Customer Advocacy w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Customer Advocacy w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:</p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
What is Customer Advocacy
00:39 MIN
Customer Innovation Center
00:42 MIN
Giving a Voice to Those Who Don't Have One Yet
00:36 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Matt: So for me, the act of advocacy is the ability to influence a decision through experiences and behaviors. So that's my definition of it. Now, how you choose to deliver advocacy is potentially the success story, the webinar, the facilitation as a CSM between two customers that want to achieve a similar or identical goal. So that's my definition of it. But again, I don't know if that's right or wrong, but that's how I would define it. And then there's all the types of tasks and activities that kind of come under it.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I like that definition. Anastasia, how do you feel about Matt's definition? Would you change that?

Anastasia: I like it but I would also add to that, that it's also influences the internal company too, because if you have five clients that are asking for a specific feature of a product, or a specific aspect, you can be that voice of a customer, and be the advocate for that customer's needs, and bring it to your product team, and influence your product to make sure that that is part of the next release.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I mean, I think the big thing for us too that we started thinking about is the more advocates we can inaudible then they can be talking about us without us being in the room. That's another benefit of trying to build more brand advocates, you're trying to build advocacy amongst your customers. Effie, what are your thoughts here?

Effie: So as I mentioned in my breakout room and some of those who know me, I come from the cybersecurity industry where our customers can not publicly advocate for us at all. So I've put a really interesting program together that promotes advocacy without sort of... Not in the public realm, but I think even those who are not in the cybersecurity can use. So think of other ways a customer can advocate. So for example, if they agree to participate in a beta program, that means that they have trust in your product and your services that they're saying," Yes, I will be a Guinea pig." And that's advocacy right there. And then if they have to either privately promote the company to another colleague or a peer, they'll then go ahead and do that. And that lends to advocacy. Same thing with a design partner. If they're willing to sit down and be a design partner with maybe product, that's another way to advocate. Another way that we're doing it is obviously we'll do white papers, quotes, and testimonials, but anonymously, which is a little less of a risk, but still, just the fact that they're willing to do that is advocacy. And finally what we do, we all hands meeting about once a month within our company. And we bring testimonials within our actual... Just internally. We bring testimonials from customers who are willing to talk about their experience, even if their experience is not 100% great, they could still be advocates, obviously. If they're willing to do a testimonial for a group of 100 plus of elusive employees, that's advocacy as well.

Speaker 3: Man, there's so many good things that you just said in there. First of all, I'm so intrigued. Like you said, the constraint that you have in terms of trying to build advocacy just seems like it would be a creative exercise to go through because you don't have all the avenues that we might have, in terms of at least publicly facing, like what we can create with our customers. That sounded extremely interesting and would love to learn more about your program that you built too. But two other things that kind of came up for me, one is I really liked the way that you also just said that they don't have to have had 100% of a positive experience. You can actually have advocates that are truthful to you. When you start thinking about who an advocate is, it's somebody who's telling you the truth in a nice way, trying to be thoughtful about the way that they're giving feedback. It doesn't always have to be sunshines and rainbows when you start thinking about advocates inside of your program. So I love that you mentioned that. The other thing, which it also is kind of maybe in the chat window, I'm curious, I don't know, I'll start with you and then see if others have maybe a perspective on this too. Words that I've heard used so far, at least in the chat and that we've talked about is, an advocate, a champion, and a promoter. And do you consider all those things the same things or different things, Effie? I don't know, are they on the same realm of things or are we just kind of mishing and mashing language and verbiage across different things?

Effie: So, I think they're all similarly related and just when you brought it up that sometimes they don't have such a great experience but they could still be sort of an advocate, they may not be a champion, but they could promote. So for example, we just had a recent CSAT survey that went out and we had a customer who gave us a very neutral... Gave us a three of how satisfied you are with our products. But on the flip side, they did an internal testimonial and they actually went into a partnership that we're doing with Microsoft. So even though they weren't maybe 100% of a champion, they were still a bazillion percent of a promoter, enough to go into a partnership, enough to do a testimonial. So while they're loosely related, they're not dependent on one another.

Speaker 3: I like that. They're not dependent on one another. I'm pretty sure that the order of operations goes on my screen. So I'm just going left to, so don't feel like I'm sliding you if you raised your hand first. But David, I think you were first, if it goes up there in order. So what are your thoughts here?

