Is anyone else working on a customer advocacy/champion program?

(Kristina King) #1

My quarter goal is to come up with a “champions” program for my support community. While it’s incredibly fun to mail out swag and give compliments, I’m wondering if anyone has experience with longer-term strategies.

What I anticipate being a great challenge isn’t identifying possible champions, but identifying the value those users can get from being a champion. We are a B2B community; my users use our software because they have to, not because they want to :wink: I’ve approached some of them about being identified as a champion/super-user etc., in the community, and while they’ll gladly share their opinions with me, they’re not really interested in being seen as a thought leader.

This is also in contrast to a customer advocacy effort my marketing team is engaged in, as they’re trying to build a group of customers who will advocate our software not only internally, but also be made available for quotes, referrals, and case studies. I feel like the line can blur a bit there, as I’ve mentioned to some of my potential champs that it might be awesome for them to pen a best practices article.

(Sarah Hawk) #2

I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago and Caty Kobe spoke about advocacy programs (in relation to customer service communities – but the sentiment applies across the board). It would be awesome if you could chime in with some thoughts here @catykobe.

I love this quote from her presentation:

The money you spend rewarding advocates is always going to be less than it would cost to get a full time employee, so you can afford to be more generous than you might think.

Caty cited GiffGaff’s Payback program and Koodo’s Mobile Masters as a couple of successful programs. SitePoint also have a formal ambassador program.

@Kristinaking – have you asked your potential advocates what would be of value to them?

(Richard Millington) #3

I think the key thing here is conspicuous status-seeking isn’t socially acceptable (nor should it be).

It’s like asking someone if they want to be an expert. Most people will know the socially-acceptable response is to say no. However, they’re usually more than happy if someone else labels them an expert. Very often it means being far more subtle and low key than this too.

What is the goal you’re trying to achieve here? Is it to increase the number of questions getting a reply? The quality of replies? The speed of replies? What would success look like?

Aside: if you do use rewards, make sure you use a variable reward mechanism i.e. make the feedback/rewards unexpected and more random. If people know they will get $x (or something that clearly equates to $x for a specific amount of work, they’ll treat it as work). If they don’t know what they will get for their contributions, it’s more addictive and exciting to answer questions.

(catykobe) #4

@Kristinaking Out of curiosity, is your company using Get Satisfaction to power your support community? I used to work for them, and “Champions” is typically the language they use when describing super-user/ advocate programs. Was just curious. :smile:

Understanding what value your program will bring for your company helps in designing the program in a way that attracts and promotes the behaviors you seek. It may be the case the value you’re hoping to bring in actually aligns with the advocacy work your marketing team is doing, and in that case, you have an opportunity to partner with them. Two birds, one stone! If you don’t have your goals or value identified then I’d start there.

In terms of the value/ rewards that your members would get from being a champion… that comes from understanding their motivations and needs. Google (both B2B & B2C) flies their top contributors out to HQ each year because they understand their TCs appreciate meeting with product managers and engineers. One of the rewards that a Hootsuite (both B2B & B2C) advocate can claim is a LinkedIn endorsement from a member of the HS team. This is powerful for their advocates because they’re primarily social media marketing consultants, and a LinkedIn recommendation from HS has the potential to positively affect their business. Some champs appreciate public exposure opportunities, and some simply appreciate a branded mug. It all depends on who your champs are, and their own motivations.

Agree with Rich that you’ll probably need to position your program differently in order to get more buy-in. Per this post from Marketo (B2B), I’d map out the attributes & behaviors you want your champs to exhibit, and then make sure they’re an active participant before I’d consider approaching them. You may also want to publish something in your community a few weeks before you reach out to people so that they see that it is an established/coveted program within the community itself. TechSmith (B2C) did that, and also encouraged interested champs to “apply” by commenting on the post. They didn’t get a ton of applicants, but it’s an interesting way to position the program from an exclusivity standpoint.

Hope some of that helps a bit! Would love to hear more about how it goes.

(Kristen Gastaldo) #5

Hey @Kristinaking - I’m a little late in the game here, but being that your community sounds exactly like mine, I thought I’d jump in. We’re on our 3rd or so revision of champions. We are currently on GetSat (like Caty mentioned), so champs is the born in name of the program. I like it - particularly better than “rockstar” and whatnot.

I run a support community for software - so all our members use the product for work. For identifying, I started with a general “we’ll look for active, knowledgeable users” and reward them, but it was too loose. I’ve since set some hard numbers (level of contribution, number of trainings attended (so they are truly power users of product), and number of “good answer” metrics received for their posts in community. This way members can actually work towards becoming a champ. I’ve had several members email me to see how close they were (the gamification metrics weren’t built into platform - not ideal).

As far as their reward for being a champ, I’ve gone through several rounds and here’s what seems to work. They like product swag. I didn’t think they would because well, it’s work software. But we got clever designs that are less of our logo and more puns with minimal branding. I also send food (generally from a local bakery). Sounds weird, but it’s something that a whole office can enjoy - and encourages other staff to join community while recognizing a contributing coworker. We also give them access to release info early, a private roadmap session with products, involve them in any beta testing, and our big prize is an all expense paid trip to our conference. We found that a comp ticket wasn’t enough, as most orgs didn’t have the travel budget. We also found that often times the product end user is not the one who gets the budget to attend conferences. Our winner typically does a few blogs/posts for us while at conference and works with marketing for a reference/story. Because we have metrics on how many topics our champ has answered, I can say how much money he saved our support staff (should those topics have been cases), which helps with such a hefty reward.

For getting thought leaders, I too had trouble getting customers to offer up expertise. I had to make it super simple. If they post about something cool they are doing in the community with the software, I reach out to them to see if they’d be interested in blogging. Most rarely have the time or “don’t write” etc. So I go with a scheduled phone call or send them (no more than 5) questions and I put together the blog post. A little more work on my end, but I’ve had users who were really active in the follow up conversation, AFTER I posted the bulk of content.

Hope that helps!

(Sarah Hawk) #6

That is a fantastic idea. It would get everyone around the cafeteria table talking about you.