Knowing what your client wants is extremely important when looking at creating the perfect event. But how do you get the input and feedback from them? That you will find out in this episode.
Hi Diana, hi Shane, welcome to our study. Today's topic is customer feedback. That's very important for you?
Yeah absolutely, I mean it's crucial for us. Even though we provide software solutions, at the end of the day it's all for customers. And it's all for people to use. So having that feedback is absolutely a crucial part of what we do.
You have a Client Steering Committee. What is that about?
Yeah, I'll describe it a little bit and then I'll let Diana go a little bit more into detail. It's something that we've recently done here. So we put together a group of folks, and depending on the project it could be anywhere between a dozen to a couple dozen even people from the industry. Usually all customers. And then we get together on a regular basis with them to talk about product and industry trends, what their needs are. And we actually show them what we're working on, so they can actually shape the direction that we need to head. And I think it's really important for us to do that, because we get feedback for a variety of different ways on a daily basis. So our support team give us feedback from the clients, our account management team, obviously social media... But this is a really good structured way to get that feedback and also to have a dialogue and a collaboration.
And how do you organize that exactly? Is it just kind of a meeting where you invite those people or how do I have to see that?
Yeah, so we do... We bring the Steering Committee together. We have been doing 1:1 demos, if you will, or 1:1 hands-on calls. With the clients. So it's really valuable for our product team. And I think it's also valuable to the client experience as well, so they really feel like they're being heard. That their important is important, which it is. But feeling that is something different than just saying it. So I think it's really important that we have that interaction. Yeah, I think that last one is important, because a lot of people in our product team don't get the opportunity... Sort of like the sales and marketing folks do go out into the industry and go to trade shows to interact with the customers. So if it weren't for this type of forum, they would essentially be welded off from what's going on out there. So that's why this is very important to us.
And the same principle of doing such a committee could be used for organising an event?
Yeah definitely, my background is actually in the events industry. I've been in and around it for 15 years. I was an event planner for myself for about 10 years, doing my own events and doing client events as well, so it's very important to apply things like a steering committee or integrating direct feedback into your events. And that can come in a variety of ways. I mean, truly you can have a steering committee for your event, identifying key stakeholders. And those are just attendees. They could be your speakers, they could be your sponsors, they could be people in your organization obviously, all coming together. And gathering that feedback and then obviously making action plans. So as you are saying: "how do you take that feedback and organize it?" You link it back to your core initiatives for the event, you make an action plan, you go forward and evaluate it with the stakeholders.
How do you decide who you invite for such a steering committee? Because of course you have a lot of clients. You can't invite them all.
That's a really good point. That's something we talk a lot about internally. Various different departments may have a list of people that they want to have on the steering committee for various reasons. From a product perspective, we look for people who will contribute the most to the end result of the product. From the sales side they might want people involved because they want them more engaged in the product, and they want them to sort of see what's going on and what might be an important customer. But for us: we want to make sure that they're not just there passively. So they need to be interacting with us, so that is what we expect out of them. So in order to determine who the best candidates are, we will send out a survey initially. And then based on that survey and the way they answer the questions, we'll start grouping them into certain categories. And we might actually have several different types of participants, and we might treat them differently as we progress through the steering committee process. But it's important first and foremost for me that they're active and not just passive participants.
And they all just volunteer to do this and are very willing to do this or is it difficult to convince them to come over?
I don't know, I don't think so. I think they're very motivated. I mean you could probably speak to that very well since you were on that side of it. Yeah, I mean I in a sense say that a lot of them are ambassadors, if you will. So they're advocates of ours to begin with. So they really are interested in critiquing, if you will. In shaping the direction. And we want that. And I think it is important for any steering committee to set expectations ahead of time: time commitment, what you're looking to get out of it... So they know what they're getting into, they know what to expect. And then they can make the decision of whether they want it and how they want to participate. Yeah, and also something Diana had mentioned which also I think is important in terms of motivation, we don't just want people that are big supporters of us, because that's not going to help us grow and challenge us. A lot of times people who are highly motivated to be on the committee are critics. Maybe there's an aspect of what we do or a product that they don't like. And they're very vocal about it. And we welcome that, because we want to work with them and see what we can do to turn that around for them.
And in the end it's also in their advantage because they get a product that better suits their needs.
Yeah, and I think there's a lot of good will that gets established. We form these relationships because we talk to them. It's not just online surveys and forms and things like that. It's actual dialogue 1 to 1 many times. And so we get to learn about them personally and their business, they get to learn about us as people, and I think it just makes it a lot smoother to work together. And our clients are, if you will, our boots on the ground. So they're out there, doing it every day, coming across new ideas, new needs. So that's just another importance. We don't necessarily have that perspective that we need to get from them.
Okay, that's very interesting. Thank you Diana, thank you Shane, for your time and for this interview.
Thank you so much. Thank you very much.
And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!