Posted on April 27, 2009 by Maeve Naughton
Have you ever used a customer for a reference and then forgotten about them? You later give their name to a prospect to find out it backfired? Or maybe the customer approved the case study or press release, you waited to post the document, the day you post it you find out the customer hasn’t been happy since they sent you the thumbs up on the document? If this hasn’t happened to you, good! If it hasn’t happened to you because you don’t communicate with your Sales team and customers – bad for you!
One of the main functions of running a reference program is to know who is happy and who’s not. It’s not good enough to talk to a customer, find out that they’re happy and then keep them in the “happy” customer category. No one is ever 100% happy all the time. Things are going to blow-up at some point in time. It might be a small blow-up, but it’ll blow-up.
It is absolutely critical for customer reference professionals to be on top of the game when it comes to customers. Know who your customers are and always check in with them before you use them as a reference where they’ll be called. It doesn’t take much time and can save you a lot of headaches. Know what your customers are thinking of you before you hand them off to others.
Filed under: customer loyalty, customer references, customer satisfaction, marketing, reference program | Tagged: case study, customer reference, customer reference program, press release, who are your customers | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 20, 2008 by Maeve Naughton
I’ve started reference programs at a few companies now and on my first day I always ask “Can I have a copy or access to the customer database?” The answer, in all the companies, has been “No – we don’t have one!” Can you believe it? Besides the standard support database and possibly an application like Salesforce.com, I have found that most companies don’t have access to a master customer list. This is shocking to me. But, the shock eventually wears off.
How do you go about finding the customers? Talk to people outside of Marketing. I’ve spoken to sales people, sales operations people, customer support, contract owners. Anyone that would have any information on a customer is valuable. Granted, sometimes that information is just a company name but at least it’s a starting point.
It’s not uncommon for me to spend the first week of a new job talking to these folks and then combining lists and lists and lists of customers – all in different formats. Spending a week or so going through 100,000 Excel lines might not seem like the best use of your time, but in the end it’s invaluable.
Although somewhat archaic, I keep my customer list in an Excel spreadsheet. Not ideal, but the companies I have worked at haven’t wanted to invest in the money for tools such as Boulder Logic or haven’t had the budget to do so and for me, Salesforce.com doesn’t have all that I’m looking for. It’s an easy tool to use and sorting generally isn’t a problem. It’s also nice to be able to send new sales guys a list of his/her customers in the area when they start – a little brown nosing goes a long way.
So take the time to find out who knows what in your company. It might be a long process but a customer list that you can work with needs to be created and then updated daily when you find out new information.
Filed under: customer loyalty, customer references, marketing, reference program | Tagged: boulder logic, excel database, salesforce.com, spreadsheet, who are your customers | Leave a comment »