Kate is your typical customer and recently picked up a new hobby: amateur photography. Although smartphone cameras are getting better, the camera on her smartphone just isn’t cutting it anymore. She wants to see in her pictures the depth and detail she sees in professional photographs. Kate comes to a realization: It’s time to invest in a real camera.
She goes online searching for products that meet her requirements—high quality yet not too pricey. She conducts extensive research and narrows her product choices down to a few respected brands that fit within her budget. But she’s still unsure which of her top picks is the right one for her. She’s apprehensive about buying.
She may have even put her top choice into the shopping cart on the web site of a retailer she knows. But still, she hesitates. What if she ends up spending a lot of money on a camera that isn’t really the best one for her right now?
At this point, many online retailers risk losing the sale. That static checkout page staring back at Kate simply can’t answer her questions and affirm her decision. But, by connecting her with knowledgeable customers like her, at the very moment she’s looking for help, smart online businesses know how to give Kate what she needs.
This kind of assistance goes beyond the basics that consumers now take for granted when shopping online, like choice and convenience. When it comes to complex products in particular, online shoppers want more. Moreover, they want it from another person like them, someone they can trust – even if that person is a complete stranger.
Online retailers that deliver timely and authentic advocate assistance can raise the bar on customer experience, and raise sales.
With the click of a button on a web page, advocate-assisted commerce allows customers to tap into the expertise and enthusiasm of the most experienced users of a product or service. Advocates, in turn, provide high-caliber interactions with new customers and shoppers; increasing conversion, sales, and satisfaction.
In every industry, there are people buying products and services because they love them. These people, who we call advocates, can live anywhere—inside and outside of companies. But what sets them apart is that they’re experts. They not only know how to use these products and services—they are deeply motivated by a desire to share their knowledge with others, and actively promote that product or service.
For Kate and her quest for the ideal camera: it means she gets expert answers to her specific questions from a highly-experienced digital photographer which builds confidence in her purchase decision. The result for the online retailer: it means a highly satisfied customer, and a direct, incremental impact to the bottom line.
Advocate Assistance in Action
By providing the platform to connect brands with their advocates, Needle’s customers are reaping the rewards. On average, with 1% of site traffic, Needle programs deliver an average of 8% to 12% incremental revenue. What’s more, consumers give these brands high marks following their Needle-powered advocate experiences, dramatically increasing their NPS and CSAT scores.
Needle has a different business model, helping companies take their best customers and put them in front of prospective customers in real time. Traditional methods of hiring representatives, training them on a product or service they may or may not use, and setting them up in a call center to answer phones and online chats is costly, time-consuming, and not generally built to drive incremental sales.
Needle partners with its customers to identify its brand advocates, recruit them, and certify them by vetting their experience with the brand’s product or service, and then train and continuously motivate them to interact online. In this on-demand economy, Needle makes sure these advocates are available and prepared when the shopper wants to push the chat button.
In today’s increasingly high-tech, mobile economy, consumers expect great experiences, including top-notch service, at their fingertips. Advocate-assisted commerce enables online retailers to satisfy that customer expectation. The key is to harness the power of the people who already love the brand and really use and know the products.
Needle finds the pool of untapped talent that companies themselves have been investing in for years because it’s a pool made from their best customers. These advocates are ready and willing to work for the brands they use and love. And savvy companies are essentially streamlining their operations around these types of people because they are now easily able to do what used to be hard to scale and very expensive.