Before, we talked about creating a company-wide culture of business continuity management in our Company Engagement Series, from taking the first steps and getting priorities together to checking in on your program. So now that you have your company engaged, let’s talk about engaging your client. In the Client Engagement Series, we share insights on what we’ve learned while growing our client engagement program. Here we explore the strength of your user group program.
Lots of tech companies have user groups – and a lot of those user groups limp along half-heartedly with inconsistent and often dwindling attendance. In contrast, a prospect recently came to our Fusion user group in London. He was astounded and said to me, “The vibe in this room is amazing. People are excited to be here. People are relaxed. People are telling stories. People consider this a trusted, safe environment. This is not a sales event; it’s a place where people get excited about opportunities, excited to learn more, excited to hear from other people, excited to go back to the office and employ what they’ve discovered. There’s an almost tangible trust in the room – people are comfortable talking about challenges and brainstorming with other client on how to overcome or solve those challenges.”
Quite honestly, I could end this blog right there, because his comments say it all. But let me enumerate the key points.
First, to grow a strong and sustainable user group – or, as we prefer to term it, a client engagement program – you need to deliver value to your clients. That means putting your clients and their needs first. If you put your company first and just try to cross-sell or up-sell your products and services, your clients will be annoyed. They will recognize that the “user group” is actually just a sales event and feel that they have been subject to a “bait and switch.” Instead, you want your clients to feel that they have received great value for the investment of their time, concentration, and interaction.
Second, to deliver value, you need to create opportunities for engagement. In other words, don’t just talk “at” your clients! Even if you are providing great information, talking “at” people is a sure way to see their eyes glaze over in boredom. You need to engage them. For example, have your clients act as presenters. Encourage attendees to ask questions, make comments, request more information, and even challenge something that is stated. Facilitate break-out sessions where attendees can interact with one another about a given topic. You want people to talk, because talking generates excitement!
Third, to encourage engagement, you need to build a culture of trust. Be clear that this is a place where questions can be asked, problems can be raised, and issues can be discussed. Foster an environment of mutual respect, where not only are your own internal experts offering help, but clients are helping clients, sharing their knowledge and experience freely.
When you deliver value, create opportunities for engagement, and build a culture of trust, you will grow a strong and sustainable user group/client engagement program. Plus, you’ll find that your business goals for new leads, new clients, and new sales are also met as a natural outgrowth of your program! After all, when your current clients are engaged and excited, they are going to look for more ways to use your products and services, and they will spread the word to their peers and colleagues.
Don’t settle for a client engagement program that limps along … take action to help it grow strong!
We are committed to the success of our clients and building a community that inspires others! Learn more about our program and find a group near you!