Turning Customers Into Advocates

For most businesses, life becomes a lot easier when there are strong champions and advocates in the community. To gain initial buy-in for Auror, a crime prevention platform and network, we put a lot of effort into developing strong relationships with members of the police force. This has helped to build advocacy for us in both the business and broader police community, and has been an important engine of growth.

However, to reach even more members of the business community, we need to build super advocates within industry as well. We recently got to see just how powerful this could be when one of our more reluctant new customers became a leading evangelist in less than three months.

We first met Grant* at the Petrol Theft Forum (yes this exists!), where the atmosphere between the industry and police had become increasingly hostile. Grant had become dissatisfied with police efforts, and felt like nothing was really being done about petrol theft and drive offs, despite the huge cost to the industry (over $55million in Australia each year). With all this baggage, he believed Auror would be another waste of time and wouldn’t actually lead to a reduction in crime. We decided to invest in this relationship to see if we could turn Grant’s thinking around, and by the end of 10 weeks were overwhelmed with the result.

Australian fuel retailers lose over $55 million each year. The equivalent to 11 tankers of fuel every day.

Timeline

Week 0: Police challenge Grant and his industry peers at the Petrol Theft Forum to sign up for the free Auror pilot program, which Grant agrees to ­ primarily (as he confessed to us later) to prove that it won’t work.

Week 1: The Auror team gets in touch with Grant over email to try and get his service station sites set up on the platform. Grant refuses to provide his phone number, and “doesn’t have time” for a five-minute call to walk through the platform. He demands we make site visits in person to onboard staff and show them how the system works. (Of course we agreed — we love meeting people who will use our product so we can continue to refine our understanding of the problem!)

Week 2: We make site visits to two of Grant’s service stations to get them up and running. After seeing how easy the product is for his staff to use, and some of the clear benefits to contributing to the platform, he asks if it’s possible to bring some of his other sites as well.

Week 3: All 36 of his service station sites are added to the Auror platform (and we finally get his phone number!).

Week 4: Grant tells local police about Auror, and arranges to get them access. He simultaneously experiences his first win: a repeat offender vehicle being identified by his staff in real-time, and police being equipped to arrest the driver.

Week 6: Grant calls up other service station franchisees within his network to encourage them to join Auror as well.

Week 7: The State Police Assistant Commissioner visits one of Grant’s main sites to see Auror in action.

Week 8: Auror has a meeting set up with a competitor franchisee to discuss joining the Auror platform. Grant offers to join us and attend the meeting with his competitor, and then proceeds to ‘sell’ Auror to this franchisee. After this meeting, 49 competitor sites are brought onto Auror.

Week 10: Grant allows Auror to pilot Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology on his sites and agrees to the results being shared at the next Petrol Theft Forum.

While Grant was initially a skeptic, we were able to demonstrate that the product was not only easy to use but also that it could deliver real value fast. More importantly though, Grant could see the power and potential of the platform could only be increased with the more retailers on board, which drove him to collaborate with someone who would otherwise be a competitor. By strengthening the community of Auror customers and advocates, we are turning our users into crime fighters and continue to cultivate the message that reducing crime really is everyone’s business.

  • not his actual name.

This article is a guest contribution from Phil Thomson, co-founder and CEO of New Zealand-based portfolio company Auror, focused on building a crime-fighting community through its crime-prevention tools and platform. You can learn more about Auror here, and follow them on Twitter here.

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