What do you do when references temporarily stop singing your praises? If your business depends on positive, credible feedback from third party customer references to “close the deal”, when a long-standing positive customer reference goes dark – or worse, becomes a toxic voice in the ear of a prospect – it can be devastating. Here are a few ideas to help you keep your customer reference program strong and thriving, despite the day-to-day realities of business.

Record testimonials and references on audio or video.
Use this “evergreen” strategy to combat the possibility of references going dark. When prospects can actually SEE and HEAR from a prospect on audio and video versus a written case study, there is often more weight placed upon that recommendation. Plus, when their testimony/interview is captured in a digital format, it can be used time and time again despite the current issues that are keeping them from live participation with prospects. The key in these recordings is to conduct the interview in as neutral a format as possible to ensure maximum impartiality and authenticity, as well as to encourage variety of usage situations.

Increase the number of references in your program.
When you’re constantly infusing the number of new customer advocates in your program, the variety and number of references you can draw upon to replace the “rogue” reference increases. This not only makes your program stronger and more robust, but also eases the stress it can cause when issues with references arise that prohibit use.

Keep your thumb on the pulse of the overall health of your references.
Monitor the health of references with specialized, purpose-built customer reference software that can enable references to be de-activated should an issue arise. Of course, that software can also make it easy to re-activate a reference when the situation corrects itself. You’ll also want to make sure that customer reference software integrates with your customer intelligence programs and customer satisfaction metrics such as Net Promoter. This will help you find not only the “problem” customers and act proactively, but also find customer advocates not yet participating in your program.

These tips are just some ways companies can react and respond to reference’s ever-changing status, but we’d love to hear yours too! Start a conversation with us today about your customer reference marketing strategy or to discuss your best practices for keeping references fresh, relevant and timely.

Jim Mooney
Jim Mooney is the Founder & CEO of RO Innovation. His passion for helping salespeople excel in all aspects of B2B selling, especially where customer references are involved, was the reason he started the company. His desire for helping others succeed flows through in the expert thought leadership he provides the industry, his customers and his employees.