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January 2012 Archives

2012 Summit Update: Early Registration is About to Expire

Posted by Bill Lee on January 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM

There is still time to take advantage of the $200 discount. http://conta.cc/xgAfuf

We'll have your peers there from many of the world's great customer engagement programs--including Salesforce.com, Microsoft, VMware, Wells Fargo, Polycom, Adobe Systems, NetSuite, NetApp, Intel, Oracle, Citrix Systems, Siemens, Rackspace, Open Text, National Instruments, Redhat, Kronos, EMC, Lexmark, and dozens of other great firms.

If you're sending 3 or more people (a lot of companies are this year) contact me directly for an additional discount.

 

Summit Update: Oracle Presenting on Strategic Customer Referencing

Posted by Bill Lee on January 25, 2012 at 10:04 AM

 Updates from the 2012 Summit on Customer Engagement:   

 EARLY REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN

The early registration discount, is still open, so there is still time to take advantage of that.   

BREAKING NEWS: Oracle's Sr. Director of Global Customer Programs, Michael Stephenson to present on Leveraging Your Highest Value Customers for Strategic Referencing. If your reference program is pursuing any customer with a pulse, or any customer that sales sends your way, it's time to get strategic.

 "Customer referencing is an after-thought in many organizations," says Michael. "Reference teams end up accepting almost any customer who is willing to provide a testimonial, regardless of how and where that customer fits with the organization's strategy." 

In a world in which customers are your best spokes- and sales people, that approach will undermine a major opportunity to put your best foot--your best customer advocates--forward. 

Instead customer reference programs can become marginalized in terms of resources and executive mindshare because the group is seen as being outside the mainstream of the organization's strategy. Stephenson will show how you can break this cycle and ensure that the customers you engage for referencing are the right customers – the highest value and the most strategic customers. Examples from Oracle's successful referencing program will be provided.

More info.

Video Update on 2012 Summit on Customer Engagement

Posted by Bill Lee on January 24, 2012 at 09:17 AM

Why I'm "busting a button" over the content we're providing to customer reference professionals at the 2012 Summit.

 

 

Guest Blog: Stuart Cross on the Key to Customer Advocacy

Posted by Bill Lee on January 23, 2012 at 01:25 PM

My colleague Stuart Cross, a highly respected management consultant from the UK, shares his thoughts on what robust customer advocacy requires of a company, from the perspective of the C-suite. For those who are running  advocacy or other customer programs, this will help you keep that perspective in mind.

Take it away Stuart, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

The Key To Customer Advocacy

….is to consistently deliver an experience that your customers can advocate!

This means that you need to have a clearly differentiated and distinctive proposition and customer experience. There are countless ways you can achieve this, but they fall into five broad types of customer leadership:

1. Product Leader. These companies want to have the latest and best products for their target customers. New product development is critical to their success, and customers are willing to pay more to get the high quality product, service or brand experience they’re after. Examples include Apple, Nike, and Ferrari.

2. Cost Leader. These companies offer amazing prices to their customers who, in turn, believe that the product quality is good enough given the amazingly low prices. Examples include Southwest Airlines and CostCo.

3. Convenience Leader. These companies offer a clear standard of performance and are highly dependable, highly convenient and hassle-free. Their strong operational focus and highly efficient systems often mean that they are also low cost organisations. Examples include McDonalds, Toyota, Dell and Amazon.

4. Service Leader. These organisations gain and keep their customers as a result of the expert advice and support they offer, both before and after purchase. Examples include Nordstroms, Singapore Airlines, Home Depot and Lexus.

5. Solutions Leader. These businesses tailor their offer to individual customers, creating bespoke and personalized solutions. Close and deep relationships with their customers are critical to these companies’ success. Examples include McKinsey and IBM.

Critically, you must choose what type of leader you wish to be. The world’s best businesses focus on just one of these leadership types, knowing that if they try to be all things to all people they will simply become lost in the crowd.

Your choice is dependent on three factors: (1) your target customer’s key needs and preferences; (2) your organization’s key assets and capabilities; and (3) the competitive opportunities in your market.

Are your customers advocates for your business, brand and customer experience? If they’re not, rather than immediately looking to improve your advocacy processes, I suggest that you first clarify your customer leadership strategy and assess your current level of distinctiveness.  

