Transcript: How Customer Awards Programs Provide Immense Value For The Whole Company with Kevin Lau

On this episode, I was joined by Kevin Lau, Global Head of Customer Advocacy, Adobe. He and his team have a wide breadth of responsibilities, ranging from customer storytelling, managing their user group community and champions program, as well as their customer awards program, the Adobe Experience Makers Awards. We cover what it’s like to put together an awards program that aspires to be the “Oscars of B2B,” how it can be an incredible opportunity to build cross-functional relationships, and the importance of having a stringent and impartial judging process. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Kevin. 

Margot Leong: Hey, Kevin, thank you so much for joining the show. 

Kevin Lau: I’m really excited, Margot, thank you so much for the invite. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. So first off is just to understand a bit more about your background for the listeners. Can you tell us about your journey to customer advocacy? 

Kevin Lau: Yeah, so I’ve been in the space now for, I would say a little over 10 years at this point. And I’ve always had customer facing roles over the past decade. So I’ve worked at many tech companies from from Google to AOL and a bunch of different startups in the valley. But traditional customer marketing or advocacy is, as you know, a relatively newer industry or specialization.

So I got started doing community management, social media marketing, and I really enjoyed the combination of what it meant to really kind of influence the customer journey and me being more stitched in to help influence what the interactions are like for your customers. And so that ultimately led to where I’m at today, where I’m at Adobe. I’ve been here for almost five years, I came through the Marketo acquisition. And that’s what I do currently today, their digital experience business. 

Margot Leong: Got it. Very cool. And I love that you mentioned that you got your start or you have previous experience with social media marketing, community management. Those are also areas that I worked in prior to going into advocacy and I feel also helped really prepare me for a lot of the work in advocacy. There’s a lot of really interesting sort of bleed in there and a lot of overlap. And I found that my work in these other areas really helped to influence customer advocacy with these other areas essentially. 

Kevin Lau: Yeah, definitely. I think it helps to get a good understanding or foundation. You know, one of the different mechanisms or levers or things almost like within your toolkit on how you can engage your customers, how you can create programs that reach and scale and ultimately support more users at the end of the day.

And so I think a lot of it is relationship based, but also it’s how can you take the insights you learn from your voice of the customer programs or feedback from users and tie that into a larger strategy initiative that’s going to support customer experience. 

Margot Leong: You’ve been doing this for about a decade now. What kind of keeps bringing you back to advocacy? 

Kevin Lau: I’ve thought about this quite a bit, but I think what gets me most excited is being able to engage customers daily. And I think the work that we do at Adobe, it’s very central to how the organization runs. You know, a lot of our programs is all about how do we engage customers and surprise and delight them and create magical experiences. That’s essentially kind of like our company’s mission statement and tagline. 

But the other side of it is that no two days are exactly the same. And I get excited with the fact that you learn different perspectives.

You’re able to see exactly the direct impact that you have to customers’ career and trajectory, so that’s really what gets me excited at the end of the day. 

Margot Leong: Got it. And I think probably that’s the number one thing that a lot of the people that I’ve talked to on this podcast would say as well is just getting to interact with customers daily. You know, no matter what kind of day that I’ve had, if I get a chance to interact with a customer in some way, shape or form, it always gives me so much energy. And that’s really a, you know, an amazing thing about this role is that if you are the kind of person that enjoys customer energy, then you know, it’s like such a nice position because that is so central to the role itself. I’d love to hear a bit more about your current role and sort of the responsibilities that come with that. 

Kevin Lau: So I came from the Marketo acquisition a couple of years ago and when I joined, essentially Adobe is, most of their business came from their creative suite. Essentially their consumer facing products and solutions and they were still kind of building out their enterprise solutions set as it related to building up sort of a platform and how do you kind of engage your customers at every level within the journey?

