a newsletter for customer reference professionals
"Reinventing customer relationships" is top of mind for CEOs today. That's the exciting conclusion from IBM's recently released Global Chief Executive Officer Survey. I encourage you to read through it, because it has exciting implications for the strategic importance of customer reference programs. Following are a few thoughts on how you and your reference program might capitalize on them:
- Share the IBM CEO survey with your senior leadership, if they're not already aware of it. Summarize its implications for your firm's particular market and customers.
- Learn how your senior management is approaching the issue of reinventing customer relationships. Then ask yourself how your reference program and your firm's customer references can help. Make proposals to the appropriate levels of leadership at your firm.
- The 1500 CEOs in the IBM survey, for example, want their firms to get better at anticipating customer needs, rather than passively responding to requests. Can your references help with this? Does someone at your firm systematically probe customers not just on what's worked well, but where customers foresee additional ways in which your solutions might help their firm? If not, your firm needs to correct this situation. For some firms, the customer reference team takes a strong role in this.
- The IBM survey CEOs want to make customer intimacy a priority. Does your CEO have the same priority? How can your reference program help? Reference programs at a number of firms, such as we saw at Oracle at the 2010 Customer Reference Forum, are stepping up and growing increasingly assertive in establishing and maintaining important, key-customer relationships throughout the relationship lifecycle.
- The IBM survey CEOs also want to bring customers into their firms' core processes. We've seen a number of reference programs that are doing just that: bringing references into new product development, product launch efforts, into their advisory boards, and their social media/ Internet marketing efforts. Ask how can your references help improve core processes at your firm.
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