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Customer Reference Forum Initiatives

Posted by Bill Lee on May 12, 2009 at 08:21 AM

Customer Reference Forum is now well into its 5th year, and we have some new initiatives to announce that reflect your changing needs as well as the changing nature of the reference profession.  I’m featuring these in this blog because we’re looking for your input.


We’re going to formally survey our entire community to get a better understanding of your current needs in areas such as:

- Research: What benchmark information do you need to help budget and build your reference program, and to guide you in adopting new technologies like Web 2.0?

- Vendor Services. How can we help you find and select the right vendors to help you with your program? 

- Fall Workshop: We'll invite your input here as well. 

- What else? We'll also give you an opportunity to let us know about other needs you have we may not be aware of. 

 In the past, we’ve relied on input from our Advisory Board and anecdotal input from members of our community. Time to make this a formal process that includes everyone.

For more information or to participatte in the survey, please drop me an email (upper right corner). 


We’re forming an umbrella organization, the Customer Strategy Group, intended for senior marketing executives focused on key-customer engagement efforts – that is, their purview includes customer reference programs, advisory boards, executive forums, customer communities, Net Promoter Score programs, and related efforts. CSG will give both you and the executives you report to critically needed research and benchmarking information on how to realize the strategic value of these programs. 

What does this have to do with reference professionals like yourself? By themselves, reference programs are important but hardly top-of-mind to most senior marketing executives. But positioned as an important component of a broader, key-customer engagement effort, they are part of something seen as increasingly critical. This sequence of charts, developed by myself and a group of about a dozen leading reference pros at last February's Forum, makes the point:


Reference Community Comments

Bill, thanks for having this vision. Your annoucement is exciting and a great direction to benefit the reference community.

Allow me to comment on your middle slide. At Genesys we think References also touch Beta testing and New Product Development. Participating in a Beta program is a qualifying activity for us for our reference program. Linking References with Beta programs helps develop reference customers early for new products. As for new product development, our Product Advisory Council is made up of our most engaged customers, who are in a lot of cases our reference customers.

Again, congratulations on the new initiative. I think it's the way the industry is going. We are combining the Reference program and the customer loyalty program under the same umbrella, and we've been trying to figure out my new title. "Customer Engagement Manager" sounds like a good possibility.

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