Bryan Eisenberg: How was it decided TechSmith needed an evangelist?
Betsy Weber: Our evangelism program is a natural fit for our company culture and our products. When the book “The Tipping Point” came out, the whole company read it. The light bulb went off. As a company, we’d always practiced evangelism, but we didn’t know what it was called and didn’t have someone dedicated to it.
Evangelism makes great business sense. It’s a cost-effective business strategy that allows us to take our wares directly to our customers. Many of these customers are early adopters or trend setters who can influence friends and coworkers within their industries.
Evangelism makes our products better. With our customers’ input and feedback, we can continually improve our products, services, and customer service.
Evangelism has changed our behavior and the direction of the products. A formalized program has given us the means to listen to more customer feedback. Having multiple channels to listen to customers is a vital part of our development process now.
We’ve set up channels that provide all departments in the organization with feedback about each process. Actively listening to what everyone has to say about our entire organization has caused us to change for the better. Integrating the customer into our daily business processes is a great reminder, motivator, and democratizing force.
BE: How is your success measured?
BW: Our success is measured in several ways, some quantitative and some qualitative. One thing we measure is online activity. We look at stats on our corporate blog: how many people are visiting the site, linking to posts, commenting and subscribing to our RSS feed? We also track mentions and links in forums, Web sites, and blogs. Offline, we look at how many people are presenting on our products at tradeshows and other events, like workshops and training. We look at how many customers request materials about our products so they can deliver a presentation on our behalf.
We’re always looking for ways to measure our success, and it’s constantly evolving.
BE: How do you find the right person for a position like this?
BW: You’re looking for the right personality. Depending on your product or service, they may need some technical abilities or time spent in the industry to have street cred, or you’ll have no credibility.
Look within your company. Look for someone passionate about your products, services, and customers.
You need a power listener. There’s an old saying about why you were given two ears and only one mouth. You should listen as much — if not more — than you talk.
Evangelism is a way of life. You’re either suited for it or you’re not. It’s not a 9-5 job, it’s not a 40-hour-per-week job. You’re never done. I’m available to users most days from 8:00 a.m. to midnight (via IM, cell phone, and e-mail). You’ll often find me at the supermarket on my cell phone on a Saturday talking with a user.
This might sound extreme to some, but the typical work week is no longer typical in many industries.
You need someone to go the extra mile for your customers and the company. You’re looking for an ambassador, someone who you can trust to be public facing and who can balance being an advocate for both your users and the company.
If you have to look outside your company, maybe there’s a customer who’s already a volunteer evangelist for you. Or look to organizations like GNoTE and WOMMA that have job boards or members who practice this discipline. You just may be surprised where you find your evangelist!
If you’re one of those companies that thinks your customer service doesn’t need help, don’t believe your own hype. Listen to your customers. Better, hire someone to listen to them, care for them, coddle them, educate them, empower them, equip them, and have a two-way conversation with them.
If you have a product or service worth talking about, instead of looking exclusively to marketing to solve your growth problem, let a passionate evangelist lose on the unsuspecting customers — and watch the passion spread.
What groundbreaking things does your company do to take care of customers? Let me know.
Meet Bryan at SES Training Classes on August 8 in Boston.