Stuart Cross is the president of Morgan Cross Consulting, where he helps clients including Avon Cosmetics, GlaxoSmithKline and Alliance Boots to dramatically accelerate growth. His new book, The CEO’s Strategy Handbook, is out now. You can find out more by visiting his website at www.morgancross.co.uk <http://www.morgancross.co.uk/> ."

CEOs Strategy handbook - mini version

 

© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.

How Customers Inspire Better Performance

Posted by Bill Lee on January 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM

We know about the value that customers can create in your marketing and sales efforts--through references, testimonials, co-marketing, participation in your customer communities, advocacy efforts, etc. We also about their value to your product development and launch efforts. And customers can service other customers.

Well, here's yet more value they can provide, and it's substantial: inspiring employees to greater performance.

From Harvard Business Review, How Customers Rally the Troops (may require purchase).

Meaningful contact with customers--in person or even through photographs or letters--can create these sorts of results:

  • Radiologists increased the accuracy of their diagnoses by 46%
  • University fundraisers increased their weekly productivity by 400%.
  • Product developers who have contact with customers are more likely to create offerings that exceed sales and marketing projections. 

In the university fundraiser experiment, a scholarship recipient spent five minutes telling a group of callers (with no managers present) how they helped him get a scholarship, how it changed his life, and how much he appreciated it. Result:  After a month, a 171% increase in money raised weekly. A second study on callers who reached out to more likely donors increased their money raised by 400%

Having managers, on the other hand, describe such things had no impact, in a separate study.

In the product development study, one Microsoft lab manager noted that after seeing an end user, the usual obnoxious excuses from product developers, like "if they can't figure out how to use it, they can just look in the manual" go out the door.

Employees generally regard customers as more credible as sources of inspiration than they do managers. Leaders are more effective at inspiring the troops when they bring customers into those efforts.

Yet, in surveys, fewer than 1% of executives think that managers should show university fundraisers how their work--such as raising money for scholarships--makes a difference in kids' lives. Rather, executives believe that employees are motivated by self-interest and incentives like pay or vacations. Wrong! And correcting that belief presents a huge opportunity.

Customer Panel From Salesforce.com at the Summit

Posted by Bill Lee on January 16, 2012 at 06:22 AM

 BREAKING NEWS from the 2012 SUMMIT ON CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

 We're about to add a panel tentatively called Why We Advocate, with three MVP customers from Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com is, of course, justly famous for building a billion dollar business in a decade on a foundation of customer engagement and advocacy. Attendees will learn--straight from the horses' mouths so to speak--what it takes to attract passionate customer advocates and what sorts of things they're willing to do for you in return. Stay tuned for more as we finalize details. 

 THIS WEEK'S FEATURED PRESENTATIONS

-- FIRESIDE CHAT: The Future of Social Media and Customer Reference Programs; 
A Conversation With Sean O'Driscoll and Bill Lee

Sean is arguably the most knowledgeable expert in the world about social media and customer advocacy. He and Bill will discuss the future of customer reference programs given the seismic changes that social media is creating in sales and marketing. 

-- Getting a Small Reference Team to Achieve Big Goals; 
by Marie Ross, Customer Marketing Manager, EMC

You'll learn how to not only "do more with less" but make it into an art form. You'll see how EMC developed a Hub and Spoke model in 2011, allowing a small reference team to support numerous major initiatives and business units.

EARLY REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN

The early registration discount, is still open, so there is still time to take advantage of that.  

IF YOU'RE ONLY ATTENDING ONE CONFERENCE THIS YEAR:  

7 Reasons Why Reference Pros Should Attend the Summit

**** COMMENTS FROM THE 2011 SUMMIT

I enjoyed the networking opportunity and learning how my peers address the same challenges I am faced with. I came out with many good ideas I can readily implement.
Ignacio Lalana, Reference Program Manager, EMC Corporation  

The ability to network with peers was as important (maybe even a little more) as the presentations. 
Heidi Gilmore, Customer Reference Manager, MathWorks

I say this every time - it's the networking! It's great to be able to meet with peers and colleagues and exchange ideas.
Tami Andrews, Voice of the Customer Reference Mgr, Dell, Inc.  

