Professional Development Made Easy with Online Training from Referential

You heard right folks - our online training has officially launched!

The curriculum for Referential's customer advocacy training was collaboratively created by a group of customer advocacy professionals with experience across a broad range of industries and an assortment of different types of advocacy programs. Our training teaches students how to think and act like an experienced customer advocacy practitioner and how to manage advocacy programs that empower both companies and customers to succeed.

In addition to our in-person training sessions, you can now register for a self-paced online learning experience. The topics covered in the online course and in-person class are identical but the overall learning experience varies across the different delivery formats.

The online training is provided through 10-30 minute video lessons to enable students to complete the course at their own convenience. Every lesson is followed by a comprehension quiz that reinforces the lesson's key takeaways and helps students prepare for ICCAP certification. Lessons also are accompanied by discussion boards where students and course facilitators engage in dialogue, ask questions of one another, and share tips and strategies from their own experience. In addition to video lessons and comprehension quizzes, the online training includes bonus lessons in which a cohort of customer advocacy experts share their advice and best practices for thriving in the discipline.

The in-person training is provided over the course of 1-3 days and is facilitated by an experienced, customer advocacy expert. In-person training is offered at Referential's San Jose headquarters and can be delivered any where around the world by request. We've traveled as close as Redwood City and as far as Rome to support and educate practitioners in the industry. In-person training participants have access to the course facilitator throughout the duration of the class and can ask questions or seek advice directly from the expert. They also have the benefit of being able to connect with and learn from other professionals attending the class.

Currently, our Level 1 training - Introduction to the Fundamentals of Customer Advocacy - is available online. This introductory course is a deep-dive into the principles that shape and define every customer advocacy program. The course provides students an opportunity to learn and apply the basic tools and strategies of advocate recruitment and reference request fulfillment. Topics covered include leveraging reference management systems to track and assess program performance, establishing processes for cross-functional collaboration to identify and recruit advocates, and refining communication strategies for a range of different customer audiences.  

Online courses for Level 2 and Level 3 are coming soon! You can learn more about the contents of each course and how to register for a training on our website: https://www.referentialinc.com/training.

Professional Development Resources for Customer Advocacy Marketers - Thoughts from Referential's Lillian Kann

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Customer Advocacy is an exciting but often challenging component of the sales and marketing strategy. Nearly everyone understands the value of customer advocates, but often the difficulty lies in establishing core programs and then managing them effectively. With social media and the wealth of online information, customers are researching products and talking to advocates before engaging in a sales cycle, but how do advocacy practitioners stay ahead of this curve to ensure customer stories are positioned successfully? Hearing how other advocacy practitioners are staying current in the new world of advocacy marketing can be helpful; learning what’s working and what’s not from other professionals in the industry.

Since advocacy programs vary across a broad spectrum of maturity – some programs have extended teams of practitioners using all the latest tools, while other programs have one person wearing multiple hats – as an industry, we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge about how to align marketing, sales, support and product teams to develop strategic customer stories and we’ve cultivated countless best practices for engaging customer champions and mitigating customer burnout. With larger teams there is greater opportunity for brainstorming and collaboration, but I believe all practitioners can gain value from connecting with their advocacy peers more frequently, and across company-silos. We have the potential to be one another’s best resources for tips on how to build and maintain buy in from leadership teams, tricks on how to ensure robust advocate pipelines with strong user adoption, tactics to streamline customer asset approval, and strategies to engage and build stronger customer communities.

While nothing can replace experience and strong customer-centric values, I see it becoming more and more beneficial for advocacy professionals to interact with advocacy-focused communities and exchange ideas with peers. Over the past ten years, the pool of advocacy resources has grown immensely with the emergence of advocacy publications, online professional groups on LinkedIn, professional certifications like those from the Institute of Certified Customer Advocacy Professionals, vendor conferences like AdvoCamp and the Summit on Customer Engagement that focus on customer marketing and advocacy topics, and in some regions, live meetups with advocacy peers.

