“The New Medicine” and How it Relates to References

I recently watched the movie “The New Medicine” which is a documentary hosted by Dana Reeve (Christopher Reeve’s wife). I have no idea how it got in my queue but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Granted, I had no idea what to expect and the thought of watching a medical movie for 2 plus hours did not initially appeal to me. However, I did find myself engaged in it.

Simply put, the movie makes the case that your mind plays a huge role in your health and the way in which we recover and/or fight illness and disease. With many real case studies of how people made themselves better with positive thinking, the documentary is pretty moving. It’s repeated over and over again that stress and tearing down your body doesn’t help you at all.

Throughout the documentary, there were many points that were made that I’m going to bring up here. Some may be far fetched, but I couldn’t help think about customer references when I heard these. So stick with me for a few more paragraphs while I explain. Here we go…

Know the patient history in order to find out why they are acting the way they are. It is very important to know all about a customer before you use them for a reference – especially a large one. For extremely important ones like key media opportunities or analyst references, I will speak with the customer and see if there are any roadblocks or bumps in the road they may have. They might not be entirely related to the current opportunity, but it is best not to be blind sided when it’s too late. If I know that a reporter wants to talk to a customer about consolidation but has a habit of asking about support issues, I’ll make sure I’ve got a happy customer and one that loves our support.

There is a partnership between the patients and the physicians. It doesn’t matter if you sell tires, shoes, software or routers, if you want to use your customers as a reference, you’re going to have to build a partnership with them. I’m not talking about legal documentation, but you’ll both have to get something out of it. You will get good publicity or a good reference (hopefully) while the customer may just want his/her name in print or you to escalate a question that they’re having. It’s a two way street and we as reference professionals have to remember that there are lots of other vendors that our customers are working with. He/she doesn’t have to do you any favors!

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has” by William Osler. This might be a stretch, but this quote resonated with me so I’m sharing my knowledge. This is such a critical part of running a reference program. At the end of interviews, I ask my customer what they feel comfortable talking about. I put them in interviews that they feel comfortable with. Just because a customer is using product X, Y and Z doesn’t mean they feel comfortable speaking about product X. They also might feel comfortable being a reference for something I had no idea about. Sounds kinda crazy, but customers sometimes use products differently than we intend them too. By asking what they want to talk about, I put power in their hands and let them realize that it’s a partnership we have, not me just telling them what they’ll be doing (see above bullet). No one likes being told what to do.

Understand each other and have trust in each other. Understanding your customers is a key point to this bullet. Realize that what’s important to you, might not be important to them. Sometimes this sucks when you think you’ve got the perfect customer for a cover story for one of your top tier publications, but it might not be so important to the customer. They have other aspects of their jobs that don’t include helping to make your company look good. You can’t have a good relationship with anyone without trust. Treat your customer as you want to be treated because as I mentioned before, they don’t have to do you any favors.

Allow humanity to enter into the relationship with the patient. Your customers are people too. Yes, I know, simple comment, but remember it! Put in your calendar their wedding anniversary or birthday or when they’re going on vacation and ask them about it later. If they don’t want to tell you how their honeymoon was, that’s fine, but take an interest in them outside of work related things. I’m not saying go to their kids’ baseball games (that would be weird and borderline stalking), but in an email tell them that you hope they had a good Father’s Day or wish them a happy birthday. It’s the little things that build relationships that build trust.

Now go out there, be healthy and stress-free.


One Response

  1. Thanks for this great post! I look forward to reading more from you!

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