Oracle's Julie Tung Knocks it Out of the Park
Day 1 at the 2010 Customer Reference Forum (#2010CRF): During her presentation, Oracle VP of Global Customer Programs Julie Tung brought a combination of excitement and common sense to the issue of building a dynamic customer reference program. And the challenges she and her team face are considerable, making their achievement all the more impressive: 60 acquisitions in recent years, and some 9,000 products the firm now offers.
First, the common sense. Oracle has transformed its customer reference program to a customer focus, changing the approach from "we need references" to "we need happy customers, and the references, referrals, word of mouth, etc will take care of themselves.
The key to happy customers? Listen, Respond, Collaborate. Pretty basic stuff, but anyone working in an organization of any complexity knows this is not easy. You have to form a closed loop cycle by either bringing the relevant stakeholders under the a single powerful executive, or form them into a working virtual team.
A very powerful tool for creating happy customers and the referrals that go with them is to build close relationships with customer executives. Oracle is doing this by identifying a target set of customers, finding out who their executives are, and starting to build relationships between them and Oracle executives. If sales has relationships with executives, they'll enlist their help. If not, they'll devise other approaches. Approached in the right way, with the right relationship, customer executives want to have such relationships with suppliers and vendors.