The Boston area is fortunate to have a New England-based group of customer advocacy professionals - CAMP Boston - that coordinates regular live meetups where we discuss our experience in our respective roles, ongoing projects, marketing tools and technologies, as well as helpful tips that are invaluable no matter where you are in your program journey. There also is a Bay Area-based group - BACMAC - you may be interested in checking out if you're located in Northern California. BACMAC hosts a series of in-person and online meetings throughout the year.

As customer advocacy professionals, it is our passion that motivates us – and over the past ten years I’ve seen this passion help evolve the reference manager role into the customer advocacy profession. Sharing program success and best practices and collaborating with peers will help to continue the evolution of our industry, and the professional development of those within it. Check out the many resources that are available today!

The Dos and Don'ts of B2B Influencer Marketing

Much of the marketing industry is confidently familiar with, if not incredibly well-versed in, influencer marketing. The home-grown celebrity touting praise for trending products is present in the social feeds of countless, and their reach and power to persuade has gone unnoticed by few.

Beyond increasing brand authenticity and building trust with consumers, influencers offer a solution to some of the most notable digital marketing challenges and opportunities today. With tweaks and adjustments to social media algorithms, brands are experiencing a noticeable dip in their organic reach across popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The rising cost of digital advertising and increasing use of ad blockers also have added barriers to the communication flow between brands and their buyers. Influencers create a new path to communicate and connect with consumers despite these digital advertising challenges.

Though many have come to understand influencers through the lens of B2C marketing, in his CMO's Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing, Lee Odden suggests that the B2B marketplace has an opportunity to improve upon the strategy of engaging influencers and to reap the same benefits of their consumer-facing counterparts.

In the Guide, Odden highlights challenges B2C influencer marketing is confronting as pitfalls for B2B marketing professionals to avoid. He urges B2B marketers to stay mindful of cultivating a culture of opportunistic influencers. In the B2C space, concerns surrounding influencer legitimacy and the authenticity of their networks has diminished the perceived value of insights shared by genuine influencers.

To support a better culture in B2B influencer marketing, Odden advises against treating your influencers as a mere advertising distribution channel or approaching your relationships with influencers as transactional engagements. Influencer marketing should be a collaborative endeavor, with companies investing time and energy into helping influencers pursue their personal goals, just as influencers are helping companies achieve theirs.

Clarifying key differences between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, Odden explains that longer sales journeys, larger purchase decisions and decision-making committees that consist of more than one person change the way B2B marketers should collaboratively create content with their influencers. He emphasizes the subject matter expertise of B2B influencers as a key skill set to leverage in influencer marketing. Understanding this unique value B2B influencers bring to the table should also inform how B2B marketers strategize returning value to their influencers. An ideal way to structure relationships between B2B influencers and the brands they support is to position B2B influencer marketing as an opportunity to raise awareness among a brand's and a B2B influencer's mutual audience.

As Odden said in his Guide, “Pay an influencer and they’ll be your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’ll be an advocate and friend for life.” B2B influencer marketing abounds with opportunity if you know the mistakes to avoid and best practices to abide by. Lee Odden's CMO's Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing is a great place to start learning.

What Exactly is Advocate Marketing? - Thoughts from Referential's Ryan Quackenbush

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Dudley Field Malone, someone you don’t need to know anything about, once said that one good analogy is worth three hours of discussion; I think many of us probably had a professor or two in school that could have benefited from this approach.

Along the line of analogies, if you’re like me, you’re always looking for a brief, simple way to explain otherwise complicated topics. I struggled with this in my past, working for highly complicated cloud-native software organizations, when my Grandmother would ask me what my companies did. “We work in computers, Gram,” I’d say.

The conversations would inevitably turn to a topic she was more interested about anyway: me, her loving grandson. She’d ask me something like “what exactly do you do?” My response, of course, is that I worked in advocate and customer-centric marketing. It’s at this point that I’m sure you’re picturing my loving grandmother’s eyes glazing over with confusion. You wouldn’t be wrong. If you tell someone you work in marketing, they generally understand what you do. But if you add the modifier “customer advocacy” to the term, suddenly, it’s like you’re speaking in Greek.

“What exactly is advocate marketing, Ryan?” She’d ask me.

