Customer advocacy is a component of customer service that focuses on improving customer experience. Customer advocates ensure companies do what is best for their customers. They also play an important role in managing the expectations of customers on a particular product or service. If you have excellent problem-solving skills and are passionate about improving customer service then this may be the career for you.
What Do Customer Advocates Do?
The day-to-day duties of customer advocates include:
- Helping companies to develop a suitable customer advocacy framework or strategy
- Identifying areas within the company’s operations that limit or negatively affect customer experience
- Initiating communication with customers who raise complaints – This involves determining the best time to contact them
- Escalating complex customer complaints to senior management
It is also essential to note that consumer protection agencies, such as the Bureau of Consumer Protection, also hire customer advocates. In this setting, advocates perform the following duties:
- Investigating complaints filed by customers against a certain company
- Preparing reports detailing their findings and suitable recommendations
- Advocating for fair and honest business practices.
Customer advocates work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Much of their time is spent in offices, compiling paperwork or making calls to customers. Customer advocates also often hold meetings with senior company managers, mainly to pitch ideas that they should implement to improve customer experience.
The average annual wage for customer advocates is:
Average Annual Salary
Salaries can vary by region, employer and level of experience.
Source: Simply Hired
To become a customer advocate, you must complete the following steps:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or economics – If you are looking to work for a company that sells IT products and services, it is desirable to pursue a bachelor’s degree in IT. For individuals aspiring to work for consumer protection agencies, a degree in law is useful.
- Gain customer service experience – Before you can be hired by a business as a customer advocate, you must have sufficient experience in customer service. As such, you can begin as a customer service representative to gain the experience required to move into customer advocacy.
In healthcare settings, there is also a position called patient advocate that promotes the rights of patients. If you wish to secure this job, you will need a degree in nursing or health administration.
To be an effective customer advocate you should have:
- Excellent customer-service skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Strong problem-solving skills
- A good business sense
- Good interpersonal skills
- An interest in promoting customers’ interests
- Good analytical skills.
As a customer advocate, you have plenty career advancement opportunities. For example, you could progress to become the customer service manager, a position that will enable you to manage the entire customer service department. You could also move into related positions, such as marketing or sales manager. The question is, apart from gaining vast experience, how can you land these senior jobs? You can do so by:
- Joining professionals associations, such as the National Association of Customer Advocates
- Earning professional credentials, such as the Certified Customer Service Manager, which is offered by the Customer Service Institute of America
- Completing a master’s degree program in business administration
Qualified customer advocates can work for:
- Regulatory bodies
- Business entities
- Customer advocacy groups
- Healthcare facilities
Finally, customer advocacy is a relatively new profession, hence the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t compile its occupational statistics. However, as businesses look to enhance compliance with consumer protection laws and gain more customers in a competitive marketplace, there is no doubt they will need to hire an increasing number of customer advocates in the future.
So if you feel you have the necessary skills and drive for the position then a career as a customer advocate may well be for you.