Top Customer Reference Trends for 2011

Updated: March 31, 2011

Purpose-Built External Technology Solutions

Besides the obvious high cost of building their own systems from scratch, the key reason we predict many mid-sized companies will decide to implement external customer reference management platforms is the ability to leverage the expertise and experience third party specialists can offer. Established technology solution providers have already incorporated best practices into the design and function of their solution, and often offer their professional services for ongoing support and optimization as a part of the SLA - giving the biggest bang for their buck.

Increased Sales Adoption

Customer reference managers are great at getting customer content produced, managing requests and reference nominations and tracking customer reference usage. A common problem is once the customer reference content is produced, sales doesn't always use it, causing a gap in effectiveness. Reference management technology platforms are becoming the solution of choice for overcoming this sales adoption challenge. Platforms are streamlining reference request fulfillment workflow, creating a centralized place to store and find references, and incorporate references more completely in ready-made templates for "grab-and-go" functionality.

Integration with Social Media Strategies

More and more B2B buyers are actively participating in social media for their research and are using social media platforms as a preferred way to connect with vendors. With the adoption of these platforms becoming an integral part of many customer's daily routines, businesses are finding these online communities as great ways to showcase references, reach out to customers in and informative and authentic way, and create conversations on a more personal level. As such, we expect to see the inclusion of these online social forums in customer reference management strategies to increase significantly. There are reference management technology platforms that offer features that allow sales and marketing personnel to invite customers and prospects to view content and relevant conversations via popular social media platforms.

Integration with Mobile

Another trend in customer reference management taking the business world by storm is the adoption of mobile technology in everyday business practices. With regard to enterprise customer reference programs, a major challenge today is the difficulty of equipping sales professionals with authentic customer testimonials to use with prospects - especially when they are constantly on-the-go. RO|Innovation currently has the only mobile app in the market for the iPad and iPhone 4. The app keeps the latest reference testimonials and marketing assets at the fingertips of sales forces to help persuade prospects to close deals, spark meaningful conversations, and increase efficiency and effectiveness when they have the best chance of influencing prospects - in person!

Greater Visibility into Health of Customer Reference Programs

Even with signs that the economy is starting to improve, many executives still have a very close eye on the ROI of marketing, sales and customer reference activities and initiatives. That is why it is becoming more important than ever to have visibility into the overall health and wellness of your organization's customer reference program. It is important to establish and track metrics related to the overall health of the program, even if they are only able to be studied a couple times a year to PROVE your program's ROI. Having the right reference management technology to gain visibility and insight into your program makes it easier to study metrics with greater frequency and adapt/react to data as it is available in real time to stay effective.

Customer Intelligence Tools

Another trend we have been seeing is organizations using their customer reference technologies for double duty - for management and as customer intelligence tools. They are using their customer reference platforms as a central repository to host all sorts of information about customers, creating a one-stop-shop for storing and mining data about current customers that gives their platform more power and a higher ROI. Not to mention, managers stay more efficient, because they only have ONE platform to manage all this information on.

Featured Research
  • Why Your Educational Institution Needs to Implement VoIP

    VoIP makes a lot of sense for educational institutions—and it’s not just because of the substantial cost savings. Other benefits include increased efficiency and integration options. Emergency responsiveness can even be improved. more

  • Is Your ERP Solution Out of Date?

    Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a modern, large-scale software program designed to help businesses improve the internal flow of important corporate processes and communication. more

  • How Video Conferencing is Transforming Healthcare

    The telemedicine revolution is finally happening. Experts have been discussing the potential for patients and healthcare providers to connect remotely for years, but the market is just now moving to adopt it—in a big way. Data suggests this market will grow over 14% annually through 2020! more

  • How to Update Your Contact Center Software

    If improving customer experience is important to you (it should be), then 2017 may be a good year to reevaluate the software you use for your contact center. With customer preferences shifting, the importance of an efficient contact center has never been higher. You cannot afford to simply focus on keeping costs low. Significant competitive advantages are available to businesses who manage this area effectively. more

  • Leading the IT Revolution

    The status of technology within an organization is rapidly evolving—and so is the role of the CIO. With breakthrough capabilities enabled by new technologies, a growing shortage of available developers, and an increasingly tech-savvy business user, the role of IT—and the CIO in particular—is morphing into one of strategic advisor to the business and driver of innovation within the company. more