Truth be told, it’s pretty simple.

“Think about it this, way, Gram,” I’d say. “I’ll give you a few different scenarios. Let’s say there’s a brand-new restaurant that opened up across town. You’re reading the Sunday paper, and in the middle of an article you’re reading is an ad that says ‘New Restaurant- best steaks!’ You kind of register that, you might check it out sometime.”

She nods, and I move on.

“Ok, second scenario - you’re watching the hockey game tonight,” (true fact: my gram loves watching hockey, but doesn’t care about teams), “and during a commercial break, an ad comes on for this new restaurant. They take you inside, show you food being put on tables, maybe the owner says ‘Come on down’ or something to that effect, and it’s over, and you sit through a few more minutes of ads before the game comes back on.”

Once again, she nods, patiently waiting for me to get to the point.

“Last scenario - Aunt Phil calls you, or I do, or your old co-worker Gene. Or maybe someone next to you in line sees the paper you’re reading, recognizes the steakhouse in the ad and says to you ‘Oh, I’ve been there - I really enjoyed the food they provide!’ I ask you this - which of those three scenarios is going to make you that much more interested in going to the new steakhouse?”

My grandmother responds that obviously the third, as familiarity with the product and personal experience is much more valuable than simply reading or seeing an ad.

“That, gram, is pretty much what I do!”

Advocacy is about building relationships, establishing trust, and enabling your existing customer base to get out and market – or advocate – for you, on your behalf. Most times, it’s a bit more strategic than a stranger looking over your shoulder in a checkout line.

At Referential Inc., we take our collective experience as a team to build our clients fully fledged reference and advocacy programs from the ground up. My restaurant analogy doesn’t take into account overseeing program goals, providing detailed reports and metrics or implementing launch plans, but at Referential Inc., expertise in these and other core aspects of advocacy program management drive our approach and service delivery.

At the end of my analogy, my grandmother responded by stating that it “sounds like what you do is very important to the company.”

An effective advocacy program truly is.

The Good Guys Triumph - Thoughts From Referential's David Feber

One of our primary goals as a champion of ‘all-things-advocacy’ is to make our clients, and in turn, their own clients, look like heroes. Creating award nominations – be it for a specific person, a product, or even for an entire company – is one of the most rewarding of the many advocacy-related activities Referential gets involved with. The task is all the more fulfilling when we have the opportunity of showcasing the achievements of someone that both really deserves to be recognized and who is just a great person to work with.

We had this experience with Dr. Stefan Lüders, the Chief Security Officer of CERN, the Geneva-based home of the Large Hadron Collider - the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Our team did an onsite video session with Stefan last year and was immediately taken with his expertise, personality and immensely pragmatic approach to securing the vast and complex CERN infrastructure. Fast-forward a few months, and we had the opportunity through one of our clients to select and nominate Stefan for the much-coveted SC Magazine “CISO of the Year” award…… and he won!

Dr. Stefan Lüders, the Chief Security Officer of CERN, accepting SC Magazine's CISO of the Year award.
Source: SC Magazine

The black-tie awards ceremony was held at a high-end London hotel, with the opening speech noting that this year’s nominations registered the highest scores ever, including many that would have won in any other year. Stefan beat out multiple high-profile CISOs from organizations such as FedEx, Legal & General and the UK's National Lottery.

The ceremony and the ensuing after-party really emphasized the magnitude of winning this highly prestigious industry title. Stefan’s reaction two days after the event? “I am still trying to recover!!!! What a thrill! I am deeply touched, grateful and honoured to be presented with this award!”

In typically modest fashion, Stefan added, “However, I do not claim this trophy for me, but for my team, my colleagues in the CERN IT department and throughout the organization, as well as all our external peers helping us to raise the security bar. In the end, ’security’ is all about team-work, no?”

In these times of somber news stories and escalating tensions around the world, it’s great to see the good guys winning! Congratulations again to Stefan!

The Team is in Town!

At the end of May, our San Jose headquarters were abuzz with various members from our worldwide team, including colleagues from our satellite office in Monterrey, the East Coast and England. The worldwide team gathered for a week of reflection, planning and team building -- a bi-annual tradition at Referential.

