The rules of the game have changed—having the best software is no longer enough. Instead, delighting customers throughout their buying journey is the only way to meaningfully engage and retain them in today’s marketplace. A recent study by Walker predicts that “by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.”

That’s why Ceridian’s goal is not just to ensure customers are satisfied with their products—they want customers to feel like buying with the brand is a strategic career decision.

“You can get your checks done by a lot of companies, but with Ceridian you get your checks done and you become a payroll star in the grocery industry, or in Chicago, or even within your own company,” says Carlos Gonzalez, VP of CS Operations at Ceridian.

So far, the company’s strategy has paid off in spades, with 5800+ customers actively participating in their advocate community today—90% of whom say that the advocacy program, Ceridian XOXO, positively influences their decision to stay with the brand.

Want to turn more customers into raving advocates and retain them long-term? Below are four ways Ceridian delights customers and provides an optimal experience throughout their buying journey—from launch all the way to contract renewals.

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1. Open up your advocate community to all customers

When Ceridian first launched their advocacy program, Ceridian XOXO, the company only invited customers with an NPS survey response of 9 or 10. In time, they discovered that by inviting all Dayforce users across the satisfaction spectrum, and from companies of all sizes, they could:

  • Make joining the program part of the standard Dayforce onboarding process
  • Deliver value to all Dayforce users at scale
  • Turn newbie customers into vocal advocates for Ceridian in the long run

More importantly, Ceridian could impact every customers’ journey across multiple touchpoints by giving them access to a community of like-minded peers, with exclusive resources, and professional development opportunities.

The results so far have been impressive: Ceridian has increased its active XOXO community members’ NPS by 25 points higher than those who don’t participate.

2. Offer an inspiring and supportive onboarding experience

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To start customers off on a delightful journey, Ceridian immediately invites them to join the XOXO advocate community after signing a contract.

New XOXO program members first interact with a Dayforce Success Orientation Experience. The goal is to engage them right away and feed them resources to build excitement and anticipation before implementation. The Dayforce Success Orientation Experience features education in the forms of:

  • Resources to help customers get acquainted with XOXO
  • Videos from current customers explaining what you should know before onboarding
  • Dayforce product tutorials

“Customers who may have been challenged with the project initially because of the comprehensive nature of Dayforce will go through the Experience and turn into happy advocates,” says Nick Venturella, Customer Success Operations Manager at Ceridian. “And it’s all because they realize that we truly are their partner and we’re on their side.”

By integrating a tool called Gainsight, a customer success management platform, into its XOXO program, the company is also able to continuously measure the health of its relationships with 5800+ customers in its community.

Plus, they can invite customers with high health scores, a CS metric provided by Gainsight, to mentor and influence other product users. Finally, they can tailor content and activities based on a customer’s health score.

By providing access to peer support (matched-up based on specific needs) and tailored product education content to all members, Ceridian has been able to massively reduce the volume of support tickets their Support team has to handle—saving the company over $500K in annual support costs so far.

“The support team’s ticket volume goes down dramatically as customer-to-customer support increases,” says Carlos.

3. Make the customer journey personal and rewarding

In addition to giving customers lots of support during onboarding, it’s critical that you motivate them to learn about your product via personalized content (tailored via the health scores mentioned earlier) and peer-to-peer activities.

To make the education process fun and engaging, Ceridian enables customers to collect points for absorbing content, replying to peer discussion threads or taking advantage of exclusive opportunities, like a sneak peek at a new product feature.

Then, to thank them for their participation—either as a mentor, or for participating in educational activities that ultimately save CS support dollars—Ceridian offers a breadth of rewards that can be selected by customers based on their personal preferences.

Ceridian XOXO participants can redeem the points they collect for swag like t-shirts and tote bags, or save up for big-ticket prizes like passes to an industry conference.

One of the most popular XOXO rewards is tickets to Ceridian’s INSIGHTS User Conference, which goes to show that being part of the Ceridian community, both to learn and to network with peers, is a huge personal reward for advocates.

4. Nurture your customers before asking for referrals

Before asking customers to provide referrals, Ceridian XOXO nurtures and gives back to advocates in ways that motivate them to reciprocate. According to XOXO community members, the biggest advocacy motivators for them are professional networking opportunities, career advancement opportunities, and social capital.

According to Nick, customers will often say things like: “I’m the CFO of a 4,500 employee company. One of these days, I want to be the CFO of a 45,000 employee company, and you guys are giving me the ability to tout my talents as the CFO that gets HR technology.

Ceridian’s strategy is to put customers in the spotlight by infusing their voices and faces into marketing content, such as blogs, case studies, product reviews, and testimonials. The Ceridian team entices advocates to share their success stories by emphasizing the benefits of publicly documenting their success.

For example, Spencer Duncan and Alex Li, Ceridian Reference Coordinators, present reference calls in the “Reference Networking Forum” where XOXO members can strategically talk about their successes and network with others based on their professional networking preferences.

Incorporating these strategies into their marketing content is helping to shorten Ceridian’s sales cycles, and increase dollars influenced by having unique product success stories. To date, the XOXO program has helped to source:

  • 832 customer advocates for the marketing department to use in marketing collateral in 2017, including speakers, case studies, blog post participants, webinar speakers, videos, testimonials, etc.
  • Hundreds of reviews written on third-party websites
  • 4,323 social media shares during the INSIGHTS conference, contributing to the #CeridianINSIGHTS hashtag reaching trending status on Twitter
  • Over 7,000 comments added to LinkedIn group conversations by Ceridian Advocates

Think beyond your happiest customers

An advocate marketing strategy can offer so much more than just nurturing relationships with customers who already love your brand. In fact, Ceridian has proven that an advocate community can help turn all customers, from across the entire NPS spectrum, into raving advocates.

XOXO is an excellent example of how to effectively use advocate marketing to delight customers all the way through their buying journey.

The outcome of this winning strategy is a loyal customer base who is committed to your brand—helping to fuel major business growth.

The SaaS Vendor's Guide to Customer Engagement, Retention and Advocacy
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