Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16, 2012 8:29 PM Boston

I have spent the last four days in the company of what I sincerely believe is the brain trust of customer engagement/relationship/reference programs in the world.  Yes, I said, the "world" as I have had the honor of moderating and participating in the first International Customer Reference Program Community event.  (Ok, we may need to work on the name and acronym.) 

Please indulge me as I briefly reflect on some of the threads that I will continue to follow and muse upon in the near future:

1. Customer engagement for either B2B or B2C sales continues to be a critical contributer to the P & L health of any organization and our C-Level executives are now much more actively promoting our programs and support our efforts with budget, sponsorship and advocacy than ever before.   The success of any program is contingent upon our ability to communicate our ROI as effectively internally as we acquire and sustain our customer advocates externally.

2. The attention "bandwidth" and availability of our customer and reference prospects is as limited as time slots in our own meeting schedules, so more so than ever, our ability to target our audience by THEIR needs and wants is another key to the success of our programs.  If we deliver specific content, customized to the business challenges of our prospects; provide reward programs that incent our sales organization to provide us with referrals and our reference customers to participate in activities, we are far more likely to continue to demonstrate our contribution to revenue growth. 

3. Cultural sensitivity and responsiveness are as critical to the success of reference programs as they are to closing sales deals.   Every detail from the ability of a customer advocate to be rewarded for their participation to the translation of the quotes and testimony that they provide cannot be reviewed and checked to ensure compliance with law, organizational guidelines and RESPECT.

4. Social.   Have we heard enough from Lisa on this topic through the years?  This community affirmed that social media and networking channels are relevant, measurable and excellent resources for attracting advocates, promoting and sustaining our business propositions and measuring our success, but we must continue to select our medium carefully by considering the audience, resources and contribution to our programs and revenue.   Strategize FIRST; Socialize Second. 

5.  Metrics and measurements continue to be an ongoing "opportunity" for customer relationship programs and professionals to demonstrate that we move the needle.   The most successful and recognized programs are careful to align their goals and objectives with those of their organizations, even to the extent of adopting different program names and specific metrics with different constituencies internally.

I thank Ms. Claudia Koenig for organizing and hosting this event and my most esteemed colleagues for sharing their plans, struggles and success stories during the conference.   If we can agree on the next venue, I'll certainly do my best to update you and encourage you to join us next time.

Warmest regards, as always,