In between client meetings, cyber security training and catered lunches, the team partook in a variety of different activities, including a fruitful skills sharing session, celebrating the conclusion of our office wellness challenge, and developing curriculum for our online training courses.

During our skills share session, we discussed strategies for collaborating with sales teams and for making advocacy programs easily accessible to all internal departments. Our discussion also touched on how to foster meaningful customer relationships, deliver value at every touch point with a c-suite client and show appreciation and gratitude for advocates. The team drew on current and past experiences in the customer advocacy field to provide perspectives from a variety of different industries and types of advocacy programs, sharing an incredible breadth of insight and strategy with the group, which also is being leveraged to educate other customer advocacy practitioners through our training program.

We also celebrated the conclusion of our office wellness challenge by collectively reflecting on the initiative and holding a raffle for all who participated. We used Influitive's AdvocateHub to create an Experience comprised of a variety of health and wellness activities for our team to partake in. The entire group stepped up to the challenge, committing to weekly activities like trying out a new food plan, taking 10,000 steps everyday, volunteering for a charitable cause, and tackling home wellness projects such as updating fire safety equipment and donating items from a newly reorganized room.

"All-hands" weeks are invaluable to our worldwide team as they provide precious moments for our global workforce to gather in the same time zone to share account updates and best-practices, and connect with one another over lunch and coffee instead of video call or email. There are always new tactics and techniques to be shared with one another, as well as stories of triumph and learning.

We're looking forward to hosting worldwide team members at our San Jose headquarters again in November!

When in Rome....

Our managing partner, Helen Feber, recently spent a week in Rome. She joined a world wide meeting held by one of our clients, bringing customer advocacy expertise and focus to the event. Helen also taught one of our training classes, customized to meet specific needs of this client. After the training she then proctored a certification exam, the ICCAP Level 1 exam.  Referential is authorized to deliver training in support of the certifications offered by the Institute of Certified Customer Advocacy Professionals and to proctor the associated exams. It was a very busy week.IMG_2771Attentive students and a wonderful teacher led to a very high pass rate on the exam.  Congratulations to all the newly certified customer advocacy professionals!Of course one can’t spend a week in Rome without some fun!  Here's Helen as she was ready to cycle off on an adventure!Let us know if your organization is interested in customer advocacy training. We even have an ICCAP authorized training center at our site in San Jose California, should you not have a meeting in Rome scheduled!

Crocs and the Power of Their Gen-Z Advocates!

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An interesting post on the Glossy blog tells the story of how Crocs has leveraged user generated content from their Gen-Z fans. They have zoomed up the list of teens’ favorite brands, from 27th in 2018 to 13th last year. With well defined user segments, Crocs knew they had a young set of fans, and they were becoming an increasingly important consumer segment. Crocs wanted to increase their digital activity and relevancy and looked to user generated content from this younger segment. If you’ve thought of Crocs as footwear for gardeners, they are now seen everywhere from London Fashion Week, the pages of Vogue, to the feet of Dame Helen Mirren. Customer advocates are partially responsible for Crocs huge increase in popularity. A story worth a read, really highlights the power of customers telling a brand’s story.

Referential's Andreas Silva: Takeaways from the Summit on Customer Engagement 2019

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Last Friday wrapped up another year of Referential’s sponsorship for the Summit on Customer Engagement. Once again, it was great to see familiar faces and meet new ones. Every year serves as a great reminder that we are not alone in the Advocacy world!There were plenty of great speakers, which gave me a lot to think about and how I can continue to elevate the Customer Advocacy Programs I support for my clients. Here are a few takeaways that I plan to implement.

