Every summer, Exago hosts its annual Client Advisory Board (CAB) Conference to meet with clients face to face, get their feedback on product roadmaps, and confirm that the company is on the right track. This year’s CAB conference presented us with new challenges and opportunities, but resulted in a rewarding experience for clients and staff alike. Here are the main takeaways from the conference.
First Virtual Conference
Like so many of our business meetings these days, this year’s CAB took place on Zoom, Slack, and in our own living rooms and home offices. While we hope we can return to on-site proceedings next year, (we all really missed the mountain and lake views from Mohonk Mountain House’s Sunset Porch), the virtual format proved to have many benefits.
Overall, the mood of the conference was more relaxed than in years past. This was perhaps owing to the fact that we were in the comfort and safety of our own homes, or because the digital format lends the occasion an air of informality. Whatever the cause, the casual atmosphere resulted in productive and honest conversations, which is ideal for an event designed to solicit feedback.
Contrary to our expectations of the digital experience, we found there to be more mingling between people who might not usually get a chance to speak with one another. We set up networking sessions that placed attendees into randomly generated rooms and set up a shared Slack channel that allowed clients from different organizations to connect with one another and Exago staff at any time. The lack of a travel requirement also allowed more people from both camps to attend. One client left an anonymous survey response to that effect, saying, “Although being in Mohonk is nice, having a virtual session allowed some more people from my team to participate.”
“Although being in Mohonk is nice, having a virtual session allowed some more people from my team to participate.”
Similarly, Exago staff who are not usually client-facing had more chances to present and discuss different topics with the group. In addition to the customary Executive and Product presentations, our UX, Marketing, and QA teams held breakout sessions on focused topics. The conference agenda was sent to clients beforehand so they could “build their own adventure,” signing up for presentations based on their individual interests and schedules.
The virtual format also presented an opportunity for Exago staff to distribute more measurable, recordable, anonymous surveys throughout the course of the event. (Definitely preferable to quickly counting raised hands in a large conference room or distributing surveys via email before or after the event). We asked clients everything from how they felt about the virtual format itself and the length of presentations to their opinions of particular features on the roadmap. The live surveys served as springboards for on-the-spot discussions, and having the results on record will inform a number of Exago teams in the year to come.
Most Ambitious Roadmap
This year’s Client Advisory Board conference also gave our development and executive teams a chance to get valuable feedback on their most ambitious product roadmap to date. As of this spring, Exago has adopted a new, rapid approach to development will become the norm going forward.
Complete UI overhauls for multiple report designers, as well as new functionality throughout the application, are in the works. Happily, the changes were well received, and clients offered their support for this bold, new approach along with their advice on how to optimize these improvements for user adoption.
It’s nice to know we can still be “face to face” even if we aren’t in the same room and that the virtual world we live in has unforeseen benefits. Exago places the highest value on its relationships with its clients, and we look forward to this chance to learn from our partners each year.