Bill Lee: Customer Reference Programs Miss 90% Of Customer Advocacy

If you’re considering replacing your customer reference program with an advocate marketing program, read on for inspiration!

Bill Lee knows a thing or two about customer advocacy. In fact, as President of the Summit on Customer Engagement and author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers, he is one of the world’s most respected authority on customer engagement and community building.

In his book, Bill explains how successful companies are getting their customers to market, sell and create products for them. Here, he shares words of wisdom when it comes to the decline of the customer reference program and the rise of customer advocacy.

Uncover hidden value missed by your customer reference program

Bill Lee: Customer Reference Programs Miss 90% Of Customer Advocacy“Most companies are only tapping 5-10% of the tremendous capabilities of their greatest resource: their customer advocates,” Bill says. “And to extract more value from customers, companies have to think beyond customer references.”

In fact, Bill thinks the term “customer reference program” is probably on the way out because the role of Customer Reference Manager is just one small part (and an increasingly small part) of what needs to be done.

“Buyers are talking to each other and third-party organizations – such as G2Crowd, ITCentralStation, TrustRadius, GetApp and others – are also being formed to help them do this.”

To become a key player in this new world of advocate marketing, he says customer reference professionals need to:

  • Get creative
  • Think expansively
  • Join communities
  • Attend events with peers, such as the Summit on Customer Engagement

How to evolve

Align with your company’s corporate strategy

“As a customer reference professional, you should focus first and foremost on becoming familiar with your company’s overall strategy. Then develop a customer-focused program to align with that strategy,” Bill advises.

Here’s how to get the ball rolling: approach your senior management and start the conversation by saying, ‘Here are the areas we are most focused on as a company and here’s how I’m supporting this strategy.’

“From there you can show them how you’re reaching buyers, starting conversations with them and leading them through their decision-making journey all the way up to a sale.”

As Bill sums up, “customer advocacy – covering the entire ‘buyer’s decision journey,’ not just the end where you’re closing the deal – is where we need to be focusing our energy.”

Share your thoughts and experiences when it comes to aligning advocacy with your company’s overall strategy. What has worked? What would you recommend to your peers?

Grow Your Customer Base: Cut Your Reference Program

Grow Your Customer Base: Cut Your Customer Reference ProgramThis post is an excerpt from Grow Your Customer Base: Cut Your Reference Program, an eBook about transforming B2B customer reference programs in the age of advocacy.

Find out how other customer success, marketing and sales leaders are transforming the way their companies harness relationships with loyal customers in the age of advocacy.

Featuring: Liz Pedro, Rhett Livengood, Pascale Royal and many others.

Transform your program now