Customer Reference Professionals Association
Customer Reference Program Strategy

The Customer Reference Program .org publishes a strategy guide of Best Practices gathered from our members, on creating and managing Customer Reference Programs (CRP’s).

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Table of Contents

1. Analyze Current State of Customer References
    - How do you know if you have a poorly performing CRP?
    - Identify bottlenecks in the current process
    - Improve a Successful Program

2. Identify Stakeholders & Perform GAP Analysis 
    - Identify Executive Sponsors, Champions and Users 
    - Perform Gap Analysis 
    - Assess Required Resources

3. Obtain Program Approval
    - Define program overview and objectives 
    - Establish Metrics and Reporting
    - Demonstrate the Return On Investment

4. Create the Customer Reference Program
    - Program Launch, Marketing and Management materials
    - Develop Stakeholder Communications

5. Ongoing Program Management
   - Tips to Increase Program Adoption

This is just a sample shown here, download your FREE copy at Customer Reference Program - Contact 

1.     Analyze  Current  State  of  Customer  References

How do you know if you have a poorly performing Customer Reference Program?

-    No single contact person responsible for reference fulfillment and success
-    People are sending group e-mails to entire organization seeking help on references. 
-    As a result, multiple individuals respond to requests simultaneously. 
-    No central place where references are stored and searchable 
-    No metrics for how quickly references are fulfilled and whether they are fulfilled successfully 
-    No system for tracking how many times a reference has been used 
-    No incentives for customers who wish to become references
-    PR, Marketing, Sales, Professional services, Customer Advisory Boards etc are not working together on references 
-  It’s a free-for-all! Sales people take care of their own needs on a reference black market, owning and hoarding references 
-    Few people in the organization know what a Customer Reference Program is or does...

Identify bottlenecks in the current process


How do reference requests come in? Where from?  How many in any one month? Are different parts of the organization handling the same reference, creating duplication with each request? Do the wrong people receive requests through email distribution lists? Are any other bottlenecks lengthening sales cycles unnecessarily?


Improve a Successful Program


If you manage an existing program successfully, you may just need to decide where to focus your efforts for improvement:


-  Improve Metrics

-  Increase Visibility

-  Expand types of content (e.g. social media, podcasts, Customer Advisory Boards)

- Increase Staffing

-  Increase Budget for Customer Incentives

- Expand Geographies


This is just a sample, download your FREE copy at Customer Reference Program - Contact 

2.     Identify Stakeholders & Perform GAP Analysis

Identify Customer Reference Stakeholders: Executive Sponsors, Champions and Users


The biggest influence on program success is normally executive support. Communicating the business value of a Customer RP to key executives will foster stakeholder accountability and participation at all levels of the organization.


Who are the Executive Sponsors, Champions and Users of Customer References across:


-        Sales & Pre-Sales

-        Marketing (Field, Corporate, Solutions)

-        Public Relations

-       Investor Relations

-       Analyst Relations

-        Professional Services

-        Customer Support

-        Product Management

-        Customer Advisory Board


What are their individual Customer Reference challenges?

What metrics will they need to evaluate the success of a Customer Reference Program?

Perform Gap Analysis


Compare inventory of current program assets (customers agreeing to be references, content gathered, information systems, people involved) to what is required based on data collected during the stakeholder interviews.


An inventory of content assets should include:customer reference program


-        Analyst Reference

-        Award Nomination Submission

-        Case Study NEW (Audio/Video)

-        Case Study EXISTING (Audio/Video)

-        Case Study UPDATE EXISTING (Audio/Video)

-        Client List

-        Customer Advisory Board

-        Customer Profile

-        Logo Use

-        Marketing Event

-        Media Interview

-        Podcast

-        Press Release

-        Sales Reference - Referral

-        Sales Reference – Phone Call

-        Sales Reference – Site Visit

-        Survey

-        Webinar


Consider producing a Coverage Map to determine the client references available and any gaps that may exist. The example above is based on 'Industry' and 'Product' - you can see that the organization consistently struggles to find suitable references for Product C...

This is just a sample, download your FREE copy at Customer Reference Program - Contact