With our next user group in a just over months’ time, I recall being asked recently by an associate why would a solution provider run a user group? My answer was simple; we don’t, it is a user group ran by the users for the users.
When we first set out to 15 months ago to create the user group, I honestly had no idea if it would get past one meeting, but here we are about to embark on the fourth and we keep getting more people attending. I put the continued success and growth down to a few simple things I set down at the initial user group:
- The users own it. Blueshift certainly do assist the host of each event to ensure the invites can get to the users, but we let the users control the group.
- There will be no selling from Blueshift. So, by selling, I mean no planned selling such as licences or services directly during the meeting.
- The agenda is set by the users.
So, there it is, the secret to the user group success. Well, beyond that, we have been fortunate to have several strong leaders in the group who see the value and want to ensure it is a success as they see the benefits to their business.
This gets me back to my original question around “Why have a user group?” I could give the standard “Marketing 101” response of collaboration, networking, user empowerment and providing a voice for users, and yes they are all important things; but the real reason we see value in having a user group is to allow the users to share with each other and continue to realise the return on their investment. At Blueshift, we aim to see our customers continuing to get value beyond the go live date, so this forum provides a great opportunity for our customers.
To me, if a user leaves with one idea that adds value to their business, then the forum was worth it. I have seen users leave meetings and implement change in their business and that does provide a great level of satisfaction.
As a solution provider with experienced consultants who have been in the industry over 20 years, we can advise our customers on the right business process for their business, but when a they listen to how their peers are solving the same business problem they have; it provides a different level of certainty when implementing business process improvements.
Listening to users and how they use our solution certainly provides great input into our product management process. Our customers are all selling their products to the same customers, and have the similar business problems, so by listening and observing we can gauge what improvements we can make to our solutions to solve the current business problems such as seamless Joint Business Planning. The Blueshift ONE solution is the world only true Integrated Business Planning solution available in the Consumer Packaged Goods space; which can be attributed to listening to users and staying ahead of the latest market trends, something we intend to keep doing.
In summary, to answer in a few words “Why have a user group?”, I would say to simply “To improve the Customer Experience and Return on Investment.”
Stephen McGrath – Chief Customer Officer & VP Customer Experience (CX)