Friday, 2 March 2012

Summit of Customer Engagement 2012

The Summit of Customer Engagement (a Customer Reference Forum event) held in San Mateo CA finished yesterday and, with some help from some jet lag I've been thinking about what went on over the last three days.

Networking and knowledge share
I started to write these as different categories then realised that for customer reference pros they are the same thing. Interesting.

Get any two customer reference pros together, even from competing organisations and you are sure to have a remarkably open conversation about shared issues AND successes. Why is this? I know for a fact that this open exchange of ideas does not happen in other areas of marketing and I truly hope our discipline stays this way.

Perhaps we sometimes feel as the hidden heroes of marketing; strange when you think about it as for many companies their marketing strategies are now based on third-party endorsement, plus we get to actually work as a key part of the deal-closing team.

Ho hum. Back to the event. Sure, some of the sessions were good however I took some time to watch the interaction in between sessions, at lunch and in the evenings and from a career progression and best-practice efficiency perspective the event was very good. Lots of business card swapping and no doubt LinkedIn inviting going on.

A forum for future attendee interaction that includes the vendors would make sense.

What was new?
Not that much this year (a teeny bit groundhog day-esque) and often it was in non-scripted throwaway comments that get you to think,  such as

It's still location location location but the location is in your customer's pocket, on their smartphone"
"I used to work in procurement and whenever I spoke to a reference I always asked, 'so, what are you getting in return for doing this' "
Some of the content was great, some less so, some was a slightly awkward fit and some (apparently) pure sales pitch.

What I DID enjoy very much was the opportunity to co-present a two-hour workshop with Caroline Thomas, the British contingent was there in greater numbers than normal, I got to spend time with some clients and friends and that our US team and business is really starting to take shape and I could see it in action.

For next year I think that the workshops should be trimmed to 75 minutes and mixed up with the normal sessions, also that we get the chance to present on bigger topics such as globalisation and the future roadmap for the profession.

I'll follow up with some takeaways at some point once it's all sunk in however  all in all it was a great event and you can bet I'm going to be there in 2013.

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