David: Okay. So I'll add two things that I don't think I heard yet. First, at a company I used to work for, we had a customer innovation center. And what we did was we used to bring customers in to ideate around future features and benefits, and we put them in work groups, and we'd say," This is what we want you to do." And they would help us ideate and develop future solutions that would benefit their market spaces that they were in. So that was a great way to be an advocate for product development without publicly having to give a reference, or a referral, or participate in a webinar, or something like that. They could come in, do that on their own, or do it with other customers and it really benefited them. The other thing that I did was, I had a couple of customers that because of their company policy, they weren't allowed to publicly advocate for us. So what I did is in my annual kickoff that I did with my customer success team, I brought those companies into our meeting and I had them talk to my team from a customer's perspective about what was important to them, what drove value for them, how communication is important to them. And so they advocated for us as a company, but they did it within our company instead of doing it publicly.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I love that. We actually just started a series, we're calling it Customer Insight series, and we are interviewing two customers a month internally. So that won't be ever be shared publicly, but we have it on our internal community, and it's about half an hour, we walked through a couple of questions. But anybody can come listen to it live, or they can come watch the recording later. And I think we've already gotten some great insights from that because there have been some folks from our product and engineering side, there's been folks from our marketing or sales teams that are just sitting in and listening. Kind of the verbiage customers are using, the experiences they're going through. So that's been really similar to what you mentioned, David, it's been really popular. Sherry, I'm going to go to you next. What are some of your thoughts here?

Sherry: I had shared with the group something that we had just recently done last week in terms of sort of that voice of the customer and advocacy. This has been something I had been pushing for for a long time, because historically, we are crap at closing the loop and it's just been bad. So I'd like to say other words, I'll leave it there. Myself and my former CMO decided to put together this kind of internal council to have a formal sort of voice of the customer program, where we involve product. And basically it was across all three of our regions, US, UK, EU, an exclusive group, commitment for a year, NDAs, the whole bit, and meeting with our product team for them to see our strategic roadmap, where was our vision for the next year or so, and then to get their feedback on that, and also then really to understand how they use the software, where are their pain points, where are there inefficiencies? And we crafted an entire agenda. We worked on this for a few months. We kicked it off last week. It was our first one, we're going to do them quarterly. And it was fantastic. Again, people felt really enthusiastic that they were part of this exclusive group for an entire year. We gave them LinkedIn badges, sent them goody bags, sent them a Searchmetrics hoodie, all this stuff. Overall, it was absolutely fantastic. They were already kind of advocates, but this made them bigger advocates because they felt," I feel seen and I feel heard and you're really listening to us and what we want." That they are part of us developing that roadmap. They're not even beta testers, they're alpha testers so they'd be like super clicked on the early stage," This is what we're thinking." Which they absolutely loved. And the feedback has been fantastic. I shared in the group, I sent a survey out right afterwards. Everyone responded, really four quick questions. The feedback was great, they all liked kind of the same things. The only dislike, which is not really even a dislike is," I thought it was going to be really hard to carve out three hours in my day. And even though it is, I wish we had more time because the conversations were so valuable." And there was another statement that someone made that I loved, which was," The listening to understand by the Searchmetrics team was absolutely fantastic." And I thought that that was an absolutely huge win. So far we've had resounding success, everyone's been super pumped, they're looking forward to the next meeting, and they just feel, like I said, they're part of where we're going as a company.

Speaker 3: Yeah. That's awesome. We are going down the same path you are. We have not launched it yet, we're trying to launch in Q2 of this year, and so we're starting to put those plans together. So I might come to you and start picking your brain about what worked and what didn't work with that.

Sherry: Absolutely.

Speaker 3: But I like the framework. Blair, you've got your hand raised. What are some your thoughts here?

Blair: Yeah, this is one of the reasons I love coming into this group is to get different viewpoints and challenges. When I think of advocacy, I think of speaking up for somebody that doesn't have a voice, and usually in a lot of companies, the customer doesn't have the voice with the development team, the product team, that kind of thing. So that's generally where I've thought of it before. So it's nice to see these other definitions of what it is. So thanks Jessica for raising that definition point. That's big. Yeah, so I'm in the very early stages, we're only in our second year as a company so we almost have too much advocacy right now because we're putting clients ahead of development processes and doing all the things that we think we have to have to keep the clients growing so it's a little different challenge that a lot of people have.