*****

TWO NEW SKILLS-BUILDING WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCED

- HOT TOPIC: Using the Principles of Gamification to Maximize Reference Engagement in Demand Generation
led by Mark Ogan, Influitive with TBA

- FINDING THE FANATICS: Keeping the Reference Pipeline Filled 
led by Robin Hamilton, inEvidence and Caroline Thomas, Metia, with Melissa Mertl, Global Customer Reference Program Manager, Juniper Networks

OTHER FEATURED PRESENTATIONS

- KEYNOTE: From Zero to Hero: How Customer Advocacy Ignited Growth at Responsys  
by Scott Olrich, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Responsys  

Learn how one of the top 10 CMOs in the US spurred the growth of his firm at a compound rate of 42% per year (CAGR) based on a strategy of customer engagement and advocacy, attracting marquee customers like Southwest Airlines, UnitedHealthcare, LEGO, Deutsche Lufthansa, Lands' End, and Newegg.

- How Customer Engagement Built a New Online B2B Sales Channel at Intel  
by Rhett Livengood, Director, WW B2B Customer Engagement, Intel Corporation  

- How salesforce.com is Building an Army of Advocates
by Erica Kuhl, Community & Social Media Manager, salesforce.com

- Linking Customer Success and High Frequency Lead Generation   
by Andrew Sevillia, Sr. Customer Marketing Manager, NetSuite

See you at the Summit!

 

 

EMC plus Workshops on "Gamification" and "Finding Fanatics"

Posted by Bill Lee on January 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM

Updates from the 2012 Summit on Customer Engagement:  

 THIS WEEK'S FEATURED PRESENTATIONS

 FIRESIDE CHAT: The Future of Social Media and Customer Reference Programs, A Conversation With Sean O'Driscoll and Bill Lee

 Sean is arguably the most knowledgeable expert in the world about social media and customer advocacy. He and Bill will discuss the future of customer reference programs given the seismic changes that social media is creating in sales and marketing. 

 Getting a Small Reference Team to Achieve Big Goals, by Marie Ross, Customer Marketing Manager, EMC

You'll learn how to not only "do more with less" but make it into an art form. You'll see how EMC developed a Hub and Spoke model in 2011, allowing a small reference team to support numerous major initiatives and business units.

 EARLY REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN

The early registration discount, is still open, so there is still time to take advantage of that.  

TWO NEW SKILLS-BUILDING WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCED

HOT TOPIC: Using the Principles of Gamification to Maximize Reference Engagement in Demand Generation, led by Mark Ogan, Influitive with TBA

Finding the Fanatics: Keeping the Reference Pipeline Filled led by Robin Hamilton, inEvidence and Caroline Thomas, Metia with Melissa Mertl, Global Customer Reference Program Manager, Juniper Networks

More information on presenters

 

7 Reasons Why Reference Pros Should Attend the Summit on Customer Engagement

Posted by Bill Lee on January 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM

Especially if The Summit on Customer Engagement is the only event you attend this year.

Just chatted with Eric Larson at Projectline about this. To listen: http://bit.ly/wSqfBT

...or Read:

-- We're established.We're in our 8th year (longest running conference for customer reference professionals). If you can attend only one customer reference event this year, don't roll the dice with an unknown. Join us. 

-- We're independent. The Summit is not run by a vendor in the space. We've  focused on bringing you the best available content--not selling to you. 

-- It's about the practitioner. We've worked hard to make it a comfortable event for reference managers and executives. While vendor sponsors play an important role, involvement in the content of the event is carefully managed to guarantee a quality event for practitioners.

- We provide the best content on the planet. Not only top notch reference practitioners, but great keynotes and thought leaders. This year we have one of the US's top 10 CMO's, Scott Olrich, keynoting, plus a fireside chat with top social media guru SEan O'Driscoll--arguably the world's leading expert on social media and customer advocacy. You WILL return with impressive action items to show your boss.

-- We have a "beginner's slope."For skiers, also known as the "bunny hill." Each year we have an extended special session for people who are just starting a reference program, called, "Just Getting Started." If you realize you need to develop a customer reference program, this is for you.

- We're the biggest.With the largest, most vibrant community of customer reference peers in the world. Last year we had more than 150 reference professionals  participating at the Summit.

- We're international.Many of our community members run global programs with a global perspective. We have attendees coming this year from Denmark, India and other countries around the world.




How Customers Are Making Referrals Without Even Knowing It

Posted by Bill Lee on January 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Schwan Foods (based in Minnesota) delivers frozen pizzas and other foods to homes in the Midwest using some 6,000 sales people driving vans. The firm's sales had been  going nowhere over the last four years due to customer churn and poor inventory management, when it decided to instal an Amazon-like recommendation system developed by a data analytics firm called Opera Solutions.

