Advocacy Maven OU
Dynamic Network SVCS
Hitachi Data Systems
Palo Alto Networks
SAS Institute (Canada)
Staples Business Advantage
I’ve been preaching for years that customer advocacy and engagement professionals need to take—not wait to be invited to—a “seat at the C-suite table.” This year at the 2017 Summit on Customer Engagement, along with our groundbreaking research on Advanced Practices in Customer Advocacy and Engagement, we’re seeing that this is happening. That’s why our Summit theme was LEAD!
Here are some of the key, high-level takeaways:
- Go big. Customer advocacy and engagement managers must know—and participate in—the firm’s strategy development and implementation. Like Lisa Hanna does at Adobe.
- Passivity is dysfunctional. Responding passively to sales and marketing requests for references or advocacy is not only out, it’s dysfunctional. You can’t let tactical operations dictate what you do—a sure fire way to get overwhelmed in less-than-optimal activities. You must respond directly and robustly to the firm’s strategic imperatives—like Kim Ellis did at BMC. See my description during the Summit of how she did so, here.
- Think “customer journey,” not “sales requests.” No matter what your firm’s strategy is, chances are that when you translate it into how your firm will move customers through their journeys, that customer advocates and influencers can play key roles, as I showed, here. It’s far easier to help customers move successfully through their customer journeys, than it is to chase down references for sales people who should be able to locate references through your CRM or reference management system.
- Educate your firm on the full scope of “customer success.” There is growing awareness that customer success doesn’t start post-sale, it starts with “awareness” in the earliest days of the customer journey (sometimes called the “buyer’s journey”). And it’s not the case that customer success drives customer advocacy. As Gainsight’s Nick Mehta pointed out, customer advocacy drives customer success too, because advocates are playing increasingly important roles in post-sale customer success.
- Educate your firm about the cutting edge of “customer centricity.” As the most visionary CMO in the world in this field, Martin Haering, pointed out: you can not create successful customers reliably until, 1) You start measuring firm performance based on how well the firm is meeting customer needs—as customers define them; 2) Hold customer impacting functions in the organization—including marketing, sales, product development, professional services, etc—accountable for meeting said needs; and, 3) Track the results in an easily understood, widely disseminated “Customer Health Index.” His firm, Misys, is doing precisely that—and so far this initiative has resulted in restoring the firm’s critical customer retention rates.
- The role of customer advocacy and engagement continues its dramatic expansion. Once firms wrap their heads around this, the role of customer advocacy and engagement programs expands dramatically. The reason why is fairly simple: customers at every stage of the customer journey are highly interested in hearing from or affiliating with their peers. You can spend weeks trying to get a sales meeting with a buyer, but you’ll have no problem getting a buyer to speak or otherwise learn from a peer who has addressed the same problem, successfully. And that, of course, would be one of your customer advocates or influencers.
To access all presentation decks, and keynoter videos, please click here.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
We have already prepared an executive summary to share with our managers and have recommended it to several colleagues.
Lisa Hanna, Group Manager, Customer Programs, Adobe
Very well organized, app is great, speakers…. everything was on point. Thank you for a great conference.
Samantha Bonter Manager of Agency Engagement & Training Hagerty
This was my second time at the conference (was there in 2015). Even though we are a very large and robust program, I still get nuggets of information at all sessions. I was able to identify the stronger leaders and network with them during the conference, with a hope of building peers in the industry.
Melissa Brown Senior Director, Reference Management, Optum
There was a a wide range of advocacy topics, from reference programs and content to communities and exec engagement.
Eileen M. D’Ippolito, Director, Customer Marketing at Citrix
Many strong presenters with fresh ideas and perspectives, as well as validation of current best practices and common roadblocks. Meeting so many peers was energizing and inspiring.Overall, the event was very well done and packed with useful information.
Trish Borrmann, Sr. Manager, Customer Marketing Programs, Fortinet
I highly recommend th Summit. It’s the best place to exchange best practices and learn what’s worked and hasn’t worked with your peers. I’ve already brainstormed on lots of ideas that I feel are very feasible to implement in the next year.
Abby Atkinson, Senior Manager, FireEye, Inc.
I got so much out of both the presentations and conversations with other attendees through networking, lunches etc. Definitely huge value in anyone who works in Advocacy or Customer engagement to attend this conference.
Alicia Taggio, Manager, Advocate Marketing, Hootsuite
Hearing different organisations talking about the challenges we are all facing,and sharing ideas to help overcome them in our own organisations–specially with C suite engagement–was very energizing.
Umesh Patel, Head of Global Customer Reference Program, Fujitsu
Good content for anyone in a customer advocacy function.
Heather Pritchett, Director, Customer Advocacy & Engagement, OutSystems
Each year the Summit on Customer Engagement honors a select few for their extraordinary contributions to the profession, for outstanding presentations, and new this year, an award for “most visionary” in the field of customer engagement.
This year’s winners include: