Reference Point:
What Do You Mean by That?
May 2015                                                                          Gray

"Don't just fly in and out with a reference request. Or a media request. Offer me the full range of opportunities to engage with you. Give me the chance to improve your service to me, measure the value you're delivering, develop best practices together, partner with you, engage in marketing with you, and interact with my peers"
Patty Morrison, CIO and EVP, Cardinal Health

Businesses are placing a lot of emphasis on customers these days, a good thing. But there's confusion about terminology. Definitions matter. Here's a guide that you can use--and pass along to your colleagues, stakeholders and senior management--so that everyone can speak a common language when it comes to the customer.
  • Customer loyalty: The tendency of customers to continue purchasing your products and services. Based on the idea that creating more and more loyal customers is key to growth. 
  • Customer experience: Refers to the experience customers have with your products and services. This is based on the idea that creating better customer experiences will increase loyalty.
  • Customer success: The outcomes customers achieve with the help of your products and services. This is a hot topic these days, but many in our community have been focusing on customer success, including measuring it, for years.
  • Customer advocacy: The activities customers do--often with the help of organized programs such as reference programs, communities, customer events, and so forth--to promote and grow the business.

Note that customer loyalty, customer experience and customer success all revolve around the value customers receive from your products and services. That's a cramped view of value. When that view is carried in to customer advocacy programs, managers have a tendency to rely on incentives and rewards to get customers advocating. After all, why should a customer go to the trouble of providing regular references for you?  They're already paying for you offerings.

Which leads to our final definition for this issue: 

  • Customer engagement: Refers to a dramatically enhanced customer relationship that provides value to far beyond your products and services to your customer advocates, in the process of identifying, nurturing and mobilzing them..

What is this "dramatically enhanced" value proposition? Your offerings, at best, help your customer get a job done, successfully, and with an enjoyable experience. As Patty Morrison points out above, by participating in properly designed customer engagement programs, customers can reap tremendous additional value: they can tell their stories of success to an audience of their peers, build their professional reputation and status, expand their affiliation networks in your community and market, have a say in your future offerings to them, learn and grow from the "insider information" that customer engagement programs provide, and more.

"Customer success" improves a customer's job, which is great. "Customer engagement" improves a customer's life.




Invite me to speak at your firm's sales kickoff, customer event and the like. Increasingly firms are recognizing the strategic importance of engaging customers to tell their stories-it's critical to sales, marketing and your growth strategy in general. I bring more knowledge, case studies, client experiences and research to this topic than anyone in the world.

Popular recent topics include, The Customer Conspiracy, What Do You Do After You've Made the Customer Happy, Using Circles of Engagement to Create Passionate Customer Advocacy, and Creating Movements In Your Marketplace. I offer a discount on fees to members of my community (including subsribers to Reference Point). For more information, please contact me directly.

"Bill Lee and Don Peppers were far and away the best speakers at the 2015 Summit on Customer Engagement." Victoria Aviles, Customer Reference Marketing, HubSpot

"Content was excellent. I learned a lot, validated some things and also got some great ideas ... Highly recommended." Asim Zaheer, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Hitachi Data Systems

"We were immensely impressed at the volume of valuable information Bill facilitated in such a short period of time. Each of us gained real-time solutions for growing our respective businesses!"
Vince Poscente, Former Olympic Speed Skier, Program Chair, Veritas Presidents' Forum

June 4-5, Hotel del Coronado, San Diego
I've arranged for you to get a hefty discount ($200) off the early bird fee to the top conference out there for creating customer "promoters"--which is where great customer advocacy starts. I urge to consider attending, and bring your customer experience colleagues (especially if you're using Net Promoter Score). I'll be presenting on Activating Your Promoters: What To Do After You've Made the Customer Happy, as well as leading an exclusive invitation-only executive breakfast. Other speakers include famed Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki and Jeanne Bliss, former Chief Customer Officer at Microsoft and author of the book, Chief Customer Officer. But hurry, the early bird fee expires this Friday, May 15. Click to learn more and register (use discount code: CUSTOMERENGAGE)

If you couldn't attend the 2015 Summit, or did attend but want to carefully review key presentations, no problem. Click here to see the list of videos & PPTs you can access from top thought leaders who presented, plus your peers who provided best-practices case studies. (If you did attend the Summit, contact me directly for a discount).

"Very valuable with lots of actionable insights and methods for more effectively deploying customer engagement programs - primarily for large B2B marketing teams" Rob Gemmell, Chief Marketing Officer, Avolved

All the best,

Bill Lee

Center for Customer Engagement | +1 469.726.2651 | bill@c4ce.com | http://www.centerforcustomerengagement.com/
3225 Turtle Creek Blvd
Suite 1801
Dallas, TX 75219
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Center for Customer Engagement | 3225 Turtle Creek Blvd | Suite 1801 | Dallas | TX | 75219