As a freelance writer across many vendors, I have been repeatedly struck over the past 15 years with just how ‘sticky’ the DataCore SANsymphony platform is for customers and how integral it is to their IT infrastructure and everyday working lives. Phrases like ‘I couldn’t live without it’ and ‘it’s the cornerstone of everything we do’ are freely and regularly offered by customers without the usual marketing prompting. It’s almost as if customers view themselves as pioneers in a software-based revolution and still remain thrilled to this day with their ‘discovery’ and are keen to share their story of innovation adoption taken away from the masses.
So how do you take these expressions of satisfaction and convert and collect them into a community of SDS pioneers that can leverage best practice, have fun, advocate their story and gain greater traction with R&D to shape the future of software?
DataCore’s creator of Inside the Core Customer Advocacy Program, Ariane Masseboeuf, thinks she has the answer. For much of 2018, Ariane has been crafting and creating the new customer community – we ask her more.
Tell me a little about Inside the Core and why you felt the need to start such a community?
Ariane: For some time now we had been feeling that our focus on existing customers needed to be increased. We have a remarkable customer retention rate, one of the highest in the software industry – close to 93% of customer retention rates – so we wanted to provide the platform to enable them to step forward, become more integral to the development of SANsymphony software, and most importantly, facilitate peer to peer interactions and best practice.
How did you go about that?
Ariane: We knew that Inside the Core would start as a portal based community leading to physical interactions further down the line. So we contacted loyalty program suppliers and decided that the Influitive interface would be the premium option in getting to know our customers better given our 100% channel based model. We worked with Influitive over a period of months mapping, scaling and creating workflows. We launched by designing a series of initial questions and activities that would increase our understanding of our customers likes and objectives, with the ultimate objective of deepening our personal relationship with them.
How did the launch go?
Ariane: Well, the launch took place just over one month ago and we started by asking end user customers what their expectations would be from being a part of Inside the Core. Their feedback was that they wished to feel more valued and have a voice in the community without the fear of initiating inbound sales calls back at them! Sign up rates were good and slightly over our initial expectations, so our task is to continue momentum and grow the community.
Creator of Inside the Core, Ariane Masseboeuf
Can you tell us what is in Inside the Core, section by section?
Ariane: The whole platform is built on challenges which range in depth and complexity from fun, one-off questions on favorite movie genres to responding to their thoughts on our recent 2018 State of Software Defined Storage market survey. At every stage, customers’ contributions are rewarded by points that quickly accumulate to convert into prizes dispatched through local DataCore offices. Each Tuesday new challenges are issued to keep engagement levels high.
Great! Everyone loves free SWAG and prizes, what sorts of rewards can they accumulate?
Ariane: From the entry-level branded baseball hats and mugs available with minimal points, to the highest category offering of smart watches and Virtual Reality headsets, we are constantly adding innovative rewards to the program to keep our community users excited and interacting. We also have spot prizes, for instance in the launch month, we gave away a drone in our first community draw.
And what about Partners – can they join Inside the Core?
Ariane: At the moment no, we launched specifically to interact with our end user customers first. However it is our intention to expand to include a Partner section of Inside the Core within the first year.
So, how do we join Inside the Core?
Ariane: If you are a DataCore customer you will have received your personal invite, but if you missed that, customers can sign in via your local country: