What is a Customer Reference?

Customer reference encompasses all positive feedback, stories, or reviews recounted by a customer about a business, its products, services, or the customer experience as a whole.

Customer Reference Diagram

There was a time when businesses depended entirely on salespeople and their ability to turn a potential customer ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. Modern businesses can no longer rely solely on a good salesperson, as potential customers have access to candid reviews and references. Consumers research the product before buying it, and the research is not just limited to looking up features of the products, but also reviews from other users.

This can result in two outcomes. If prospective customers see proof that other customers who used the product or service of the business have been delighted, they are more likely to believe in the business and buy its products. If the feedback is filled with frustration and negativity, it’s likely that the potential customer will simply walk away.

Organizations need to manage this by using happy customers to their advantage. Utilizing customer references in a positive way is when existing satisfied customers of the company share stories and feedback highlighting the good things about the business or the products. Customer references can apply to the whole business, a particular product or service, or the overall customer experience. The customers giving references are also more likely to spread positive verbal feedback about the business or the brand among their family, friends, and peers.

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Upland RO Innovation is customer reference management software that helps sales, marketing, and customer success teams find and engage with their most influential advocates.
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Does Your Organization Require a Telecom Expense Management Solution?

Large organizations with multiple telecommunications services and cloud solutions usually use a telecom expense management system. However, to determine if you need a proper telecom expense management solution, it is important to first understand your organizational challenges. It depends on the organization’s size, complexity, and telecom usage patterns. Some of the indicators that suggest an organization might benefit from implementing a telecom expense management solution:

Complex Telecom Infrastructure

If the organization has a complex telecom infrastructure with multiple service providers, various types of services, voice, data, and mobile plans, and a large number of users and devices, it may be more prone to inefficiencies and higher costs.

High Telecom Expenses

An organization experiencing high and unpredictable telecom expenses might benefit from a telecom expense management system. If telecom costs are a significant portion of the budget, it’s a sign that closer control is needed.

Lack of Cost Visibility

If the organization struggles to gain clear visibility into its telecom expenses and usage patterns, this could indicate a need for a telecom expense management solution. A lack of transparency can lead to overspending and inefficiencies.

Difficulty in Managing Contracts

If managing telecom contracts is challenging due to a lack of centralized contract tracking, frequent renewals, or difficulty understanding contract terms, a telecom expense management solution can help streamline this process.

Manual Processes and Errors

If the organization relies on manual processes for managing invoices, data entry, and cost allocation, there’s a higher likelihood of human errors and discrepancies in billing. A telecom expense management solution can automate and reduce these errors.

Regular Processing of Bulk Invoices

Organizations that manually process bulk invoices frequently, and whose labor costs and other overhead expenses to process telecom bills are more than the actual bill amount, need a good telecom expense management solution.

Inefficient Usage

If there’s evidence of underutilized services, excessive overages, or lack of optimization in data and voice plans, a telecom expense management solution can identify areas for cost savings.

Scalability Challenges

Growing organizations with expanding telecom needs may need help keeping track of asset inventory, managing expenses, and contracts. A telecom expense management solution can scale with the organization’s growth.

Securing Sensitive Data

Organizations that need to safeguard sensitive telecom data, such as call records, may require telecom expense management solutions to enhance security and compliance.

Informatica increases its reference fulfillment rate to 95% with RO Innovation
Informatica trusts RO Innovation to provide its sales team with references on demand. The company grew its customer success library 60% with RO Innovation.
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Does Social Proof Work for B2B?

In this context it’s important to remember that a person is making the decision, even within a business. While organizations market to a business, a business is made up of people. So social proof is just as effective in a corporate setting, it just has to be performed differently.

Customer reference plays a big role when it comes to B2B companies, the buyer will often spend much more money on one purchase compared to a B2C spend. In the consumer market, a customer may be willing to pay $50 for a product, even if they are not 100% confident that the product will be of use. They may not require the need to conduct more research or go through multiple customer reviews before buying the product.

