Customer Immersion Experience

In 2012 Microsoft started pioneering a new concept for engagement with customers that did not rely on forcing them to watch long boring PowerPoint presentations. Microsoft understood the most important factor for success, and that was ensuring that customers not only learned the benefits of adapting cloud technologies but also retained the information learned. A training experience was created that focused around customers getting their hands dirty with the software. Instead of using a trainer, Microsoft opted for using a facilitator who could work with attendees to solve real-time problems. And thus Microsoft’s CIE, or Customer Immersion Experience, was born.

Michael O’Neill profile image

TechStar’s own Director of Cloud Solutions, Michael O’Neill, was instrumental in the early studies of what became the CIE events. Mike worked at Microsoft for 18 years and played a key role in developing Microsoft’s Seminar Sales Team, a traveling group of over 105 professionals that toured the US and Canada deliver customer training events. Mike retired from Microsoft in 2008 and eventually worked for BrainStorm for 4 years as a Lead Trainer. Brainstorm was intstrumental in helping Microsoft get the CIE events off the ground, so you know Mike fit right in. He delivered well over 100 CIE events at BrainStorm before leaving to join TechStar. Mike’s substantial experience in delivering these events led to Microsoft making TechStar one of 22 partners that are paid to do so, solidifying the company’s position as a top partner.

 

What a CIE event is like.

A typical CIE event starts with attendees arriving in a room filled with Microsoft Surface and Surface book computers that have been fully loaded with Microsoft technology. We, as the facilitators, will also set up fake personas on each machine. The idea is that we don’t want you worrying about your files or your e-mail, so we create an environment with fake files and fake e-mail accounts. This way there is no fear that you will mess anything up or that you will compromise personal data. This way there is no fear that you will mess anything up.

The first 15 minutes of the session is where we get to know the attendees, and we whiteboard up any and all problems that they are having with their technology. The rest of the day is then spent providing hands-on experience with the software’s that solve their organizational issues. There is no presentation, no selling, no watching the trainer do it. Attendees get a personalized experience with a trained facilitator walking the room making sure everyone is successful.

Typically, the evals from these events are all perfect scores. Most attendees comment “We needed this years ago!” as these events don’t just focus on current technology, but also make sure attendees are correctly utilizing features that in some cases came out over 20+ years ago. For example, we often show 4 tricks in Outlook that will reduce the time to respond in e-mail by over an hour a day. All of these tricks use features that have been in Outlook for more than 15 years. Less than 1% of audiences over the past 8 years have known about these 4 tips.

Just like snowflakes, CIEs are all different because the agendas are driven by the customers attending. Here are a few topics that typically come up:

  • Better collaboration
  • Staying on top of e-mails
  • Effective meetings
  • Mobile workers
  • Security and legal issues
  • Improved communications

To find out more about CIE events and see an upcoming schedule, e-mail mike@techstargroup.com. Or just fill out the form below!