Clearly we believe a proactive approach is the way to go. Yet so many companies out there continue to struggle with the reactive approach to customer reference management. Waiting for reference requests to come in before seeking out customers to speak with works occasionally. However, we are certain that in almost all cases a proactive approach yields better results. Let’s take a look at both scenarios:
Reactive approach: In this scenario the function of customer reference management generally falls under a marketing group or perhaps sales operations, but often it is just one small subset of the group’s responsibilities. As a result, it often falls low on the list of priorities and may even be inconsequential when it comes to performance reviews. When a reference request comes in, it is handled by using whatever tools are at the individual’s disposal to find and coordinate an appropriate reference. This typically ad hoc approach is disorganized and time consuming and results in a subpar match.
Proactive approach: In this scenario there is typically a customer reference manager who has specific responsibilities pertaining to the success of this function. He or she has a vested interest in ensuring that a healthy selection of customer references are quickly available when needed. This approach encourages regular and proactive development of new customer references in order to grow the pool of testimonials. When reference requests come in, they are directed to the proper individual who can coordinate the best customer for the prospect to speak with. That individual is armed with the most current information available. The result is a fast response with fresh customers standing by to participate.
In addition to being prepared and ready for requests, proactively managing customer references makes quantifying the value of the program possible. The ability to demonstrate return on investment and the financial value of using and growing customer references will support sales efforts and in the end drive the growth of the business. We regularly encourage companies to take a good look at the way they approach such a valuable business function and consider the benefits and consequences of their strategy. Changing from a reactive to proactive approach for customer reference management can make all the difference.