Customer Advocacy is Not What You Think

by Jeannie Walters

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If there is one way to create a better customer experience, it’s this:


The term advocate is typically used when referring to kids in the court system, patients in hospitals, or others who have difficulty standing up for themselves. Caretakers often advocate for their loved ones by asking questions, probing deeper, then helping them understand the implications and steps to treatment.

But what about customer advocacy?

We’ve seen plenty of unreal examples of when companies did the opposite of advocating. They became antagonists to the very customers who were depending on them for service. It’s easy to think of these big brands as nameless, faceless corporations. But anyone who has worked within the walls of such an organization understands the company is made up of people, just like anywhere else. So how does stuff like this happen?

customer advocacy

I can only imagine the conversations – something along the line of this:

CEO:  ”We need more money! Money, money, money….grumble…”

Chief Fee Officer: “How about another fee? We can just RENAME the service we’re already providing, tack on a fee, and then watch the money roll in!”

CEO: “Yes! Call in those marketers. Come up with a snazzy name just in case someone actually reads the statement!”

Then the marketers lock themselves in a room, create a fantastically-inaccurate title like“Customer Choice Selection Investment,” then carry on with their lives.

It’s not their fault.

I don’t think people who work in these companies are really awful or simple-minded AT ALL. In fact, I believe they are smart people who are asked to do simple-minded things.

However, they are not being asked to advocate for the customer. They are never asked to step back, think of what actions like this would REALLY do to the customer relationship, or the consequences of those actions. Sadly, it is never part of the job description.

If someone in the room would ask those questions, we’d live in a better world.

customer advocacy

Shame on them.

Shame on the financial types who never “work the numbers” for what scores of canceled subscriptions, bad PR, and completely negative word-of-mouth could do to the company. How dare those marketers who never stand up and say “this is BS.” And a big “boo-hiss!” for the C-level executives who assume customers aren’t paying attention.

Customers, FINALLY, have a voice, and we’re not afraid to use it. It’s time to advocate inside your company’s walls FIRST. Don’t end up on the list of bad moves.

Photo Credits: Birmingham News Roomwilhei55  via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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