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!

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!

Treat Advocates Like VIPs At Your Next Event

Several of our clients have their major customer meetings in the next three weeks.  We are helping with planning and will be staffing the events themselves. We also have three team members in Dubai for a week filming customer testimonials. So, as you can imagine, it’s a bit busy here! We have spent a lot of time with our clients helping them make their events very special for their advocates.  Everything from assuring pre-registration and bag drops at hotels to front row seats for the entertainment at the closing party. We’ve helped choose swag, arranged contests to recruit more advocates, created pull up banners with advocate quotes which will be autographed at the event, scheduled Customer Advisory Boards, designed customer award programs, arranged to film interviews for videos and case studies and much more. 

This blog post from Influitive is focused on ideas to make events special for advocates and begins with a very important idea, don’t just wait for your big event. Make your advocates feel special throughout the year. The post was written by Jeff Gabel of Quick Base and gives insight into how they made EMPOWER18, their annual user conference, memorable for their customers.

What has made your advocates feel special at your events?  Share your ideas below.

Grand Opening of Our New Meeting and Video Space!

Our new training, video, and meeting space had its grand opening September 14.  We hosted a meeting of a Bay Area advocacy group in the morning and a team meeting in the afternoon. We have a video corner, large conference table, smaller table for break outs, projector, TV, white boards, conference phone....  We will host group and client meetings and have plans for many other events in the near future. Below see the view from the front entrance. Cozy chairs provide a second break out area and a great spot for anyone who arrives early. The second photo is from the far wall and shows our video nook. Much of our video work has been at client and customer sites, in fact the team heads to Dubai later this week!  The sound proofing we did makes filming in this space a great option. Finally, you can see Alex and Dave were first to arrive for a later meeting, at our larger table which easily accommodates 12.  Stop by and visit or inquire about hosting your meeting here!

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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!

 

Nominating customers for awards - everyone wins especially when Referential writes the nomination!

One of the most gratifying activities we get involved with is creating a successful award nomination – nothing beats seeing the look on a client’s face when they learn that they just won a major award!

We collaborate with our clients to target specific industry awards for the coming year and then work with account teams to identify noteworthy candidates; either individuals, teams, or whole companies. We typically then do a short interview with the lead nominee and put together a submission for the individual award. Then it’s out of our hands!

We have a stellar track-record for nominations that get picked as winners and category finalists. We are very proud to have Deutsche Bank win a very prestigious award for an IT Risk Management project at a ceremony just held in Munich – the recipient notified us from the banquet hall floor! See their photo below. We also were delighted to hear that Johnson & Johnson received one of the top prizes at the latest Dell annual conference. However, not all our submissions are for large corporations: We championed a regional consumer services provider and were equally excited to be notified that they will be presented with the “Best in Class Contact Center” honor at a major industry event to be held in June in the US. All three happened in the last month and all were nominations written by our mangeing partner, David Feber.

Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, we repeatedly see major returns from even just submitting a client for an award – all too often people don’t get positive feedback, so being nominated is understandably viewed as being a huge deal! We’ve found that for a modest amount of work, the payback is dramatic and the sense of goodwill lasts for a long time – we highly recommend it!

Olaf receiving KC Award 2018
Olaf receiving KC Award 2018

Enjoyed our Hunt!

Most of our remote employees have been here this week.  It's been busy with lots of onsite client meetings, we've taken the opportunity for strategy meetings for Referential, and we made time for some fun. We did a scavenger hunt with Big City Hunt, learning a lot about our home town of San Jose, California along the way.  It was a beautiful afternoon and a nice walk through a variety of city sites, some even the locals had never seen.  It was a great introduction to the area for the remote team members.

And we're good at what we do!  Answering questions, doing challenges, we beat 100% of Big City Hunt Teams with 10 players!  And we have a few pictures to share.  One of the group, in height order but our 6'9" team member took the picture so you don't get to see our tallest.  And Andreas hugging a tree, one of our challenges. We really enjoyed the hunt!

Research shows - sports can be distracting at work

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Robert Half did some research  and the data shows sports does impact productivity at work. On the day after big sporting events large percentages of people call in sick or are late to work. The over 1,000 workers surveyed admitted to spending about 27 minutes a day on sports-related activities before a major sporting event. Olympics, March Madness, World Cup Soccer, and NBA playoffs are just a few major sporting events that are particularly popular and just on the horizon.

But it’s not all bad news: Sports can also contribute to teamwork. We focus on sport as a way to get everyone involved in a common activity, to come together and celebrate. We have an office fantasy football league. We’ve been known to play some World Cup games on our big screen too. Lunch time and afternoon tea break (yes, come visit, we have tea in the afternoons) can coincide with sporting events or be the time to manage that fantasy team.

