In simple terms, we define a customer reference as the positive story your customer tells about what it’s like to work with your company, products or services. And the goal of customer reference management is to amplify that story in ways that can create market and selling impact.
How that positive story gets told happens through any number of ways. Salespeople think about using content early in the sales cycle and customers talking with their prospects later in the cycle. Marketing may be thinking about case studies that confirm their value propositions, and the PR team looks for customers to talk to reporters or to present at an events. Of course, in the world of social media, conversations about your brand are happening all on their own.
No matter how it takes place, a successful customer reference program focuses on building an army of highly satisfied customer evangelists. These evangelists are passionate persuaders for your products and services and help to guide that positive sentiment where it can have the biggest impact. Exceptionally loyal and motivated evangelists will be your top advocates, and will enthusiastically help drive others to your business.
Boulder Logic is passionate about the impact that customer reference management can have and our cloud-based software and professional services are designed to help make it easier.
In the past year the term customer advocate has been called out as separate from customer reference or evangelist. While we for many years treated the various terms as one and the same, some clarification may now be beneficial to the reader. A reference customer is typically reactive in their actions, i.e. they respond to requests to take a call or write a case study. On the other hand, a customer advocate is best defined as being proactive in their promotion (and defense) of your brand. An advocate will proactively engage in a community or at an event. Your challenge then is to turn fans into advocates and then track their impact.