And so before I actually joined, they didn’t really have a traditional customer marketing function or retention marketing organization. They were essentially a bunch of different teams that had different responsibilities, whether it was through product, support and when they thought about marketing, it usually stemmed from PR and the traditional MarTech standpoint. So whether it’s through blogging, getting more people to write a case study, et cetera. And so when I joined along with some other folks from the Marketo acquisition, it really gave us a opportunity to re-imagine what is that post-sale customer journey look like?

And we looked at sort of the foundational elements of what makes a very strong and thriving customer experience and customer journey. So we have it broken up into three pillars. I lead the customer advocacy team. We have another team that does everything from community through online forums. And then we have another team that does customer adoption and maturity programs, but essentially they’re all kind of very connected across the board. And we work very closely together and many of our programs are things that are driving success and trying to achieve all those things at the same time.

And so within customer advocacy, that wheelhouse encompasses a number of things from customer storytelling, and it’s not just your traditional customer stories that you put on a website, but it’s also supporting the larger field and also looking at storytelling from a retention standpoint, like, what are other customers using to help them have faster implementations, success across the board.

And then we also do a lot of things where we have our user group community and we also run our customer awards program as well as elite programs we do with like a lot of our practitioners from both the community standpoint, which we call community advisors. And then our champions program that we’ve now had for over 10 years. Those are kind of the central things that my team focuses on right now. 

Margot Leong: You know, just a few little things here and there, right, Kevin?.

But to your point earlier, right? No two days are the same and you could be working on, sourcing stories or talking to customers and then also figuring out how you get the customers to talk to each other, to be more successful. You’ve got these elite programs and then you have the awards program. So, perfect segue. This is really what we wanted to focus the conversation today about which is your experience when it comes to putting together awards programs. 

There’s some really incredible work that Adobe and you and the team have done around awards programs there. So for our listeners who haven’t gotten the chance to work with awards programs, or are maybe considering them, what do you believe is the value of investing the time and effort into programs like this?

Kevin Lau: So I think with customer awards, it’s one of those things that’s central to helping tell the full value realization of what your solutions bring to your customers at the end of the day. And I think what’s great about that is it puts your customer front and center. Like they’re the actual hero of you know, using your technology and they’re championing your solutions and they’re actually achieving either greater success or helping them hit that next milestone, wherever that might be. 

And so if you’re looking at exploring the idea of creating an awards program, I think it also accomplishes a number of things, especially from a shared cross-functional opportunity and goal standpoint, right? Because if you’re creating a customer success story and you’re identifying the best of the best customers that are leveraging your technology and getting real success and value, there’s pretty much no one within the organization that would disagree that this is a pivotal thing that’ll help customer success. It’ll help sales, it will help reduce support tickets. It’ll help everything across the board. And then you also have these individuals that can then tout across your digital channels and everything else that you’re doing from an engagement standpoint. So that’s usually where I would start. 

Margot Leong: Tell me a little bit more about what you mentioned sort of helping everything across the board from success to sales. How do you think about that? 

Kevin Lau: You know, when you’re thinking about actually building out the program there, is a lot of work that goes into it as far as the strategy and what’s the approach and what are you trying to accomplish at the end of the day? But I think this is a great opportunity where you can get all of your stakeholders together and start to think about if you do want to create an awards program, what is the underlying objective and goal. And if it’s to be able to tell, more use cases or create more social proof from actual customers on how to use your technology and what are the, some of the insights you’re able to glean, I think that’s a good foundational piece to start the conversation. 

And each of those teams that you work with, whether it’s customer success, sales, support product, et cetera, all of them can start to weigh in on what do they want to see from an awards program. So for example, from a product feedback standpoint, they’re interested in how do our customers actually use our technology and what does it integrate with? You know, what are the ways that they’re able to do things faster or solve a problem or solution? 