Speaker 3: Yeah. How do you keep them at bay right now? How do you kind of make sure that you're balancing that right now?

Blair: Actually having to really push on my upper management because they're the ones that are going out and just wanting to do that, and I'm trying to get them to think of scale and the ability to do that and keep a product roadmap going on. So not letting it deviate is huge.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Well, yeah, it's a interesting nuance. And yeah, props to Jessica for getting us all started down the path of making sure we're... Or how we're thinking about advocacy. Andrew, go ahead and round us out here. What are some of your thoughts here around customer advocacy?

Andrew: Honestly, I just need to point out that David Allen's going to be joining me along with Melinda Gonzalez, and Steve Bernstein next week for a CS leadership round table where we're talking about rolling out your first voice to the customer program. So I just threw in chat a link to that. If you've got the time, we'd love to have you. We have usually have a great conversation and then we have plenty of time for Q& A. So definitely join us if you can, and we'll continue to discuss this topic.

Speaker 3: I like it. It's natural. It's funny how that worked.

Andrew: It's funny, yeah, timing is everything crosstalk.

Speaker 3: Timing is everything. Well, we talked a little bit about advocacy and it sounds from Matt's definition and talking about what Effie had mentioned, we're kind of down the path maybe of looking at what are acts of advocacy that customers are doing on our behalf. So anybody want to throw out there ways that you're measuring those things now. I think maybe the common thing that I keep hearing about is," Hey, we have our best advocate, except we asked that person to do 30 references in one quarter for us, we're pounding them all the time. How do we get some others, how do we go build more advocates and get outside of just the few that we have our hands on?" So any sort of tools, systems, processes that you're using to do that, and I'll kick it right back to Andrew Marks here. What are ways that you've seen that or done that?

Andrew: So we're a small company, so we don't have a whole lot of systems in place yet. And we do a lot of listening. We ask a lot of questions, we do a lot of listening. Most of our content in our training programs, especially since level two, has been developed and is evolves based on the feedback that we get from people. And what that's resulted in for us is a really extraordinary NPS course that we're getting from people who are consuming the content. So, yeah, it's not a perfect system, but we want the feedback and when we take the feedback and we do something with it, which is, I think, what a lot of companies tend to forget when you're doing NPS surveys, when you're doing customer sat surveys, if the feedback goes into a black hole, your customers are going to be less likely to spend the time to give you feedback in the future and your product's going to suffer and then your company is going to suffer, your customer base is going to suffer. So yeah, no magic systems or anything like that. It's just really important to learn from what your customers are telling you and do something with that.

Speaker 3: Yeah. That is the proverbial thing of why we took a step back. We had a lot of automated systems and processes, but then as you started looking at it, it wasn't really doing anything. We had some closed loop, but we were like... We'd have CSMs follow- up on NPS and CSAT, but then when you start thinking about," Hey, this customer told us that they would do a webinar on our behalf, or they would do a case study." Or anything like that, it was just kind of out in nebulous land, and so we're trying to go back, and I think to your point, Andrew, let's just get back to basics of understanding like," Okay, are we closing the loop on the surveys that we have today?" And then once we're closing that loop, once we find promoters, what are the things that they're wanting want to be doing on our behalf? What do we want them to be doing, how do we just start tracking some of those things in terms of activities? So I like your point there.

Andrew: This doesn't need to be a quid pro quo. They want you to be successful because if you're successful, then they're going to continue to be successful.

Speaker 3: Yeah.

Andrew: And so it doesn't have to be anything fancy.

Speaker 3: Yes. I agree too. I think Sherry's example, I mean, giving out LinkedIn badges and looking at other ways to promote themselves to one another. They're just probably even getting benefit from coming together with 10, 15, 20 of their colleagues in the industry to learn what everybody else is thinking about where the industry is going, or where the product is going, all those kinds of things can be benefits for them too. Matt, you've got your hand raised.

Matt: Yeah. I'm not coming really with a solution, but maybe more of an ask. I've inherited Influitive as a platform that we have a inaudible. For those of you that don't know Influitive, it is effectively a gamification platform driving advocacy. And to be honest, I'm not really sure where to start with it. And yeah, I'm talking to my CSM and kind of working with them, but really kind of asking, I guess, the audience here, if anyone's had any experience with it, if it's not Influitive, have you had experience of gamification generally in driving advocacy? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I've kind of got mixed opinions, and I really liked Influitive in terms of what it looks like and what it drives, but is it slightly artificial?