As a result, when sales people are in a customer's home delivering an order, a system pushes additional recommendations for the customer right to the sales person's handheld. Recommendations include "somebody on this route a lot like you really likes X" -- which is generated by the systems' algorithm. Others include "you haven't bought this in awhile," or deal targeted specifically to the cusotmer based on his or her data profile. Opera says that Schwan's revenues are now up 3 to 4% as a resul--a substantial rise for a firm in the food services industry.  

The data driven "customer recommendation" -- which introduces the element of peer influence -- is particularly interesting of course. I'd be curious how much impact those recommendations make vs. the others. To read more see: Business Edge and THe Wall Street Journal.

 

 

Sean O'Driscoll and Deep Dive Workshops at the 2012 Summit

Posted by Bill Lee on January 5, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Breaking News from the 2012 Summit on Customer Engagement:

- Sean O'Driscoll to present. Sean built Microsoft's vaunted customer MVP program, co-chairs the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, founded Ants Eye View, and is regarded as one of the world's top experts on social media and customer advocacy. He'll talk about the role customer reference programs will play in the new world of social media. Stay tuned on this.

Along with our keynote by Top 10 CMO Scott Olrich, plus our deep dive Workshops, this will be out strongest Summit yet in terms of rich learning experiences.   

- Registrations are well ahead of last year's Summit. So please do register at your earliest convenience. The early registration discount, is still open, so there is still time to take advantage of that.  

- Two Workshops announced. By popular demand from our community and the Customer Reference Forum Advisory Board, we're instituting four deep-dive Workshops at the Summit.   

The Workshops will provide essential skill sets, tools, templates and other resources that customer reference professionals need to run state of the art programs in this rapidly changing field. They'll also provide a way for our community to gain access to the deep expertise our long term sponsors have accumulated--most of whom have worked with a huge variety of reference programs over the course of many years.   Here are the first two Workshops. We'll announce the second pair later this month. 

Creating a Roadmap to Take Your Reference Program to the Next Level

led by David Sroka and Darren Smith, Point of Referencewith Brenda Van der Steen, Marketing Manager, CenturyLink  

Communicating Program Effectiveness to Leadership

led by Amir Hartman, Mainstay Partners and Eric Larson, ProjectLinewith Tami Andrews, Customer Reference Manager, Dell 

Fun Customer Facts from the Toy Industry

Posted by Bill Lee on January 4, 2012 at 02:06 PM

From a recent Associated Press artilcle published in the Dallas Morning News over the holidays.

You might say toy makers are almost "hiring" customers to spearhead their marketing programs.Note that they don't pay them of course--the value that the "mommy bloggers" get goes way beyond mere money.

- Five years ago, the toy industry sent 98% of promotional new toy samples to to newspapers, televsiion stations, and magazine. Now, 70% go to bloggers--particularly to proliferating "mommy bloggers" eager to share and exchange ideas on child rearing.

- In the US, there are now some 4 million mommy bloggers.

- Mattel--the worlds biggest toy maker--has a database of 400 mommy bloggers.

- .Cepia, which makes robotic Zhu Zhu pets, relies on mommy bloggers for beta testing.

- When LeapFrog Enterprises rolled out its LeapPad Explorer tablet, it organized "mommy parties" redolent of the old Tupperware parties, with a social media twist. Invitations and "blgger kits" were sent to 200 selected mommy bloggers, which included a LeapPad, with a game included, and coupons. It also had suggestions on how many people to invite (5 adults, 15 kids) and even suggested treats (ice cream sundaes!). Colorodo mommy blogger Emily Vankek raved about it on her  "all things mom and kids in Colorado" blog--telling her 6,000 readers. "... and my favorite part, it's not just mindless games they're playing." Some stores wound up selling out of the LeapPad.

- Spin Master sent a reformulated version of Moon Dough--a competitor of Play Doh--to 500 bloggers, resulting in thousands of postings about the product on the Web. The firm gives some of the credit to its mommy bloggers for a double digit increase in sales (the company won't provide details), and for reducing the time such a rollout would have normally taken by several months.

- Sometimes mommy reviews are unfavorable. Crayola, for example, took hits for its new Crayola Colored Bubbles product when it caused stains, and responded with changes. Savvy toy makers adjust their go-to-market approach to this new reality--such as Cepia, which brings mommies into product beta testing to help identify problems before going live. By doing so, and responding when they suggest changes--as Cepia did with its new Zhu Zhu building set--firms can build loyalty rather than resentment.