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Best Practices Report

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Compiled by more than 100 leading reference professionals at the Spring 2006 Customer Reference Forum.

"I thought the report was excellent. I have printed it & have yellow highlights covering most of each page! It's very useful information."
Amy Shever, Senior Project Manager, Customer Marketing, BEA

See how leading reference professionals from many of the top customer reference programs in the world – including HP, Oracle, Kronos, SAP, Intel, Network Appliance, EMC, Citrix Systems and dozens of others:
  • Measure the value of a reference program
  • Gain executive support
  • Recruit customers.

To purchase the report, please click here.

To see the Table of Contents, please click here.


STATE OF THE PROFESSION 2006: A Summary of Best Practices in Three Key Areas of Reference Management

Conference participants brainstorm solutions to critical issues in reference management.


"We have metrics around the number of references, but we focus on quality, not quantity." Barb Krasner, Lucent


A Qualitative Approach to Value

Several presenters pointed out that, in running and evaluating a customer reference program, program managers and their stakeholders may be inclined to adopt a strictly quantitative approach. However, a reference program can deliver value in ways that may be hard to measure quantitatively, but that may nonetheless be tangible proof points. For example, a reference program &ndash especially if you use outside vendors to handle interviews or other tasks &ndash may be able to garner customer intelligence in a way no other business activity does.

Participants offered several questions to get a better sense of a program's qualitative benefits:

  • What does it mean for the organization that a number of customers are on record as endorsing its offerings?
  • How does the existence of a reference program impact the company's ability to compete and build its brand?
  • How do customers benefit from their participation in the reference program and which of these benefits are they willing to share with customers considering joining the program?
  • Do customers active in the reference program use the company's services and products in any way differently from the customers who don't participate?
  • What can sales and marketing learn from those active customers? Does the reference program help the company understand emerging customer behaviors and market trends?
  • How does the reference program simplify and add credibility to sales conversations?
  • Does the reference program yield valuable information that can help the product group design product improvements?
  • To what extent does the reference program help the marketing department refine how it presents the company's brand and story?
  • How does the reference program compare to what the competition is doing with references?
  • What new initiatives have been launched by the reference team to increase the pool of referenceable customers?
  • How has the program improved the infrastructure and operations of the customer reference business group? Has the program accomplished any of the following:
    • Improved the ability of stakeholders to find reference collateral and customers through systems (such as a single source of information), tools, and processes?
    • Provided self-service tools to scale activities and focus on those activities with the most value?
    • Outsourced any activities or moved activities to shared- services teams to lower costs?
    • Driven any company wide standards and practices?

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