Case Study: Meeting Automation Platform Delivers for High Tech Manufacturer
Automating Meetings Delivered Increased Pipeline, Productivity, and Customer Satisfaction
Published: February 24, 2020 Number: 2020-07
Analyst(s): Jim Lundy
A high-tech manufacturing firm faced with increased competition needed to deliver higher levels of meetings to drive its overall revenue pipeline. Executive and product experts are in high demand and prior to deploying a Meeting Automation Platform (MAP) solution at customer and partner events, conferences, summits, and road shows, it took high levels of handholding to coordinate and pull off a series of B2B customer meetings.
- Meeting Automation Platforms
- How will enterprises leverage Meeting Automation Platforms to gain a competitive advantage?
A Meeting Automation Platform increased meeting scheduling, effectiveness, and overall satisfaction for executives and customers.
Meetings are critical to advancing and creating sales opportunities. Using a MAP can increase customer satisfaction, shorten the time to revenue, and streamline the enterprise workflow in general.
Managing executive calendars for both internal and external meetings is a challenge, particularly given all of the coordination it takes for both the executives and the people they are meeting with. Planning events around different time zones and remote locations can grow to be a serious business expense.
Meeting Automation Platforms are increasingly being deployed to automate the process of scheduling and holding meetings. This research note provides a case study of how a high-tech manufacturing firm used Jifflenow’s MAP to automate B2B meetings for its executive staff and for customer engagement.
A large high-tech manufacturing firm faced the challenge of managing meetings for executives at customer events. The firm works in a competitive market and there was a desire to increase both productivity and the quality of customer meetings as well as other engagements.
Organizing large volumes of meetings is complicated and involves several steps that go beyond just a calendar invite. Meeting requests from sales teams need adequate support. In addition, schedules, locations, and experts need to be coordinated so confirmations are kept on time. Such workflows become particularly challenging when they involve business executives whose availability is always in demand.
In this case study, we consider an executive administrative assistant for the head of sales and marketing. This individual played the role of event meeting manager for a business-critical executive summit. Crucially, the assistant was responsible for managing a few hundred meetings for division executives and participating customers.
In this case, before meeting automation was applied, this process was managed through a manual process that involved lots of emails, phone calls and multiple tools. These tools included:
- Phone calls
- Word documents
The problem with this approach was that it often resulted in double bookings, time zone errors, meeting location confusion, and too many emails to manage. These issues were immediately noticed by stakeholders and, more importantly, by customers.
The issues with a manual operation that used emails and spreadsheets for the creation of event calendars were numerous; and in many cases, the use of spreadsheets led to redundant manual actions. Specifically, these problems included:
- Since the spreadsheet was not dynamically updated, the meetings were often scheduled with inconsistent information, causing people to miss their appointments.
Issues Due to Time Zones:
- Meetings at events in different time zones required manual management of scheduling. Not all recipients received the right time zone info, which also resulted in people missing a meeting or showing up at the wrong time.
Issues Due to Meeting Location:
- It was difficult to determine the seating capacities and locations of the different meeting spaces. Attendees were often given wrong or missing information about the location for the meeting.
Multiple Emails to Confirm that All Attendees Would Be at the Meeting:
- Meeting planners like account executives sent multiple requests with limited information, a situation that led to strings of unnecessary back-and-forth emails and delays in meeting finalization. In many cases, it took up to 14 emails on average to confirm a meeting, leading to fatigue of schedulers and attendees.
Challenge Area: No Meeting Records
One core issue was the lack of any substantive record for the meetings. There was no way to review what happened in meetings and what next steps might be needed. The only thing that showed the meeting took place was the calendar entry itself.
As a result, trying to find out what happened and what the next steps were became problematic for that division of the enterprise. Not all meetings had notes or actions. And even when they did, the recorded information did not have easy online access for the sales team to use to follow up. As a result, work often fell upon the executive who then pushed it to their admin and to the sales leaders who frequently were not in the meeting itself.
After the problems and challenges kept surfacing, a decision was made to look for a better solution to this meeting coordination and scheduling issue.
The manufacturer is in a competitive market and amongst company executives it did not go unnoticed that meetings were a hassle. The fact that customers noticed was significant as well. After doing a market evaluation of different solutions available, Jifflenow, a provider of MAP solutions was evaluated and selected (see Note 2).
