Customer service is going through one of the most transformative times in history and being turned on its head as organisations look to drive integrated engagement across the customer lifecycle.
That’s the view of Salesforce Marketing Cloud global chief strategy officer, Jon Suarez-Davis, who caught up with CMO at the vendor’s recent Connections event in Chicago to discuss the latest product integrations across its cloud platform offerings, as well as the impact a growing push to unify marketing, commerce, service and sales is having on the way customer experience is managed by organisations.
The Connections event is a reflection both of the evolution of Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud offering, and the vendor’s growing ambition to support an integrated, cross-functional approach to B2C engagement. The foundations for this year’s event include the original Connections conference held by ExactTarget, which Salesforce acquired in 2013, along with Krux’s Data Matters (Salesforce acquired Krux in 2016) and Demandware Xchange (also acquired by Salesforce in 2016).
The big topic of the week was integration, a not surprising theme given the vendor’s growing portfolio of products and the maturity of its Marketing Cloud offering. A number of strategic product integrations were unveiled across the Marketing, Commerce and Service Cloud offerings, as well as fresh functionality through its partnership with Google Analytics and Google 360.
For Suarez-Davis, the Salesforce/Google partnership was most significant news coming out of the event, with the pair offering marketers the ability to bring Marketing Cloud audiences and insight together with insights gleaned through Google Analytics.
Specifically, the two vendors are offering the ability for users to pool Marketing Cloud and Google-based insights into one dashboard, as well as push campaign data into Analytics 360, allowing them to tap into these insights in order to tailor Web content appropriately by seeing how granular content is performing.
From Q3, the vendors will then allow marketers to directly create audiences in Analytics 360, such as abandoned buyers or loyalty members, the activate those via the Marketing Cloud for other execution activity.
“By partnering with Google Analytics, which is the most widely adopted analytics suite, we’re providing our customers, like L’Oreal, Ticketmaster and Open Colleges in Australia –fundamentally new ways to bring analytics together, to really get a much more holistic view of their customer,” Suarez-Davis said. “In July, we’ll then be offering for the first time and exclusively the ability for our customers to go into Google Analytics and get an audience and take that and activate it inside both the Google and Salesforce Marketing Cloud platforms. You can’t do it – that’s an exclusive, no one has ever done it before.”
Customer service ramifications
But it’s the tie-ins between marketing, sales and service that also shone clearly through the event. Most other product announcements made at Connections related to integrations between Salesforce’s Marketing, Commerce and Service clouds.
Suarez-Davis agreed these not only require organisations to think more about the customer holistically; they also transform the very nature of customer service within those organisations. As an example, he pointed to Salesforce customer, Marriott, and how it’s increasingly recognising “customer service as the new marketing”.
“What Andy Kauffman [senior VP, global marketing optimisation] and Marriott as a whole talk about is engaging with guests holistically. In this case, building brand affinity and brand love is not the domain of just marketing, it’s everyone. Now that’s a pretty straightforward statement,” Suarez-Davis said. “What’s interesting is how this impacts customer service. Previously, customer service was looked at as a matter of getting a customer online quickly, engaging with them and getting them off quickly. In other words, the idea of customer service was to find the most efficient way to cycle someone through and take care of their problem quickly.
“That’s now pivoting on its head. Now, the most valuable time you could ‘market’ to someone is during that service time. We’re even seeing it with CMOs title changing from CMO to chief customer officer, chief revenue and so on – one of the reasons is to bring customer service and other customer functions under one domain.”
This in turn, is triggering a shift in the way customer service is measured and incentivised from resolution times to lifetime value and indexes that talk about a customer’s favourability, Suarez-Davis said.
As a further case in point, he noted another customer, Adidas, which is actively assisting front-facing and customer service staff to upsell and cross-sell in service interactions thanks to real-time customer insights. The capabilities are being supported by Salesforce’s growing integrations between its Commerce and Service Cloud allowing service agents to see commerce data and journeys within the services console.
“That’s a true example of where customer service is coming into play both as a marketing and commerce role,” Suarez-Davis claimed. “At one time, when the consumer was going to change their address – once upon a time it would have been about changing an address then getting that customer off the clock.
“Alternatively, it could happen the ways we’ve seen demonstrated with Adidas here at Connections – you change the address but also ask about whether that customer would like to purchase something else you’ve looked at or that goes with the existing purchase and they just changed the basket order like that. The return on investment is massive.”
Suarez-Davis also pointed to the results of Salesforce’s recent Digital Advertising 2020 report, which showed lifetime value as the top metric of importance for ad spending optimisation.
“Let’s be a little frank, there are still KPIs of CPA, CPM and what have you. But what I think we are seeing from the c-suite is many more lifetime value metrics, more indexes on satisfaction, experience,” he said. “It’s a lot harder – CPA is a more linear attribute, whereas lifetime metrics require new systems, longitudinal values, and so on.
“Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I’m pleased with what I’m hearing in the c-suite. We’re also seeing marketing analytics and analytics functions and measurement being tied together much more closely. The silos are coming down slowly but surely.”
All of this represents a huge but positive change for customer service, Suarez-Davis said.
“I see customer service going through a really exciting time right now. And that’s where things like chatbots, for example, are gaining ground,” he added.
- Nadia Cameron travelled to Salesforce Connections in Chicago as a guest of Salesforce.
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