I’ve always been an advocate of getting your customers to talk for you and have been the chair of a customer advisory council at a major software company and worked with customers that were willing to participate in case studies and speak at events, webinars, etc. But, until recently, I’ve never personally been in a situation where I wanted to have a customer referral to substantiate a sales person’s ‘waffle’.
As many of my readers know, I live in the ‘sticks’, or the ‘boonies’ as I think my US friends call it. But I’m not that far from civilization, the closest Waitrose is, thankfully, only a 10-minute drive away! However, we don’t have mains drainage or gas. As such, we have a tank for propane gas and when we moved to this property, a company called FloGas was the provider. However, they continually raised the price and, as we were locked into a contract and they owned the tank, we couldn’t ‘shop around’. Therefore, when the contract came up for renewal, we moved to Calor Gas; more reputable company, in our opinion and also had propane engineers so our boilers could be serviced by them too and their pricing was cheaper.
Recently, I answered a call on our house phone – an unusual occurrence in its own right as it rarely rings, as we tend to always use our mobiles. It was a sales rep from FloGas trying to win back our business. He explained to me that the company had changed, the industry had changed and that if we moved back to FloGas we’d have the personal service of him as a rep, as well as excellent service, good pricing, blah, blah, blah. He also explained that many ex-customers had moved back to FloGas and were really pleased with the service. At this point I said, “Great, I’d like to speak to one of them then please.” His immediate reaction was, “Sorry, but I can’t give you customer details due to the data protection act.” I explained I was aware of that and was not asking him to give me their details, but if these said customers were so pleased, and he had such a great relationship with them, then if he asked them to speak with me, I’m sure they’d be happy to do so, no? His response amazed me; “I’ve never been asked to do that before Mrs. Rimmer! I will look into this and come back to you.” Well, I’m still waiting 4 moths later to him back from him……….
In my line of business, I continually work with my clients’ customers on case studies, speaking opportunities, referrals for other prospects, etc. I believe that marketing helps creates a sales pipeline and sales need to provide marketing with a pipeline of happy customers willing to publicly state the benefits of the solution they’ve been sold. Maybe this is just an “IT” thing then? Clearly, the gas industry has no perception of the value of customers speaking on their behalf! So, if your company doesn’t focus, value or understand the power of a customer testimonial, never say you have happy customers if you can’t substantiate that statement.
At the recent London VMUG, one of our sponsors, PernixData, had the industry legend Frank Denneman speaking. Cloudhelix, a PernixData FVP customer, joined Frank. Hearing not only how FVP works but also the challenges that it solves from a customer perspective was really valuable to our members. So the moral of this tale is “Let your customers do the talking!” Perhaps that sales bloke from FloGas might read this post………
Disclaimer: PernixData is a client of hiviz-marketing.