From a sales perspective, this is the exact social proof that their sellers need to then be able to take that out when they’re dealing with new opportunities or helping influence their pipeline. From a customer success standpoint, it’s all about building those strategic relationships with those customers that are already seeing the value and helping influence other customers down the road that may be struggling, or may be earlier in their implementation or just getting started with using Adobe technology. You start to see that there is very close synergies that you can create sort of shared goals that kind of reflect upon, like, how is it ultimately gonna benefit the company overall. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. And I can imagine, it’s something a little bit different, especially for these different stakeholders to get involved in. So I’m sure that it’s something that they actually look forward to, it’s just something a little bit more fun for them also to feel involved in as well. 

Kevin Lau: We try to approach it very much, like, if you watch the Oscars, or if you watch any type of major award ceremony, we try to have those types of things in mind when we’re developing, it’s not just people applying for it, but it’s also the celebration. It’s the energizing experience that you’re going to give by literally greeting these customers, shaking their hands, you know, obviously if it was a normal year, but even virtually to be able to do that in a way so that they feel very important and special, and it kind of renews the relationship that you have with those customers at the same time.

Margot Leong: I’d love to talk about the Adobe Experience Makers Awards, which I know that you are very closely involved with. Talk to me about the catalyst behind their creation. How did these come to be? Was this something that already existed when you joined Adobe via Marketo? Or, yeah. Talk to me a little bit about that story.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. So it’s essentially a multi-year story from the standpoint that I mentioned a bit earlier, we came from Marketo and so we used to have an awards program called the Revvies. It existed for, let’s just say around, eight or nine years or so. You know, we had 14, 15 different award categories and it was broken up by specific use cases and how our customers use Marketo in different ways. And then when we became part of the Adobe ecosystem, they had previously ran a one year Experience Maker Awards program. I was tasked with figuring out how can we bring, the Marketo awards program, plus two other solution award programs under one umbrella and working closely with our brand team and kind of uncovering exactly what’s going to fit the needs across 33 different award categories across those three programs down to a distilled 14 to 15 award categories. 

So it was a little bit challenging at first, but we had to pivot from thinking about award categories where it was focused on a certain solution or a specific feature or functionality, and thinking about more broadly in terms of themes and use cases. And because Adobe’s business, we have around eight to nine different solutions, we’re dealing with different personas, different audiences. 

So we want to be as inclusive as possible. We wanted to apply this from a global standpoint and we want to make sure that the language and the information articulated that this was a very prominent program that we’re trying to elevate and, turn it into like the Oscars of B2B, if you want to think of it that way. So that’s kind of where we started initially. 

And we went through many reiterations of what are we calling each of these award categories? How do we spark and tell that story so that people understood it when it right when they started to look at the application? And then went from there. 

One of the biggest challenges besides just consolidating three different award programs into one, it was the fact that each of these award categories were very specific to a solution or to a very specific persona or audience. We really wanted to bring this together, so it really boiled down to what our customers are ultimately trying to accomplish using our technology. And I think when you start to examine this even more deeply, customers don’t necessarily think about themselves as just a solution owner.

They’re thinking about how do they use your technology to help them achieve some type of goal or initiative or transform their business, right. So we had to think about more in terms of that stand point. Like what’s the broader story we’re trying to tell here And how are our customers really seeing value with using our analytics solutions paired with Marketo or something else, but not necessarily in that granularity, but more in terms of how is it making that business impact for their organization. It made sense that we got our customers thinking about how they use, not just one solution or two solutions, but how do they use really the suite of Adobe technology to power their businesses and organizations?

And from there, they started to give us deeper insights on how is it making a bigger impact to their bottom line. And how is it bringing together not just awareness to the practitioner that is responsible for using the technology, how do they also engage their stakeholders like their managers and their C-suites and it got all those folks involved in the program because each of our award categories, we’re very meticulous about making it about, how do we engage each of those different levels so that they were all kind of contributing and we all are recognizing them at different stages.

So for example, we have some awards categories called The Ambassador, which is all about helping or identifying customers that have a shared experience and they helped other customers be successful. We have ones that are designed for experience maker of the year, experience maker team of the year, executive of the year, et cetera. So that way we can kind of highlight all the different individuals that were responsible for helping to influence their success within the company. 

