Long time fan and lurker – first question!
I run an external support Community for a SaaS brand. In the past year, I’ve launched a successful super user program in the Community, rewarding top contributors with the goals of helping us scale our moderator efforts and increase the desired behaviors/happy sentiment culture we like.
To reward our super users (we call them Insiders) we have swag, host monthly product feedback session with our Product Managers, and give them marketing/pr/social promotion opportunities for their business when available.
Things have been going great - except there is growing confusion and frictions coming from our marketing org. There is a lot of interest around having “user groups” (product feedback groups), “advocate/ambassador programs” (rewarding top customers with perks), and “enterprise reference programs” (getting top customers to serve as sales references and reward them with perks). Sometimes, they want to start those three separate programs and sometimes they feel my superuser/Community program should fit ALL of those needs (I disagree).
For example, I just received an email today from marketing telling me to add four new members to Insiders. They are top customers but have never contributed to our online Community or promoted us on social. I pushed back saying they don’t meet our internal qualifications. Then received a response saying: _"… only evaluating participants through the lens of Community participation might be overly limited given that we have customers providing value in all kinds of ways, including providing public testimonials for marketing, serving as sales references, speaking at events, etc. The net result of all of these is enriching our reputation and lending credibility…One potential solution would be to create a separate program for these merchants, but I think that introduces other challenges given that many of the incentives and perks would be the same."
This has turned into a bit of venting session for me (thanks for listening!), but I’d love to hear if anyone has faced a similar challenge internally. If so, how did you defend your program and help everyone get on the same strategy moving forward?