Saturday 9 April 2011

The Value of User Groups - A Modern Parable

User groups have to constantly define their value to their membership and one factor that is always near the top, is the  being part of a big voice.

Let me tell you about something that happened to me recently that describes this perfectly.

As you all know I am great friends with Mogens Nørgaard, who lives in Denmark. I quite often text him and this has been my preferred communication method for many years. We often speak at the same conferences now as ACE Directors and text is the most cost efficient way to communicate. Last year, his company Miracle changed their telecoms provider. Not long afterwards I had an argument with him, as he was ignoring a lot of my texts. He denied it, and it was almost true he did respond to some but a lot were ignored. He however was definite he hadn't ignored me.

A few weeks later he had reason to text another friend in UK several times and then was annoyed he wasn't being answered. His friend (James Morle, fellow founder member of the OakTable) had responded to each text but Mogens had not received them. He then said 'you know, Debra has been saying this for weeks'!!

I investigated and discovered that James was on 02, as was my personal iPhone. My work mobile was another provider and that worked, hence I wasn't being ignored all the time. I rang 02 and eventually they accepted there was a problem but said it was about contracts between the two providers and they couldn't do anything about it. Eventually they did agree to refund the cost of the texts sent but that was all.

Six months later, my company Fujitsu switched to 02, I emailed them before the change over and asked if I would have this issue and they promptly responded , there would be no problem. However, guess what? It didn't work. So I contacted their corporate account help desk, and after about 2 weeks they had it sorted, they got the contracts in place between the two providers. Not only do I have the ability to text Mogens, but so can James on his personal 02 account, and any other 02 friend Mogens may have.

The moral of this story, the corporate account, the big guy was listened to. And belonging to a user group makes you part of the big guy, when we talk to Oracle. Not only do they listen, but the results arethen for the benefit of all.    

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