Margot Leong: For putting something like this together, right, I can imagine this is not something where the planning process is essentially one month out from the event. I can imagine it probably takes just a little bit longer than that. Give me a sense of just kind of the scope of what planning typically looks like.

Kevin Lau: Yeah, I’d like to say it only takes a month, but that’s definitely not true. For us, it’s a full year cycle. Like we go from one award program ends, and then we have a little bit of a lull and then we start back up and we plan the next year. So very similar to folks that are responsible for kind of managing user conferences and stuff like that, it’s very much like a year to year cadence, right. You have to think about what’s the theme? You know, what are all the different stages? And we break it up into three areas if you want to think of it that way.

So the first stage is the ideation of what is that theme? What is that look and feel? What are the award categories? Are we shifting anything? Are we making any adjustments? Is there language that we might need to tweak to make it easier to digest? And all that kind of good stuff. And then the second phase is really the critical phase, which is the application process and that’s where it’s critical to get promotion in the door, so you have a heavy pipeline of customers that want to apply for it. You promote it actively to your different constituents, whether it’s your partners, your internal teams, et cetera. And that’s really going to be the driver to help you get the number of submissions that you need to determine who your finals and winners are.

And then the third phase, which is when it comes down to judging and selecting your candidates and then actually hosting your awards. And this year, or actually even the past year and a half, because we’ve done this two years now in a row, you know, there’s obviously this little thing that called COVID that happened, and that kind of threw a monkey wrench in everything.

But historically our awards program was always coupled with our user conference, which we call Adobe Summit . And so when you think about the planning process, in some ways, it was a little bit easier because you knew exactly when the deadline was, it was always the same month in March.

And so you had to kind of work backwards to make sure that you had everything teed up and ready for for the time that you have the user conference where we have about 18,000 -20,000 people that used to go to that. And we would have like a separate ancillary event just for the awards experience, but now because of COVID, we made everything virtual. And I would say we were one of the first companies to do this successfully. I don’t want to pat my own back, the team that did this was amazing. We had a lot of help and a lot of things that we had to learn through this process. It was a great learning experience, but that helped us understand like, Hey, if we had to do this virtually again, or even in a hybrid world, we could definitely do it. 

I mean, the other thing too, is I don’t necessarily want to scare anyone that is thinking about building out a customer awards program. You obviously have to start off small and then build from there. Whether you’re a startup company or you’re a lean team, you a hundred percent can do an awards program.

And there’s things that you obviously can take off to make it easier for you to accomplish it. And so I think at the end of the day, it’s just really aligning what your goals are with your stakeholders internally. If the goal is, you know, tell more stories of how your customers are being successful using technology, then you can kind of build something from there.

Margot Leong: Talk to me a little bit about the process of sourcing submissions. How do you guys get it out there in order to get the volume of submissions that you want, and if you feel comfortable sharing, you know, what is the sort of ballpark estimate of submissions that you guys are currently getting? 

Kevin Lau: To answer the first part of the question, so the first time we ran this, especially as we kind of brought these award programs under one umbrella, especially if you’re going through an acquisition, it can be challenging to educate your customers because they were aware of a previous program. And then you have to kind of tell them, Hey, now it’s part of a new thing. So part of that was just kind of enabling our customers and making sure that we had different touch points. And we thought about the cadences that we engage with them through newsletters, through webinars, through our conferences, et cetera, just that awareness piece was critical.

And then the second piece was internal as well as partner channels. So I would say a big driver for our business is our partner ecosystem which I think drove probably 60% of our submissions. You know, the partners typically have a very close connection to the customer use cases, just by nature of what they do and whether the technology partners, services partners, et cetera, they know intimately what is the company doing to leverage our technology for their benefit. And so it was critical to make sure that the partners understood and they were enabled. A lot of this is sort of sales and marketing and partner enablement. 

