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May 2009 Archives

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: