Last week I had 5 people ask me to either be a reference for them or write an endorsement for them. I was more than thrilled to do it for all five of them! They all offer great services and one was for a great girl that worked for me years ago and I’d hire her again in a heartbeat. As I started to write the endorsements and the written letter of reference, I started to think about each one and how they all excelled at different things (as they should because they are all in different areas of service) and the strengths for each of them. I realized a few hours later that I had spent about 30 minutes on each one. I was thrilled to be the voice of the customer for four of them, and the voice of the former boss for the other. As I mentioned, they are all talented and offer exceptional service.
What I realized though, was that I last week I was no different than our customers. We, as reference professionals, are always looking for customers to speak on our behalf, to provide quotes or to speak to a prospect. No big deal, right? Well, not so fast. I was able to write the references when it suited me, which happened to be late at night. Can our customers do reference calls at 10pm? Probably not. I’m also just one person with no major demand to be a reference. Our customers probably have multiple vendors every week asking for a reference, all which take time, and all which will cut into their work day. Finally, my name isn’t on the line if someone doesn’t get the very same service as I received. Our customers not only put their name on the line, but their company’s name on the line. There’s a lot more riding on a corporate reference for the one giving the reference. And, if the reference is posted publicly, if the solution doesn’t work out as expected, then the reference giver has egg on their face.
Remember that your customers probably have tons of folks asking them for references and that each request will take some time, time that more than likely will have to be taken out of their normal, busy and hectic work day. Remember, your customers are people too.