But then the other piece was just customer success. I mean, they want to make sure that they build that foundational relationship with their accounts and those customers want to renew and they see the customer awards program as sort of essential piece to help tie that relationship together and culminating an experience where we could tell that story articulately and they can win an award for that hopefully from the fruits of their labor. 

And so those were kind of like the two major channels. We also of course did the typical marketing channels as well, like, social promotion and an email and ads and all that kind of stuff. The primary thing was really building up that pipeline. It’s almost, if you’re working at it from a demand standpoint, building up a pipeline enough so that you can sort of predict or closely estimate what your outcome is going to be. It doesn’t always be the case, but you know, that’s kind of how we approached it.

And then there’s always this period of time right before you close. I think this is human nature, but people always tend to procrastinate. Right? So anytime they have a deadline and people push it off, usually you have this lull where people submit early on. Then when it’s sort of the middle of the application window, kind of drops off. And then at the very end, you get a huge influx because everyone waits until the 11th hour to submit their application. And then you have these moments internally where you’re just thinking like, I’m praying to God, like, can someone fill out this application and submit, and then thankfully they do it.

It’s almost like if you’re looking at registration for a conference or something. Very similar kind of heart attack moment. I won’t say specifically how many submissions we did get, but I will say year over year, it’s increased drastically where it went from 20 to 30% up to 50%, just over this past year.

Margot Leong: I think just as you said, human behavior sort of acts in ways that you get, like the people who are the early birds that will just do it immediately. And then everybody sort of typically like forgets or just doesn’t want to do it for awhile. And then at the 11th hour, as you said, everyone’s like, oh my God, I need to do that thing. And so it sounds like a tip there would be don’t underestimate the importance of sending reminders as you get closer and closer to the deadline, essentially, 

Kevin Lau: It resonates with the name of your podcast, the drum beat, right? It’s like you has to have that constant cadence and it’s almost like if you’re driving a car. And you start to get a little too comfortable and you take your foot off the pedal. That’s when you usually things start to not exactly work out. I’ve always heard the phrase that you have to tell someone seven times before it finally sinks in and they say, yes. I think that’s very true, especially in an organization, regardless of how big it is. When someone has other jobs and responsibilities and you’re asking for extra work, it’s one of those things you just have to constantly remind them and, make it top of mind. 

The other thing that we do to kind of add that additional layer or carrot is we actually run a SPIFF for our CSMs or our sellers. We incentivize them to nominate customers to apply for the awards program. And you would think that’s kind of already part of their job, but as I mentioned earlier, they have so many other things going on in their mind, whether it’s renewals, dealing with fire drills, support issues, et cetera, sometimes they just want to be recognized and rewarded. And so we incentivize them and we do things depending on what level we are within the promotion window. If we’re getting towards the final couple of weeks, we might increase the SPIFF or create additional opportunities so that they can get some additional incentives as well as recognition, what their customer wants. It’s all said and done. 

Margot Leong: I mean, it makes a lot of sense to me that the partner ecosystem drove about 60% of submissions, and I’m sure that on the CS side, that also accounts for a good chunk of that. If I think about just normal human behavior, it’s sometimes a little scary to think about nominating yourself for an award. And to have someone on the other side that knows your use case well, and can be like, Hey. I think you guys could be really good fit. That’s the kind of thing that also encourages people to be like, oh yeah, I get, you know, like, I guess that could be me. Right? Like, but it sounds like having that additional push for someone who knows the story can be massively helpful here.

So I’m not just relying on people to nominate themselves through these other marketing channels, but really relying on the people that know these customers best to help drive that. It seems really important. 

