April is a busy month of additive manufacturing events. One of the many benefits of traveling from event to event is seeing all of the amazing people we know throughout this close-knit, global 3D printing community, from journalists, to partners, prospects to former colleagues and, yes, even competitors. But nothing compares to seeing and connecting with our amazing customers.
We were excited to host our first Rize User Group Meeting at AMUG a couple of weeks ago. However, in the days and weeks leading up to the event, I was so focused on carefully planning logistical details of the meeting, I did not anticipate the impact of the experience, until it took place.
It was profound.
Our user group meeting captured and extended the mission and ethos of the Additive Manufacturing Users Group, which is to ‘educate and advance the uses and applications of additive manufacturing technologies by:
- Encouraging effective communication of information exchange amongst all additive manufacturing equipment owners and operators
- Providing a forum for presentations of papers and the ability to network with colleagues
- Proposing solutions to problems that involve basic modification to hardware or software
- Providing an open atmosphere for technology exchange’
Check. Check. Check. And…Check.
I wasn’t surprised when our customers dropped by our AMUG booth on day one to say ‘hi’ and stay for a chat. Then I noticed that they kept coming back…and stayed - how wonderful and supportive! At that time, we weren’t really talking much about business. We were just bonding in a really great way. One customer ran breathless back to our booth midweek, clearly very excited; he wanted to share a case study with me about his extra-curricular work with a First Robotics team using our technology. It was impressive! Another customer was there at the time and said that he, too, works with a First Robotics team in his spare time using our technology, in addition to his work application. More about these two use cases in the coming weeks.
But then on day four of AMUG, we held our user meeting. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Our customers, most of whom did not know each other prior to our meeting, arrived early and immediately began interacting with one another and with us. They were joking, relaxed and looked forward to the meeting. After some initial good-natured ribbing by one of our customers that he had received lots of swag at another company's user meeting and my rebuttal that we are a lot more fun, we turned to business.
Our customers, who represent a variety of organization sizes, sectors and additive manufacturing experience, shared a wide range of applications for which they are using our technology. Some shared applications in slides on screen, while others offered their use cases impromptu. I noticed at least one customer voraciously taking notes, soaking up all of the knowledge in the room.
Next, our customers shared their top requests and we transparently communicated the status of those requests, as well as what is involved in implementing them from a technical standpoint.
Finally, we ended with a period of open discussion and Q/A. Everyone participated. It was honest, positive, constructive, helpful to our customers and us alike, and at times, very funny.
Best of all, as we concluded the meeting, I noticed several of our customers exchanging contact details and talking about following up with one another to continue to swap tips and additional applications. Jackpot! We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome to our first user meeting.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, the logistical details I obsessed about in advance worked like a charm. With feedback and input from our customers, we eagerly look forward to our next User Group Meeting.