It’s not uncommon for customer reference programs to be managed by an army of one. Running a global reference program when you’re running it on your own (meaning you have no assistants to support you) is certainly no easy task. There are a lot of elements that go into managing a successful program – from fulfilling requests to reference nominations to organizational use of your program.
I recently spoke to a colleague in the industry who is a “one woman show” when it comes to managing the reference program in her company. The challenges she expressed were similar to ones many organizations face with their reference programs:
- Lack of efficient way to record reference activity and effectively report on it
- No clear way for sales reps to know what references are available to match reference requests with prospect needs
- Lack of executive buy-in and support for the program
- Uncertainty about what metrics should be measured and how often
While customer reference technology platforms like RO Innovation ReferenceView often help solve the challenges above and help customer reference managers “do more with less,” what really got me thinking during my conversation with her was not just the fact that she was seeking answers to these challenges, but the ways she was going about doing so. Here are a few ideas for customer reference managers who are an “army of one” in their organization for ways to collaborate, learn and evolve when you’re a one man shop. Hopefully these thoughts can illuminate how to get the validation and answers you seek to run an optimal reference marketing program.
Attend discipline-specific networking events – Networking events, either online or in-person, are a great way to connect one-on-one with other colleagues in the industry facing similar challenges as you. Talking things through and bouncing ideas off other customer reference professionals not only gives you the objective third party feedback you want but can also validate that you are on the right path or suggest areas for opportunity/change.
Talk with your technology partner – Think of your technology provider as more than a vendor but rather as a partner that can help you navigate the landscape. Chances are your customer reference technology provider works with a depth and variety of customers, which means they have experience working with an assortment of customer reference program models and challenges. Having a conversation with your vendor-partner about a specific issue you are looking to overcome might give you ideas or even specifics on how you can address it. What’s more, ask your provider about what THEY are doing. The insight they provide may be just what the doctor ordered.
Use social media forums – As the space continues to grow, we are seeing more and more social media networking groups and forums develop. Groups such as the Customer Reference Knowledge Sharing Network (CRKSN) on LinkedIn are great places to go to ask your questions, get answers or recommendations, hear what others are doing, network with other like-minded professionals and get validation for your current tactics.
While you may feel the stress and frustration of being an “army of one” right now in your customer reference program management, take comfort in the fact that it most likely won’t always be that way. As your program becomes more successful and organizational usage increases, chances are your customer reference program and staff will grow. Start a conversation with us today about the ways ReferenceView has helped solo customer reference managers like you improve their program performance and efficiency in ways that increase ROI and bolster executive support.