Customer marketers, thanks for joining us as we talk about customer marketing all grown up. The inspiration for our topic came from working with customer advocate programs with highly integrated models. They are, in our view, the unicorns of customer advocacy.

We believe more companies can and should be as advanced and impactful, but there aren't a lot of role models. We see a lot of programs with a variety of the customer marketing bases covered, such as reference management, community advisory boards, and so on, but these functions often don't know what the others are up to.

It doesn't help that they may also reside in different departments. And too often the leaders of the departments don't give much thought to how their puzzle piece fits into the greater customer advocate puzzle. They're siloed, each limited in their respective potential. As you might guess, the silo effect only grows more prolific and gets more complicated in larger organizations.

The lack of integration can be unintentional (due to a lack of vision, perhaps) or intentional (the result of organizational territorialism). There's a thread that connects all these advocate activities, but it's essentially invisible when there are silos.

Meanwhile, unicorn programs are interconnected and coordinated. They operate as a system and their impact is exponential by comparison. There is no single correct way to organize a customer advocacy program, but there are common attributes among unicorn programs:

  1. Leadership internalizes the vision of an integrated model.
  2. Coordination is an operational imperative among the teams and departments that work with each other.
  3. Collaboration processes are established and followed.
  4. Enabling technologies are tightly integrated.

If the value of an integrated model is crystal clear to you, then your mission is to share this vision with your leadership. Fortunately, sharing compelling stories is in essence what we do in this field, right? So without further ado, here's a story you'll want to share.

Silos = advocacy fatigue

The advocacy program at Genesys has an interesting and enviable origin story. The program as it exists today is nothing like it was even three years ago.

In the before times, it was very siloed. We had reference fulfillment under sales, content creation under marketing, and various other stakeholders looking for references, case studies, and so on from our customers. As you can imagine, that created a lot of fatigue for the customer because they were being contacted by various stakeholders within Genesys for all kinds of asks. It also caused internal fatigue because sourcing customers and asking them questions takes time.

Global Customer Advocacy and Engagement

We knew we had a problem on our hands and we needed a more advocate-friendly way to approach our customers with requests, so we took people from sales enablement, customer marketing, and content marketing and pulled together a team called Global Customer Advocacy and Engagement.

We chose the name of our team very strategically because not only do we want our advocates advocating on behalf of our company, but we also want them engaged. We don't just want to be asking from them; we want to be offering something that's of value to them.

This team is now the one customer touchpoint, so they don’t have requests coming at them from all directions anymore. They're only getting asks from us, which allows us to build very deep relationships with our customers – that's paid off in spades for our advocacy program.

Let's get into a quick overview of how the program is organized and staffed today. We have a VP over our program, and underneath her, we have four engagement directors. Each one is dedicated to between 30 and 50 strategic accounts in a certain territory.

Advocacy and engagement hierarchy in organizations

We are an extension of the account teams, working with sales and CS. We are in the QBRs in front of the customer, and they see us as part of the account team just like the other members. We're making sure that the experience that they have, both from a marketing perspective and a product and executive access perspective, is just stellar.

Also on our team, we have a customer stories manager. This person is responsible for case studies, videos, and all those public-facing assets that you would expect to come out of a customer marketing team. She also does our customer innovation awards every year, which are very popular.

Within this team, we have a couple of people who are dedicated to our voice of the customer programs, which entail things like customer roundtables, user groups, focus groups, advisory boards, and any program that collects feedback from our customers.

Also on this team is somebody who manages our Genesys Customer Advocacy Program (GCAP). That person is also responsible for our review sites, including TrustRadius, G2, and Gartner Peer Insights.