I attended Empower Software Solutions’ annual user conference EmpowerFocus 2013 last week in Orlando, Florida. The conference’s theme was “Leadership”, but Empower’s focus was squarely on its customers.
The conference opened with a video that featured dozens of Empower employees thanking the attendees for being customers. I’ve been to dozen of user conferences and it is not unusual for the CEO or master of ceremonies to thank the audience for attending. This was different. It was much more personal coming from the customer service representatives, engineers, administrative staff, and other behind the scenes team members than an executive or a talking head. And the message – “thank you for being our customer” versus “thank you for attending our conference” – was different, too.
That video set the tone for the next two days. From that moment on, you could not help but notice the throng of blue- and grey-shirted Empower employees accessible throughout the conference. They were there to answer questions, and just get to know their customers. If you needed anything, they were there to help.
Empower President and CEO Jim Hoefflin’s opening remarks focused on the customer, too. He explained, “Empower is not just a software company, but a customer service organization…focused on making [its customers’] employees brand advocates.” He went on to say that it does this by providing a comprehensive solutions platform to support end-to-end HR process for its customers. This is in keeping with an interview I conducted with Jim in December 2012, where he clearly stated a change in strategy and focus.
Hoefflin spent much of his presentation highlighting Empower’s accomplishments from the last year. This included increasing revenue by 30 percent, delivering new products and new versions of existing products, signing new clients, and adding key members to the company’s management team. He also discussed how Empower was prepared to help their customers face new challenges like the Affordable Care Act.
The conference is a relatively small, intimate affair. About 300 people attended this year’s event with about 50 (my guess) focused on workforce management. As a result, it was very easy to network with peers, all of whom were retailers.
The workforce management track included presentations from clients such as the Home Depot and Racetrac as well as industry thought leaders. For the most part, these were detailed best practice sessions that delivered ideas and content that could be used when the attendees after the show.
Empower team members led session on using Empower to help comply with the Affordable Care Act and balancing customer demand with our labor budget. In most cases, the speakers demonstrated how the software solves a particular problem today while encouraging discussion about how customers thought they could improve the product. Empower also demonstrated a number of new features including sophisticated enhancements to seniority-based scheduling and an updated user interface.
Empower has completed deployments of several major customer in the last 12 months and expects to have several more on EmpowerWFM by this time next year. It will be interesting to see how EmpowerFocus 2014 evolves.