Why one reference manager ‘never saw it coming,’ but wouldn’t change it for a thing

The Reference Management Elite - Spencer Duncan

“No one goes to college to get a reference management degree,” joked Spencer Duncan, North American Reference Coordinator at Ceridian HCM. “Yet never in a million years would I have guessed I would have found such a calling in this field and end up doing something I love so much. Customer reference coordination wasn’t even on my radar a handful of years ago!” While Spencer played this sentiment off with a touch of humor, his statement is very true and one that I believe most everyone in the reference management field – whether they’ve been there for 3 months or 30 years – can relate to.

What Makes Spencer Duncan one of the Reference Management Elite?

This month, I had the pleasure of getting to know Spencer Duncan, North American Reference Manager at Ceridian HCM, a bit better. The more I talked with this down-to-earth, humble and humorous reference professional, the more I felt as if I was talking to a friend rather than a customer. I believe it’s Spencer’s authentic nature and innate ability to put others around him at ease (among many other things, of course!) that have helped him build relationships and find success in the reference industry.

True to his “neighborly” personality, Spencer successfully weaves his genuine character into his professional work of building relationships to recruit, nurture and manage customer advocates at Ceridian. “I enjoy working with great people, especially our advocates. They’re amazing. I know them well,” said Spencer. “We don’t have some stuffy, formal business relationship. For example, I know when their birthdays are and send them personal handwritten notes about their influence on our business all the time.”

“People like Spencer know our advocates really well, and are skilled at finding a suitable match for the sales opportunity at hand. He’s very good at what he does.”

Alex Li

North American Reference Associate, Ceridian

The Story Behind Spencer Duncan’s Success: Tools, Leadership & Gratitude

The “customer first” value Spencer exhibits is also central to Ceridian’s XOXO Customer Success Program: a customer success initiative designed to help customers reach their goals, and in turn, create advocates who help spread the word about Ceridian’s products, services, and total customer experience. Spencer says, “I feel like I hit the Holy Grail when I joined Ceridian. They have great tools in place, like RO Innovation and Influitive. The XOXO program is backed by great executive support who understand advocacy and know what it takes to do it right. My eyes were completely opened because I had no idea what was actually possible when you were armed with all the right stuff from the get-go.”

Why was Spencer so blown away by the leadership and available tools when he signed on with Ceridian? Because he’s experienced the other side of the fence. At his previous company, all reference-related information was housed piecemeal in Salesforce.com and on a variety of spreadsheets. Spencer recalls, “It was such a pain the way we did it there. I’d have to continually be calling customers up to see if they were still happy and willing to do activities for us. Or I’d be sending out the ‘Hail Mary’ email asking if anyone had a customer who could speak to a feature of this product. It was such a time consuming and arduous task for me every time a reference was needed. It was a headache and frankly just annoyed everyone, especially the leadership.”

Spencer knows customer references are a nerve-wracking thing for a seller. It is the barrier standing in the way between them closing their deal and getting their commission. “But it’s just as nerve-wracking on my end,” says Spencer. “Knowing I need to find the right happy client to ensure that prospective customer has a good conversation with them so they’ll sign on the dotted line is just as much pressure for me as it is for the seller. But then when you do it right and get to hear the deal closed because of the reference, that is especially gratifying and such a good feeling because you know you helped make a difference.”

“If I could reach through the PC I’d kiss ya right now!”

Rosa Silvestri

Account Executive, Ceridian

Last week, Spencer was in Toronto training a new member of the customer reference team. A seller, Kyle Wilson, came up and interrupted their lunch to thank him for how much the references Spencer had lined up for him helped in a recent deal:

Ceridian XOXO’s support with setting up THREE reference calls in related industries for Gay Lea Foods was instrumental in overcoming some negative word of mouth the Head of HR and Payroll Manager had heard about Dayforce. The references were praised as knowledgeable, open, and fair – meaning a genuine peer-to-peer experience that supported our relationship-focused/long-term vision theme to win this HR-driven initiative against SAP, Oracle, and Workday. So thank you – you guys and the references were outstanding!“

Kyle Wilson

Account Executive, Ceridian

Spencer said it’s moments like those that are super gratifying. Best of all, he says those kinds of moments happen all the time at Ceridian. Clearly, there’s something to be said about a company who truly understands the power of the voice of the customer, and the work that goes into making that a reality.

3 Fun Facts About Spencer Duncan:

  1. He loves playing golf…and is pretty good at it too! He actually played at the collegiate level!
  2. Every year he takes his wife and two kids to Disneyland.
  3. He is learning to oil paint. Can we call him the Bob Ross of the reference world? “Not yet” he says!
Spencer Duncan

What Is On the Horizon According to Spencer Duncan?

It is clear Spencer is definitely passionate about customer success and customer advocacy. As such, his predictions for the future reflect that passion. Spencer believes more and more we are going to see our customers doing our ‘selling’ for us and that companies should be increasingly investing in their customers: “When you can tap into and leverage the voice of the customer, that goes so much farther than a salesperson giving you their spiel. When you get to speak to a peer about their experience with the same product you’re evaluating, there is so much more credibility, power and value in that.”

As a company, Ceridian and every single one of its employees understand that ‘happy customer’ principal. “By no means are we perfect. But from our CEO down, Ceridian believes that when you take care of your customer, good things will happen. It’s so cool watching the fruits of the effort we take to invest in our customers pay off in my role,” says Spencer.

What else does Spencer see in his crystal ball?

Well, Spencer’s wife asked him the other day, “Where do you want to go from here? What do you want to do next in your career?” He told her he honestly would be fine doing what he’s doing for 10 more years. He enjoys it. He thinks it’s fun. Tellingly, Spencer’s closing remark said it all: “I feel blessed to be in this position. I never thought I would be here, but I consider myself lucky that I am. The End.”

Spencer Duncan

Connect with Spencer Duncan today!

Click here to add Spencer Duncan to your professional network of The Reference Management Elite on LinkedIn.

Nominate a Reference Management Elite Professional Today!

Know Someone Like Spencer Duncan?

If you know an amazingly accomplished reference manager, like Spencer Duncan, or a newbie customer marketer that’s taking the industry by storm, we want to know about them and feature their story here!

Nominate Now

Nichole Auston
Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.