1. The Power of Positivity

We see all the time on our LinkedIn feeds different articles and blogs about the Power of Positivity and how it can transform one’s way of thinking and how to go about each day. While the intention is good, it’s really hard to remain positive around everything all of the time. It takes a lot of discipline and commitment to be mindful of your demeanor.However, one trick that we learned from the keynote speaker, Mark Levy, was to begin each meeting (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) with your team going around to each team member and having them share their proudest moment since the last team meeting.Mark had the entire audience go through this exercise with a partner. It was shocking that it was hard at first to come up with 3 different moments that I was most proud of. It’s normal that we tend to dwell on the negatives and overlook where we may have excelled and made an impact.As a result, there was this tangible feeling of excitement in the room. Everyone got a moment to reflect and remember that the work that they do IS very meaningful. Advocacy Professionals can use this same exercise with their team and with their advocates to fuel a consistent, positive vibe.

2. Find new ways to track ROI

For most programs the monthly metrics are traditionally tracking things like:

  • Number of reference requests handled

  • How many pieces of new content were generated

  • Number of new customers recruited as advocates

However, these metrics are very advocacy focused and not specifically speaking to the key performance indicators of the Sales, Marketing, and Executive teams, so they don’t see the correlation to how that affects them and they tune out.Advocacy Managers need to think about making minor adjustments to the metrics they are tracking to better show the effectiveness of the program. For example, they can look to track:

  • How many unique clicks a new case study received in a given month, quarter, or year. From there the Advocacy Manager can look to track how many new leads were generated, which shows impact for Marketing.

  • # new leads generated from an event where a customer advocate provided a presentation to an audience. Tracking these leads from beginning to end can then show the revenue that was brought in – impacting the bottom line – from the efforts of the Advocacy Program.

  • # Sales Opportunities where a case study or video or some sort of customer evidence was shared. If the prospect found that content relevant and interesting, the program can attribute some of that revenue to the customer evidence provided. Advocacy Managers can then take a step back to see what types of content are most impactful and what types of stories they are telling. They can even evaluate if the deals that received customer advocate support closed faster than those that didn’t.

3. It’s time to re-think Customer Content

In the past, customer stories have always showcased really happy, positive customers who would be completely lost without “X” vendor. While the story is upbeat and bubbly, and the customer is talking about how great it is to work with the vendor, it’s just not fully believable. As humans, we know that we can design the “perfect plan” only for something to not go quite right. It’s time that customer stories reveal the truth: “Even in tough times, working with “X”, the support team worked hard to make things right quickly.” It makes the stories more authentic and genuine.Traditionally, customer content features someone like “Mark, Vice President of Technology” or “John, Chief Information Officer”. However, the readers and viewers don’t know who Mark or John are and why should they be listening to what they have to say. There needs to be more emphasis on the customer’s backstory, meaning the readers and viewers should get to know the individual on a more personal level. How did they get into the industry? How were they able to get to where they are today? Knowing that sort of information not only establishes credibility but it also helps the readers and viewers connect with that individual on a deeper level. They may share similar backgrounds and are able to relate to what they are currently going through; enhancing the human-to-human connection. Most professionals have LinkedIn and can do their research on who that individual works for. Instead of the traditional “Company ABC can sleep at night because of Vendor X”, why not try “Meet John, and learn how he transformed his organization’s IT processes.”Not only do programs need to consider how to get more creative around their customer content but they also need to think about different ways to encourage customers to create self-generated content. An example of this would be when a customer advocate makes an impromptu Tweet mentioning their success with Vendor “X” demonstrating how much they truly believe in the power of the vendor’s products and services. They are advocating as an individual and not on behalf of their company, which will attract the attention of their network of peers. Encouraging advocates to post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can really bring out a vendor’s biggest fans. The detractors are equally as important as they are taking the steps to make their voice heard. Taking the time to make things right for those detractors can ultimately turn them into advocates.Many Advocacy Professionals have wonderful, creative ideas to elevate their programs, it’s a shame to not be able to sit in on every single session at the Summit because there’s always more to learn. I hope you find the three main points listed here are at least a great way to get the conversation started on new, effective ideas to elevate your program!

Move to Video! Thoughts from Referential's Alexander Feber

IMG_20171010_120507More than ever before, people are relying on reviews and opinions to help them make decisions, whether it be in their personal life or in a business situation. So why not take your success stories to the next level. Anyone can read a case study, but it doesn’t have the personal touch that video does. When an advocate shows their passion and their excitement for your product, it is leagues ahead of just an online review or endorsement.

