Here’s how a new customer marketer with a knack for research and a famous dog taught a $196 million dollar company the full impact of customer references
Like most customer marketers building successful programs, Becky Leung’s firsthand experience in activating the voice of customer advocates is something she has dabbled with her entire career, but isn’t necessarily where she started. Having done PR and marketing for technology companies for the past ten years, Becky Leung had a well-rounded marketing background, but wanted a new direction for her career in a fairly new, yet growing, field of marketing.
“I had kind of become a Jill-of-All-Trades. I had done everything from content development, advertising, PR, demand generation and even channel marketing,” recounted Becky. “But in ‘doing it all’, I realized I had always been doing a touch of customer marketing in every role I tackled. And it was something I was actually really good at and had passion around. So I jumped in to the customer marketing pool with both feet when I came to Jive. It’s been the perfect role for me in so many ways and I’ve never been happier.”
Becky joined Jive a little over eight months ago as a part of a small team of three customer marketers. Her day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing Jive’s customer advocacy programs, including working with customers on thought leadership opportunities, content development and reference activities. She also runs all of Jive’s user groups, customer advisory boards and advisory forums on a global basis for a myriad of departments across Jive.
Fun Facts About Becky Leung:
- She’s an ultra marathon runner. She loves running 50Ks…that’s roughly 31 miles a race!
- She’s a collector of mid-century and vintage furniture.
- She’s the owner of a pet celebrity. Her Pugeranian, Yogi, has been featured on the cover of the Oregon Humane Society and has his own Instagram account @yogichunky.
“What I love most about my job is that I get to talk to our customers on a daily basis,” said Leung. “We have the best customers, in my opinion, and they’re such a joy to work with. I love that I get to be in touch with them and tell their stories, and then help facilitate how they touch and influence our prospect audience. Every day is different. It makes my job really fun and I never get bored.”
It is perhaps the dynamic nature of customer marketing paired with the thrill of the hunt to find the right customer story for a prospective customer’s buying journey that excites Becky the most.
“When I was first starting out at Jive, there was this one time when I had a pretty urgent request to find a customer who would be willing to do a reference call. But the challenge being, the prospect was in an industry where we didn’t have any referenceable customers,” recalls Becky. “It was going to be a pretty big win for us if we were able to secure a reference, so I had to get creative.”
Becky started the search the usual way, by asking the rep to make a request in Customer Gold, Jive’s instance of RO Innovation. After she had the pertinent information about the type of request the sales rep needed, she ran a search within Customer Gold. The search pulled in data from Salesforce.com and revealed a handful of potential customers that might fit. “So then I checked with every single account representative for those customers to see if they were referenceable. Every one would not let me share the customer’s name because they were not referenceable or not relevant. They told me, ‘Nope, not a relevant story,’ or ‘No, they’re not really referenceable,’ or ‘We can’t name drop them.’ I only had a week to find this customer, and this was not a good start.”
But that didn’t stop Becky. She just worked harder to overcome the obstacles she was hitting. She communicated the situation back to the sales rep. Sympathizing with the situation he said, “Maybe at this point, it doesn’t have to be the same industry, but let’s keep trying. This is the last step to closing this deal.” So, with a strength in research from her previous roles, she looked at all the data available to her, read through every single customer story she could get her hands on and hit her “Ah Ha!” moment.
“There was this name that kept popping up in the [RO Innovation] system. They were in a slightly different industry than the prospect, but I knew she was a really great contact to have tell her story because she was a huge advocate of Jive, and at this point was the closest thing I could get to the ‘same’ as our prospect.” So I set up the reference call. What happened next was something for Jive’s record books.
“So after the first reference call, I got a FYI note from our customer saying that our prospective customer just called her up again with some additional questions. About an hour later I got a call from that sales rep saying he has been in sales for a number of years and never once had a prospect been that pleased that they took the initiative to contact our customer again.” Needless to say Jive won the account. “That was a huge win for me as a customer marketer,” said Becky. “Not only did I build a deeper relationship with that customer advocate, I gained a whole different kind of advocate for our program from that sales rep!”
Since that moment, Becky has successfully taken on a lot of customer marketing initiatives at Jive that haven’t been done there before. And she’s making a huge impact! Since she started last fall, Jive has had a 210% increase in advocates participating in their program. She’s helped increase the amount of customer assets added in Customer Gold by 143%, and centralizes them all in the system so it’s quick and easy for users at Jive to get access. Finally, as Becky helps educate the sales and marketing teams more and more about Customer Gold, Jive has also seen a 12% increase each quarter in the number of reference requests being made from the system.
The Senior Manager of Customer Marketing at Jive, Alex Larralde, had this to say about Becky’s outstanding performance, “Becky came on at Jive just as we were preparing to roll out our revamped customer reference program last fall. She jumped in, leading the charge on internal training and enablement, and was instrumental in doubling the number of referenceable Jive customers in the first quarter our new program was live. Now that we’ve been up and running for nearly a year, Becky is continually looking for ways to recruit new advocates and provide incentives that keep them engaged with Jive. She has incredible relationships with our customers — and that focus on developing and nurturing those relationships has been key in creating passionate advocates who are willing to step up when we need them.”
Technically Becky has only held a customer marketing title for a few months, but she has the insights and strategic thinking of someone who’s had a long career in the same field. Becky understands the critical importance of making customer marketing a priority as part of overall marketing initiatives. “The reason the voice of the customer is so crucial today, especially for technology companies, is that we need the validation from our existing customer base about how our product is working for them and how it’s transformative in their business,” said Leung. “Customer marketing has a hand in every single department of Jive where we need our customer’s feedback and participation in these different departments. Customer marketing plays such a huge role in modern business because the customer plays a big part in every customer lifecycle of any organization.”
Becky Leung’s 10 “Must Haves” to be a Successful Customer Marketer:
- The right technology and tools like RO Innovation
- Great communication skills
- Being responsive with customers
- Good research skills
- Doing more than just the bare minimum
- Collaborative efforts with customers
- Consistent metrics and reporting
- Program transparency with executives and stakeholders
- Learning from others
- Solid background in marketing
Customer marketers are becoming the go-to resources within organizations when anything related to a customer is needed. While that is often a good thing for consistency and for protecting valuable customer relationships, Becky also says, “I would like to emphasize that I’m not a walking encyclopedia about our customers. I definitely do the best I can, but it can be hard to keep all of our customers’ stories straight with great details. That’s why I’m so glad I have a system like RO to help me out to easily get information about our customers and quickly grab any assets and information about them.” Customer marketers do the best they can with the customer data and stories available to them, and are great at researching and mining the database of customer intelligence, but true success is dependent on collaboration across the organization to know your customers.
So, at the end of the day, what makes Becky one of the Reference Management Elite? Yes, her skills and strategic thinking that help her drive amazing results at Jive. But it’s her outstanding outlook on what she does, and her innate desire to elevate her customers, that really is what we, as her customer marketing peers, should look to Becky for motivation, inspiration, and aspire to every day:
“I really do feel by connecting our customers to the thought leadership opportunities in our program, I’m helping them further their growth in their career by being able to elevate them at their company. Jive is such a high-visibility product, that by featuring them and their success stories, I get to feel the impact Jive is making in their lives in addition to them being able to help us out in our advocacy program.”