You don’t have to loose the productivity, instead look for ways to foster teamwork and impact morale!

Vote for 2017 Advocate Marketing Program of the Year – Deadline is Nov 24

BAMMIESThe Best Advocate Marketing Awards (BAMMIES for short) are produced by Influitive and designed to showcase the great strides that are being made by B2B marketing leaders who are working with their advocates to drive brand, demand and revenue.  The BAMMIES are awarded annually.  The 10 categories include “Building Event Buzz with an Advocate Swarm”, “The Advocate Marketing Hall of Fame”, and the big one – “The Advocate Marketing Program of the Year”.  You can vote for the winner of the latter category, which is awarded to the program you think has delivered measurable value through inspiring and flawless execution. Vote here.    

Here are the 2017 Advocate Marketing Program of the Year finalists, congratulations to all!

  • Ceridian HCM
  • Cisco
  • DocuSign
  • GoGuardian
  • InTouch Health
  • Pearson
  • PowerDMS
  • Staples 

Hurry, voting ends Friday, November 24 at 5 pm EST. Winners will be recognized at the Best Advocate Marketing Awards ceremony at Advocamp on December 6th-8th, 2017, in San Francisco.

A week together!

Next week nearly all of Referential is gathering at our main office in San Jose.  Team members from 2 countries and 5 states will be here. We will be missing our team member from India, though we have creative ways to keep him involved and updated.  Subsets of us will be off to meet with local clients. There will be more security training. We're ensuring the whole team is conversant in our newest service offerings. New product training is also on the agenda.  One evening we're playing bocce ball.  Good food, and a chance to have some fun together is important. Our newest hire will have her first day Monday, talk about great timing!  Not only will she get a shiny new PC, many of the rest of us will too.  Everyone is here, great time for a technology refresh.  In the photo you can see part of the assembly line that is getting the PCs ready with the newest software and security tools. Large monitors are here too so we still have the benefit of a large display with new, smaller PCs which will be great for travel.Unpacking new PCs

A week together is quite a treat. Nice to see each other in person, not just via video or phone. We're all looking forward to it!

 

Congratulations to our Award Winning Client!

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Congratulations to our client Lisa Matzdorff, director of customer experience at Symantec.  She was just named the winner of the Sherpa Award for Innovative Feature Use at the Elevate Customer Summit hosted by RO Innovation.

Lisa uses ReferenceView, an application from RO Innovation, to track recruitment and reference activities. She needed a granular method for tracking and reporting each stage of recruitment to support the volume and multi-step process in place at Symantec. Lisa turned to ReferenceView’s workflow functionality to keep recruitment of new advocates moving at an optimal pace. Notes are captured within each step so that a permanent record remains available.

This approach ensures the recruitment process is as efficient as possible, with a clear view of metrics. The process has enabled Lisa to consistently exceed the security industry’s standard advocate recruitment rate!  Congratulations Lisa on both your award and your great results!

Signature of Approval!

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 (We just returned from the Cyber Defense Summit 2017 in Las Vegas.  Leading up to the Summit we worked with customers to create videos and quotes that were used throughout the event.  Our trip to Australia to film customers resulted in such great content we expedited processes and went from filming in one country to showing our videos on the main stage of the event 12 days later! 

Love this photo, Freud Alexandre, the Enterprise Architect and Security Manager for the City of New Orleans (and one of our favorite people!), was so happy to be featured he autographed his banner.  That is the signature of approval! What we like to see with all our customer deliverables.

2 clients, 2 projects, 3 days, over 300 phone calls!

phone photo
phone photo

We had two projects overlap this week.  One client needed us to follow up on survey results and another asked us to invite customers to participate in an important event.  Both projects were at the stage where it was time to leave email behind and make phone calls. Between the two projects, two team members have made over 300 phone calls quickly, all in just a few days.  One person even came in at 5:30 AM so he could connect with the East coast early in their business day.  We were able to exceed goals for both projects.  We did leave a lot of voicemails but had great conversations with everyone who answered their phone.  A conversation is a great chance to meet your objective but also check in with advocates, see what other activities they might be interested in, see if anything has changed for them or their company, and answer questions. A lot of talking, but well worth the time!

Beat the Lock - Almost!

Well we almost did it. With the very last clues in our hand, solving the last puzzle, to open the last lock, time was up!  From their website, Beat the Lock is described as: an interactive adventure experience where you and your friends are locked in a themed room to piece together clues, decipher codes and solve puzzles to ultimately find the key to escape!   Beat the Lock 3

You have an hour to solve myriad types of puzzles, open all sorts of locks, which lead to more clues for more puzzles! In our theme we were looking for jewels hidden by Grandma Edna so we could have our rightful inheritance. We had an hour to find the jewels before pesky relatives would arrive to stake their claim. 

And we almost did it! It requires teamwork and communication and is bounded by time pressure. Just in case any of you do a similar experience we don’t want to share details but suffice to say it’s a great team building experience and even though we didn’t Beat the Lock we did have great fun!

CPR and First Aid Certified!

We spent Friday afternoon with the Red Cross and the lovelies in the photo below. All of us are now trained in CPR and first aid. It was a great afternoon of team building and a wonderful learning experience. It's the sort of training you hope to never have to use but if there is an emergency we are now all much better prepared. 

CPr manikins at the ready!!

Back From Influitive's Advocamp

Several of us just returned from Influitive’s Advocamp, which, to use their words, is "a global business gathering focused on one transformational idea: that the future belongs to companies that develop and mobilize advocates as their primary goal". And that’s exactly what Referential does for our clients, help them realize the true value of their customers through advocacy. At Advocamp two of us completed Advocate Marketing Certification. Previously two members of the team completed partner training and certification. We’re about to work with several clients who are at early stages of using Influitive’s solution and we are ready!

On day one of Advocamp we focused on certifications and in depth training. The balance of the event had about 50 sessions, spread over multiple tracks. While the presentations andkeynotes were short, by design, the content was rich. The event was a great match to our company focus.

Nearly 1000 enthusiastic people attended. Influitive transformed the Hyatt in San Francisco to a camp ground. They brought in hundreds of trees, rustic wood backdrops, and even faux fires! Good job Influitive! An informative and fun event. We look forward to working with Influitive more in the future and are already planning to attend next year’s Advocamp.

See you at the conferences!

We are again sponsoring the Summit on Customer Engagement. This year’s summit is next week. Attendees are professionals involved in customer engagement programs.   One of our managing partners, Helen Feber, is a speaker at the event. She’ll be hosting a session for people new to advocacy work. Interestingly some of our clients are speakers as well!   We’ve been sponsoring for several years. It’s always a great opportunity to connect with colleagues, share best practices, and collaborate.   It’s an event we look forward to every year. If you will be there stop by our booth and say hi! RSA is the same week. We like to attend industry shows to stay current on major issues.  RSA is a great opportunity to learn about advances in technology and IT, especially security trends. It’s expected that security issues raised by the pervasive use of mobile devices will be a major topic this year, as will implications of the Internet of Things, the safety of personal data – there’s no shortage of security topics of great importance to businesses today.

It’s not often we have two major shows at the exact same time. We are lucky that both are local. It makes it easier for more of the team to participate, while of course continuing to support our clients. We have a busy week ahead, if you’ll be at either event we hope to see you!

Have a Super weekend!

The Super Bowl is right in our back yard. Santa Clara, site of Levi’s Stadium, is very nearby.   While the game may be in Santa Clara, official events are from San Francisco to Gilroy. It seems absolutely everything can be football themed. A special art exhibit at the Triton Museum, STEM expos at local libraries, golf tournaments, charity events, bowling tournaments, new structures in local parks – you name it and there is a football themed version of it nearby. We have entire buildings wrapped, now essentially very large billboards (thank you Oracle) and the logo for Super Bowl 50 is everywhere, on everything. The area is ready. Security is in place, transportation routes planned, certain streets already closed. The Bay Bridge lights are back, the potholes on 101 (at least between San Francisco and Santa Clara) are gone. Celebrities are here or will be shortly, logoed merchandise is everywhere.   Even El Nino is cooperating. There’s a break in the rain and the weekend should be sunny and 70s. Enjoy a super weekend. Let's all join with half time headliner Coldplay, in cheering for their favorite team, the Denver Panthers!

Tradeshows - what, if anything, to give away

We are about to gear up for one of the annual trade shows we sponsor each year, the Summit on Customer Engagement. Still deciding if our booth (really it’s a table) should have a giveaway.  One year it was mood pencils, when you held them the pencil color changed from black to bright blue.  Quite a conversation starter!  Another year it was a booklet of post its.  One year we put sharpened pencils with our logo and url on the tables in the main conference room, a way to get our name out to everyone, even those who didn’t stop by our table. We want to avoid the give aways that are just fun toys for the kids, we’d rather have something attendees keep and find useful, and of course at a reasonable cost.  Pens, lanyards, business card magnets are just a few of the items that come to mind.  We do know who we’ll order from, we’ve had great success with 4Imprint, we’ve like the ordering process and quality of the products.   Do you see company value in tradeshow giveaways?  If so what’s your favorite?