Hi, my name is Ana and I’m a Counciloholic and I’ve been hooked on Kollective’s Customer Council for seven editions straight.

My affair with the Kollective Customer Council started in September 2015, in Barcelona. I had joined Schneider Electric two months earlier with no prior experience in streaming or digital events, I was still learning the ropes of what Kollective was, meant and did.

For me, the event itself was a massive cultural shock, on several levels. For starters, none of the previous vendors I had worked with in the past were doing anything remotely similar. Then there were also the nature and setup of the event itself, which I found to be unconventional, to say the least. What was Kollective thinking? Bringing your customers and prospects together and encouraging them to talk freely amongst themselves over drinks and dinner or, even worse, behind closed doors with no vendor presence in the room? Putting their C-suite on a stage and making them all available for live questions? Wasn’t that corporate suicide? Weren’t they at all worried about complaints and concerns surfacing and putting negative vibes out? Surely no vendor could be as confident in their product, service and performance. What was this full transparency witchcraft? Was there a trick somewhere? What were they thinking?!?! Little did I know back then.

That Customer Council edition started as they all do, with welcome drinks. Kollectives and guests mingling, every new arrival greeted and then integrated like a dear friend. I was watching, processing and trying to understand this new model of vendor behavior. As the evening and later as the Council itself progressed, I came to realize that this is who Kollective are. A confident, open, hard-working and hard-playing group that treat their customers like trusted partners, friends and family. That the philosophy behind their model of behavior is of progress through open communication and collaboration, of listening first and of striving for their customers’ success and excellence. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The sessions and presentations themselves were quite interesting, even if at times on topics above and beyond my role’s then requirements, expertise and professional background. I did appreciate, however, that they catered for the various functions involved in managing, deploying, directly using or supporting the Kollective platform within the enterprise environment. They addressed the past and present; but most critically, the future of their solution and related applications, in an ever changing and fast-paced environment. I took away quite a lot after those Council days and it definitely made my job at the time significantly easier. I found the roundtables at the end of each day of sessions particularly useful. Experts were on hand at each themed table, demonstrating the platform, products, integrations, taking questions, offering solutions, and highlighting challenges and benefits.

As the Council days in Barcelona progressed, more thumbs up and brownie points were given for Kollective encouraging us, the customers, to network and communicate in between the formal sessions, over breakfast, lunch and dinners. I met people who had the same responsibilities in their roles as I did in mine. We got to exchange experiences, ask others what they were doing in the enterprise video landscape, how they had solved X or Y problems, or literally brain storm as a team trying to work out solutions to particular challenges. I learned how diverse and complex the enterprise video landscape was, how no two companies were doing the same thing and how there is no single recipe that caters to all. I learned that for reliable and successful video delivery, there is one common denominator to bring everything together. And that is Kollective.

Finally, that Customer Council in Barcelona had two massive cherries on its cake. The first was the Customer-Only Feedback Session. Kollective employees left the room and customers were invited to discuss any issues they were facing – with Kollective in general or specific areas of the collaboration, features and developments they’d like to see Kollective prioritize. Secondly, the “Ask the CEO” segment, where CEO Dan Vetras sat in front of the audience and answered any and all questions coming his way from the room and also from those watching remotely; because oh yeah, Council is also streamed live for those customers unable to travel. I was so impressed by this because this team took two potential vulnerabilities and turned them into great strengths. I remember thinking “Who does that?!”. I understood, finally, that this was a proof of maturity, confidence, respect and integrity. Kollective knows who they are, they believe in what they do and they believe in their customers.

Throughout the event there was also persistent encouragement from the organizers for us customers to continue communication outside of Customer Council, whenever we needed to. A full list of attendees was provided, including email addresses to enable independent contact. I had a new community of peers to call my own. This was another new and exciting thing for me, since in my past experience vendors restricted their customers’ access to each other. There would be no knowledge of who they were, let alone unsupervised discussions! Oh, the scandal!

Hang on… I seem to be missing something here.. Oh yeah: the fun! The joy of meeting new people or reuniting with old friends, the small-talk and banter, the lovely dinners and interesting venues, the food and the drinks, the dancing, the sheep joke, the fun bus and the boring bus, the boat cruise on the Fort Lauderdale canals, the majestic sunsets and occasional thunderstorms, working hard but partying just as hard an hour later, it’s all part of the Customer Council special charm and attraction. Not to mention it makes being away from home for work a tiny bit easier to bear.

For all of the above – and everything else that you have to experience first hand at Council in order to understand – I kept coming back year in, year out. It’s an occasion like no other and just the benefit of face-to-face interaction with all those involved outweighs everything else.

Seven Customer Councils later – five as a customer and the most recent two editions as a Kollective employee – I still see them just as boundary-breaking, valuable and exciting as that first time in Barcelona.

So, if you are a customer or are interested in becoming one, I strongly advise you to join us this April 28th through May 1st in Fort Lauderdale or October 23-24th in London. And if you need any additional convincing, let me know. I’m always happy to connect with our customers.