Become a Cultivator of Referability
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
It’s possible you may have some frustration with your company’s customer reference program. You might feel like the program doesn’t deliver enough customer references, or you might wonder why each story takes so long to develop, or you might think the program is too slow to develop references for your hot new products. But if you’re looking to the reference program alone to solve those problems, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Fundamentally, customer reference programs harvest customer referability. That is, once a customer is happy with your products, services, and company in general and is ready to talk about that positive experience, the reference program captures information about the customer, develops deliverables, and matches the customer spokesperson with reference opportunities.
That’s an important role that delivers value to your company, but it’s also important to remember that customer reference programs don’t make the customers referable in the first place. They don’t cultivate referability, and they shouldn’t – it’s not their role, and they’re not empowered to do it. No matter how professional, efficient, or focused your reference program is, they can’t create reference customers where none exist, and they can’t single-handedly overcome the reasons customers decline reference opportunities.
If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough reference customers, or that you don’t have the right ones, don’t blame your customer reference program. You’ll have better results if you explore what it would take to make more of the customer base referable, and see what your company can do to cultivate that state.
Whitney Wood, Director