At my advanced age (a sister, a cousin and a friend just became grandparents!) it isn’t often I run across a completely new source of great ideas to solve an “evergreen” problem.

But while doing some research on customer retention for a client, I stumbled on Bill Lee, who blogs and Tweets on the very specific topic of how to get customers to serve as “references” – i.e., to be quoted, interviewed, cited, etc. on how great your product or service is.

With every customer source doing two to three jobs, and with legal and PR types more nervous than ever about anyone saying anything, it’s getting harder and harder to get reference customers. Bill culled some great ideas from the 2009 Customer Reference Forum and the 2009 Summit on Customer Engagement – neither of which I knew even existed.

Among the tips:

· Tie a contractual agreement to serve as a reference customer to quarterly performance reviews, basing the case study or reference on what the vendor did right in response to the performance review.

· Doing surveys of your customer base about their satisfaction with your offerings and publicize the favorable rankings – no PR or legal approvals needed!

· Make asking for case studies part of a broader push to involve customers by inviting them to serve on executive forums, advisory boards or customer or industry communities. That provides value for them, not just you.

There’s much more (including tips for getting more budget for your customer reference efforts) at the full posting. If you’re going nuts trying to get reference customers, this will be a breath of fresh air.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Filed under: PR/Marketing Trends

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