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December 02, 2022

Avaya’s Storytelling Program Wins the Ventana Research 15th Annual Digital Leadership Award for Marketing

Avaya’s Storytelling Program Wins the Ventana Research 15th Annual Digital Leadership Award for Marketing

Chris Bain

Head of Storytelling

The Ventana Research Digital Leadership Awards for Marketing celebrate organizations and their supporting vendors that utilize technology to build resilience and readiness across business and IT.

Chris Bain, Head of Storytelling and Analyst Relations, explains how the Avaya Storytelling Program harnesses customer experiences, and how Avaya uses this to drive new value streams.

The Value of Experience

Politicians will tell you that the economy is the cornerstones of a successful election campaign. They understand that money — the economic value system that governments seek to manage — resonates with voters, and they want to use it to influence the outcome.

Money matters, but it’s not the only value system in politics or in business. There is danger in focusing solely on price, cost, revenue, and profit as this ignores underlying value systems that both matter to and influence customers.

At Avaya, we create “Experiences that Matter.” Every day, tens of millions of people create experiences that matter using Avaya technology. For many, the experience is the outcome — the goal.

The idea that customer experience is at one end of a journey has been posited by many leaders in business:

  • “Start with customer experience, and work back to the technology.” – Steve Jobs
  • “It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
  • “Exceptional customer experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.” – Kerry Bodine

There is value in experiences. And where there is value there is influence. Let’s adopt a new phrase, “The Experience Economy.” At a fundamental level we all understand this. We all seek out the experiences of others to inform our decision journeys. Businesses leaders understand this, too. In surveys, they consistently rate ‘experiences’ as the most important types of content that they can consume during a buying journey.*

Banking the money from a sale or transaction only captures part of the value that has been created. Imagine if we could also bank the collective experiences of customers and turn them into influence. Imagine if we could borrow them on demand, using them when most needed. The experiences would do a job for us. The experiences would create empathy, connection, and a fear of missing out. Experiences are relatable, believable, and personal. The Experience Economy is the difference between demand and desire, between something you can afford to have and something you can’t afford to be without.

With experiences, stories, references, testimony, and advocacy we can only take out what we put in, like a bank. Our references and stories are a currency — they contain valuable information about customer deployments, learnings that others can gain from, challenges that were overcome, obstacles along the way, and thought leadership. Too often we take this currency and bury it under the floorboards, squirrelled away in personal folders, stashed in obscure customer records, stuffed in drawers, and buried on islands that few have a map to. Instead of burying it, we decided to invest it in a sort of story ‘bank’ — in an application Avaya calls the Customer Gallery, based on a cloud environment provided by our partner, Upland Software, and integrated with both Avaya’s Salesforce instance and our web platforms.  

The Customer Gallery is the key component of the Avaya Storytelling Program and is growing through deposits from colleagues and partners who engage with customers: our Sales teams, CSMs, Operations, and others. As our repository has increased, we’ve enabled these experience assets to be borrowed and invested in new projects. The positive influence that these experiences deliver eventually helps to secure new customers, creating new experiences which can then be collected as interest on the original loans! The interest that we earn on our deposits and loans will be reportable because it’s all managed through a single platform.

“This award recognizes the organization and technology that best exemplifies leadership in the applications and technologies that support marketing. Congratulations to Avaya for their global Storytelling Program.”

  • Mark Smith, CEO and Chief Research Officer, Ventana Research

References and Content

Customer experience is what happens between purchase and loyalty. The Avaya Storytelling Program aims to extend this journey from customer experience to loyalty to advocacy. In the Avaya Storytelling Program we divide this advocacy in to 2 different types of assets.

  • References are people – Individual contacts who agree to specific engagements such as calls with prospects, RFP references, site visits, speaking at events, etc.
  • Content is recorded media – Content is like software, create it once and use it many times, like our Success Stories, internal Sales Wins, videos, and single-slide summaries.

Building and realizing the value of these assets has been the industrialization of our own Experience Economy, where we’ve built processes to control the production, inventory, and distribution. Across the company, our integrated, mechanised, and automated systems manage both the supply and demand of assets for all stakeholders: Colleagues, Customers and Partners.

References are about connecting people. Our Customer Success Teams are identifying satisfied customers and nominating them into the system. Salespeople can nominate and find references directly from Contact records inside Salesforce. Marketing, Operations, and others around the business can nominate and find references from within the Customer Gallery.

Content is all about capturing the story and sharing with the right audience at the right time. Salespeople should be recording Sales Win stories from the integrated tools within Opportunity records, and our content libraries are available to search using over a dozen different filters. A customer can also use an integrated webform to submit their own story.

Excitingly, we’ve also introduced gamification to our content creation process, creating a global competition between content creators.

In customer storytelling, we’ve centralized a database of individuals prepared to talk positively about their experience. We’re taking that value that was buried under the floorboards and investing it. Come and borrow a reference or story! Invest it and reap the rewards. Then, add your own stories in to the bank!

Fundamentally we’re leveraging our biggest asset: our customers and our success. We’re using this to drive new value streams, to open new doors, to think differently about where customer journeys begin and end, and to enable experiences to be used as shared learning.

Our success to date has been phenomenal — driven by the enthusiastic support of people all over the company.

  • In the first full year of deployment we saw the number of reference nominations rise by over 500%
  • Sales Wins (submitted via integration with Salesforce) increased by over 800%
  • The number of Success Stories (such as those available here) increased by 1,700%
  • The number of customers agreeing to public testimony grew by 2,000%

The willingness and enthusiasm of Avaya customers to share their positive experiences with others is testimony itself to the fact that Avaya does indeed deliver “experiences that matter,” and to the process we have built to deliver these experiences as an entirely new value system.

Thank you to everyone who’s played a part.

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