From majoring in English to leading some of the most prolific Marketing and Sales teams in the Subscription economy, could you walk us through your journey to becoming Zendesk CMO?
I started my career as a Writer and Editor working in Consumer Technology publications, but quickly realized I wanted to help build great technology rather than write about it, so moved out of publishing and into Marketing at B2C and B2B tech companies. I first spent many years in the Silicon Valley startup scene, where I honed my strength in data-driven marketing best practices, learned how to scale global businesses quickly and cost-effectively, and developed expertise in subscription businesses that led me to SaaS.
I eventually moved on to Adobe’s Creative business during that brand’s now-famous transition to the Cloud — that was an incredibly exciting time to be at Adobe, because you were at the center of this world-famous business reinventing itself and developing a much deeper and more direct and engaging relationship with its customers. That love of building engaging relationships with customers led me to Zendesk, where I oversee all aspects of global marketing, as well as our Sales development organizations and global SMB Sales team.
As the CMO of Zendesk, what are the challenges you face in your industry and how do you overcome these?
The challenges aren’t limited to Zendesk or our industry – the biggest challenge for any CMO is that our role has fundamentally changed and evolved. We are no longer brand storytellers devoted solely to Outbound Marketing. We’re now stewards of the entire customer experience from awareness and acquisition to engagement and retention.
Customers today have more power, more information and more options than ever and companies have to earn and re-earn a customer’s business with every interaction. As a CMO, I have to expand my purview from the limited slice of the business I used to oversee (Advertising, Email Marketing, Public Relations, etc.), and think about the customer’s entire journey – from top of funnel interactions with the brand; to product trials and engagement; to sales and purchase; to customer service and beyond. Every brand is now the sum total of the entire “experience” of the customer and it’s the CMO’s job to understand that, and in many ways, be the architect of that journey. It’s challenging but exciting at the same time.
Tools and Tech
How do you leverage technology to solve your own Marketing challenges with respect to Approach, Team Structure and MarTech tools?
Without the right technology, a company can’t recognize, much less empathize with, their customers or possibly hope to identify problems with their experience. We use technology, including our own tools, to guide our Marketing strategy at every phase – from audience targeting to pipeline attribution, technology gives us the data and insights we need to make the right decisions for the Zendesk Marketing organization and the company as a whole.
How do you see the growing competition between Customer Support Ticketing platforms and Traditional CRMs?
It’s not about competition, but rather reimagining CRM. Traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions were created with the primary goal of helping Sales teams effectively sell products and services, addressing just one part of the entire customer journey. This piece of the customer journey becomes just one part of CRM as businesses increasingly depend on long-term relationships rather than transactions.
Today, customers expect premium service to be built-in from the first interaction through the moment they ask for help, post-purchase, and back again. Customer Relationship Management is no longer just about Sales, it is the sum of each service moment along the customer journey — from one purchase to the next. To position themselves for success, businesses must integrate service into the journey at every interaction point. Old CRMs can’t do that, but a service-first CRM like Zendesk can.
Every customer service team is relentlessly chasing the goal to deliver relevant Omnichannel Customer Experience (CX). What CX roadmap have you built for Zendesk?
There are many factors that contribute to a positive customer experience: affordable prices, range of products or services available, convenience or ease of use, promotions offered and more — but among these, service is the foundation.
Zendesk is a service-first CRM company, built to give companies of all sizes, in every industry, the ability to deliver a transparent, responsive and empowering customer experience. We’ve developed our CRM offerings – from Sales to Support to Proactive outreach – based on the best practices of leading, transformative customer service-focused brands. This means that our customers can truly deliver the best experience at every step of the customer journey.
Recently, Zendesk made a strategic investment in Tymeshift. As a CMO, how do such investments help in enhancing the overall branding of the company, in terms of its value proposition?
Investing in the success of technology partners like Tymeshift means creating a better future for the customer experience as a whole.
How would Zendesk’s customers benefit from Tymeshift integration?
Tymeshift built modern workforce management software for agent time tracking, forecasting, and scheduling, all exclusively for Zendesk. The app is built with a global footprint and mindset, giving customer support teams the data and insights to manage their workforce, help agents be more efficient, and keep managers engaged, all around the world.
How will this year’s event appeal to previous attendees?
First of all, it’s our first time under the sun in Miami, as our CEO likes to remind us. But more importantly, each Relate event is a new and unique experience. Every attendee – from Relate veterans to first timers – will have the opportunity to learn how to be a better leader, employee, Zendesk user and master in customer experience. The agenda features six tracks and over 60 sessions covering AI and the future of self-service, seamless conversational support, change management for the CX revolution, how to scale without sacrificing support and more.
Relate will also offer three courses during a Zendesk Training Day with product demos and hands-on exercises to enhance admin skills and support career growth opportunities for CX future leaders – including all the new features and enhancements in the past year.
And of course, our lineup of speakers is always a draw. This year features Guy Raz, Host, Co-Creator, and Editorial Director, TED Radio Hour and How I Built This; Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder & Chief Executive Officer; Gus Balbontin, Former Executive Director and CTO of Lonely Planet; Jade Simmons, Rockstar Concert Pianist, Best of SXSW Performer; Jesse Itzler, Author of Living With A SEAL, Co-Founder of Marquis Jet, Owner of the Atlanta Hawks; Sarah Robb O’Hagan Executive, Activist, and Entrepreneur; John Wie, Director, Customer Experience, Logitech and more.
What features, upgrades, or product enhancements is Zendesk looking to showcase at RELATER 2020?
We are looking forward to sharing more about how we are expanding our service-first CRM offerings to help service and sales teams connect with their customers and have natural conversations across all customer touchpoints. We also have updates on the evolution of our Sunshine platform.
Thank you, Jeff! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
*Please note that this email was published on 25 February 2020. Zendesk Relate 2020 was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 pandemic. You can find all details pertaning to #Relater here.
Jeff currently leads Zendesk’s global marketing organization.
He brings 18 years of experience leading marketing, product marketing, and conversion and retention optimization from early-stage startups to enterprise companies. Prior to Zendesk, Jeff led engagement marketing at Adobe. He has also served as CMO at 99designs and VP of Marketing at Zoosk and holds a B.A. in English and Economics from Cornell University.
Zendesk is a CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to startups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experience should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition. Zendesk serves more than 150,000 customers across hundreds of industries in over 30 languages.