There is a clear relationship between customer loyalty and customer advocacy programmes, according to research from customer advocacy solutions provider NextBee, which conducted a study to illustrate how customer loyalty can be developed and prolonged with the help of advocacy. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

Customer loyalty often emerges from the ease in establishing contact with a brand. The brand that makes it easy for its customers to contact them, and provides a swift response, qualifies for their customers' loyalty and usually wins it without much effort.

Customer satisfaction alone may not be able to retain customers. Brands must now continually engage their customers and excite them through discount coupons, surprise points and enviable rewards, or their customers will display a high propensity to switch brands.

To develop loyalty, customers must feel a sense of ownership in the brand. They must be inspired to proactively engage with the brand on social media, follow and encourage others, and provide feedback and opinion without being asked to do so. True loyal customers will strive to become brand advocates. If they do not, they are with the brand only for a moment, and can easily be swayed to a different brand.

By recruiting the most loyal customers as advocates, a brand will reinforce their customers' trust while simultaneously motivating them to actively promote the brand in their personal and professional networks. The key to developing a personal bond with the customer is to establish multiple channels of communication, making it relatively quick and easy for customers to approach the brand.

Customer loyalty is of most use when customers actively support it, promote it, and connect with it emotionally. This requires businesses to convert loyal customers into active advocates. Achieving this requires making the loyalty programme as memorable, pleasant, addictive and sharable as possible.

Loyalty also develops when customers realise that their activities are appropriately rewarded and that the opportunities to earn rewards are in plenty. By using a platform that makes sharing and referring as easy as possible, brands can achieve much better results and offer more meaningful and relevant incentives (a much needed motivator for enhanced customer engagement).

At the same time, linking brand advocates with sales professionals through multiple channels and touchpoints can further deepen the customer relationship. For example, weekly challenge emails that include one-click activities, custom messaging for targeted segments, pre-registering current users and ready-to-use welcome credits all work together to eliminate friction and motivate brand advocates to engage repeatedly over a long period of time.