An advocate by definition is someone who speaks in support or defense of another person. In customer care, an advocate becomes the voice of the customer.
We’re seeing guest advocates popping up in all kinds of places from hospitals to hotels, from airlines to stores. It just makes sense in today’s hectic and competitive world.
Advocates handle a guests request from start to finish – they own it. At Ritz-Carlton Hotels the credo is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” They are renowned for the care and comfort of their guests.
If you were a guest at a Ritz-Carlton and happened to tell the associate in the gift shop that you’d like another blanket in your room, it’s that associate’s responsibility to make sure you get one. In other hotels the associate might nod in understanding and point you to the front desk. Or they might even go so far as place a call to housekeeping for you, and then forget about it. At the Ritz-Carlton the associate makes sure your request is handled to your satisfaction.
That’s not a bad policy to adopt in your own store. When a customer requests something from an associate, make it that associates responsibility to follow it through. If it’s something they need to refer to you or to someone else in the store, it’s still their responsibility to make sure the request is handled.
A retailer once told us that customer service is like an election that’s held every, single day and customers vote with their dollars. That’s backed up by a retail study that found 15% of customers will leave your store and never shop with you again because of the product you sell; 15% will leave because of price; but 70% of customers will not return because if the quality of the interaction with the people who work there. Certainly, a renewed emphasis on customer care is a great place to start!