Official blog of Customer Reference Forum®. Learn from our community of reference pracitioners

« June 2009 | Main | August 2009 »

July 2009 Archives

Marketing Plan Outline for Creating a Customer Reference Program

Posted by Bill Lee on July 30, 2009 at 01:17 PM

At the request of many of their clients, Point of Reference has just published a guide for launching a customer reference program. As usual with founders David Sroka and Darren Smith, it's thoughtful, thorough, and based on actual experiences -- those of their clients over the last 6 years. Highly recommended if you're starting or significantly revamping a reference program.  

The Joys of Integration

Posted by Bill Lee on July 14, 2009 at 05:14 AM

How integrated is you reference program? Here’s a quick diagnostic: 

- Your social media and online community teams are starved for content. You’ve got lots of that. Are you regularly providing relevant, usable and if necessary, re-purposed content (from success stories, case studies, and other reference materials) to your online communities?
 
- How effective are you at getting your customer references to engage appropriately in online conversations about your firm?
 
- How well do you work with your account managers to initiate reference requests? There is great room for creativity here. For example, you might work with your AMs to initiate quarterly reviews with your top 10 strategic references that include, 1) a review of your firm’s performance (making sure it’s up to speed), followed by 2), a review of the list of the prospects that sales is talking to, asking the reference, “Who do you know on this list that you’d be comfortable talking to?” A much better approach than just calling the customer when you need a reference.
 
- How well do you integrate with Sales, another area full of opportunity? For example, why not work with sales to create a “Reference Success Ratio” metric that identifies and rewards sales people who develop great references, deepen the relationships, and match references well with buyers? Identify the stars, recognize and reward them.
 
- Are you recruiting references from your Customer Advisory Boards (CABs)?  Are you offering CAB memberships to qualified references who might be intenerated?
 
- If you have a
Net Promoter Score (NPS) program, are you recruiting the “promoters” identified in your NPS surveys into your reference program?
 
- At the same time, are you sure that your references would identify themselves as “promoters” in an NPS survey? (Don’t laugh. One highly respected company
found (see above link) that the customers most likely to promote them weren’t in their reference program – AND that the customers who were in the reference program weren’t all that excited about promoting them!)
 
- How often do you work with your PR group AND your references’ PR groups to develop messaging that promotes BOTH firms?
 
And the ultimate test on how well your program is integrated with other key-customer engagement programs in your firm:
 
- How good is your firm at providing your top customers a complete "customer engagement" value proposition? That includes: access to your other customers and their peers; access to your senior executives; influence over strategic direction; influence over product development; opportunities for professional development (such as speaking at industry events); opportunities to partner in marketing efforts; opportunities to help develop their own staffs (such as through conference attendance)?
  

Early registration just opened for the Summit on Customer Engagement

Posted by Bill Lee on July 8, 2009 at 03:54 PM
Join your peers who run customer engagement programs -- including customer references, communities, advisory boards and forums, net promoter score, and others -- along with senior executives, from Intel, EMC, SAS, Wells Fargo, AT&T, AmerisourceBergen, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, National Instruments, Citrix Systems, Infor, Kronos and dozens of other top firms. 

Here's more info. Or check out the event website.

2009 SUMMIT ON CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT 
October 20-21 (opening reception, October 19, 7pm) 
Boston, MA, USA

WHAT'S NEW?

* Invite your boss. Several senior B2B marketing executives will spend a half day showing us why Customer Reference and related Customer Engagement programs are increasingly important. I'm happy to make special arrangements for your boss (VP and above) to join his or her peers for this half-day segment. Feel free to contact me about this.

* Mix, mingle and learn from senior executives. You'll learn how to make your program important to them.

* Learn from your peers. We'll focus our breakout tracks on case studies from practitioners who run leading Customer Reference programs (Track A) as well as Customer Communities & Social Media (Track B). For example, you'll learn how Intel is integrating Customer References into the firm's Communities and Social Media programs and achieving significant  business benefits as a result.

* Expand your professional horizons. Reference programs that operate in isolation from other Customer Engagement programs are doomed to mediocrity. Learn how integrating with Social Media programs, Customer Communities, Advisory Boards, etc. can improve your Reference program - and vice versa.

* Learn how to deliver a superior customer value proposition and experience. Which will dramatically improve customer participation in your program.

* Peerless networking:) And of course you'll have two days to network, build relationships and exchange ideas with your peers in the profession. 

* Just starting a customer reference, community, or advisory board program? We'll have special sessions just for you. 

And as always, we guarantee that whatever questions or problems you have with your program, we'll find answers for you or refund your registration fee in full.