Last week I attended my first Summit on Customer Engagement. This 2-day conference, which is the longest running conference on customer advocacy programs, had sessions on all aspects of customer advocacy, customer engagement, customer marketing, customer success and customer reference management.

“The 2017 Summit was perhaps our finest learning and peer networking experience ever. It included speed networking, eight or nine birds-of-a-feather sessions, keynotes by top thought leaders in customer advocacy and engagement including the most visionary CMO in the world, plus our innovative sponsors, such as RO Innovation.”

Bill Lee

Founder, Summit on Customer Engagement

Surrounded by other customer-crazed marketers, I had a great experience listening to speakers and learning from the experts in this field. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the event, but I arrived with an empty notebook (ready to be filled with ideas) and an open mind. I wasn’t disappointed. Here are my top 3 takeaways from the conference:


1. Customer Program Managers Must SHOW Execs the Tremendous Value They Create

Customer advocacy and related engagement programs have information about their firms’ leading customers that far exceeds the knowledge of anyone else in the firm. However, oftentimes the C-suite isn’t aware of the full potential of this knowledge and what it can do. So customer advocacy professionals have to find ways to SHOW them. That includes presenting them with more relevant KPIs & metrics – including the influence these customers have on revenue. In Bev Barnett’s presentation on Executive Buy-In, she walked through tips and ways she’s been able to secure executive support of her reference program on a greater scale, as well as helped attendees score their own programs in this regard through a live workshop.

2. Customer Advocacy Is the Gateway to Revenue Growth

Perhaps one of the most popular sessions of the conference was Nick Mehta’s (CEO of Gainsight) Keynote on the role customer advocacy plays in customer success. Nick reinforced the voice of the customer is more powerful than ever before and not only should anyone touching the customer be listening; we should be using it to fuel Marketing & Sales. Customer success managers have the goal of creating happy, successful customers. Those happy customers become advocates that can be leveraged to drive referrals, social proof and customer references that in turn drive additional revenue.

3. The Right Technology Stack Is Key for Managing Successful Customer Programs

“I think my key takeaway is that the leading programs for Customer Engagement have found that a robust platform is key to managing their business.”

Rhett Livengood

Wordwide Business Client Enabling, Intel Corporation, Business Client Platforms

Finally, in talking to my peers as well as the other sponsors at the show, it was clear that the right technology is key for enabling customer programs to thrive. Ceridian is a great example of a world-class program that leverages the right technology stack to achieve success. Howard Tarnoff, Senior Vice President at Ceridian, calls it the “4 legged stool”: (CRM), Gainsight (customer success platform), RO Innovation (customer reference management) and Influitive (customer advocacy engagement). This technology mix has brought Ceridian great success and driven millions in revenue for their company.


It’s clear that customer engagement plays a large role in the success of peer-to-peer marketing and selling strategies today. For additional tips, download “The CMO’s Guide for P2P Selling”.

Brian Vail
Brian Vail is the VP of Marketing at RO Innovation. With over two decades of experience managing global marketing teams, he has a passion for leveraging the Voice of the Customer to drive results for the marketing initiatives he oversees.