Jessica Thomas CX Interview Benevity – Stand Alone


a conversation with...
Jessica Thomas
Technical Solutions, Analyst,
Could you describe your
I manage the client reference program at Benevity. My title is Technical Solutions, Analyst, and I sit within the Pre-Sales team. We launched ReferenceEdge around October 2018. We have close to 100 team members with access to ReferenceEdge, including all of our sales reps and client success managers, across all the different time zones throughout Canada and the United States.
Where did the initiative
to start a program
originate, and why?
Benevity had a reference program before that we called 'BURT'—the Benevity Unified Reference Team, and we managed it through a different software product. We made the business case that we needed a reference-specific software application to manage reference activity at scale moving forward. We took on the responsibility of doing the research, finding ReferenceEdge, and learning how it would help Benevity streamline our program.
Who are your internal
Our primary stakeholders are the sales team, including our Regional Vice Presidents and our Senior Vice President of Sales, and then our Client Success Management team, which includes our VP of Client Success. We have a cross-functional working group that meets on a monthly basis to ensure our program is functioning well and address any challenges that may creep up.
What were your top
3 challenges before
We really wanted to decrease the number of steps in the workflow because, at times, it would take two or three weeks to hear back from the client success team about whether or not a reference request was approved, and that was just too long. So, streamlining and speeding up the process were big goals for us.

Another challenge that we were hoping ReferenceEdge would help us solve was salespeople going around the process by simply reaching out directly to their client contacts with whom they had established relationships, instead of going through the BURT process. We wanted to have software that would make the sales reps feel confident that using the application would yield the reference results they needed.

We also didn't have a central place where we searched for attribute data to help ensure that we were connecting a prospect with a client that had similar characteristics, so that was another checkmark for ReferenceEdge. And lastly, reference overuse. We definitely overused a few of our clients, especially some of the larger, well-known name brands, and because we weren't tracking usage very well, we didn't know how often we ended up using some of those contacts.
Since launch, what has
changed in terms of your
company’s reference
By using ReferenceEdge, everything is more streamlined because reference requests are going directly from a salesperson to the appropriate client success manager. We've taken out the client success managers' managers; which was a bottleneck for us in the past.

Another major change we put in place with ReferenceEdge is having an automated process to include and exclude clients in the program.

There's much more reporting that we have access to, and because of that, we can clearly identify things that we need to work on, such as decreasing the time it takes for requests to be approved or declined.

Lastly, everything related to references is handled in one central location and, if anyone has questions or needs help, they know exactly who to speak with, which makes things very simple. Those are the things that have really changed and helped us grow the program.
Since launch, how has your job changed?A number of different responsibilities fall within my role, and references make up about 15% of it. I really appreciate that I don't need to spend more of my time working on things that are reference related because I simply wouldn't have the capacity to get everything else done. ReferenceEdge has helped to save us time. I don't have to be involved in the majority of reference requests because they're going from the salesperson to the CSM using the peer-to-peer functionality, and they don't need any intervention from me.
What feedback have you gotten from stakeholders? Leadership?About six months after launching, I reached out to our folks in Client Success leadership about how they felt the program was running, and they were so happy to be less involved in things. It was a time savings for them, and the general consensus was that the new processes with ReferenceEdge were running smoothly. That was such great feedback and really put me at ease.
What aspects of ReferenceEdge do you value the most?Many! To start with, I really like the Reference Lead Finder feature. We enabled this pretty recently, and it allows us to find new clients for the reference program who have recently implemented the Benevity software product(s). It's a simple and effective way of getting new clients into the reference program.

At Benevity, we are very heavy Slack users, so when ReferenceEdge released the Slack integration, that was another feature that we turned on right away. We've been really happy with how those notifications go to our client success managers and our salespeople.

We've also been able to look at how many and which clients are getting used most frequently. If clients have been used two or more times within the last year, we send them a Charity Gift Card (funds they can donate to a cause of their choosing) as a thank you for helping us win more business. So that was another report that was really helpful to us.

As an added benefit, I would say that I've learned a ton about Salesforce as a result of using ReferenceEdge. I know how to build custom reports, and I understand how data is populated into various fields on various record types. I'm really happy that I've had the opportunity to work more within Salesforce and up-level my skills there.
How do you measure program success?Right now, we're focused on ensuring that as many reference requests as possible are responded to before their deadline date. On an ongoing basis, we look at peer-to-peer request outcomes and the peer-to-peer average time to complete. We are consistently working towards improving both of those metrics.
How does Point of Reference’s service compare with other vendors with which you’ve worked?Our account director is awesome. She's been wonderful to work with and truly cares about the success of our program. She discusses new features and functionality with us, helps troubleshoot various issues, helps us create new reports and dashboards, and enable new functionality on an ongoing basis. We’ve been surprised and delighted at how frequently we are able to meet with her. We definitely appreciate the dedicated support that we receive through Point of Reference.