Nashville, TN—The cavernous and expansive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center perhaps should come equipped with its own Sherpa guide to make sense of direction a lot easier for its guests. However, the notion of guidance and direction fit in well with the theme of Square 9’s third annual Encompass end user and reseller conference, held here Oct. 3-5 with a platform of intuitive education, networking and idea sharing.
Nearly 350 attendees from around the globe visited the Gaylord Opryland to garner insight into product innovation and strategy, with a focus on simplified content management through pre-defined solutions, among them direct scanning from core business technology and cloud-hosted information management. The Square 9 GlobalForms 10 platform and hot new ideas for selling ECM solutions were among the highlights of the intensive educational track, which was broken into subcategories for resellers, products and technical-level presentations.
Before the conference officially kicked off, Square 9 played host to an Elite Dealers Group Experience (EDGE) roundtable, an exclusive gathering of roughly 25 resellers, including one from South Africa. Square 9 CEO Stephen Young presided over the two-hour session, which was broken into three talking points—product thoughts, sales support and an open question dialogue—all aimed at helping dealers who are struggling to deliver the solutions that customers are currently seeking.
The EDGE roundtable was a lively and engaging exchange, with resellers and Square 9 executives bouncing ideas off one another in rapid-fire succession. The conversation was free-wheeling, frank and honest, but the most impressive aspect was its collaborative tone. Virtually every attendee had a hand in the conversation and many offered their own experiences with Square 9 software whenever another roundtable member expressed a view or difficulty with a sales or functionality challenge.
On the first full day of the conference, former game show and talk show veteran Ross Shafer (The Late Show, Match Game), now a motivational and business success circuit speaker, delivered the keynote address. Shafer provided insight into his own career and the nuances behind becoming and remaining relevant. He talked about his own entrepreneurial background and related tales of ingenuity, with a focus on creating a friction-free environment for the customer.
A Native American of the Blackfoot Nation, Shafer self-published a book, Cook-Like-A-Stud, that sold a stunning 200,000 copies. He talked about the value of obtaining information from unlikely sources, such as attending conferences that have little or nothing to do with your own line of business, that have enabled astute entrepreneurs to provide “a-ha” solutions.
Virtually every story Shafer shared had a comedic twist to it. For example, he talked about pharmacy giant CVS’ 50th-anniversary conference, where it was brought up that retail stores were keeping their back pain medications on the lower shelves. Heel lifts, on the other hand, were being placed on top shelves—two examples of providing solutions in a befuddling manner.
One example of ingenuity at work was the owner of an apartment complex, who told a conference gathering that in order to retain pet deposits, it was necessary to find out which tenants were harboring pets on the sly. The landlord’s method? He went from unit to unit, blowing on a dog whistle, and the pooches gave themselves away.
Customer service was another key talk track by Shafer, who also wrote a book titled “No More Customer Friction.” It is less important to wow the customer, he said, than it is to provide resolution to the “pow-to-the-gut” moments that can test a businesses’ ability to respond in the face of adversity. He spoke of the importance of Net Promoter Scores, underscoring that we can learn more from a customer complaint than we can from a compliment.
“One ‘pow’ can wipe out five ‘wows,’” Shafer said. “People never forget mistakes or oversights.”
Shafer elaborated on how communications giant Comcast, long criticized for its shoddy customer service, was able to right its ship. Another solutions-based stroke of brilliance was brought to market by Lego, which had long offered building sets of monstrous proportions that many customers felt took too long to assemble and resulted in diminished child interest. Lego then followed the leads of games such as Monopoly and Life by offering a more parent/child-friendly 20-minute assembly projects.
Finally, Shafer spoke to the value of being “other” focused. On the day his father, Charlie Shafer, was being laid to rest, a procession of speakers talked about what the man had done for them. Charlie’s wife was befuddled by so many of these people, as she did not know them at all. Charlie Shafer, his son said, “went around for 73 years doing nice things behind our backs.” The lesson drawn is that doing good deeds, without announcing them for all to hear, is a key to being truly selfless.
Following the morning and afternoon educational tracks, the day’s festivities wrapped up with a trip to the Grand Ole Opry for the EDGE Awards Dinner. Michael Frattini, senior vice president operations, acted as emcee for the evening, which began with several presentations to honor customers who have thrived with Square 9’s Global suite of products. The winners were:
Most Innovative Solution: V&S Midwest Carriers, Kaukauna, WI
Integrated Solutions: Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, PA
Business Impact: Armstrong Subway, Eden Prairie, MN
Enterprise Efficiency: Buckley Associates, Hanover, PA
The following resellers were also honored for their top performances during the past year:
Rookie of the Year: West X Business Solutions, Vancouver, British Columbia
2018 Sales Performance Leader: KYOCERA Southern California
2018 Dealer of the Year: Hilliard Office Solutions, Dallas
Lifetime Achievement Award: Connecticut Business Systems
These regional sellers were also honored for their success in selling the Square 9 suite of solutions:
Northeast: KYOCERA New England
Mid-Atlantic: Centric Business Systems, Owings Mills, MD
Southeast: Accordis International, Miramar, FL
Midwest: Michigan Office Solutions, Grand Rapids, MI
North Central: EO Johnson, Wausau, WI
South Central: Hilliard Office Solutions, Dallas
Northwest: Caltronics Business Systems, Sacramento, CA
Southwest: KYOCERA Southern California