can educate about the benefits of customer advocacy, and the more people you can ultimately recruit to your mission. Join cross-functional initiatives and reach out to people in different departments—be curious about their work. It’s a great way to grow your network and uncover potential opportunities for collaboration in the future. More on that below.
Alignment: Taking it a step further, consider going on a roadshow (there’s the car metaphor again). Take 10 minutes at the top of your weekly team meetings to present three things: (1) an overview of advocacy and your program, (2) how you can help them, and (3) how they can help you. Of course, Customer Success, Marketing, Sales, and Enablement are top priorities but don’t forget your friends in HR, Legal, and Finance. As a takeaway, be specific about how they can engage you or your team.
2. Be proactive!
Awareness: Did you just onboard a new customer reference that would really help a rep you met with last week close a deal? Or maybe you found a resource on LinkedIn about a topic that came up in a chat with a CSM yesterday? Be the first to reach out with solutions, ideas or resources ways to support your colleagues. Showing—not telling—colleagues about the value of advocacy by providing upfront value in small ways will accumulate and build trust over time.
Alignment: Consider a monthly communication to share updates and what you’re working on next. Having insight into your pipeline of projects will reduce the number of people asking you directly. And make it easy! Where do teams usually get their updates? Stick with existing tools to make sure you reach your audience where they’re at. Be sure to iInclude any projects you’re working on with other teams to highlight all the ways you’re partnering across the business to deliver value collaboratively. Speaking of which…
3. Be collaborative!
Awareness: As an advocacy program owner, you are responsible for driving advocacy outcomes, but these outcomes are not limited to the number of members in your program or the number of stories you publish in any given quarter. What are your organization’s top priorities? Where can you deliver against the’s company’s mission and vision with other teams to add value at the executive level?
Kickstart these discussions by organizing a customer advocacy council—the goal here is to create awareness and encourage collaboration, not just between advocacy and each department, but in an ecosystem supporting the overall customer experience.
Alignment: When it’s time for fiscal planning, together identify areas where you can add value and create a plan to make it happen. Remember Peter Drucker’s oft-quoted adage: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Decide on a shared KPI to ensure you can track your success. For example, you might consider working closely with Customer Success to set a target for the number of accounts with active advocates and measure the rate of renewal vs. churn for these accounts.
The far-reaching benefits of alignment
Regardless of whether you’re in the early stages of creating an advocacy program or you’re managing a mature portfolio of programs, alignment is an essential ingredient in your continued success. Without it, your ability to influence the advocate experience throughout the customer lifecycle is limited.
A wide network of supporters means increased visibility and access to more opportunities to bring value to your business and to your customers.
Leverage your connections to offer unique, exclusive advocate-only experiences, like one-to-one time with internal industry experts or members of your leadership team, the chance to test product features in beta and provide direct feedback to your product team, or access to product training that would typically be offered at a cost.
When you can consistently demonstrate impact in service of the company’s strategy and revenue goals, you put yourself on a track for ongoing success. The case for more resources to build your advocacy practice, and ultimately your career, becomes evident through your results and your enthusiastic supporters—from inside the company and most importantly, your customers.
Interested in learning more about the art of alignment? Register for Captivate Collective’s CAP Certification: Business Impact module in February. This course will equip you with innovative and practical ideas to set your work apart from standard approaches to customer engagement in a rapidly evolving profession.