This interview was conducted by Professor Joe Kevens, who yo can find @ @Joe.
My third interview is with Bianca Del Vecchio, Customer Advocacy Consultant at Captivate Collective.
Bianca is a Top 100 Customer Marketing & Advocacy Strategist. She got her start in the world of advocacy in 2016 as a Customer Storytelling Manager, developing the first centralized storytelling program for Microsoft Canada. After telling 75+ customer stories with Microsoft, she joined D2L as a Customer Advocacy Manager, helping them rise five spots to #2 on G2 in the LMS category. Since April, she’s been a Customer Advocacy Consultant at the Captivate Collective.
Let’s get Bianca’s views on reviews.
1. You were named a Top 100 Customer Marketing & Advocacy Strategist this year. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about the year you had?
2. How did you get into B2B SaaS? What drew you to a career in Advocacy?
3. You’ve done a lot of customer storytelling in B2B SaaS. How do you recommend your peers go about turning reviews into compelling customer stories?
4. What functions do you see involved in reviews, and what are their respective roles? (e.g. Customer Marketing, Customer Success, Demand Gen, etc.)
- Marketing: Whether through an email nurture campaign, social media, a webinar or in-person event, customer marketers are a key player in helping scale review asks. If you manage an advocacy program, ask your advocates to leave a review and encourage their peers and colleagues to review, too.
- Customer Success: CSMs know who is successfully using the software or service and can help navigate which accounts may be dealing with an open ticket (perhaps not the best time to ask—though once solved, that’s a great opportunity!). They also have existing relationships with the customer, which can make an ask more impactful.
- Sales: Sales has a role to play too–whether they’re closing a new customer or renewing a longtime one. When it comes to renewals, there’s no better time to ask a customer to share a review. Ask customers to focus on why they chose you, again. And for new customers? It’s a great place to start the conversation around advocacy and how it can add value to the relationship.
- Implementation: When potential customers seek out reviews, they’re not just looking for how your software works but the overall experience of working with you as a SaaS provider. By working with implementation teams, you can identify customers who shared positive feedback about their experience and follow up with them at a later date (3-6 months post-implementation).
5. What have you found works—and what doesn’t—in review generation (when asking for reviews)?
- Do make the ask personal. A request coming from a trusted contact like a CSM is more likely to be read than a generic email. Include a recent win or milestone in your note as part of your reason for asking them, specifically, now.
- Do have several different review generation tactics. While 1:1 asks are an important part of building reviews, be sure to have an always-on approach too. Whether in customer newsletters, your community, or triggered after a renewal or positive NPS or CSAT. If you are including a CTA in a newsletter or broader communication, friendly, human copy goes a long way.
- Don’t wait until there’s an upcoming review deadline. Aim to have a plan in place beyond an email blast to the same customers every 3-4 months. This reduces the number of ad hoc requests to customer teams, which builds internal trust!
6. What helps customers write reviews?
7. When do you typically ask for a review?
8. How do you get internal buy-in to spend resources on review generation?
9. What advice do you have for B2B SaaS vendors who want to get more reviews?
10. Several members of the Captivate Collective team have come out of the advocacy software side. How do you see advocacy software fitting into an advocacy strategy? When and why should a B2B SaaS vendor invest in advocacy software, and when services/consulting?
- Reviews fuel a customer stories pipeline. Securing approvals to publish a customer story is a challenge. Customers open to publicly sharing a review are more likely to be available for a customer success story. As a best practice, always ask if their organization has a policy about participating in case studies: even if your customer has publicly published a review as an individual, there may be rules for vendor or partner endorsements!
- While one team may own the strategy and KPIs for reviews, getting reviews should be an organization-wide effort. Marketing, Customer Success, Sales, Implementation and others play their respective roles in review generation.
- To get more reviews, use both 1:1 requests combined with an always-on approach, and trigger the requests based on milestones.
- To get more reviews from 1:1 requests, partner with CS to create an internal competition with leaderboards and rewards. To keep CSMs motivated to get reviews, make the competition: team-based (a fun way to collaborate with your teammates), time-based (3-4 week sprints, not always on, to avoid fatigue), and incentivized (e.g. offer prizes for the winning teams and consider upping the stakes if two teams are in close competition for the top spot).
- To get internal buy-in from Customer Success, give them enough lead time and be clear with your ask and the importance of their contribution. Then when it’s time for a review generation sprint, first provide your CS leader communication templates, a list of customers to target, unique campaign URLs to keep track of reviews, and prizes for CS!
This article was originally published on B2Bsaasreviews.com