First ‘How To’ Book on Leveraging Customer Advocacy in a New, Holistic Marketing Environment

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Customer decision-making has become affected by wholly new factors (such as social word of mouth and brand passion). In his new book, The Customer Advocate and The Customer Saboteur, Dr. Michael Lowenstein, CMC, provides actionable insights into how to influence customer perceptions and loyalty behavior in today’s ‘trust’ environment.

“Creating customer advocacy … can make a huge profit impact on any marketing initiative and the overall enterprise, irrespective of size or industry.”

Dr. Lowenstein, Executive Vice President of Market Probe, a global market research and consulting organization, also identifies how to minimize, or even eliminate, customer indifference, alienation, and sabotage, now that individual consumer voices are such a critical leveraging factor in decision-making influence, dominating the customary filters of traditional media and ‘push’ marketing.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. The publication early next month of the path finding new business book The Customer Advocate and The Customer Saboteur, by ASQ Quality Press, chronicles a major sea change in the brand decision-influencing impact of consumers’ free-flowing offline and online conversations.

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC, the book’s author and expert on stakeholder behavior, recognizes the enormous shift that has taken place in marketing - going from a largely ‘push’ method (where print and electronic media advertising and editorial content represent messages the company wishes to convey) to a ‘pull’ and relationship-building approach (where the brand essence and perception, the attitudes of employees, customer support transactions and experiences, and peer-to-peer communication) create more open interaction with the company.

Surveys of customers indicate the traditional messaging media and non-customized content, especially when they are the dominant form of communication with b2b and b2c consumers, are passé. Customers no longer believe or trust canned or commoditized messaging, nor do they find it engaging, transparent or authentic. Instead, informal word-of-mouth is now considered the most reliable, credible, and relevant source of ideas and information.

“Companies will need to make significant adjustments from traditional marketing approaches in this highly competitive marketing arena where customers expect personalized experiences and collaborative, supportive communication and engagement,” says Lowenstein.

With such a seismic shift in perspective and behavior, businesses can indeed leverage behavior and influence customers to become strong brand advocates, thereby gaining an impassioned unpaid sales force for their products and services. But, it won’t be done the old- fashioned way.

“Customer advocacy isn’t just a research technique,” Lowenstein maintains. “It’s a holistic approach to customer management, involving strategic initiatives, the corporate culture, products, employees, brand positioning and messaging, sales, and customer service experiences.”

What IS Customer Advocacy?
Advocacy represents the highest level of a customer’s brand commitment and involvement achievable: interaction with suppliers on an individual and emotional level well past the typical functional, passive relationship between supplier and customer. It is having consumers proactively and voluntarily convey, offline and online, their experiences to friends, relatives and colleagues. Advocacy is not merely a different spin on how to gather insights about factors behind customer purchase, referral and communication behavior. Importantly, it is also built on trust through real, authentic experiences and brand favorability.

The investment in this retooling is worth it, both in terms of strategic relationship-building and financial return. Lowenstein shows how powerful informal peer-to-peer communication, combined with brand perception, can be in today’s more open marketplace. He provides data and case studies which emphatically link customer advocacy to increased revenue and profit generation.

Jeanne Bliss, the noted customer experience expert and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), says that “Michael Lowenstein's book gives readers dedicated to company growth through customer advocacy the specifics and tools to earn the right to (customer) endorsements."

In his book, Lowenstein also points out typical drivers of customer apathy and even alienation. “Any breakdown in functional or service value delivery will potentially undermine trust and cause consumer dissatisfaction and disaffection, often impairing continued relationships,” Lowenstein says. “This is when customers can become ambivalent, even negative, and can undermine a supplier's image, reputation, and sales.”

In this 350 page book, Dr. Lowenstein makes a persuasive argument for rethinking customer loyalty in today’s environment of open dialogue and ready discovery of corporate performance shortfalls. He turns the table on ‘business as usual’ and provides tangible ways to create die-hard advocates for any organization, virtually irrespective of size or industry.

Advance praise for the new book The Customer Advocate and The Customer Saboteur by Dr. Michael Lowenstein, CMC: “Michael Lowenstein offers excellent insights and methods any business can apply to achieve high customer advocacy from its customer base.” -Professor Philip Kotler, Northwestern University

The book is purchasable at the ASQ bookstore, accessible here: http://bit.ly/advorsab

Market Probe, Inc.
Market Probe, Inc. is a global market research firm specializing in full-service strategic guidance and stakeholder solutions. The corporate headquarters is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the USA, with full-service research offices throughout the US and in Canada, United Kingdom, Belgium, UAE, India, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, and additional strategic partnerships globally. For information, please visit http://www.marketprobe.com.

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