We all want to ensure the products we buy are going to behave in the way that we desire or need them to. So by choosing to capture your advocates’ passion on video, enables your potential buyers to understand why the solutions are working for them and to be activated by the advocates’ excitement into purchasing.

Bring the power of video to your success stories – producing both 2-3 minute pieces and 30-60 second ‘snackable’ soundbites that can be shared on solution pages and blog posts – and have the world see just how genuine and authentic your advocates are about the value your solutions provide.

Improve your skills - training from Referential

As we have been heard to say at Referential, customer advocacy professionals don’t just grow on trees!  It’s a specialized skill set requiring a keen understanding of frameworks and methodologies.  Referential offers a tiered education program designed for advocacy practitioners at any stage of their career. Do you need to study the fundamentals of advocacy program design? We have a course for you. Want to master proven strategies for engaging customers or investigate both established and emerging methods of asset creation and metric reporting?  There is training for that as well. Our education program provides in-depth training across the full breadth of skills and experience necessary for advocacy practitioners to thrive in any industry. Referential training is tiered to support the Institute of Certified Customer Advocacy Professionals (ICCAP)  three levels of certification. In addition to our classes, training can be customized to meet individual needs or interest in specific topics.   See our training page  for more information about the content and intended audience of each training offering or contact us to discuss customized options. We're here to help you polish your skills and excel at advocacy!

 

Customer Advocacy Certification – Special Exam Sessions at SCE 2019

The Institute of Certified Customer Advocacy Professionals (ICCAP) will be holding three examination sessions immediately prior to the upcoming Summit on Customer Engagement event in Burlingame, CA. For those of you not familiar with ICCAP, it is a coalition of industry experts and practitioners who are committed to promoting excellence and accountability in the customer advocacy industry. The mission is to institutionalize industry standards and empower customer advocacy professionals.

ICCAP offers three levels of certification testing, all of which will be offered on March 13, at the Summit on Customer Engagement venue:

  • Customer Advocacy Professional I – demonstrating an understanding of the fundamentals of customer advocacy.
  • Customer Advocacy Professional II* – having at least two years of experience (or equivalent) and demonstrating knowledge of either being charge of a sub-team on an advocacy program or having more direct accountability for delivery/SLAs.
  • Customer Advocacy Professional III* – having at least five years of experience (or equivalent) and demonstrating knowledge of being able to start an advocacy program from scratch and/or having total ownership for a well-rounded one.

*= For these levels of certification, in addition to passing the examination you will be asked to provide details of your experience and 2 reference contacts that can vouch for your expertise.

To learn more and register, note that space is limited, please visit the ICCAP site The event special pricing for March 13 is $249 per exam; almost half-price!

Issue That May Impact The Success Of Your Advocacy Program

We all aim for advocacy program success but there are valuable learnings from the failures of others.  This blog post  from Influitive discusses the 7 most common reasons an advocacy program fails and how you can address the issue before it becomes a problem for your program. Here are the key issues they have seen:

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While the post is through the lens of an Advocate Hub the information is really applicable to all the various ways we structure advocacy programs.

Each of the seven areas is described, you’ll understand why they are potential problems, and then there are recommendations to fix, or even avoid, the issue. There are also links to more information. For example, one way to address the issue of a generic advocate experience is to customize.  But how?  The blog post includes links to further information about developing and using personas to target your information and asks.

One blog post won’t avoid all potential problems, but this does have good information and is worth a read.  Address these issues so they don’t become problems for your program in the future.  In the comments add any additional ideas you have for others, let's learn from each other.

Meet the Referential team: Jennifer Doyon

JenDLiving in Maine along with her husband, two sons, and dog – Jennifer Doyon manages to be an active Advocacy Consultant for Referential. She enjoys being able to work with multiple clients, and she especially appreciates that in her role as a consultant she can focus on her work without the distraction of corporate politics. Jennifer mentioned how people love being able to talk about what they do, and that Referential helps find them the platforms to do so: She facilitates customer interaction to help them promote the products they use. She loves meeting customer advocates at events and interviews: Being able to hear about their experiences and to learn about their industry keeps her job interesting and informative.

