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September 2011 Archives

2012 Summit on Customer Engagement: Early Registration is Open

Posted by Bill Lee on September 22, 2011 at 09:53 AM

Early registration is now open for the 2012 Summit on Customer Engagement. Take advantage of the early reg discount (good until October 15).   

Our theme: The Decade of Customer Advocacy  

Like demand generation in the 2000s, customer advocacy in the 2010s will experience rapidly growing budgets and visibility. We'll prepare you for the coming explosion.  

Who should come?

Executives, managers and staff who want to become the best at leveraging customers more effectively in sales, marketing and social media programs. Expect topics like: customer advocacy, customer engagement strategy, community marketing and social media, customer reference programs, executive forums and more.

Newest Initiative: Workshops to Develop Vital Skill Sets

 By popular demand from our community, we're instituting deeper dive Workshops at this years Summit, that will provide essential skill sets that customer-reference and -engagement professionals need, along with checklists, templates and other resources allowing them to implement those skills right away.

Stay tuned. We'll announce these shortly.

Just Getting Started With a Customer Advocacy or Reference Program?

We'll have a special workshop just for you.

Today's Featured Presentation: Using Social Media to Fill the Advocate Pipeline

Emilie Kopp, Customer Advocacy Program Manager at National Instruments, will show us how NI uses social listening tools to seek out and identify champions and advocates in NI's community and social spaces.

See more presentations

Keynote Speaker: Stay Tuned

Also stay tuned for upcoming announcements on our exciting keynote speaker, workshops, additional presentations and more.

See you at the Summit!



2012  Summit on Customer Engagement

February 28-29, San Mateo, CA






Pardon My Piling On Netflix

Posted by Bill Lee on September 20, 2011 at 01:59 PM

I'm a fan of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and have enjoyed using Netflix service in the past, so I hate to pile on to the brickbats he's already received--but my goodness. Customers are irate for the way Hastings has handled the price and service changes Netflix is implementing. Mr. Hastings and his communications people have demonstrated a baffling tin ear when it comes to implementing and explaining these changes to customers.

In July, the firm annoiunced to subscribers that it was splitting their DVD by mail and movie streaming service in two, and were going to charge them 100% of the subscription price for one, and 50% for the other. That and other changes lead to a major uproar from customers, until finlly Mr. Hastings sent out an apology to subscirbers yesterday.

What's missing from both is any explanation of how (or even whether) these changes are adding value to customers. In fact, they hardly take the customer's view at all, in stead focusing on the needs and perspectives of the company. In his apology,Mr. Hastings says things like:

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). 

And this:

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It's all about Netflix. I don't see anything about how the changes create value for the customer. There's not even a sense he's thought about it.

Say it ain't so, Reed!

Three Ideas for Getting Customers Together LIVE

Posted by Bill Lee on September 13, 2011 at 03:30 PM

Of course, we live in a time of tremendous excitement and creativity when it comes to using social media to get customers, and particularly, customer advocates together with other customers, buyers and prospects. We'll certainly be covering that at the 2012 Summit in February.

But let's not forget: getting them together live and in person is far more powerful. Social media can help keep the conversations going. Live interaction deepens the relationships. We need to get creative in fostering live interactions as surely as we do the virtual kind. Following are four ideas to stimulate your thinking.

If you or your executive team would like more information on how to conduct such events, feel free to drop me a note. 

1. Host intimate executive breakfasts

For those of you selling--or wanting to sell--to more senior level buyers, consider hosting an executive breakfast. Get a small group, 12 to 14 executives or so together, including a couple of your current customers, and an executive from your firm who's skilled at facilitating discussion. 

It's not hard to attract people to these if you a) develop a theme for the discussion that addresses a compelling issue that they're all addressing, and b) you start by getting two or three attractive, high profile executives from leading firms to commit to attend (they will bring in the rest). Allow 90 minutes, including a pre-breakfast mixer, have your executive briefly open the meeting by framing the issue you'll all be discussing, and then get out of the way and let attendees talk while your executive clarifies and frames the points being made from time to time. Provide time afterwards for people to continue mingling. A great place to do these is at industry events.

Your goals: let prospects establish personal relationships with your advocates who attend, and with you, as you subtly demonstrate that your firm is a thought leader that can provide important value. I've hosted two executives breakfasts this year, one at the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement and the other at the 2011 Business Marketing Association meeting in Chicago, that drew marketing executives from Siemens, 3M, SAP, Xerox,, Deutsche Telekom and others--many of whom I didn't know beforehand. 

2. Host panel discussions

The executive breakfast is for an intimate audience. To attract a larger audience, try a hosted panel that includes one or two of your customer advocates along with other high profile panelists (some of whom may be prospects for you) who will draw an audience. Invite several of your customer advocates to attend and participate as audience members, along with people of interest like local media types. 

Consider partnering with a bank, law firm, analyst or other non-competing vendor as appropriate, who have customers that need your product or service. Get one of your executives to moderate, provided he's he's superb at this. He'll need to do two things: a) let the panelists talk and interact with the audience. while b) subtly demonstrating your firm's expertise and thought leadership regarding the subject under discussion. The primary goal? Creating buzz, showing the value you can provide, and above all, getting your customer advocates to engage with prospects in the audience both during the event and afterwards.

3. Host a Reception With Advocates and Prospects

CEO Marc Benioff built using what he called "City Tour" events, similar to the panel discussion described above, except that he would open with presentations by himself or other SFDC executives. But he discovered that prospects who attended weren't interested in hearing from SFDC executives. They were interested in talking to SFDC customers, and with such passionate customer evangelists, those conversations would ultimately lead to sales at an 80% close rate. 

Over time, Benioff began cutting back on SFDC presentations, and in smaller cities, they would dispense with any presentations at all, simply hosting a reception for customers, prospects, and other people of interest such as analysts, journalists, local philanthropists and the like. The cost of the receptions is nominal, of course, and to their astonishment the receptions achieved the same close rates for prospects who attended as did the more formal City Tour events.