However, this does not apply to the B2B market, largely because the products in the B2B market are much more expensive or larger volumes are purchased. As a result, the buyer wants to be completely confident that the product or service is high quality, effective, and offers great value for its cost. Moreover, in a B2B purchase, the employees buying the product will be held accountable if the product is not a perfect fit as per the requirement, so the buyer will be extra cautious.

Comprehensive customer feedback on products and services is crucial for the success of any business. It is important to note that persuasion or pressure on customers to submit positive reviews will not work in their favor. These reviews are often bland, formulaic, and seemed forced. Customers who provide reviews and references willingly are the ones that love the products and services of the business and want the business to prosper, and that message will be conveyed.

If businesses play their cards right when it comes to collecting customer references, they will be able to not just strengthen the relationship with the existing customers but will also be able to grow a new customer base.

Why Do Customers Provide References?

Why would a customer agree to spend their time providing a reference or review for a business or a product?

Good Relationship with their Point of Contact

If a customer has a good relationship with their point of contact at the business, regardless of who it is, they are more likely to become a reference. The strong bond with the point of contact will motivate the customer to strengthen the relationship further.

Liking for the Product

Many customers are willing to become a reference because they really love the product. It simplifies their life in some manner, prompting them to speak positively about it. These genuinely satisfied customers aren’t inclined to seek out other products because they’re thoroughly content with the one they currently use. They actively root for the success of the business because they rely on this product and believe it could be beneficial for others as well.

Seeking Association with the Brand

Certain customers aspire to link their name or brand with the business because they believe that such an association will enhance their standing or prestige. Providing references and case studies gives these customers the opportunity to promote themselves and their stories along with the brand.

How to Get Quality Customer References?

How can organizations obtain quality customer references without suffering from bland and half-hearted reviews? There are a few things businesses can do to get the feedback they want and maintain happy relationships.

Select Genuinely Happy Customers

The first thing that needs to be done is to select a customer who is genuinely happy with the products or services of the business. This can be done by simply by asking how the customer has benefited from the product. If the response is positive, then it is likely that the customer will go the extra mile for the business and be ready to provide a reference.


Although it’s wonderful when a customer provides a reference for the business out of their genuine affection for the product and trust, it’s always advisable to express gratitude or show appreciation in return. This can be done by arranging some kind of incentivization, like offering a free subscription for a month or two, a promo code for future transactions, or something similar that the customer will appreciate.

Maintain Transparency

When approaching a customer for reference, it should be clearly explained what is expected of them, and where and how their reference will be used. Whether it will be used on a website or collateral, whether they may have to directly speak to the future client, or just share their personal experience on Google My Business. This will aid the reviewer in making a decision aligned with their comfort level while simultaneously bolstering their trust in the business.

Avoid Reference Burnout

Although it’s excellent that the customer has agreed to serve as a reference, the organization should ensure that they are not excessively burdening the customer with requests. Periodically ask; is the reviewer happy to continue being a reference? An additional effective method to prevent burnout is to have supplementary references available. This not only alleviates pressure on individuals but also offers additional evidence of quality.

Timing Matters

Timing matters when inviting customers to become references. It is advisable that the request is made within two or three days of the completion of the transaction. By then, the customer would have a candid assessment of the product and the overall interaction with the business. Conversely, if the customer is approached too long after the purchase, it is likely that they would have forgotten how the brand has supported them and might not have anything specific to add in their testimonial. If the reference request is made before the transaction is complete or they’ve had time to use the product, it’s unlikely to garner any positive reviews.

Tips to Create a Good Customer Reference Program

Here are several tips that can assist any business in establishing a strong customer reference program and acquiring top-notch references.

Make Connections

The cornerstone of a successful customer reference program lies in fostering strong relationships with customers. It’s not always about a good product. Sometimes, if the product is good but the brand doesn’t maintain a good relationship with the customer, they may not be willing to become a reference for the brand.

The most important factor when building a relationship with a customer is to be genuine and authentic. After that, it is important to communicate on the platform or style the customer prefers. The third step is to be empathetic towards the customer by showing them that the business understands their frustrations and is ready to listen to them and provide solutions. Once a good connection is established, businesses can confidently request a customer’s reference, and in the majority of cases, customers will readily comply without hesitation.