Kevin Lau: It’s definitely critical. I mean, like our application process, like the actual submission itself, it’s very detailed. Like it’s not something someone can complete you know, if they have 10 minutes out of their day. It definitely takes some thoughtful care and decisions about what type of metrics you want to put in there. I think the questions are about 10 to 12 in total, and each one’s very detailed. It’s helpful whether it’s their CSM or their partner or internal teams, they just kind of sit together and they think about what is that use case? What is that story? Cause I think it can be a little bit daunting depending on if they just look in and say, oh wow, it’s a lot of questions. I don’t have time for it. 

But I think if they have that additional coaching and they just think about it and they think about what did they actually do that entire year or the past couple of years that led up to this moment, they’ll most likely find that they have a pretty good story to share, and we do it deliberately as well because we’re really not interested in, well, I’ll just put it this way. Half-ass stories, right? Like we don’t want someone just to spend five to 10 minutes cramming something in there just because they feel like they need to, we want to make sure that the customer understands that there is some time and attention that’s need to be put into this if they want to win something.

And so it creates sort of that give and take where they need to put some effort into it, just like anything else, if they want it to be successful. But we also make it easier so that if they want to work with their partner or their CSM, those individuals could also submit the application for them. 

Margot Leong: That’s a really interesting balance, but it is that give and take of making sure that people feel invested. This is a real program that you guys are also putting a lot of time and effort which I think brings me to my last question here about this process, which is that third piece around judging and selecting candidates. I know that during our pre-call, you had some really interesting things to say about this, especially when it comes to being very clear and intentional about no bias in the selection process, things like that. But yeah, how do you think about that piece of it?

Kevin Lau: I would say the judging piece is just as important, if not more so than everything else that we just described. I mean, yeah, of course. You also want to have a ton of applicants, that you have judges that can review different use cases, but at the same time, I think this goes back to the integrity of your awards program, right? Like you don’t want to just select the winners based on how this customer might be close to closing a deal with you, or, it could influence sales pipeline or something, right. 

So I think it’s important to also evaluate, you know, parameters around how you kind of select the winners or the finalists. We actually have a very stringent judging rubric and it’s based on a scoring model about 10 different things that our judges need to consider. Everything from, you know, the story itself, the metrics that are featured, the particular use case and the sophistication of the customer and how they use it.

And then also making sure that we’re very intentional with selecting judging panels, where it’s not biased, really looking at cross functional division of teams that comes together from marketing, support, engineering, product, et cetera. And they all kind of add in who makes the best fit based on category as well as what’s at stake. And then from there, we also engage our executive leadership to make sure that we have a second level of approvals and a second check to make sure that this is the right decision we want to make.

Margot Leong: Yeah. I love the intentionality and the thought that goes into the integrity piece because there’s so many factors and it’s easy sometimes to have those biases, so the fact that you guys have a very stringent sort of judging rubric. You know, I think hopefully that makes that piece a lot easier. And also like the integrity is kept, which is super important when you think about awards in general.

Kevin Lau: All that kind of stuff, whether it’s you know, customers buying more solutions or doing more activities with you, that should naturally be the by-product of all of your customer advocacy programs, whether it’s, the awards program or other things. But I think that it shouldn’t come first. It should always come after the fact, once you’ve kind of established the relationship and you’ve done all the other things that are necessary. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. And so I know that you guys have had some really interesting learnings due to the pivot with COVID. It sounds like it has been the last two years that you guys have been doing this event virtually now?

Kevin Lau: Yeah. So we were originally gonna do it back in 2020, which feels like forever ago, but it was supposed to be around like March timeframe and we pushed it out to June. That was our first time doing it a hundred percent virtually and we did it live-streamed on LinkedIn, so you could actually watch the replay if you want. We thought about it from a Oscar standpoint, if you will. So we had like a production company that did all of the real time engagement and making sure that there was that surprise and delight moment where none of the customers knew ahead of time that they were going to win.

And so everything was important that we captured: their real expressions and the feelings that they got if they were selected. And then we also had engaging our stakeholders, the hosts, and the individuals that are actually going to tell, who the winners were and what the categories are all about.

