Tech Innovator Boosts Market Traction With First-Ever Customer Training Event.
CDL helps growing companies achieve increased stature and thought leadership by producing meetings and exhibits which set new standards of excellence in their industries. In June at the Loews Hotel complex in downtown Chicago, Fusion Risk Management convened their first-annual all-customer training event. Tracey Rice, Fusion’s Vice President for Customer Engagement, tells the story in an interview with Jami Peters, who managed the event for CDL.
CDL: Tracey, thank you for joining us. Tell us about Fusion Risk Management.
TRACEY RICE: Fusion is a 10-year-old company started by internationally recognized leaders of the Business Continuity Management industry. Historically, the industry has helped enterprise organizations develop plans to prepare for business disruptions should a disaster strike. Fusion is transforming the industry by enabling enterprise organizations to understand the risks and impacts of disruptions in a business context, and enabling practitioners to establish and maintain effective capabilities to avoid, mitigate and manage any type of disruption that might occur.
Fusion has a track record of consistent growth, which has been especially dramatic over the past five years. Last year we hosted a series of one-day regional customer events, which were very successful. Based on that experience, we decided it was time to bring all our customers together in 2017 for our first-ever customer event.
CDL: What were your objectives for the event?
TRACEY RICE: The primary focus was on vision and training in order to deliver as much value to our customers as possible. The theme was “Solutions 2017: Power of Us: Together We Succeed.” We wanted to show how customers can use our software and services for solutions which address their unique needs.
Through training sessions, case studies, exhibits, and what we call a “Mock Disaster Exercise”, our customers learned new ways to apply Fusion methods to their own situations – supported by one-on-one consulting with Fusion experts.
We wanted to create lots of opportunities to build and strengthen relationships throughout our ecosystem – face-to-face relationships that will continue long after the event.
Plus, by producing an event of the highest quality, we wanted to take our game to the next level and reinforce our position as an industry leader.
CDL: What were your expectations of CDL?
TRACEY RICE: I had worked with CDL in the past, so I understood that we needed help to manage an event of this size at the level of quality we expected.
CDL collaborated with us to fully envision the event, and then went to work on a comprehensive project plan to bring our vision to life. In addition, they were invaluable in helping us think through all the contingencies to ensure we delivered a seamless experience for our customers.
As we developed our vision, what I especially appreciated was CDL’s ability to offer us different options at different cost levels. They explained the choices available to us and the pro and cons of each, and gave us a recommendation based on their years of experience. CDL knew our budget wasn’t unlimited, and they helped us utilize our resources to achieve the best results.
CDL: Tell us about the process of working with CDL?
TRACEY RICE: From the very beginning, CDL made a huge effort to understand Fusion and our culture, and together we created a total meeting environment reflecting our mission and values.
We organized three groups to work with CDL. Our product marketing team focused on the agenda and content development. Our marketing people developed a communications plan and promoted the event to our customers. And a third team worked on accommodations, outside functions, and overall event management concerns.
CDL supported each of the teams and kept everyone on track. They created a project plan that made sure everything was covered and nothing was left to chance – from contract to completion. It was as if CDL was an extension of our company! We worked together as one team.
CDL: How did CDL participate in the site selection?
TRACEY RICE: We chose Chicago because most of our employees are located on downtown and suburban Chicago locations. CDL worked with us to identify hotels with the right mix of rooms and meeting space, and recommended a contemporary hotel in the heart of the city. We wanted a location that exuded quality and showcased the spectacular Chicago skyline.
Fusion Customers Sound Off!
Attendees at Fusion’s “Solutions 2017” event provided feedback on their experiences.
“Great work at the Solutions 2017 Training. I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and loved all of the engagement with employees.”
“Thank you to you and your team for an excellent conference last week. Thank you again for all of the Fusion Awesomeness!!!”
“You guys rock! Solutions 2017 was great!”
“I think this was one of the best organized and beneficial conferences I have ever attended. The speakers were great and it is unbelievable that it was the first event your team has given.”
“You did a fantastic job with the event. I’m sure you’ve heard many a compliment, but it really was one of the best run and worthwhile events I’ve been to in a very long time. Thank you!”
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. The three days were definitely jam-packed! You did an outstanding job planning and executing the conference! Great job!
I can’t overemphasize the advantage sitting side-by-side with CDL in negotiating the hotel contract. CDL knew all the ins and outs of the contract and how to get the best possible deal. There are lots of extras that you’d never know about unless you negotiate with hotels all the time.
CDL: How did you take advantage of the Chicago environment.
TRACEY RICE: Since most of our employees work at our Chicago locations, we tried to make this a hometown experience. We started off with a welcome reception on the Rooftop at the Loews, with the magnificent Chicago skyline as our background.
And the finale was a Customer Appreciation Event at the House of Blues – a landmark Chicago venue.
CDL: How did you work with CDL on-site?
TRACEY RICE: The execution-on-site was flawless and our customers were truly wowed by the event. Even though the CDL team seemed to be everywhere whenever we needed something, they were largely invisible to our customers. With CDL on-site tracking every detail, Fusion people were able to concentrate on their main task of building customer relationships.
CDL: Were there any surprises?
TRACEY RICE: I think our employees were surprised by the complexity of the event and its impact on our customers. Most had no idea of the scale of the event until they walked into the hotel on the first day to see it all come together. All of our 75 employees participated in the event in some way, and for many it was their first opportunity to see Fusion in an industry leadership position. It gave all our people a great sense of pride in being a part of Fusion.
CDL: What were your customers’ reactions?
TRACEY RICE: Response was phenomenal. They loved the hotel, they loved the food, they loved the location, they loved the content and they loved the vibe.
In our follow-up survey, there was only one outlier who said they were unhappy with the event, and it turned out they had mistakenly reversed the evaluation criteria when they filled out the form. Actually, they were thrilled!
CDL: What did you learn from the experience?
TRACEY RICE: I think everyone at Fusion came to appreciate the intense effort required to produce an event of this magnitude. Not only were the logistics complex, but also the preparation required from our content presenters in the mainstage and breakout sessions.
We learned that our customers are eager to not only learn from us but also interact with each other to a much greater degree than we had expected. Our “Fusion Community” of customers is very important to us, and this event is the new showcase and focal point of our community.
Now that our first event is behind us, we have a solid baseline and lots of feedback and ideas on how to make the experience even better next year. Planning for 2018 has already begun.
CDL: Any final thoughts?
TRACEY RICE: It was just a great success! CDL helped us take our game to the next level and enhance our competitive standing in the industry.
We love CDL and everything you guys do for us!