Aug 3, 2021
References have long been a powerful tool for marketing and sales teams and are an excellent way to accelerate opportunities throughout a sales cycle. Getting those references, however, isn’t always easy.
A Cumbersome Reference Program
Greenway Health offers end-to-end EHR, practice management, and revenue cycle products and services for doctors and medical practices. Our cloud-based solutions are easily customizable based on practice size and specialty. We help medical professionals grow profitability, remain compliant, work more efficiently, and improve patient outcomes.
Previously, we had a modest reference program in place, but it was cumbersome to manage, lacked a community element, and was impossible to grow. It helped our marketing team but offered little recognition or rewards to clients who served as references.
References have long been a powerful tool for marketing and sales teams and are an excellent way to accelerate opportunities throughout a sales cycle.
I’ve held two roles at Greenway Health: as a practice management consultant from 2012 to 2016, I began building many of the client relationships I rely on today; and since February 2018 I’ve acted as the advocate marketing specialist. I spent the spring and summer of 2018 planning for an overhaul of our existing customer reference program. However, that fall we shelved the project and decided to create a loyalty program from scratch instead. We hit the market, searching for a win-win approach to advocacy that would benefit both ourselves and our customers.
Changing the Scope of Our Project
The initial scope of our project was to boost our ability to track clients who were willing and able to serve as references. Our existing database wasn’t robust, and there was no way for customers to volunteer to help us. Instead, I used to track our references with a spreadsheet, and I kept calling the same people over and over and over again because I knew they were likely to participate. Up to this point, increasing our reference pool had been our only priority. However, we pivoted in the fall of 2019 and decided to launch an online advocate community where we could also encourage customers to serve as references and more easily reward them for their referrals and loyalty.
As an advocate marketer, I decided to practice what I preach. I looked at the available solutions and then asked my peers to share their experiences and offer up their wisdom. Greenway Health is part of Vista Equity Partners’ portfolio of companies, and I reached out to their head of marketing technology for recommendations. He pointed me toward a couple of Vista groups that used Influitive and spoke highly of the platform. I sought out their input and was instantly intrigued by the platform’s possibilities.
Influitive stood head and shoulders above other solutions because we could customize it with our branding, create targeted asks using templates, automate our reference program, generate reports about our community, and integrate it with Salesforce. Influitive also has a user-friendly front end that would make it easy for our customers to join our online community and also play an active part in other areas of our company. From a purely personal perspective, it would free me from managing reference data so I could focus more on our outreach and inviting advocates to join our community. It was exactly what we wanted: a win-win for everyone.
Starting Small and Asking for Feedback
As we began to use Influitive, we quickly noticed we could move beyond our initial goal of growing our advocate pool. I started small by inviting a select group of existing references to join the soft launch of our Greenway Champions online community. I created some basic templates for challenges (those targeted asks) and requested user feedback. I also ran presentations for internal teams, introducing them to Influitive and created training materials to show our sales teams how to ask for references through Salesforce.
This training was very specific. I showed the sales teams the exact steps to follow when recruiting references so no one would feel confused or overwhelmed. I worked with the entire sales team at first and then drilled down to smaller groups to make sure everyone understood the importance of Influitive as a resource for references. This extra effort ensured that I had buy-in at every level of Greenway Health—not just the executive team.
Engaging in specific group and personal training for a new platform improves internal adoption and buy-in.
I also worked out a rewards program that complied with U.S. healthcare regulations and appealed to our customers. Our community members are mostly medical office managers because they’re the ones who typically use our products. However, we do have healthcare providers in the mix, some of whom took a hands-on approach to practice management during the COVID crisis. Finding the right combination of content and incentives draws our customers to the Greenway Champions community and keeps them coming back.
Customizing and Segmenting Our Advocate Community
Our customers have embraced the Greenway Champions community with open arms. They increasingly use the platform to network, so I’ve simplified the process by creating user groups and categories within the discussion boards based on their healthcare specialties, interests, and the products they use. Instead of logging into the community and slogging through content that doesn’t concern them, I target users with challenges and networking opportunities relevant to their medical and business concerns.
Influitive’s custom profile fields and Salesforce integration make it easy to customize our portal and segment the community. I can then use Influitive’s extensive automated reports to spot usage trends, calculate engagement levels, and refine the Greenway Champions community experience to serve our customers better.
I have also simplified things for our internal teams, who have latched on to our advocate community with equal enthusiasm. I added a resource page to our internal SharePoint file storage system that includes an FAQ and a calendar of upcoming asks. This way, the program is top of mind with our sales, customer success, and product management teams, and they can invite customers to participate in an upcoming activity when they feel the time is right.
We Doubled Our Numbers During the Pandemic
Since we launched the community in 2019, membership has more than doubled, from 657 to 1409. Our customers have provided 931 references requested by our sales team.
While COVID-19 halted our live events, it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of our Greenway Champions community members. Engagement grew during the pandemic as providers and office managers asked tough questions about the best ways to deal with physical and virtual patient visits and manage waiting and examination room protocols. I’m proud we helped keep our customers and their patients safe during this trying time.
Transparent Communication Leads to a Robust Reference Program
Influitive has also greatly simplified my workflow. I no longer have to comb through databases and work with spreadsheets to connect with customers who can serve as references. There’s no more confusion when seeking customers who are willing to speak highly of our solutions. Whether I’m the one asking, or my sales and product management teams are making the request, all customer communications go through Influitive. Influitive helps us to present a unified front to our customers.
Regardless of the request, all customer communications go through Influitive. This allows all internal teams to see what’s happening while presenting a unified front to our customers.
The most important element of launching an advocate program is to be transparent in your communications. State the benefits of an advocate program to your internal teams to spark enthusiasm and adoption. Make your asks clear to your customers. Tell them exactly what you’d like them to do and, if applicable, what they will receive in return.
Also, be courageous with those asks. Your advocates value your business relationship and want to help you, so make sure your asks invite them to make a meaningful contribution to your success.
Thanks to Influitive, Greenway Health built and grew a robust reference program and online community in record time. In less than three years, we’ve gone from manually muddling through the customer reference process to engaging with medical professionals to improve our products, streamline their practice management, and improve patient outcomes.
Want authentic customer stories like this for your company? Learn more about Influitive’s Upshot service.