And then we also had musical guests. We had Jennifer Hudson back in 2020 this year, we had we on Leona Lewis and so each year we get try to make small pivots to make the program even better. I would say the one that we just did this past June was really great. And if someone wants to watch the full video, it’s available on LinkedIn, but it really told that story from start to finish and we did it within about an hour and a half.

Margot Leong: That’s amazing. Are there any other tips that you have because so many people are doing virtual events, are going to be doing virtual events in the future that basically can help to make these events really feel like something special or unique, or just to feel like you have that communal excitement together.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. I mean, I know it’s tough. I think everyone is feeling a sense that they want to be back with their peers and be able to kind of celebrate in the same room. I know some folks are more comfortable about that than others, but I think from a virtual standpoint, you know, going forward, especially as we get into 2022, I think there’s definitely going to be an option to look at how do you go from virtual to more of a hybrid model?

And so maybe some of those things can be accommodated, but if it is going to be virtual, the key thing to always kind of consider as timeline. Right? So even just shipping delays, getting equipment to your customers to be there and having the right camera equipment so that their lighting is right. All that kind of stuff. That definitely takes time, especially if we’re dealing with a global audience and as you probably know, shipping to other countries, some of them is more difficult than others. It definitely helps if you have someone that is an event expert to help you along the way, as well as just thinking about the surprise and delight, like I think there is something special and magical about having those reactions real time and being able to capture it in a way that it feels authentic and real. I think that’s what makes an awards program special and also makes the experience of all that led up to it worthwhile too.

Margot Leong: There’s so much work that goes into something like this and a lot of thought and intentionality, I mean, it, it really is such a grand sort of program to be involved in. How do you think about what metrics you track to basically measure success there? 

Kevin Lau: One area we look at is sort of our sphere of influence. So it’s the number of customers that we’re engaging year over year in these programs, so we can measure that through the number of applications that come. But then on the backend, we also look at tying this back to pipeline and impact to the accounts. And we look at the propensity that this has led to new cross sell, upsell opportunities, as well as retention. That’s sort of a key driver for us. We want to make sure that our customers are renewing. And those customers that do see the value, it starts to spin ball into additional opportunities where we can engage with those customers and in other mediums, whether it’s through our executive programs, some other practitioner programs that I mentioned, but sort of helping us increase our sphere of influence.

And the number of customers that we’re engaging year over year, I think that’s key. So we look at sort of balancing between high touch programs as well as programs that are designed for scale and growth and really contributing to the bottom line. 

Margot Leong: I can imagine, actually that I know that you guys have all sorts of programs that you are running concurrently, and I can imagine actually some of them are very separate, but in a lot of ways, there’s customers that may be involved in something or on the advocacy side or may not be involved at all, but are happy. And then they maybe hear about the awards program and that’s a perfect time to actually extend your relationship with them. 

Kevin Lau: We look at it as sort of a continuum where it doesn’t necessarily start and stop, but you know, we’re kind of like walking with the customer throughout their entire journey, whether it ends up being a couple months to a couple of years or we end up being lifelong friends, but it kind of boils down to letting them choose what works for them at that period of time. We kind of phrased it as, like, what kind of experience maker do you want to be? And they kind of pick their journey from there. 

Margot Leong: Well, Kevin, I think this is a perfect place to wrap up. The last question is of course, where can our listeners connect with you if they’d like to find out more about the work that we’re doing. 

Kevin Lau: I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. I mean, if you guys just look for Kevin Lau, should be pretty easy. You can also send me an email if you’d like, and we can chat more. My email is just and I’m sure you’ll probably include some of this in the show notes and whatnot. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. Well, Kevin, I really enjoyed the conversation. I learned a lot as well and again, I’m awed by the scope and you know, what you guys and your team are taking on. I think that what Adobe is doing on the retention side is really innovative and cutting edge and just always with the users in mind. So thank you so much again. 

Kevin Lau: Yeah, no, thanks again. I really appreciate the opportunity, Margot.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody. 



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