Nick Venturella and Martha Casanova CeridianMany companies use customer advocate programs to provide a glimpse into the inner workings of their organization or to reward loyal followers. Some companies, however, take their advocate programs one step further and provide their customers with a way to improve their professional lives.

The latest episode in the Influitive customer success webinar series features a company that does just that. Influitive Chief Marketing Officer Dan Cote speaks with Nick Venturella, customer engagement operations manager, and Martha Casanova, senior manager of customer experience marketing at Ceridian, a global human capital management software company.

Ceridian partnered with Influitive in 2013, and their advocate program grew from a small group of people and less than 1,000 advocates to a full-fledged customer success department and about 6,300 active advocates. Nick and Martha talk about their XOXO hub, creating mentor relationships, and facilitating networking opportunities.

Dan Cote: What are some of the key benefits of the Ceridian XOXO program?

Nick Venturella: A huge one is networking with other Dayforce peers who are moving through similar journeys. We have the HCMentor program, which allows for more established Dayforce customers to mentor newer Dayforce customers as they join. The idea there is to accelerate the newer customers’ success with the product while offering a thought leadership opportunity and recognition for the more established Dayforce customer.

We also have a channel in our hub called XOXO Match, where one person can ask a question of the XOXO community. Community members can respond publicly and also connect to each other one on one, so there’s opportunity for an ongoing discussion format as well as making connections outside of XOXO. A lot of HCM professionals want to constantly expand their professional network, so the opportunities for networking and interacting with their peers is very appealing.

Another big benefit is recognition. We always want to recognize our customers within our hub for the wonderful things that they do and all the success that they experience within their own organization. It’s a triple win: personal success helps someone’s individual career, it helps their employer, and by association, Ceridian wins because they’re using our product and we get to come along for the ride.

Other benefits include education about our product and industry trends as well as opportunities to share feedback with us at Ceridian through user groups and product enhancement ideas. By doing so, customers take more ownership of our product and we can better meet customer demands.

Dan Cote: How involved are you in creating the mentor/mentee connection, and do you continue that involvement going forward?

Nick Venturella: The mentor program is primarily facilitated in the [Influitive] hub—we have customers who indicate that they are interested in being a mentor and those who indicate that they’re looking for a mentor. Collecting those pools of mentors and mentees is a team effort; our customer relationship executives (CREs) help facilitate the matching process. And then the mentee typically brings an agenda to any meeting or discussion, because it’s really for the mentees’ benefit.

Dan Cote: How organic is the networking aspect? Is there anything you do to “prime the pump,” so to speak?

Nick Venturella: There’s no shortage of opportunities for new content and new challenges to post in the hub, and we do that on a regular basis. We have found that when we run a very specific topic category campaign for 1–2 weeks, we get a really nice spike in engagement. Usually those campaigns revolve around a theme or they’re coordinated with other marketing efforts or a more global campaign. So even though it’s a coordinated effort, it feels organic. We always start with the question: what’s the benefit to our customer? If nothing else, they receive more education around our offerings, and that also gives our CREs another touch point and conversation piece around product expansion.

Dan Cote: Have you uncovered any benefits that you weren’t expecting?

Nick Venturella: A few years ago, we noticed that we were getting questions and comments from customers who were moving on from their current employers. They’d ask if anyone knew of opportunities with other HCM organizations that also utilize Dayforce, because now they have these skills using our software program.

To keep those folks in our ecosystem, we thought, why not share these positions with current customers? They can apply to those positions and may possibly even be fast-tracked because they already know how to use Dayforce. The flip side of that happens too; people move to an organization that doesn’t use Dayforce, but because they were such advocates for Dayforce, they bring it there. That allows us to expand further into the marketplace.

Dan Cote: How visible is the XOXO program inside of Ceridian?

Martha Casanova: Our CEO is very customer centric and he has that vision of putting the customer first. So we’re very fortunate that we have a lot of buy-in within the organization and the stakeholders on how important this program is and the benefits it brings to our customers and to the company as well. Every year Ceridian executives present the Most Prestigious Customer Award as part of the XOXO customer awards. I think as long as we deliver that value to customers and to Ceridian, we do have the support.

Dan Cote: How do you measure that value and how do you report on that value inside the company to continuously show the value of XOXO?

Martha Casanova: We report on different things. Our basic measures are the number of members in the hub and how engaged they are. And of course, the volume of key advocacy. We report that on a quarterly basis to our leadership. One key element that we’re very successful on is the number of references that we generate. And we go beyond that a little bit into how much revenue influence those customer references have.

Dan Cote: Can you talk a little more about your reference network?

Martha Casanova: We have a customer reference manager, but we also use the Reference Edge system to manage our references. This tool is native to Salesforce and XOXO is also integrated with Salesforce. So when a reference call is completed, the integration automatically awards the customers points from one system to the other. Most of our references in Reference Edge are peer to peer; that means a lot of the requests that come from sales go directly to the account owner for approval or rejection. Then the customer manager is able to manage the other types of references.

Dan Cote: Are your CSMs active in your XOXO hub? If so, what do they do?

Nick Venturella: Our CREs are active in our hub. They primarily invite their customers from their own book of business into our XOXO program. That happens at contract signing when they become a new customer, but it gets reinforced by our CREs. As you may experience in your own organization, people get invited to do a lot of things and they receive a lot of communications about various activities, many of which they don’t take advantage of right away. So those CREs now have a great touch point to ensure that customers know about the program, and if they don’t—or new people come into a customer employer’s organization that aren’t yet part of XOXO—the CREs can help invite them.

Plus, CREs who are active in the hub can access a bunch of data there related to their book of business. We’re integrated with Gainsight, which is what our CREs use on a day-to-day basis to manage their customer relationships. Influitive has some integrations there as well; as customers take some actions in Influitive, it can trigger notifications to CREs in Gainsight so they follow up with their customers, which is really helpful.

Dan Cote: How do you plan to evolve your XOXO program and go to the next level?

Martha Casanova: That’s actually one of my favorite subjects! The expansion of our program is something that we’re really looking forward to. In our next phase, we want to unify all touchpoints across the customer lifecycle and then provide a unique customer experience. What I mean by that is, from the customer perspective, we want to clearly communicate how they can benefit from each program and when it makes sense to join. We want to be transparent on how it’s a win-win situation for both themselves and Ceridian. We also want to build an advocacy scorecard that will measure interactions of all customer related programs. With a scorecard, we’ll be able to measure advocacy, lifetime value, our “why” and ultimately include this measure as part of the overall organization scorecard.

Listen to the complete webinar recording to hear more of Nick and Martha’s insights and to get a closer look at how Ceridian operates their customer advocacy hub. Be sure to register for the next episode of our webinar series to keep up on the latest in the world of customer advocacy. You can also read more stories of successful customer advocate communities as well as other tips from customer marketing leaders in our eBook, “12 Award-Winning Customer Advocacy Success Stories.