Note 1: Jifflenow at a Glance
Jifflenow is a Meeting Automation Platform that automates the scheduling of B2B meetings.
Location: San Jose, California
CEO: Hari Shetty
Key Offerings: Event meetings software, briefing center software
Availability: Available now
How MAP Solved Scheduling Challenges
There are a number of areas that MAP helped to streamline. Specifically, here are some of the issues that we observed were eliminated:
No Double-booked Meetings:
- Using a scalable event calendar all schedules were dynamically updated for travel, meetings, and keynotes. Meeting managers could see only available times in real time and avoided any double or triple bookings.
No Time Zone Errors:
- Rather than manually selecting time zone information that is error-prone, MAP automatically selected the proper meeting time for each event based on its location.
No Meeting Location Confusion:
- The MAP provides the meeting manager with all meeting locations and seating capacities to avoid the wrong meeting places. Rather than incomplete or mixed-up information about the meeting site, attendees were given clear location data, including information about venue seating capacity.
No Email Overload:
- Requests for meetings accompanied with opportunity information from sales teams were easily accessible with a single click from within the Salesforce app or Jifflenow MAP. This eliminated back and forth email exchanges. Meeting confirmations and reminders were automatically distributed with all the necessary information.
Meetings Started On-time
Meeting briefing notes made the participants, time, topic, location, and potential opportunities at meetings abundantly clear. The executives knew exactly who they were meeting, the title of meeting, and the objectives. Executives also liked receiving detailed briefing packets on the context for all the meetings and the attendees they were likely to meet during an event.
No Shows Declined Dramatically
Customers and other external attendees received clear and complete information about the meetings. They also received meeting reminders that reduced the number of no shows. The executives’ time was also planned in a much more coordinated way with sufficient time planned to move from one meeting to other. The meeting context, participant and opportunity details from SFDC helped plan for the meeting and prioritize the calendar.
Results: Higher Quality Meetings and Better Customer Engagement
As a result of deploying a Meeting Automation Platform, this firm managed to significantly streamline its meeting scheduling process. Besides the fact that errors with meetings were eliminated, the overall feeling from executives and customers was that it was a better process leading up to meetings and that meeting information was captured and shared in a seamless fashion.
Table 1: A Meeting Automation Platform proved to be a game changer for a manufacturing firm.
More Meetings Being Managed
The initial MAP rollout for executive meetings for two events was viewed as a huge success. As a result, the firm was able to expand its use of Jifflenow MAP, an expansion that included taking on more meetings with more event options. These options included more forms of customer engagements at large and small events.
Besides one-on-one customer meetings, other engagements were offered for pre-scheduling to drive better customer experience:
- Booth tours
- Customer receptions
- Dinner meetings
- External meeting request
- Group meetings
- Partner meetings
- Tracks and sessions
Figure 1: A manufacturing firm used a phased approach to its deployment of a Meeting Automation Platform.
Meeting Impact Due to Reporting and CRM Integration
Because actions and next steps were not clear in the old process, the big “ah ha moment” was the standard and custom reporting the firm noticed right away. Because the meeting data became part of the CRM record, the account team could know what transpired and do their part following up on agreed-upon actions.
Project Success and a New Way to Manage Executives and Events
Overall, the firm viewed the project as a complete success for its executives and for its meetings with customers at events. It is always hard to gauge success but given the feedback from customers—the perception was that it was easier to schedule and meet with the firm—a big win.
- Executives are busy and their time is in big demand. Enterprises should focus on meeting automation for both internal and external events.
- Revenue generation is tied to meetings. It is important to measure the impact of meetings on the sales pipeline and eventual revenue generation.
- Enterprises should look beyond traditional calendars and look to automate the entire meeting process.
The era of manually scheduling meetings is over. Meeting Automation Platforms are challenging the traditional manual approach to booking. For our case study’s executive assistant, MAP streamlined the entire meeting scheduling process which resulted in a significant uptick in meetings and an overall higher quality experience for executives. Enterprises need to look beyond the current manual meeting process and turn to automation. This is particularly true for customer-facing events.