The Joys of Integration
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)?