Jennifer’s experience of working for a large technology vendor and understanding how a big enterprise company is structured – as well as the challenges employees face – enables her to connect with her clients on a different level. She also has experience working in a corporate communications team, which gave her extensive experience with analyst and press relations, customer interviews, and event planning and execution. 

Aside from work, Jennifer enjoys walks with her dog, yoga, and spending time with friends. She has two boys that have always played numerous sports, so she considers watching them compete as one of her hobbies! During football season, she is especially busy, as her sons both play, one in high school and the other in college. In the summers, Jennifer's family spends time fishing and boating along the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. . She tries to travel whenever she can: She backpacked all over Europe after college and would like to revisit some of her favorite countries; Germany, Ireland, and Greece.

She loves that her co-workers are team-oriented, positive, and focused on learning and improving, which creates a very positive work experience. She enjoys traveling to San Jose at least twice a year for the all-hands-in-person weeks where everyone at Referential experiences working side-by-side and the team bonding is significant. She’s excited to be part of Referential’s positive trajectory!

Meet the Referential Team - Lynn Watts

Lynn&BertieWorking from the UK, Lynn Watts has been an Advocate Consultant with Referential for 20-years! She also assists Referential’s creative team when needed, as she has a background as a graphic designer.  One of Lynn’s strongest suits is being able to talk to anyone, whether it be an executive or a sales rep or a technician. She thinks of herself as a matchmaker of the business world; working hard to find the best fitting advocates to speak to each prospect. One of her favorite aspects about work is it’s always interesting; every day is different.

Being a team player enables Lynn to help both her clients and coworkers. She adores her Referential family and is grateful for the supportive and close dynamic they all share. In fact, what she finds so extraordinary about the team is the broad range of experience between them. They can leverage each of their skills and expertise, making for an extraordinarily strong group of consultants.

She recalled a favorite memory – which coincidentally occurred during one of her California visits – one of the team was sitting on a yoga ball and it happened to burst right underneath them! Thankfully, the colleague wasn’t hurt and the whole moment was captured on the cameras in the office, immortalizing the scene forever.

Aside from her job, Lynn loves to play tennis – at club-level impressively enough – walk her dog (that's Bertie in the photo), garden, spend time with her family, and just be outdoors. 

She appreciates the gratitude and recognition she gets from clients, especially kudos those from contacts outside of the advocacy programs that suddenly realize what the program can do for them. And she’s thankful for her team at Referential for constantly expanding her horizons.

See us at the 2018 Elevate Customer Summit

ElevateDo you use the RO Innovation platform for your customer advocacy data? If so you should consider attending the 2018 Elevate Customer Summit being held November 14-15 in San Jose, CA. All the details are here.   The summit is a great chance for networking, learning best practices, product training, and insight into advocacy trends. There are some great speakers on the agenda including our very own Helen Feber.

Helen is doing a joint session with Richard Clooke of Symantec at 1:30 the first day. Their topic is "Mastering Internal Engagement for Greater Buy-In". They will talk about a key to advocacy program success, which is ensuring it is embedded throughout your organization.  You want to see customer evidence as part of processes throughout Marketing, Product, and Sales organizations. In the session you will get tips on working with various groups to embed customer evidence in their processes, campaigns, product launches, and all aspects of go to market and sales plans.

Join Helen and Richard at Elevate 2018!

Customer Expectations - Research from Salesforce

Salesforce recently surveyed nearly 7000 consumers and business buyers to understand how customer expectations are changing, which technologies are impacting the consumer experience, and why trust is increasingly important.  The full report can be downloaded here. There is a summary blog post here. The blog post has much more detail, but here are the highlights of 5 of the report’s key findings:

· Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services · Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves · Seventy percent say connected processes are very important to win their business · Fifty-nine percent say they’re open to companies using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their experiences · Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago

Consumers want personalized experiences and connections with the companies they frequent. At the same time, they don’t fully trust companies to adequately protect personal information. This is an issue gaining in importance daily. How does your company build trust with your customers? What trends do you see in customer expectations and do they align with the Salesforce research? This is an important area, the report is worth reading.

