How To Use Customer Visits To Increase Engagement And Advocacy

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There are so many ways to identify and nurture advocates that sometimes you might miss the easy wins right under your nose.

When your customers are in town for a vacation, conference, or business meeting, why not invite them to visit your office?

Customer visits are a great way to deepen relationships with your advocates, as well as promote your advocate marketing program internally.

They can range in time commitment from simply taking a customer out for lunch to developing an agenda for a full-day visit.

Crafting the perfect customer visit

One way to maximize the benefit of the visit is to ask the customer to do a 30-minute session with your employees.

Think about it: not everybody in your organization gets to meet customers and learn about what they are doing with your product. Hearing it right from the customer can be invaluable, especially for product or marketing teams who aren’t in customer-facing roles.

Customers are usually eager and happy to give something in return for you providing some training, or setting up meetings with the product team, executives, and/or their CSM. Plus, having them do a presentation is a great way to see how well a customer presents with an eye towards upcoming User Groups or conference presentations.

We keep these meeting very short and informal to keep the pressure low, with about 20 minutes of presentation followed by Q&A. Slides are not necessary and we assure them that there’s no pressure to record or use their content for marketing. At Crimson Hexagon, we have found that the larger the license, the lower the likelihood that a company will approve public acts of advocacy. However, we do find that many customers are thrilled to share their stories publicly, and there have been many presentations that have led to published case studies.

How to get customers to sign up for a visit

The opportunity for customer visits is promoted formally in our customer newsletter, and plugged informally in conversations with Customer Success Managers. The customer may just happen to mention they are coming to Boston, and our advocate marketing team takes the weight off of the CSM by managing the details. Another way to make your advocates aware of this opportunity would be to simply make it a challenge in your Hub.

Once we’ve identified an interested customer, we do the following:

  • Get on a call with the customer and their CSM to develop an agenda and lock down the details
  • Have our advocate marketing team book the room, invite the right people to the meeting, and order lunch
  • Plan ways to make the advocate feel special the day of, like updating the Welcome Screen in our lobby to greet them

If there is also going to be a presentation, we also:

  • Determine who the best person is to introduce our guest
  • Make sure an Executive says hello and is in the audience
  • Send an invite to all employees (including remote), along with a day-of reminder
A recent customer presentation at the Crimson Hexagon HQ

                              A recent customer presentation at the Crimson Hexagon HQ

Why customer visits benefit your advocates and your company

We have had great success with customer visits from Fortune 100 companies, agencies, government, and non-profits. A customer visit program is a great way to raise advocacy’s profile within your organization. It also creates an opportunity to talk about other advocacy opportunities with the customer, such as having them speaking at events, creating content, being involved in a case study, etc.

The benefits from the advocate’s perspective are that it makes them feel special, provides them with an audience for their thought leadership, and strengthens their bond with your company.

Recently, Michael Cornfield, a professor of political science at George Washington University visited our office and told us about his meeting with his CSMs.

Michael Cornfield“The audience was attentive, asked great questions and I enjoyed interacting with everybody. They gave me actionable feedback on GWU’s PEORIA Project which uses Crimson’s social analytics platform to explore how social listening can be a source of political intelligence. Afterwards, I gave a formal presentation to their staff across all departments.”

What our advocate marketing team finds rewarding is that colleagues across all departments attendm and we get lots of positive comments from employees, especially from finance, HR, and engineering. Our goal is to host two to three of these customer visits per quarter.

If I had a wish, it would be that a few times a year we were able to invite and cover the costs of having a strategic customer come to Boston for a customer visit. It’s getting close to budget time, and I will definitely add it to my 2018 plan.

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