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Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
February 2010
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Long term subscribers to Reference Point know that I occasionally write about Net Promoter Score (NPS), the  widely used methodology for increasing the percentage of "promoters" among a firm's customer base. As a reminder, "promoters" in NPS terminology means "enthusiastic references". In surveys that ask how likely they would be to recommend a firm to a colleague or friend, they answer with a 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10-in other words, they'd be highly likely to do so.

Particularly for those customer reference professionals who take a long term view of their career in this profession, and approach reference management strategically, it's important to keep up with NPS. NPS is highly visible, both in the executive suite and in the media, and it is obviously relevant to reference management.

Last week I chaired the advanced track at the 2010 Net Promoter Conference in New York, which is put on by my friends at Satmetrix, and attended by around 400 people from an impressive lineup of businesses. Following, is my take on the state of NPS and its relevance to customer reference management. (In turn, Satmetrix VP of Research Dr. Laura Brooks is one of the keynoters at the upcoming 2010 Customer Reference Forum in Santa Clara.)

NPS is a compelling tool for building your pipeline of customer references

In my experience, many firms view "building the pipeline of customer references" as a tactical process only loosely related to performance and delivery. Rather, the focus is on things like incentives, reference agreements, discounts, perks and the like. Such an approach can get firms away from the fundamental reality of what it takes to create references: establishing strong emotional bonds with customers, and providing great products, services and solutions that meet high priority needs.

The NPS methodology deconstructs the process of building up a reference pipeline in a very thorough, and it seems to me, effective way. It includes regular assessment of how much of a firm's customer base is "referenceable," how much isn't, elaborate diagnostic tools for understanding why customers are or are not referenceable, and processes for turning those who aren't proomoters-that is, the "neutrals" and "detractors"- into promoters.

These processes include interventions into delivery and performance and include direct involvement of senior management to make sure these happen.

So, if your firm wants to get serious about building its pipeline of enthusiastic customer references, the NPS methodology is worth a closer look for that reason alone.

NPS does not leverage the promoters it so diligently helps to create

Remarkably, the NPS approach focuses on creating promoters only for the purpose of getting them to buy-it makes no provision for leveraging their desire to promote! And that leaves a lot of value that these customers can provide on the table.

I'd be curious as to how many B2B firms out there are diligently building their NPS scores and their stables of promoters, yet not proactively organizing them into reference programs, social media networks, online communities, user groups, and the like.

NPS, like other widely used customer initiatives such as customer loyalty and customer experience, isn't coming close to mining the full range of value that customers can provide, as the following graphics illustrate:








Mining that untapped value is the next logical step in the progression of NPS programs. I'm already exploring this with some key people in the NPS world. I'll keep you posted.

All the best,
Bill

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ANNOUNCEMENTS
- 2010 Customer Reference Forum
- Join our Linkedin community
- Local meetings of reference professionals
- Jobs: Who's Hiring? Who's seeking a position?

2010 CUSTOMER REFERENCE FORUM
March 2-3, 2010
Santa Clara, CA, USA
http://www.customerreferenceforum.com/event/

The premier event for Customer Reference Professionals. We'll have keynotes by Julie Tung, VP of Global Customer Programs at Oracle and Satmetrix Vice President of Research, Laura Brooks on the opportunity for reference programs to build their pipeline using Net Promoter Score. And we'll have presentations by reference pros at Hewlett-Packard, Adobe Systems, Red Hat, Cisco WebEx, Lexmark and other leading firms. Plan to join your peers from many of the leading reference programs in the world.
- Network, build relationships, and learn best practices from your peers.
- Get answers to your toughest challenges from experienced reference pros.
- Learn how leading reference programs are leveraging social media and online communities.
- Learn how to get budget, resources and respect from senior management.
- Learn about vendor offerings in a no-sales, non-threatening environment.
- Just getting started? We'll have a special track for you.
. . . and much more.

Registration is still open
Featured Presenters

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JOIN OUR LINKEDIN COMMUNITY
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LOCAL MEETINGS OF REFERENCE PROFESSIONALS
The next Boston Customer Reference quarterly meeting will take place in May, stay tuned for information in upcoming newletters.  The next SF/City Customer Reference Professionals Meeting will take place on March 4th at 3pm PST/6pm EST. Please e-mail Lara McGurk at Lara.McGurk@SUN.com for call-in information and additional details.The next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting will take place in March after the Customer Reference Forum.  If you are interested in attending, please send an email (and please include your title) to amy.shever@sap.com

JOBS

Who's Hiring

Projectline Ltd (UK) is looking for an enthusiastic marketing consultant to help our clients run early technology adoption programs, develop communications projects, produce customer success stories, and manage complex customer engagement programs in their London office.
Axeda Corporation is looking for highly motivated, team oriented individual to work with the sales and marketing teams to drive the overall awareness and lead generation for the company and its leading enterprise software of intelligent asset management and smart solutions in their Foxboro, MA office.
inEvidence, the customer reference specialist is seeking both a European agency-side Customer Reference Executive to work directly with an inEvidence client where you will be an integral point of contact for country contacts, with responsibility for the recruitment and development references across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
For more information on these positions, click here.

Who's Seeking a Position?

Barbara Goldsmith is seeking a contract position, either part or full-time, in the customer reference field.  Barbara has 10 years of experience as a customer reference project manager outreaching to clients' customers in the high tech industry. Most recently Barbara has managed  the customer reference initiative for some of Oracle's recent acquisitions. Her experience includes outreaching to a client's customers, engaging  customers in reference activities such as case studies, success stories, customer quotes, press and analyst briefings, speaking engagements, etc. in support of particular products a customer purchased.  Customer reference opportunities showcased how various products solved a business problem, the benefit received, and cost savings to the business as a result. To see her resume, please click on her name.

Chris Jennings, who formerly managed i2 Technologies' customer reference program, is seeking a new customer programs position. During his seven years at i2, he facilitated over 1,500 references, enrolled over 200 of i2's 380 maintenance paying customers into the reference program and helped close nearly $75M in new business. In addition, he established numerous senior level relationships with many of the worlds best Fortune 500 companies. Chris is based in Connecticut and can be reached on his mobile phone at 203-895-2026 or chris_jennings22@yahoo.com. To view his resume, please click on his name.

Mary Olian, who formerly managed the client reference  program worldwide for IBM's InfoSphere brand, is seeking a full-time or consulting position. Mary is an accomplished marketing professional with expertise  in developing and executing marketing programs aligned with corporate  objectives across multiple organizations and distribution channels worldwide. She is known for leveraging persuasive communications with customers to secure their participation in reference activities, to help drive sales growth, demand generation, and brand awareness. Mary can be reached at maryolian@gmail.com. To view her resume, please click on her name above.

Laurene Price is seeking a consulting or permanent position in the Customer Reference Management field. Laurene's experience includes working with customers and sales teams to develop and maintain references, creating systems requirements for reference reporting systems, and acting as a point of contact within the company for reference data and policies. To see her resume, please click on her name.

We can let our community of more than 1000+ reference pros know about your position opening. To post a job (for now, this service is free), please click here.


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