Speaker 3: Yeah, I've had that same question. I mean, I think I'll give you my two cents and hoping more people can raise their hand, I know we've got a couple of minutes left. But obviously we're a community platform community so inaudible logic from that standpoint, we have maybe built in gamification to our community platform. And so then I think, again, kind of the big question that we have right now, Matt, is people enjoy being in the community and taking part in being an expert, answering questions, connecting with their peers, they're enjoying that. They get points and they can kind of see kind of where they rank, their leaderboard, so to speak. And so now we're starting to think about if," Okay, if we start rolling out a larger advocacy program, did those points from our community matter, do you build on those points?" And to your point, I think we're asking that same question. Is somebody's really going to say," Oh my gosh, I signed up for a webinar, I got a 180 points towards my score."? Does that really going to be doing anything for them? Is that really going to be building it, or do we keep those things separate? That's the question that we have right now too is do we keep the community separate, allow people to kind of earn gamification and badges that way. And then if you're part of our advocacy program, those things are not... They're mutually exclusive. You can be part of one or the other if you want to, or both. So that's the question that we have on the table. I don't know if anybody else is dealing with that same thing when you think about building advocates, measuring some of that, using a tool like Influitive, or community, even if anybody's using community to drive any sort of gamification or advocacy?

Speaker 10: Yeah. A couple of thoughts here. One is, I'm a fan of gamification, but it comes with some cautions because I think you can have people who are super users. And honestly, I've had contacts who I wonder if they do anything else except just play in the community and try to get badges and such, and they can actually get too much of a voice. So as long as you have some controls there to just make sure that you're giving equal opportunity for folks, I think that gamification can be a great way to drive engagement, I think in particular with the administrators. So you'll tend to get a very user heavy group of feedback coming in. But it's powerful, I mean, you're really creating those moments of delight with rewards or things of that nature, it really can help to keep the clientele engaged.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I like what you said. You kind of have to have the controls in place as well, it can't just be that those people who got a voice maybe last year, or last month, or last quarter, always get that voice like you mentioned. And I think it kind of goes back to what Blair mentioned as well in terms of some of the way he thinks about that definition of making sure that we're giving voice to people who maybe don't have a voice today. So thinking about who are the customers who maybe aren't speaking up and don't want to participate in community, how do you make sure you can build advocacy out of them and make sure that they're included in that type of program as well? So I think that's a big thing. Well, we've got about three minutes left in today. I am a feverish really trying to go find this volunteer form that I put onto the community probably like a month ago if anybody wants to go find that for me. Jeremy might be able to go pull it up or anybody. But I appreciate everyone joining today. Really excited to get this back going. Like I said, I'm going to stop pulling Brett Favres, if anybody knows that sports reference, I'm actually going to retire from holding this microphone, I would like to become a member and a participant of these calls. So Jeremy Donaldson who's on the call today has been awesome, he's stepping up to be a lead for our events and office hours committee, as well as... I just blanked on his last name, James, is it Parker?

Speaker 10: Fischer.

Speaker 3: Fischer. James Fischer, sorry, James isn't here today so hopefully I won't get my wrist slapped. But so James and Jeremy are helping us out. So if you want to participate, I will go find the form and bring it back up whenever I can. Jeremy just posted it there so awesome. So if you want to sign up and participate, not only in kind of office hours, being a facilitator, or helping us with content creation and blog writing, or helping us come up with new ways that we're going to drive new members into Gain Grow Retain. If you want to play any role at all in the community, there are now five committees that you could play a part in. And if you sign up for events in office hours, that does not necessarily mean you have to hold the microphone and be in front of a bunch of people, you can help us behind the scenes. We're trying to figure out what do we do with the video content? What do we do with the chat window? It's probably the number one question I get. So there's tons of ways that we're just trying to help drive value so if you have interest, have a little bit of extra time, we're trying not to make this a second job so I promise it's not going to be 40 hours a week on top of your 40 plus already, just fill out that form, let us know, and we'll be back in touch with you. But appreciate everyone joining, hope you all have a great weekend, and we'll see you all on Tuesday for CSM office hours, and then Thursday for CS leadership office hours again, but we'll see you all soon.

Speaker 11: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


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CS Leadership Office Hours

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