See you at Advocamp Field Day!

Advocamp-2018Influitive’s Advocamp Field Day is October 3. We’ve sponsored past events and are excited to participate at this new venue. Referential's Jennifer Doyon will be at the event.  If you are attending in person take a minute to stop by our space and speak with her. It’s always nice to make face to face connections!  Online or onsite you will find it a valuable experience and well worth you time.  Even a better value if you register by August 15 and receive a 20% discount! All the details are here. Spending time with others focused on customer advocacy is sure to give you many ideas for your program. Enjoy the camp theme, network with attendees, learn from Influitive - you'll enjoy it and come away with many new ideas to apply right away.

See you at the field day!

 

Meet the Referential Team: Ryan Barron

RyanIntern-turned-employee Ryan Barron has worked with Referential for 18-months and currently serves as an Advocacy Consultant. Although he recently graduated from college, Ryan has plenty of experience gained from both working at Referential full-time during the summer of 2017, and delivering half-time throughout the school year. Originally, Ryan was unaware of the world of advocacy. However, today he loves that it’s much bigger than he anticipated and is a nice change of pace. He enjoys helping to expand customers’ product markets and grow profit margins by enabling their best customers to share their positive experiences.

Ryan credits his impressive success to being a people-person and having the ability to talk to almost anybody. That, in addition to his dedication, skill with Microsoft office tools, and multi-tasking abilities makes for a bright future.

He’s thankful to Referential’s intimate setting with bonds that are closer than those of an average workplace. Ryan finds comfort in everyone knowing each other well and says it helps the group to communicate with ease. He appreciates coming in to work, seeing familiar faces and having a good laugh. He says he hasn’t had a bad day yet – which means a lot because the work can be quite stressful – and he appreciates having some light moments that reduce the tension.

One of his favorite things about working with multiple clients is the exposure he receives to how different corporations go about business: Understanding how a company is run, how offices function and interact, and learning from co-workers. His day-to-day routine is to soak up everything like a sponge!

In his free time, Ryan plays basketball and takes part in the occasional video gaming session. He also watches a lot of Netflix, which he says should be a hobby! He looks forward to having a sustainable lifestyle.

Ryan works well with people and believes understanding where a client is coming from, and adapting to their style, is vital for success in a relationship. He aims to grow alongside his clients and looks forward to a bright future ahead.

The 3Rs of Supplying References to Analysts: From Referential’s Jennifer Doyon

Why does it seem that analyst requests are getting more and more demanding?  It used to be that they would ask for five references with a name/email address/phone number for a report not coming out until early next year.  Lately, we have seen the requirement for references has increased significantly; not only do the analysts now want a phone interview, but they’re asking each customer to also complete an extensive survey.  Your customers are busy and so are you, right? Let’s think about these three Rs to help you determine your response:  What is Realistic?  What is Reasonable?  What is the Return?

What is realistic?

Is your product really ready to be included in this report?  Can your company compete with the major players?  Are you asking customers to comment on products they haven’t truly tested?  If it’s a stretch, perhaps you can opt out and revisit the option next year.

What is reasonable?

Have they asked for 20 references and they need them by Friday?  Don’t hesitate to ask for an extended deadline if the ask is going to cause major disruption to your team.  More importantly, don’t ever jeopardize your relationship with a customer because of some external pressure.  Hopefully, you already know which customers are willing and able to connect with analysts.  If not, ensure you have the time needed to identify and properly vet your references.

What is the return?

What percentage of your audience is going to make their buying decision based on this report?  Will it affect the company’s bottom line?  Identify the most influential analyst evaluations where you expect a solid return, and focus your attention on those.  If it is a lesser known analyst report among your prospective buyers, determine if it is truly worth the time and effort of your customer advocates.

In the end, remember that analysts are people too, and they have many priorities, just like you.  They are helping our prospective clients make informed buying decisions.  Analysts have a responsibility to dig in to find the real story and connect with real users.  Sure, their demands seem a bit unrealistic at times, but if you’re prepared and selective, you’ll make the analyst “work” for you.