Make the Process Simple

If the process of providing references is tedious, it is likely that the customers will not want to be part of it. Rather than requiring customers to complete lengthy forms or adhere to specific style guidelines, a more convenient approach would be to request brief references and reviews from customers, allowing them to express their thoughts in just a few words, taking up only a few minutes of their time. On the flip side, a phone call offers a swift means of gathering substantial information, allowing for the extraction of specific details and nuances.

Thank the Customers

Businesses should always remember that the customer is doing them a favor by providing a reference. Every time a customer gives a reference, businesses should thank them. This appreciation should not be an auto-generated email but a personalized one, stating how the customer has added value to the business.

Get Customers from Varied Segments

It is always good to have customer references from different types of customers. Different customers will like the brand or a product for different reasons and it is always advisable to have a variety of people providing references for different reasons.

Evaluate and Revise

Once the customer reference program is created, it is important to collect feedback about it internally and externally. The customers who have been onboarded as part of the program should be asked what they think of the process, if they are comfortable with the level of communication they have with the company, if they are facing any problems in the program or if they are happy

with it. Meanwhile, internal feedback on the customer reference program should be taken from different teams, especially the communications and the marketing team.

Aligning References with Business Goals

Businesses should maintain a clear understanding of their objectives concerning their customer reference strategy. It’s crucial not only to react to situations but also to proactively plan and strategize for optimal outcomes. In a reactive scenario, customer references assist when prospects request them. However, when targeting a new customer demographic, such as students, it’s beneficial to have a student advocate for the brand. Witnessing how the brand positively impacted one of their peers significantly enhances trust in the brand among other students.

Getting Things Wrong Isn’t Always Bad

Often, the loudest supporters are the customers where something went wrong. The speed and effectiveness in resolving the issue hold significant weight. Don’t be discouraged if the customer initially expressed dissatisfaction; a prompt and successful resolution leading to a positive outcome will leave the customer delighted. Ultimately, it’s the act of rectifying the situation that truly matters.

How to Provide the Right Customer Reference to the Right Prospect

Organizations can be directly approached by prospective customers and asked to share customer references. So, how should these requests be handled, and how can it be ensured that the right references are provided to a specific customer?

Ask What the Prospect Requires

Businesses should inquire with prospective customers who have requested a reference, seeking clarity on what specific information or details they are eager to learn about? What are their concerns? Once that is understood, it is far easier to match prospects to reviewers. If the prospect does not have their own questions, businesses can share a list of FAQs that may be suitable.

Case Studies and Research Reports

When businesses have already published substantiated proof such as case studies and research reports, the likelihood of prospects requesting additional references diminishes. Also, companies can ask their loyal customers to submit reviews on websites other than their own. This is extremely helpful for potential customers who will simply Google ‘company name reviews’ to see what others are saying.

Recorded Video Testimonials

Businesses can get their trusted customers on video call platforms like Google Meet or Zoom and record their testimonials. This way testimonials from multiple customers can be put on record and shared (or published) if needed.

Customer Advocate Community

In the event of numerous reference requests, businesses can assemble a community of customers who are enthusiastic about advocating for the brand, engaging with prospective customers to

discuss the products and services offered. . This will not just help the business provide a direct interaction channel between the present and prospective customers for better references, but it will also provide a platform for the customers to expand their social circle with others sharing similar interests.

Invite Prospects to Events with Customers

A prospective customer will gain more trust in the brand if they are able to directly meet and interact with existing customers of that brand. Businesses can host in-person or virtual events where they can invite their present customers to speak directly to prospects about how they have benefitted from the product. This will also provide an opportunity for prospects to ask any questions they might have directly to current users of the product.

Social Proof and Customer References are Important

If organizations want to grow their market, then social proof and customer references are a vital part of the strategy. Authentic reviews and recommendations carry tremendous weight for prospective customers. This approach is notably effective in converting customers at the bottom of the sales funnel while simultaneously generating interest and engagement at the top of the funnel.

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